Last week in the Milwaukee Journal, Ed Semrad had some major quibbles with the Nintendo Entertainment System. I disagreed with most of his points, but let’s see how his reviews stack up against the ones I’ve posted so far.
Super Mario Bros. – “…months of challenging action and adventure.” “What makes the game so enjoyable are the secrets hidden within it.” “This is a super game.”
Golf – “…play some of the trickiest holes ever.”
Pinball – “…has more bumpers, spinners, targets, bells and whistles than any other version made.”
Hogan’s Alley – “…really puts the Zapper to use. This game is just like the FBI training range for shooting.”
VERY GOOD – Fun To Play Only Once In Awhile
Wild Gunman – “…tests your reflexes. As in the Old West, you must outdraw the bad guys.”
Ice Climber – “…you must make your way to the top of a mountain.” “Birds buzz you and an ice monster keeps filling up the holes you are making.”
Gyromite – “…a robot game in which you must keep gyros spinning while a professor runs around trying to deactivate dynamite that is set to go off in his lab.”
Donkey Kong Jr. – “If you get good at using the poorly designed controller, get this game. Otherwise, plan on hundreds of frustrating rounds.”
Donkey Kong 3 – “Unfortunately, any game that requires precise and split-second control can not be accurately played with type of controller.”
Kung Fu – “The computer version (“Kung Fu Master”) is trimmed back and the graphics are so-so.”
AVERAGE – Lacking In Graphic Detail/Aren’t Using System To Full Potential
Excitebike – “I’ve seen Atari 2600 games that offer more.”
Wrecking Crew – “…offers good graphics, but the game play is the same and not very challenging.”
Baseball/Tennis (He lumps 2 separate games into one review) – “They play a better game than any Atari 2600 game, but that isn’t saying a lot. Skip the sports video games and get a good computer version.”
Donkey Kong/Mario Bros. (He lumps 2 separate games into one review) – “…old-time favorites that are graphically excellent. Unfortunately, the controller action is even worse in these games than Donkey Kong Jr.”
Donkey Kong Jr. Math – “If you think the controller is difficult for good game players to use, you should see what preschoolers do with it.”
Duck Hunt – “…could be good if Nintendo would have used the system’s memory to its full potential. What do you shoot at in Duck Hunt? Only ducks, ducks and more ducks. Bo-ring.” (Ed. Note – He must not have played the clay target shooting game then).
POOR – Played Poorly & Didn’t Hold Anybody’s Interest
Clu Clu Land – No reason given.
Stack Up – No reason given.
Popeye – “…plays fine for the first two screens, but the third screen was graphically terrible.”
Reviews are opinions so there are always bound to be differences. I do find it troubling that he seems to keep hanging his hat on horrible controllers. I don’t have any difficulty controlling the games and have acclimated to the games just fine. I feel he’s either exaggerating the issue or maybe he just doesn’t know how to properly hold it. All of my friends and family members have no issues with the controllers after a few minutes of playing the games. I still get comments that the controllers seem make for left handed people since nearly every other joystick and controller to date has had us moving the characters with our right hands instead of our left. Once that barrier is broken, the games respond just fine. I do hope a joystick gets made though because that’s what I’ve gamed with for the past six years.
Mr. Semrad goes on to complain that Nintendo has over 100 games in Japan and yet it picked out ones that weren’t the best of the best. He wonders why games like Xevious, Gyruss, Elevator Action, Super Arabian, GP Race, Galaga, Pacland, F-1 Race, and Dig Dug 2 weren’t released here instead. Well, the obvious answer to anyone who knows anything about the gaming landscape is that Nintendo doesn’t make any of the titles he listed. Third party licensees create them. Nintendo can only release the games it has created itself, unless it wants to pay for licenses. The good news is that third parties are signing up in America, so many of those games will likely make their way over.
Ed also makes a glaring error when he says, “I can see why the system isn’t selling here”. I’m not sure what data he’s looking at, but by all accounts the NES has sold exceptionally well, especially when you consider it’s just now becoming available nationwide. We don’t have exact numbers, but we know the system’s sales are above 200,000 – not bad for an industry that was dead just a year ago. For a newcomer to the home console market to see the kind of success Nintendo is having is great news for all gamers, as we will hopefully begin seeing more and more titles get released over the next few years.
Ed suggests taking a wait and see approach until Sega’s Master System releases in a month or so. He also recommends checking out the Atari 7800 (I have and it doesn’t hold a candle to the NES in the graphics and sound department). The choice is obviously yours to make, but I feel there are enough fun games on the NES right now to justify a purchase, especially if you can find one for $79.99 with Super Mario Bros. packed in. Some retailers have begun putting demo stations up, so make sure to stop by the electronics department and try it out for yourself.
[Source: Milwaukee Journal – 8/16/86]