Sunday, December 25, 2011

Power Blade (NES, 1991)

Today I'm going to look at a game that was prominently featured in the first Nintendo Power I ever read: Power Blade. Might have been the first game I ever wanted to play. Back in July 2008, I finally got a chance to play this game, after all those years. I took some screen shots and saved them up to unleash upon the world like a plague of locusts. Now, the time has come.

They totally copied The Terminator for the title screen. I hope Arnold got Paid, 'yo. Check it out:

Yep. After all the lawsuits he's had to deal with, this may have been the one time James Cameron had a chance to sue someone ELSE! Wait... there was another.

My God! Solid Snake is Kyle Reese? If only James Cameron's lawyers were as rabid as those of his detractors. But I digress, this post is about... Box art was really bad twenty years ago, huh? We laugh now, but in 1990 we would have been all "This game is rad to the max!" while skateboarding in long jorts.

 Stage selects were really popular back then after Mega Man made them a thing. It was a great way to promote non-linearity. In that sense, right now we are bearing witness to the forerunner of Skyrim.

This game stars Nova, a Guile-esque fellow with a boomerang. There are a bunch of powerups for that boomerang, Castlevania style. You go from a slow, short-range, one-shot-at-a-time blue boomerang to a fast, long range, three-at-a-time red boomerang. Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out if that city behind him is Future Seattle or Future New York. One thing is for certain: It isn't Nashville. Not Lord of the Rings-y enough.

Speaking of lawsuits, Peter Jackson should sue Nashville!

The stages are really expansive; they're also a bit Metroid-like in that they progress both horizontally and vertically. The player has make contact with hidden agents in each stage before the boss becomes accessible... which is kinda lame, since the agents are all hidden away somewhere. Funny thing is, they have such small contact boxes that you have to get right up in their grill to talk to them, in what may be the most homoerotic scene in NES history.

The best power-up in the game is the Power Suit, which gives you access to the titular Power Blade. It's a lot better than your normal boomerang, but if you take three hits you lose it. This is NES design at its finest... and it's pretty cool.

Here's the kind of scene that gave NES fans nightmares as kids: a bunch of tiny blocks over a pit of spikes. Again, NES design at its finest! This game is really good, make no mistake. If this had been my first game instead of Kirby's Dream Land, I wonder if I'd have grown up to be a different person. ...or, at least, had different taste in games. I might have liked God of War 3 more, or actually played a Call of Duty.

Look at that power-up over there. This is what we in the business call "a trap", because there's no way in hell of making this jump. There could be another way around...or maybe not. The NES shows NO MERCY.

Our hero dodges Fembot Nippleguns to get to the boss door. "Oh, an Austin Powers reference, how timely" says a jaded reader when reached for comment. Look! It's still 1999 to me okay!

 Here's the first boss, the Silver Knight. I still had the power suit on here and blasted off about 40% of his energy before I got hit and lost it. That thing's powerful. The rest of his meter wasn't very hard to take off, either. Moral of this story? Hold on to the Power Blade as long as you can because it decimates bosses, not unlike the iconic Fire Flower in Super Mario Bros.

"GRAAH!" say these wall heads of doom while firing bubbles at our hero.

 The only thing separating this next stage from Fire Man's stage in the original Mega Man is the lack of sunglasses-wearing fireballs.

 The hardest part of this game for me was probably Stage 2, because I got totally lost and couldn't find the agent. Good thing the level is easy, but running all over the place in it gave me problems. The boss, though... this mecha-dragon. It's one of the few difficult bosses in the game. I'd go so far as to say it's the second-hardest fight by a good margin. It does screwattack-like moves that are really hard to dodge. Herein lies the one downside to a stage select format: Sometimes, the boss of "Stage 2" is actually the second-hardest fight in the game, leaving the player running for the hills.

Nova and The Agents deserve recognition for being the first gay relationship in video game history. Raiden and Rose didn't come along until much later.

 I haven't seen such a vibrant NES swamp since Ninja Gaiden. The jump animations in this game are stylish, too.

 Stage 3 boss... four hatches spawn endless wasps that fly at you. It's simple to get through, stand here and blast boomerangs up and diagonal. Oh yeah, I never mentioned you can fire in eight directions in this game, which is awesome for something NES-era.

 Nova deals with another agent in Stage 4, which appears to be the snow base from The Thing.

 Stage 4's boss is this lightning-throwing sumo-bot. It's another easy boss, but I got there in bad shape and had to use an energy tank (yep, this game has them). Hey, wait a minute...

My God! Look at the size of those boobs!

 Stage 5 takes place on a naval warship, and the stage designers had the nerve to put the agent right under the boss door. As a result, you have to jump down to get to him, and then backtrack through half the stage to get back up.

The boss spends some time powering up...

...then he fires off a ring of shots (not seen here). This game really does have cool animations, I gotta say.

Nova gets some hetero-closeness, as Stage 6 has a female agent.

 Awww yeaaaa. ::whistles::

"Unf! Urgh!"

 Our hero emerges from the sewers, smelling of ninja turtle.

 Here's the stage six boss, the hardest fight in the game. This thing is ridiculous, because you basically can't avoid it at all unless you use the blocks to get over it as it charges... the blocks disappear and reappear, though (yeah, it's that kind of block). I just stayed back and blasted it and used energy tanks. Wait a that a Terminator?

 With all six stages down, the seventh and final stage is open. Nova is breaching those peripheral security forces like the world's largest subterranean drill. Damn it! Two Austin Powers references in one post? I'M SO OLD!

Here's our arch-villain du jour: The disembodied head of Gomez Addams.! Again! Did I watch anything after the 90's ended?

 Here's part two of the fight and the true final boss: A brain in a hovercraft. It's like Mother Brain and Dr. Wily made sweet love and this was born.

 It has some nasty attacks, like making fire rain from above. It's probably the third-hardest fight in the game. The mecha-dragon and (especially) the terminator were worse.

Staying underneath and hammering away from there is the best way to win. Which is also my philosophy on sex.

Considering that this is an NES game, we should be thankful that all the text in the One Screen With Any Real Text On It is spelled correctly.

Nova proceeds to completely shatter the fourth wall as he gives the player props. I have to say, this is a really fun game. Easily one of the most overlooked classics of the NES age.

Merry Christmas.

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