Games of August 2019

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (NES)

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is one of those classic NES games that rely on pattern memorization and lightning-fast reflexes (and by far not one of the hardest). You are a boxer, Little Mac, who fights a series of goofy-looking fighters from all over the world including stereotypes of their countries: the first guy you fight is an underpowered Frenchman who can barely take a punch, the Indian is a turban-wearing magician, the Russian is a heavy vodka drinker (despite being renamed as Soda Popinski from "Vodka Drunkenski", though the dialogue still suggest alcohol), etc., with the "final boss" being real boxer Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, later releases of the NES game replace Mike Tyson with "Mr. Dream", a generic-looking white guy, which extended to the Virtual Console re-releases. (Final Rating 3/5).

Mother (NES)

With EarthBound and its sequel Mother 3 covered, the last frontier in Shigesato Itoi's trilogy, the original Mother. Released in 1989 in Japan with a strangely charming commercial but never released in the West, despite being fully translated and debugged. The end result was leaked in the late 1990s as "EarthBound Zero", the "Zero" appended by hackers to differentiate from the SNES game (as the NES game was supposed to be released as simply Earth Bound). Eventually, in 2015 Nintendo released it on the Virtual Console as EarthBound Beginnings but it has no difference between the prototype leaked in the late 1990s.

It's not really anything by today's standards, but it was innovative in the NES days by taking RPGs out of the sword-and-sorcery landscape (like Dragon Quest) and into a light parody of modern America. There's no story elements to be missed between Mother and Mother 2 with the exception of Giegue/Giygas promising to back for revenge. It's relatively short, and most of the game is largely grinding so Ninten and the other two kids don't die. Yes, it's only THREE kids, despite naming four and getting a chance to play with all of them, they don't get in time simultaneously like EarthBound does. The fourth kid, Teddy, is actually a pretty competent fighter that's worth trading in the Jeff equivalent for, but he retires toward the end of the game due to story-related injuries sustained (it's clarified in the Earth Bound release that he merely was injured and made a full recovery, and not killed). By the time I made it to Giegue, I was literally about to call it quits because it was that frustrating. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they really liked the other two games in the series and wasn't proud enough to not use a walkthrough, as the factory levels can be incredibly frustrating. (Final Rating: 2.5/5)