Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nerdicus NES Review #4 : 8-Eyes


(who could POSSIBLY resist that type of Box Art? Brilliant!)

Title : 8-eyes

Release Date :  1988

Publisher : Taxan


So this shall be my first attempt at writing a game review while riding shotgun on a road trip across the BBQ states while my wife drives. She's keeping herself entertained with some music, while I kill some time with a game review. Wish me luck, as I am prone to motion sickness. However, it is nothing a few gut lurching pit stops won't resolve. Anyway, on to the review!

I may very well be one of the few people that still has a special place in their gamer heart for 8-Eyes. I have more often than not seen this game ripped apart for being a "Castlevania Clone". While I admit, this game does hold a great deal of similarities to the whip-wielding Belmont series, it brings out an individuality in story and unique play style that separates itself from its better known cousin.

Uhhhhh.....yeah.....just a tad similar.

Alright, alright. I admit, at first glances the games are hard to tell apart. Castlevania is still a bit more pleasing to the eye, as some of details in 8-eyes just look downright awful. But ignore the visuals for now. We’re talking about the game as a whole. Sure, Castlevania and 8-Eyes are both platformers of the same nature, but 8-Eyes does a lot of things differently, and at some points better than its counter part.

When I first got my hands on this game when I was just a wee lad, I remember locking myself away in my room, and refusing to come out until I conquered it. It was one of those games that once you start playing, you just cant seem to stop. This may have just been me, as it’s profoundly subjective as to what type of games a person likes, but I was already a fan of Castlevania, so to be playing a game just like it was exactly what I wanted.

(stair climbing. Joy. Just as badly designed as Castlevania)

One thing I failed to realize when I was a young, was the dark nature of the story line. I had always thought it was something that took place in "medieval" times, after all you were just wandering around the ruins of cities all across the world.  I couldn't have been more wrong. I should have paid more attention back then, as I probably would have enjoyed it even more. The game takes place in the future after a devastating nuclear war has brought the world to its knees. While a new King has risen by using the power of “8 jewels” (aka, the 8-Eyes), villainous dukes appear and steal the 8 jewels for their own destructive purposes. The 8 jewels are actually “magical” artifacts created by the result of the nuclear explosions. As Orin the falconer, it is your task to return the jewels to their rightful place. 

Not much of a vampire staking game.

(the monsters tended to freak me out more here, than Castlevania)

One of the things that stood out for me with this game, was its marrying of Mega Man style level selection, and Castlevania design. You have free reign of where you want to go right off the bat. You are brought to a stage selection screen, just like Mega Man, and are able to choose which country, such as Italy, Germany, and Egypt, you wish to start off in first. If you are able to beat the boss at the end of the level, you receive a sword upgrade, much like when mega man receives his weapon upgrades. The bosses on other levels are only weak against certain weapons, so its best to play the game in a particular order. Thankfully, I remembered exactly which order was the easiest. Not to mention (spoiler alert for a 20+ year old game), you need to know the order to place the jewels on the altar at the end of the game. Two things I was proud of figuring out when I was a kid without looking it up in Nintendo Power.

Love the architectural differences

To make another Mega Man reference….Whoa, whoa whoa. Wait a second, I’m starting to compare this to Mega Man more than Castlevania!? But when you have an ally assisting you throughout the game, a la RUSH, it’s really difficult NOT to make a comparison. The interesting thing about your falcon colleague, Cutrus (what names, huh?), is that you can get a second player to control it. So while you’re slashing away at enemies, your friend can help by finding items or attacking from above. Single player, Cutrus is pretty much useless and too hard to control. Any attempt to move your falcon, you move too. But still, introducing some 2P action in a game like this was pretty damn cool.

(your own persona falcon? Yes, please)

My one qualm with the game, had to be the difficulty level. I’m not sure about anyone else who has played this, but the insanity this game drives you too is double that of Castlevania. I’d rather be in a room filled with floating Medusa heads than dealing with some of the monsters / bosses you encounter in this game. The problem isn’t JUST the enemies you encounter, it’s the hit box you have to dela with. The designers tried their best to mimic “sword play” but the fact of the matter is you have to be right on top of your enemy to score a hit. And unlike Castlevania, the secondary weapons and items you find are pretty much useless. Only the ice bomb is remotely helpful by stunning the enemy, which is basically a necessity when fighting bosses.

Best part though? Completing a stage, and having tea served by a skeleton. Seriously? Awesome.

(I asked for yerba matte)

Now, I apologize. This was one of my longer reviews, but I felt like this game a deserved a bit more credit than it has received in the past. It’s a hidden gem in my eyes, and definitely something worth adding to anyone's NES collection. And not just as shelf fodder. It’s genuinely worth a play through. And maybe even a second playthrough, especially since the game gets subsequently harder with each one. I’m ashamed to admit, I have yet to succeed. Hey, I never said I was a pro at video games, I just enjoy playing them.

Until next time, folks. Keep on Gaming.


1 comment:

  1. The music in this game is flawless as well. I, like you, have a heart for this game, and appreciate your review.