Old school is always cool: it’s time for our Retro Game of the Week!
The Nintendo Entertainment System turns 30 this year, and while I am not telling you that to remind all of you how very old you are, I do want to point out the many lesser known hits from the three decades. Everyone has sitting in their collection the Marios, the Zeldas, and the gobs of Mega Man titles, but the barrier to entry for software during the NES days meant the avalanche of awesome and sometimes (maybe lots of times) not-so-awesome games was ever flowing. Here today though I want to bring to your attention a hidden gem from Nintendo’s early glory days, a Taito published game called “Demon Sword”.
The cover art has laughably nothing to do with the actual game. The main character is not the man-child born from parents He-Man and Rambo, but a samurai wearing a Japanese kimono. The Japanese version cover art is more accurate, but the game inside the box is the real treat here. Demon Sword is a side-scrolling action game that feels like Ninja Gaiden (not quite as hard) and has a very distinct oriental flavor. The player can leap and float through the air ala Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the main weapon, the Demon Sword, is quick and deadly. The game has seven stages including the final boss and the difficulty ramps up quickly after the second stage. The boss fights at the end of each level are of varying difficulty and the levels themselves are diverse and well planned. Your main weapon gets more powerful after defeating certain bosses, gaining length and generally looking more totally awesome. An array of power-ups and secondary weapons, like ninja stars, help keep the combat fresh. As the main sword gets more powerful and larger, faster enemies become easier to destroy. You are out of luck if you wanted to play as the beefy barbarian dude on the cover, being an awesome samurai killing machine is something your just going to have to settle for. The game hit American shores in 1989, at the halfway point in the consoles life cycle and generally faded into somewhat obscurity. It must have sold reasonably well as used copies are inexpensive and relatively easy to locate. Though the game is sometimes mentioned in various “Top NES Games” lists and videos, it doesn’t get the attention that some other big name titles get besides being a pretty excellent game. Grab a copy of it if you can and dust off that old NES for some slashing action that won’t make you curse quite as much as you would playing Ninja Gaiden.
Be sure to check back each week for more Retro Game suggestions and as always, keep listening to the Just Us Geeks Podcast for everything games new and old, tech, toys, movies, sports, and all of our ramblings.