Sunday, September 18, 2005

Good As New

After I finished watching Smokey and the Bandit this evening I had some free time on my hands, so I decided to take care of a few things. One of the pieces that I received in the event described in the previous post, namely the Zapper, was really disgusting--it had some kinda chunder all over it that I just didn't wanna touch without protection. This also gave me a chance to clean out one of my newest acquisitions (and the next review piece I plan on doing), the Joycard Sansui SSS.

The interior of the Zapper had some pretty nasty gunk also, especially around the trigger, so I took the whole housing apart and cleaned it out pretty well. Blecch. It came out pretty nice, though.

Here are the results. Notice the number of abrasions on the Joycard's outer shell. It looks like its previous owner really put it through its paces, yet it still performs like a champ. I'll get to that later, though...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

USB-PC-NES-ness and A Brief Look at Shatterhand

My girlfriend got me one of the NES Four Scores with the Retrokit installed. This means that I can now use any of my NES controllers to play games on my PC. (Insert played-out Power Glove joke here.) This is not only good for NES games, but pretty much anything else that doesn't need more than 2 buttons (well, 4, really). SMS games + NES controller = really quite nice.

Anyfruits, I decided to test everything out with Shatterhand, a NES title that I've found to be largely forgotten, and unjustly so. It's one of the later-release action platformers, in the same vein as Ninja Gaiden, Vice: Project Doom, and Kabuki Quantum Fighter. The premise is thus: You're a 80's-style futuristic-looking dude with steel hands and a kickin' vest (oh yeah, I think I've found my Halloween costume for this year). Because of your bionic hands, you can wail on just about anything with your fists and not feel a thing. This is good, because most of the enemies are robots and are made of metal anyway. You also get to punch other stuff, like walls, small crates, and huge fuel tanks that explode once punctured. Shwa!

Natch, the powerups are some of the coolest things in this game. You can turbo-charge your attacks with a certain powerup that both makes you punch twice as hard and turns your vest from neon green to lobstah-back red. Stylin'! You also pick up icons with Greek letters throughout the game; picking up any three will net you a tiny, flying robot helper with some bizarre weapon, ranging from swords to plasma balls to monster yo-yos. They're all useful, though I found that Yoyobot's ability is one of the best.

The bosses are pretty much the standard giant bionic warriors that you'd expect to see in a game of this caliber. They generally follow pretty simple patterns. One of the problems I found with them (and the small robot helpers share this problem) is that there's no life bar to see how long they have left. Instead, they follow the "I'm-flashing-red-so-I'll-die-soon" rule. I didn't care as much at the bosses, but sometimes I really wanted to know how much energy my robot had left. I'm sure you've all had that problem.

Another nice feature of Shatterhand is that destroyed enemies don't respawn. Often I would blow up an enemy, run off the screen to collect some money he dropped, and then be afraid to run back because I expected him to be there, waiting for me again. Not a problem here. Another interesting tidbit I found is that when you die (and I did, several times), you go flying. This isn't that neat by itself, but once in the ice level I got shot while in midair and went flying really far, then hit the ice and slid even further. That made it worthwhile, though it was soured a bit by the fact that after you die, it takes forever for the game to leave the scene and bump you to your next life.

Like action? Like robots? Like neon vests? Give Shatterhand a try.