LCD Games VI: LC You, Wouldn’t Want to D You

INDIE GAMER CHICK’S LCD GUIDE: PART IPART IIPART IIIPART IVPART VPART VIPART VII

Let’s finish the second IGC LCD trilogy!

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!!
Tiger Electronics (1992)
Gameplay Type: Combative

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All credit where it’s due: Tiger didn’t half-ass their Sonic effort. They probably recognized this as a game that needed to achieve play-ability to help boost their reputation and earn further sales for their line. There’s ambition here. There’s levels. There’s a moderate variety of enemies that require different tactics to beat. There’s not one but TWO boss fights! There’s water hazards. You can get high-speed boosts and invincibility. The issue is, it doesn’t feel at all like Sonic. Even by 1992, Sonic bopping enemies wasn’t the hook: speed was. This isn’t a fast paced game. It’s plodding as hell. It takes forever to get to a boss. Worst of all, the gameplay is boring. Then again, how does one do a solid platformer that doesn’t have animation? I have no clue.

BACK TO THE FUTURE!!
Tiger Electronics (1988)
Gameplay Type: Racer

Based on the TV series, but actually more like it’s based on the movie, or not. You have to dodge rocks and oil slicks to presumably get the Delorean up to 88 mph, but I never got over 70 mph. I was bound and determined to get this, but I never even saw the rescue mechanics. I have no clue what I wasn’t doing right. This was one of those weird “the background isn’t there” but I imagine that didn’t matter. This was boring.

INDY 500!!
Tiger Electronics R-Zone (1995)
Gameplay Type: Racer

R-Zone was, I guess, Tiger’s low-rent version of Virtual Boy. I used to see it in clearance bins in toy stores. It’s hilarious that Tiger Electronics took serious the device that everyone else was snickering about under their breath. Really, it was just more LCD gaming, only with “carts” which is something Atari abandoned with Cosmos in the early 80s. Indy 500 is a super bland driving game that simply isn’t fun. You have to shift gears, stay on the road. Snore. I wanted to recognize R-Zone since this is likely the last LCD game feature I’ll be doing, but this is the only one I could find.

DORAEMON!!
Bandai (1983)
Gameplay Type: Maze Chase

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indie-gamer-chick-approvedBandai is kind of the greatest maker of LCDs ever, and nobody knows it. In Part V, I found their finest work in Frisky Tom, the greatest LCD ever made. BUT, they also have the best maze chase LCD I’ve played. And yes, these are really not LCDs, but rather “Vacuum Fluorescent Displays” or VFDs, but tomato/potato. LCD is a format of gaming, and whether the screen is physically LCD or VFD, the gameplay is done in the standard LCD format. Either way, this game, based on the popular Japanese franchise, features you moving around a maze and grabbing bells while dodging mice. You’re given enough time if you find a mouse next to you to dodge it, and that cushion makes this so much more playable than most Tiger or Coleco chasers. It’s not exactly the most exciting game, but I was happy playing it.

ULTRAMAN
(1983, Bandai)
Gameplay Type: Dodger/Spinning-Plate

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Okay, so not all Bandai games were good. In fact, their Burgertime was pretty shitty. Ultraman isn’t good either. It’s boring as hell, but at least there’s ambition here. The problem is you have to wait to score 500 points before you get to transform into Ultraman. That’s 50 slow moving bullets you have to just move out of the way of. Then, you have to grab some energy thing (despite being a Power Rangers/Sentai fangirl, I’ve never watched Ultraman) that transforms you. Then you have to fight the villains, and the game kind of becomes a spinning plate game where you have to stop them from destroying the city by karate chopping or kicking them. It’s not the worst concept, but getting to become Ultraman is such a boring slog. When the game forgets to count a point, which happens, you feel like crying. If not for that part, this wouldn’t be the worst effort. Sadly, Ultraman is more like Mediocreman

ROBOCOP 2!!
Tiger Electronics (1990)
Gameplay Type: Combative

BOOM! HEADSHOT!

I can’t believe this franchise was marketed as heavily to children as it was. Yea, I know it was made into a cartoon too, but I’ve never met anyone who associated the Robocop with the cartoon. They associated it with the ED209 blowing some poor fucker into giblets, and Robocop 2 features a child drug kingpin who nearly kills Robocop. The game is just a massively sluggish, unresponsive shooter. It’s one of those LCDs that Tiger phoned it, which was par for the course for them. Naturally, they made a sequel..

ROBOCOP 3!!
Tiger Electronics (1992)
Gameplay Type: Combative

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indie-gamer-chick-approvedThis does a little more with the shooting than a normal Tiger Electronics game. In fact, it’s oriented more like a spinning plate game. There’s a few channels that you have move up and down and shoot punks. There’s scrolling but you don’t even need to do that, as the boss will come to you after you shoot X amount of punks. After two levels, you also have to rescue a girl that’s captured by the boss. Robocop 3 has smart scoring and the pace is fast enough that it’s not a typical bore. Golly, would look at that.. Robocop 3 isn’t Robocrap. Wow. I’m stunned. I mean, I know Tiger was capable of doing decent games, but I wasn’t expecting Robocop 3 to be one of them. Never assume.

SWAMP THING!!
Tiger Electronics (1991)
Gametype: Combative/Adventure

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I think the emulation for this must have been broken, because half the time, the game wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. If I pressed attack, the game ducked. If I tried to use a special move, the game ducked. I even switched my keyboard, but it kept happening. When the game actually worked, this is one of those “effort was made” Tiger games that has depth. You scroll right, but there’s also pipes you can take, Mario-style. There’s a punch move that NEVER worked (every time I tried it, the game like did the animation for it for a split second before going back to being stun-locked in a ducking animation) and a fire move where you melt into the ground and two columns of fire rise up on the sides the screen. If this is how the real Swamp Thing played, YIKES, terrible! But, if it was emulation, damn. This had a shot.

BATTLETOADS!!
Tiger Electronics (1991)
Gameplay Type: Combative

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One of the absolute most boring LCDs I’ve experienced in this entire run. The gameplay is based on the second level well sequence from the NES game. Ravens fly by and you have to punch and kick them, while faces blow tornadoes at you. After FOREVER, you reach the bottom, where the Evil Queen shows up to.. uh.. I’m not entirely sure but I never seemed to be able to hit her. You can switch between the different characters, which in theory is nice, but the game takes your button presses as friendly advice that can be ignored. Like, I would hit the ravens and it would count as a hit, but then I’d take damage anyway. Apparently there’s a boss, but I never got to it even after over thirty minutes of gameplay. The real pain in the ass? Both times I reached the Evil Queen section, I didn’t die by losing life. I ran out of time. Are you kidding me? I’m so mad that this is what they came up with for Battletoads: a port of the most overly long and terminally boring part of the game. Yikes. I’ve never liked a single game in the Battletoads franchise, so when I say “Battletoads deserved better” that’s saying something.

JUDGE DREDD!!
Tiger Electronics (1995)
Gameplay Type: Combative

When you think there’s no bottom, Tiger Electronics comes through with another low. In Judge Dredd, you walk, wait for an enemy to come within range and then kick or punch them. If they’re to the edge of the screen, you have to hop-up an ever-present ladder and wait for them to step closer. Then you drop down, punch them, and they’ll drop their weapon, which you actually have to press a button to bend over slowly to get, because of course you do, because this is shit. Then you walk forward and try to use it. BUT, if you get shot, you lose the gun. And you will get shot, because there’s a massive lag between the command to shoot and the shot being fired. It’s a boring premise to begin with, but this is trash with the controls. Absolutely Dreddful.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!
Tiger Electronics (1993)
Gameplay Type: Dodger

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Wow. This is the most incredibly boring game I’ve ever played in my entire life. They were aiming for a dodge-type game where you duck under bulbs and hide behind a Christmas Tree if a gnome shows up. Then you have to hop across roof tops and time the button to grab candy. This is so goddamned boring that I legitimately almost dozed-off playing it. Tim Burton must be spinning in his coffin. He’s not dead, but I just picture Tim Burton sleeping in a coffin.

SUPER DOUBLE DRAGON!!
Tiger Electronics (1993)
Gameplay Type: Combative

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Sigh. Well, at least you’re not kicking Lex Luthor in the balls. Guys show up. You jump up and kick them. You can stay on the ground and kick them but it’s much more effective to just jump up and do it. You’re less likely to take damage that way. Sure, Double Dragon is about fighting the same guys over and over again, so the LCD game should be a close approximation to it. But, the thing that makes Double Dragon fun is, frankly, the violence. You need animation for violence. For that sense of OOMPH, and for a variety of moves. Here the moves are a punch, a kick, and allegedly the ability to use special moves or grab weapons, but every time I tried to get them I took damage. The only good thing I can say about Super Double Dragon: it’s better than just plain Double Dragon was as an LCD. A lot less Lex Luthor.

THE INCREDIBLE CRASH TEST DUMMIES!!
Tiger Electronics (1993)
Gameplay Type: Racer

Want to do a racing type of game? Why would you make an LCD game like that? Something that isn’t capable of creating a sense of speed? Here, the idea is you’re trying to build up enough speed to deliberately crash yourself through the air, and you can build up speed by reaching out and petting a dog, I think? I got my speed one tick away from the top, but never got all the way there. Like so many LCD games, it takes too long to get to the hook of the game. I never managed to crash, and after twenty minutes of trying, I didn’t want to play this anymore. Holy crap, is this boring.

BATMAN FOREVER: DOUBLE DOSE OF DOOM!!
Tiger Electronics (1995)
Gameplay Type: Combative

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You have to punch or throw the Baterang at Two-Face if he’s in front of you. If he’s to the left of you, you have to call in Robin, who swings in and hits him (regardless of whether he’s above or below you). You also have to hop over pits, because when you think of Batman, you think pits. This is just a boring retread of the same type of game they’ve done to death. Enough with the brawlers! It’s not happening, Tiger. This is just boring. Really, really boring. I’m barely hanging on by this point.

MC HAMMER: U CAN’T TOUCH THIS!
Tiger Electronics (1991)
Gameplay Type: Rhythm

You’re right, I can’t.

Only two decent games this time? Fudge. I need a part VII, don’t I? Yea, I do. Part VII coming Sunday.

 

LCD Games Part V: BEEP MEEP NEEP BONG DONG BEEENNNNN

INDIE GAMER CHICK’S LCD GUIDE: PART IPART IIPART IIIPART IVPART VPART VIPART VII

Let’s do another, and for the first time, let’s move largely out of the 80s. This is basically “all-Konami edition” with a few other games sprinkled in.

GARFIELD!!
Konami (1991)
Gameplay Type: Dodger

I always wondered how Garfield, who is established as being grotesquely overweight and out of shape, is also ninja-like when he stands on the fence to do his comedy routines?

You’re on a fence and you have to dodge pies and shoes and get lasagna Jon makes for you. Like so many LCDs, this feels like a generic gameplay template that any theme could have been plugged into. Does it feel like Garfield? Um, no. Is it fun? Not really. It’s so bland and the scoring is so slow and not unexciting. One thing I admire about Nintendo’s Game & Watch series: it has really smart scoring. Here, dodging shoes and pies doesn’t really earn you anything, even though that’s what you spend most of the game doing. I’m not on the fence for this one: Garfield is lame.

KINGMAN!!
Tomy/Tandy (1982)
Gameplay Type: Cross the Road

They could redo the graphics and make this a Toronto Raptors game.

A putrid, broken Donkey Kong rip-off (it looks like Donkey Kong mixed with Darth Vader. Darth Kong? Donkey Vader?) with some of the most unresponsive controls I’ve seen. I spent fifteen minutes trying to make it to the top, but the piles of poo that take the spot of the barrels come down in perfect intervals to prevent any progress, and it’s impossible to time anything when there’s no certainty the controls will actually respond to your commands. I wonder how many “Mom, Dad, this isn’t Donkey Kong” cries went out on Christmas mornings when kids unwrapped this unplayable knock-off. I mean, not that the Donkey Kong table-tops were better. They weren’t, but at least they were authentically awful.

GOLDENEYE 007!!
Tiger Electronics (1995)
Gameplay Type: Combative

No clue why did one didn’t have a background.

Run right and shoot left and right, or sometimes throw a karate kick. Typical effort-free Tiger Electronics dump. Wow, Rare Ltd. sure had their work cut out for them, here. I think the Nintendo 64 game had a more exciting menu than this game.

SPACE JAM!!
Tiger Electronics (1995)
Gameplay Type: Basketball

How hard can it be to make a basketball game, for Christ sake? But I never even saw my own basket in multiple sessions with this. Space Jam seems to be oriented like a cross the road game, but I never successfully pulled off a steal, never got a shot or a pass off (and only once saw Daffy Duck the entire time). Jesus wept. I’m sorry, Your Airness.. I failed you. And you thought the Bad Boy Pistons did Jordan dirty. Ouch.

C!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: Gallery Shooter

No, Up Up Down Down doesn’t work. I tried.

C in this case stands for Contra. I’m not sure what I expected, but C is just a five-channel gallery shooter that has various meaningless LCD doodles pass by to give the illusion of forward movement, but really, this is just “line up with thing and shoot.” It’s no guarantee that’ll actually work. Multiple times my bullets went right through something, for apparently no reason. Maybe because we both switched channels, but if we switched channels and the bullets are animated in that channel that the alien is in, and they pass through the aliens, how is that not a hit? Terrible game. Practically broken.

BATMAN!!
Tiger Electronics (1989)
Gameplay Type: Spinning-Plate

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This is sorta like a spinning plate game as an action game. There’s two channels of enemies and you have to dodge the attacks of one while taking out the other. I found it to be quite dull and there seemed to be massive lag with the timing after you came off the wall. I don’t know if that was a bug in the emulation or not, but this was practically unplayable.

GRADIUS!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: Gallery Shooter

I really want to do a Space Invaders type of game but haven’t been able to find one. The closest so far is probably Gradius, which is nothing like the classic Konami shmup it takes its name from. This is another five-channel gallery shooter, only with a much bigger emphasis on dodging than Contra’s LCD did. You have to shoot enemies while avoiding cannon fire from enemy islands above and below you. It’s quite competent but very boring and very unambitious. I know that Konami didn’t really make these, but they were among the cream of the crop in gaming at the time and they put their names on these games. Oh, it gets worse..

THE ADVENTURES OF BAYOU BILLY!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: Combative

Replace the snake with a honey badger and this could have been The Gods Must Be Crazy: Part II

I’ve done a LOT of LCD brawlers now, and Bayou Billy (based on a somewhat obscure NES genre smorgasbord) might be the worst yet. It’s SO sluggish and it feels like it’s only registers every-third button press when you’re on attack, even if you haven’t already just attacked. When you have a snake attacking you from one side and what looks like Strong Bad if he just totally let himself go attacking you from the other, it’s like the game can’t decide what to let you do, and chooses to let you do nothing most of the time. I’m starting to see why legitimate gaming magazines didn’t give LCDs the time of day. Imagine all the money that they could have saved people if they had though.

BUCKY O’HARE!!
Konami (1991)
Gameplay Type: Gallery Shooter

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Another gallery shooter, and one that gets old even quicker than Gradius. BUT, oddly enough, this does more to feel like Gradius than Gradius. There’s bosses, and you even switch characters after you beat the first boss. I got to the second boss a few times and he was a bullet sponge. You get generous hit points and lives yourself, a stark contrast to Bayou Billy’s “40 health, when it’s gone, Game Over” setup. Everything is in place for this to be Konami’s best LCD, except strong gameplay. Bucky O’Hare actually bored me right out of the gates, and if not for the bosses, I’d of quit long before I did. ENOUGH WITH THE GALLERY SHOOTERS, Konami. Try a spinning plate game or something. At the time I’m writing this, I haven’t played Blades of Steel yet. It’s up next, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s a sudden death hockey shoot-out arranged like a gallery shooter. I really wouldn’t. Let’s see..

BLADES OF STEEL!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: Dodger/Reflex Tester

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indie-gamer-chick-approvedWhoa. Hold on. Okay, so I was partially right. It is sort of oriented like a shooter, but it’s not a gallery shooter. It’s not really a hockey game either, but it’s actually a not awful concept for an LCD hockey-themed game. There’s no defense involved. You’re just trying to score as many goals in the time limit as possible. You have to take the puck, wait for a clearing and wait for the meter behind the goalie to flash a star, at which point if you fire, you’ll get a goal. It’s actually a clever way to make the extremely limited LCD hardware feel kinda like the NES game, and it works! Yea, this is only good for an LCD game, but I could see myself losing track of time playing this. Absolutely. Clever idea. I’m impressed. At this point, I’m convinced every LCD manufacturer had at least one “who’d of thunk it?” quality game.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: Dodger/Reflex Tester

Yes, the iconic Double Dribble dunks are in the game. Kinda.

indie-gamer-chick-approvedBasically the same concept as Blades of Steel, only now you’re playing a 1-on-2 basketball game. You have to just break free of your defenders and time the meter above the basket. Here, the timing is a lot different than it is in Blade of Steel. You want to shoot when the meter is white so the ball’s arc drops in as the meter is lit for a goal. I liked Blades of Steel a lot more, but this is also a perfectly acceptable little waste of time. Gosh, I wonder if the NFL Football game will be along the same lines.

NFL FOOTBALL!!
Konami (1989)
Gameplay Type: American Football

Better than strips of red lights, no?

Easily the most ambitious LCD I’ve ever played, there is nothing half-assed about NFL Football. The funny thing is, they could have done that. The most successful LCD ever was the legendary Mattel Electronic Football that was a major fad in the late 70s (along with Coleco’s Electronic Quarterback), and a barely updated version of that would have worked, but instead, NFL Football focuses trying to make it feel like the sport. You only play offense and can choose between four plays (five including field goals when you’re in range) and have to scroll around the field looking for openings. It works and legitimately feels like the evolutionary Electronic Quarterback, and the problem is, I just never had fun with those. My Godfather’s son had both the Mattel and Coleco games. I still have them around here somewhere, and I never thought they were any fun. But, all credit where it’s due: while I didn’t have fun with this, I imagine kids of the era probably enjoyed it for what it was.

THE LONE RANGER!!
1989 (Konami)
Gameplay Type: Gallery Shooter

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indie-gamer-chick-approvedAs you know from my earlier bitching, gallery shooters are all over LCD. Which one has the most channels? Konami’s Lone Ranger, with a whopping ELEVEN different channels to take shots from. Each angle works towards taking out a bandit from a different angle or distance, and for me, I actually did kind of enjoy memorizing which channel hit which person from which distance. Even better: the characters come up with their hands up, and some will surrender and just disappear. You’re only supposed to shoot the ones who draw their gun on you. It’s so smart and makes the game kind of twitchy. Yep, this is the best of its breed. So far the best LCD shooter I’ve experienced. The funny thing is, Konami made a vastly underrated NES game based on the character, and their LCD game is probably one of the stronger LCDs out there. You’re even incentivized to fire accurately, as you only get 40 bullets. Well, what do you know? They actually did make a really good gallery shooter. So what’s the story on Contra and Gradius being so boring, gang?

FRISKY TOM!!
Bandai (1982)
Gameplay Type: Action-Arcade

We have a new LCD Champion!

This should have gone Part IV, along with the other arcade games, but the truth is.. I’d never heard of it before. I don’t know how good the arcade game is, but as an LCD game, this is really very fun without having to qualify that statement. This is actually the best LCD game I’ve ever played by a mile. It’s sort of like Donkey Kong Jr. meets Pipe Dream. You have to shimmy around this mess of pipes, collect the pipes that are knocked down by evil mice that are total nightmare fuel, and replace where they go. The ultimate object is to fill a tub full of water. It’s crazy addictive, exciting, and so much fun.

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I played this game for over an hour on Saturday. I just couldn’t put it down. I wish it had more dynamic scoring, and I wish the collision was a little better, but I only wish for those things because this is the most addictive, exciting LCD I’ve ever played. Take a bow, Bandai. You’re the new champion of LCD gaming at Indie Gamer Chick. For the first time, I can say an LCD game is genuinely outstanding, and I never thought I’d use those words to describe an LCD. Wow. I’m blown away over here. It turns out that truly great LCD gaming wasn’t a pipe dream after all.

 

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