Review: Evercade Data East Collection 1
Data East is a company I’m familiar with mainly due to their logo being visible on a lot of arcade games I used to play. There are some games I’ve played in this collection and some I haven’t, so I was excited to see how it compared to the other Evercade collections I’ve reviewed. Speaking of which, please be sure to check out my reviews of the Atari Collection 1 and Namco Collection 1. Now, let’s get on with it.
Burger Time – 1982
This is a platform game which immediately made me think of Chuckie Egg. You control a little chef who must make a burger. Each platform contains an ingredient such as the bun, lettuce and meat. You must run over them, so they drop on to the platform below and eventually to the bottom to create the burger. This would be easy if it wasn’t for the murderous sausages and eggs which chase you like terminators trying to erase you from history. To help you along you have a supply of pepper which can stun the baddies. You can also flatten the bad guys with the ingredients if they are below them when they drop. This is fun enough but there is a fatal flaw. You can’t jump! When you run out of pepper and get cornered there is no escape. Climbing the ladders can be tricky and getting on and off them is a bit fiddly, which can lead to some unexpected deaths. Overall, this is fun but very challenging. 3/5
Burnin’ Rubber – 1982
This is a straightforward game where you control a car which can jump. I don’t know if there is a story, but it starts with a car and someone saying, “help me!” You then chase after them and are attacked by other cars. That’s it. There are gaps in the road and your car can do huge jumps with the press of a button. I was hoping for more from this top-down racer, as it resembles one of my first (and favourite) arcade games Spy Hunter. Sadly, it pales in comparison, and I lost interest very quickly. 2/5
Karate Champ – 1984
I’d never played Karate Champ before, but I’ve played games like it such as The Way of the Exploding Fist and IK+. I was aware of Karate Champ mainly because it features in the awesome JCVD movie Bloodsport. This is a point fighting game, so rather than having an energy bar, you only must hit your opponent once to score a point. You have several moves at your disposal and moving the d-pad in different directions allows you to execute certain moves. As much as I love the nostalgia factor of playing fighting games like this, the truth is they aren’t great to play. The hit detection is a bit off, so you never feel confident you’ve hit your opponent. Plus, when you’ve been used to having multiple buttons for different attacks, it’s hard to go back to using one or two. A game best left to history. 2/5
Bad Dudes – 1988
I’ve always known this game as Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja, which let’s be honest is an awesome name for a videogame. However, this version on the Evercade is just called Bad Dudes. It’s a side scrolling beat ‘em up like Green Beret, Double Dragon, Vigilante and Shinobi to name a few. President ‘Ronnie’ has been kidnapped and only you (and a friend) can save him. You can choose to play as either Blade or Striker, but it makes no difference in terms of gameplay to be honest. The moves are simple with each character being able to punch and kick as well as jump. I’m certain this version of Bad Dudes is from the NES, which ultimately is its downfall as it’s not great. The arcade version featured big sprites with colourful graphics. This feels very flat and scaled back in comparison. It’s also ridiculously difficult which means it isn’t a lot of fun to play. Thankfully the arcade version of Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja is released later this year for the Evercade as part of the Data East Arcade Collection. I’d wait until then to play the better version. 2/5
Midnight Resistance – 1989
This is a run and gun shooter very similar to Contra. In fact, you could probably put the two together and easily mix them up. In my opinion Midnight Resistance is just as good and there are a few subtle differences. When you defeat certain enemies, they drop keys. These are used to unlock your weapon of choice so you can decide what you prefer to use. The intro is also excellent and sees you riding into battle on the bonnet (or hood) of a jeep. Midnight Resistance is a superb game and a great addition to this collection. 5/5
Two Crude Dudes – 1991
We’ve already had one side scrolling beat em up on this collection, so how does Two Crude Dudes match up against Bad Dudes? In all honesty they both aren’t great in my opinion. Let’s start with the positives. The graphics are excellent! They are just like the game, over the top, big, bold and brash. I also like the captions which appear when you hit something, and you get a 1960’s Batman style “WHAM” pop up on the screen. It’s simple to play as you don’t have many moves and punching, and kicking is done with the same button. You can jump and pick things up to throw at enemies. It all sounds great, doesn’t it? The problem is it’s hard as nails and isn’t all that fun to play. Two Crude Dudes is the antithesis of the term ‘fur coat and no knickers!’ It looks great but it doesn’t have a lot else going for it. Two Crude Dudes is one of those games I want to like more than I actually do. It’s got great colourful graphics and it’s over the top. Hell, your hulking brute can pick up cars and lob them at enemies. But the problem is there needs to be more substance to make it interesting. Golden Axe, Batman Returns, Streets of Rage, even Kung Fu Master all had that special something which gave the player a reason to keep playing. They had nuance and weren’t just a graphical showcase with no real gameplay to back it up. Shame. 2/5.
Side Pocket – 1993
Pool and Snooker games aren’t generally something I play very often, but I enjoy them when I get the chance. Going all the way back to my beloved Commodore Amiga with Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker to the more recent Pure Pool. I’d never played Side Pocket before and it’s set out with a Hustler feel, with the screenshots showing ladies wearing cocktail dresses and fast cars. It’s straightforward with a tabletop view and a line showing where the ball is likely to go when you hit it. There are different modes including a single player pocket game where you travel around the USA. Then there’s a two-player game. Side Pocket is fine, but the biggest problem is not being able to play against a CPU opponent. This hampered my enjoyment of the game as it felt a bit empty and lacking competition. For that reason, it loses a point. 3/5
Fighter’s History – 1993
It’s hard not to compare fighting games to Street Fighter 2. I mean, it’s one of the greatest fighting games of all time so comparisons are natural. With that being said, I tried to approach Fighter’s History without any prejudice and give it an honest appraisal. So, in all honesty I was quite surprised how decent Fighter’s History is and it wasn’t just a cheap cash in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a clone of Street Fighter 2, but it’s a decent one. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so if it isn’t broken then why fix it? There are 8 different fighters to choose from with their own styles. The controls follow the same pattern of weak, medium and hard punches and kicks. There are special moves for each character which require a specific combination of button presses to execute them. There’s a survival mode, versus and CPU battle. There’s not much more to say to be honest. The controls are responsive and it’s fun to play. Oh, and it has one of the greatest insults ever. I lost a match and the winner said something like “go away or I’ll turn you into a sausage!” How rude! The lovely manual you get with the cartridge describes the game as solid. That’s a perfectly acceptable way to sum up this game. 3/5
Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics – 1994
Who’d have thought there would be so many games based on cavemen? Not me that’s for sure. There are more than you think with these from my past coming to mind; Chuck Rock, Prehistorik, Bonk’s Adventure, and more recently Fire: Ungh’s Quest, which Dave reviewed. One game series I haven’t played before is Joe and Mac, but thanks to this awesome collection I can now tick Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics off that list. This is a platform game where you must leave your village and return a valuable item which has been stolen. The first thing to impress me were the graphics. They are Incredibly beautiful and very colourful. The animations are excellent and there are nice touches such as if you leave the controller alone for a few seconds Joe (or Mac) will tap his toe, scratch his head and yawn. I love this about 80’s and 90’s games! In my younger days I’d often leave the controller alone to see if the makers had put some Easter eggs or hidden animations in to impress the player. Joe and Mac can run and jump, and they have a club which can be used to bash enemies. You can also pick up new clubs and items such as chilli’s which allow you to spit fire. Joe/Mac has a health bar and can find food to eat and replenish their vitality. The controls feel tight and responsive and if I died it was my fault rather than due to poor controls. I’m early into the game but so far, I’m extremely impressed with the variety on offer. As well as the different enemies and levels, there is a cart level where you must avoid enemies and a Stegosaurus chase, so there’s lots to keep you entertained. I’m really enjoying Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics. It’s a game I want to finish so I’m taking advantage of the excellent save state feature which comes as standard with all Evercade cartridges. Highly recommended. 5/5
Magical Drop 2 – 1995
Another game I’ve never played before, and on first impression I thought it was going to be a Puzzle Bobble or Bust A Move clone. How wrong was I?! First thing to impress me was the JRPG style which is infused into the game. The intro presents different characters which reminded me of Guardian Heroes on the Sega Saturn. There is a story mode which is where I started. You’ve really got to appreciate how the makers of a puzzle game manage to fit in a story! Although it looks the same type of game as Puzzle Bobble, the gameplay is fundamentally different. There are coloured balls which fill the top of the screen, and you must align 3 of the same colours in a row to remove them from your portion of the screen. Once you do this, they are added to your enemy’s screen and vice versa. Instead of firing balls you grab them (oo er misses) from the top of the screen and then fire them back to get them to match. If there are adjacent balls of the same colour, then they disappear as well. There are also special balls which remove all the same colour from the screen. As I mentioned there is a story mode where you can pick different characters. There are also endless and battle modes. Magical Drop 2 is an absolutely fantastic game! It shares similarities with the best puzzle games like Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Tetris, and the aforementioned Puzzle Bobble, but it is also strong and unique enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with those great games. 5/5
I was quite impressed with this collection. It’s a mixed bag, but you get a bit of everything here. Puzzle games, platformers, fighting games, run and gun, and side scrolling beat ‘em ups. If anything, it goes to show how diverse Data East were with their output, and even though they had some misfires, they also made some awesome games!
The Data East Collection 1 (and other retro titles) are available on the Evercade.
Review by Chris.