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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

NES Reviews L

Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
Grade: C-
Publisher: SNK (1988)
Posted: 2013/12/13

screenshotI was intrigued by Fighting Golf because it's common knowledge that Lee Trevino is a master of the martial arts. His perfectly-honed body is an instrument of death, allowing him to dispose of a gang of thugs with a single flying round-house kick. Oh wait - I'm thinking about Jean Claude Van Damme. Lee Trevino is a chubby Mexican golfer. My bad!

This game probably has the most misleading title in the history of video games. Would you believe there's no fighting in Fighting Golf? This is just a run-of-the-mill golf title. Besides Lee Trevino, you're limited to characters with names like Pretty Amy, Big Jumbo, Super Max, and Miracle Chosuke.

The user interface lets you toggle between several views, but the controls are so non-intuitive, it's almost comical. Even with only two buttons to worry about, it took me forever to figure out how to hit the freakin' ball! Once you get over the steep learning curve, the game really isn't that bad.

I played a round against a friend and it was fairly competitive. If you're in the mood to deliver a roundhouse to the chops of Jack Nicklaus, you'll be disappointed, but if you're just looking for some fun on the links, Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf will do the trick. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Legend of Kage
Grade: B
Publisher: Taito (1986)
Posted: 2009/2/1

screenshotAt first glance, one might mistake Legend of Kage for crap. Looking more like a schoolgirl than a warrior, our hero can leap a mile between treetops (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-style) while battling ninja who randomly fly across the screen. Kage's high-jumping antics are absolutely ridiculous and totally awesome at the same time. Sure you'll take some random hits, but the frenetic pace is exciting.

One button tosses shuriken and the other swings a kodachi (short sword). The kodachi is effective in close combat, and can also be used to deflect projectiles. The first stage is set in a stormy forest, and novice players may be thrown for a loop since you move the left, not right as you do in most NES games. Running across the ground is more direct, but moving through the trees can net you some cool power-ups, including a scroll that instantly kills dozens ninjas trying to enter the screen from all directions.

Some critics may scoff at the fact that you can hit your head on the sky, but to me, that just makes the game all the more endearing. When you reach the far left of the forest, you'll need to wait for the red, fireball-casting boss, and this is not readily apparent unless you've read the FAQ. After defeating him, you'll need to survive moat, wall, and palace stages to reach the kidnapped princess.

The game then starts over, but surprise - the seasons change! This is a great idea that adds variety and replay value. Legend of Kage is challenging and so addicting you'll keep coming back to beat your high score. Give it a try and you'll see why so many kids spent countless hours playing this back in the day. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 40000
1 or 2 players 

Legendary Wings
Grade: C
Publisher: Capcom (1988)
Posted: 2001/3/26

screenshotLegendary Wings is a curious shooter with average gameplay. Your winged character looks like a transvestite with his red shorts and pink boots (c'mon!). The gameplay offers a mix of horizontal and vertical stages, and in addition to shooting you can drop bombs (a la Xevious). Legendary Wing's graphics are generic and I didn't find the creatures to be particularly exciting. Some require multiple shots to destroy, but there's no way of knowing how much damage you've inflicted until they blow up.

Power-ups are key to this game, and you won't get far without them. Unfortunately, they're few and far between, and if you don't snag the first one you may as well hit the reset button. A two-player simultaneous mode is included, but its slowdown is aggravating. Legendary Wings isn't all bad, but shooting fans can do better. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 44,500
1 or 2 players 

Lethal Weapon
Grade: F
Publisher: Ocean (1992)
Posted: 2005/4/24

screenshotIf there was ever a single title in the history of video games that begged for two-player simultaneous action, it was Lethal Weapon for the NES. You'll recall that the movies feature Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a mismatched pair of police partners, fighting the bad guys side-by-side. Well, you'll get none of that in this game. No, you can only play as Mel or Danny, which is inexcusable in my book. The gameplay involves systematically punching, kicking, and shooting your way through endless generic goons. One thing I noticed right away is that punching is just as effective as shooting, if not more so!

The bad guys are awfully predictable. Just stand in front of the dark doorway and punch like a madman, and these brainless henchmen will walk right into your furious barrage. Adding insult to injury, they don't even fall over - they simply blink briefly and disappear. The most annoying criminals are the ones who pop out of manholes. Since your normal attacks are too "high", you can only strike them jump-kicks. Also annoying is that damn helicopter that shows up every five minutes. Defeating it always requires the same strategy - pick up an unexploded hand grenade and loft it into the air.

The first stage is set in a park with shacks and tree houses that look awful. The scenery does improve later as you move into a restaurant-lined waterfront. Still, there's no interaction with the scenery (except for the occasional brick), so the action is monotonous. The "music" (if you want to call it that) is unpleasant and loops endlessly. Even die-hard Lethal Weapon fans will have a hard time getting excited about this cookie-cutter side-scroller. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Life Force
Grade: A-

screenshotKnown as Salamander in Japan, Life Force is a spin-off of the Gradius (NES, 1986) although its horizontal and vertical stages remind me of Vanguard (Atari 2600, 1982). As with Gradius, its "hook" is a madly addictive power-up system. Orange-colored enemies leave pods you collect and a meter on the bottom shows what you can cash them in for. The cheapest power-up (one pod) increases your speed. You only want one or two of those; any more will cause you to lose control.

Missiles fire both up and down, meandering over the landscape and destroying cannons that line the caves. Lasers provide penetrating power and the "ripple" gives you wider coverage. "Options" provide you with a little satellite that fires its own set of weapons, effectively doubling or even tripling your firepower. Life Force teases you by providing plenty of pods early on, and then breaking your heart when you glance off a rock and have to start over with the pea shooter.

Unlike Gradius, Life Force has interesting bosses including a brain that sprouts arms and an eyeball. One irritating aspect of the game are organic walls that can engulf you with no warning. It takes a while to figure out where to position your ship to avoid the fungus. The game also supports two-player simultaneous action, and while it's a nice feature, the ships can be hard to tell apart and the slowdown is pronounced. Life Force is claustrophobic at times and often infuriating, yet madly addictive all the same. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 28550
1 player 

The Little Mermaid
Grade: C

screenshotIf there's one thing I learned from watching cable it's that mermaids are real. Animal Planet broadcasted not one but two documentaries proving it. What more evidence do you need? Now that we're all on the same page, I'd like to direct your attention to a game based on the 1989 Disney movie.

The Little Mermaid features some of the best graphics and music I've seen on the NES. The programmers must have been privy to some super high-resolution display, because the characters, while small, look extra sharp. Even the tiny lobsters have their own little personalities. Likewise the jubilant, steel drum music that plays throughout puts you in a tropical state of mind.

Naturally the game has to be non-violent, but how are you supposed to defend yourself against squid, sharks, and other denizens of the deep? Well our heroine Ariel can whoosh her tail to encase small fish in bubbles, which can then be tossed (or better yet touched) against larger foes. The bubbles don't last long however so you need to act fast.

The controls could be better. Trying to throw a fish or shell in a particular direction is frustrating. Ariel is not very maneuverable and you'll take cheap hits while trying to navigate tight quarters. It doesn't help that enemies tend to regenerate and the collision detection will not cut you any slack.

The scenery is pretty terrific. The coral of the first stage looks nice and that's followed by a sunken ship, an ice sea, a volcano, and a castle. I love the way Ariel can flop around on dry land. This adds an extra wrinkle to the puzzles, as she can sometimes find items like shells to push into the sea and use.

The Little Mermaid is the kind of aquatic fare I like to partake of during the summer months. That said, the aforementioned frustrations tend to elicit language that's not exactly rated G. This is no classic but its high production values still make for pleasing a summertime diversion. Little Mermaid, Big Mermaid... it's allllll good. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Log Jammers
Grade: B-
Publisher: Mega Cat Studios (2017)
Posted: 2018/5/26

green cartI can't recall my friends snickering at the title of a game this much since Sword Fight (Atari 2600, 1983). This new NES homebrew has a lot going for it starting with its green translucent cartridge shell. It's mesmerizing! Log Jammer's gameplay pits two players running on spinning logs in head-to-head hammer-throwing action.

The character selection includes three humans and three freaky monsters. The playing field is divided into an upper and lower area, with the idea to hurl a hammer at targets behind your opponent. Your opponent can intercept the hammer by touching it in flight. This is definitely a twitch game as you try to catch your opponent leaning the wrong way. I find it odd how the corners are worth more points considering the middle sections are a lot harder to hit.

The matches are short and sweet. The graphics are remarkably sharp and well-defined, and the frenetic music isn't bad either. Log Jammer's gameplay might seem original to a garden variety critic, but I instantly recognized it as a vertical variation of Windjammers (Neo Geo, 1994). Random items add spice (including signature shots) but frankly these tend to get lost in the noise.

I love the wide variety of stages ranging from shimmering blue pools to racid sewers to icy glaciers. You could play this game any time of the year and still be seasonally correct. It's hard to advance far in the single-player tournament mode but going toe-to-toe with a friend is always a blast. Like most modern games, this one records "achievements" which are saved to cart. Log Jammers isn't the kind of game you play for hours on end, but I've yet to find someone who didn't like it. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: battery
1 or 2 players 

Adventures of Lolo
Grade: B
Publisher: Hai (1988)
Posted: 2003/4/20

screenshotThis charming little game challenges you to solve increasingly complex puzzles in a series of castle rooms. You control Lolo, a loveable blue ball with two big eyes. Each screen-sized stage requires quick reflexes and thoughtful strategy as you slide blocks, avoid monsters, and use power-ups to open the single chest in each room.

You can view the layout of each room before each stage, and you'll want to use this opportunity to formulate your strategy. To solve most puzzles, you'll need to perform a series of moves in a specific order, and if you mess up, you might not be able to correct your mistake! At that point you're forced to hit "Select" to forfeit play and restart the stage.

Upon depleting your lives, a password is provided, and you can immediately continue where you left off. It's easy to get caught up in Lolo's addictive gameplay. Some of the puzzles are quite ingenious, and the graphics aren't bad either. The controls are crisp and responsive, and the heroic musical score is also very good. Lolo's innovative gameplay earned it legions of loyal fans and prompted two sequels. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Low G Man
Grade: C-
Publisher: Taxan (1990)
Posted: 2017/5/5

screenshotThe first time I fired up Low G Man (not to be confused with Low T Man), I hated it. It just didn't make any sense. Shooting enemies only freezes them momentarily, and being able to jump really high wasn't helping much. Thank goodness I had the official literature on hand to shed some light on Low G Man's unconventional gameplay. As it turns out, after you freeze an enemy you're supposed to jump on top of them and stab downward with a spear! I would have never figured that out on my own. It's really bizarre... and kind of... awesome?

Once you get a feel for it, the gameplay is quite satisfying. I also like how you can climb into an ED-209 robot (of Robocop fame) and spray bullets all over the place. It's one of several vehicles you can commandeer. Low G Man is at its best when you climb on top of a boss and stab it repeatedly in the head! At its worst, the action feels so repetitive you start to actively avoid confrontation. The animation gets really choppy when there's a lot of activity.

When you slay a foe he'll drop a useful object, but the icons immediately drop off the screen before you have a chance to grab them! That is so frustrating. And who in the heck are those chicks trapped in the phone booths? Potions will give you more health, but some of them apparently subtract health too, which is bogus.

A few checkpoints would be nice, as having to restart a level after you've progressed to the end is demoralizing. When Low G Man dies in mid-jump he falls flat on a layer of thin air. That's quality with a capital K right there! Low G Man is no prize but it's unique and that vintage NES music has a way of getting under your skin. Maybe we'll just call this one Low C Man. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 156,600
Save mechanism: password
1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, NES Player, Moby Games, Universal Videogame List, Games Database, YouTube, Atari Times