Also known as "3-D WorldRunner" from the box-art, this is a weird one. I certainly had never heard of it during the NES' original run... Apparently it's the first game made by Square to be imported to North America, and came with a pair of 3-D glasses. I must say, I was intrigued.
Graphics - 3/5
The graphics are pretty terrible from what I saw. One half of the screen is a two-tone checkered floor that is constantly scrolling at you; the top half is some basic scenery to let you know what kind of planet you're on. Our hero is some dude in a green jumpsuit, I guess he's supposed to be a space cowboy. The enemies tend to just be shapes with smiley faces for the regulars, and the bosses are all worms made of chains of circles with different heads. I give a 3 because they were at least trying something new with this game. I can't think of very many examples of 3D attempted on the NES, and they did succeed somewhat in making you feel like you're moving in the screens direction.
|They really don't look like they would kill you instantly.|
The sound really sucks. The music is about as boring and stock as can be... maybe this was the game that made Square realize music matters. The sound effects are all the bare minimum; which matches their score of 1.
Gameplay - 3/5
There seems to be only 2 types of gameplay here. During the primary levels, you simply walk forward. Yeah... that's it... You can hold up to go faster, you can slide left and right, and jump with A. The objective being to not touch anything but the stars, which only seem to give you points. I imagine 100 stars gives you a 1-up, but I didn't get nearly that many. You can also touch balloons, which will take you to a bonus area to get a few stars for free. The biggest hazard are the gaps in the checkered floor. They slide out of the horizon, sometimes it's hard to gauge how big they are, sometimes they come in pairs... I would say these are what is going to kill you 90% of the time. You die 3 times, the game shows you a preview of the next boss, and the game ends. No continues, no passwords. I don't know, maybe it's supposed to be like an arcade game and just go on forever... but no sane person in this day and age would put the time in to become skilled enough to finish this shit with no continues. I should also mention, the controls are actually really responsive; it does feel like you could get good enough to complete this game. Then there's the boss fights. I only did one, took about 10 seconds. Space Cowboy starts flying and shooting fireballs, the worm retreats to the back of the screen, and you shoot him until he dies. The worm is so slow, you would pretty much have to choose to die to him, which you might be better off doing in the long run.
|Maybe I need the 3D glasses to appreciate it?|
For as bad as this game was, I can't say I'm sorry I played it. It's actually somewhat enjoyable until you discover there's no continues. I died on the first world around 20 times before I completed it; didn't even have to think about it, just wanted to keep playing. I went back for a little more as I was writing this and discovered if you crash into the pipes you get power-ups. Almost everything else you touch kills you instantly... and with so precious few lives I wasn't really open to experimenting the first play-through. I did this 3 times with 2 outcomes. Twice I got a mushroom that killed me instantly. Once I got a rocket that gave me the fireball attack from the boss fight; but it didn't help with the gaps any. It's also just interesting to play such an early offering from Square... Like they realized crap like this wasn't going to fly, and they needed to step their game up. I think they brought back the 3D WorldRunner team after Final Fantasy 6 though. I will leave you now with a bonus screen-shot... the preview of the World 2 boss!
Keep it Classy!
|Imagine this on the Virtual Boy!|