Saturday, November 26, 2011

Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode (NES)

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It’s a secret to everybody.

It is not every day I discover a gem while I’m derping around a mall attempting to avoid the hassle of actually clothes shopping for the incoming winter; it was however ordained that the game trader would carry one of the greatest NES games it has ever been my pleasure to play, this game was Golgo-13. Golgo-13 is an action RPG that consistently switches between multiple modes as you journey to clear your name before the KGB manages to kill you. From my research into this game prior to playing it I noted that this particular game went largely unnoticed upon its release, one of the many gems of the console that never truly received the recognition it deserved.

Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode is based upon the manga of the same name, which at the time of the release of the American Localization had never reached North American soil so for the most part the average player of this game would be unawares of many of the references in the game, most notably the main characters moniker “Golgo-13”. American localization and censorship heavily took a toll on this particular game as many of it’s original sexual, and violent references were removed to spare the western audience from such horrors, as such many cut scenes come off as a tad awkward and several sprites were edited in order to remove anything deemed sexual.

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It certainly is a beautiful evening.

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The gameplay controls are very tight for an early nes title, and the game itself is very solid as there are different modes of play you will go through as you advance throughout the game. Though despite all these modes of play there is one constant, at certain intervals during any given stage you will either see a gun or the like which would startup a first person shooting scene where you must turn around and shoot at your adversaries as they dodge around attempt to kill you.

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By the way, he’s shooting all of these with a handgun, that shoots missiles.

Most vidya game use a lives system where when you die you lose a life and after you run out you are treated to a game over screen and forced to restart, Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode takes this differently, instead of lives you have “Episodes” in total you have 52 “episodes” and when you run out you are immediately taken back to the start menu and forced to start the game over again. These episodes do not start at 52 and go down like a normal lives system would, these instead count up as if each attempt were part of a series with the last life being the ultimate conclusion. This game has been well noted for its interesting life system and in my opinion it makes the game more interesting for it, however these lives come at a cost, there is no save or password feature so you are forced to tough out the entire game in one sitting. The game isn’t to long and can be beaten in an hour or so if you know what your doing.

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I personally think this is the coolest title screen in the world, oh and the #2 is the life county thing I mentioned.

The stages you traverse through will change as you will go from walking through a town one second and be flying around in a helicopter the next second, later you may even be swimming in the ocean or exploring unending mazes. Throughout all these stages your actions remain largely the same, you move forward and shoot, the only time in which this changes is when you are on foot in which you have the option of jumping and delivering a kick which causes things to explode. An interesting aspect of the game is that your HP consistently counts down but whenever you kill an enemy you gain both HP and ammo, which in my expert opinion is absolutely ballin.

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All Green Shirts exist purely to feed your life force.

Remember how I mentioned multiple modes of play? Well there are quite a few of them; they are the standard side-scrolling stages where you are Golgo-13 and you kick and shoot your way across whatever part of the world you are in, the next is the stage where you fly a helicopter and shoot other planes (like in any side-scrolling space shooter), there is an underwater stage where you swim around which controls like a combination of the Helicopter and Walking stages, another mode of play that will honestly be frustrating are the first person maze stages which I will discuss later.

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Yes, even these flying contraptions with spinning circlie-doo’s exist to feed your life force.

Before I talk about the maze stages I will mention one of the more interesting facets of Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode, the game has some cut-scenes but what really stands out is the NPC interactions Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode has lots of interactions, whenever you enter a building or station there is an NPC which will engage you in conversation and at certain instances you will be able to talk to NPC’s which happen to be walking by.

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The NPC’s will commonly give plot related info, or advice for how to move on in the game; sometimes people will just complain to you about how they hate communists.

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There aren’t really that many cut-scenes as opposed to the NPC interactions what more the cut-scenes are limited in content.

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They are pretty much this, but for about a minute or two.

Now I feel that it is imperative that I talk about the maze stages, as these very stages are the bane of any person who has had to play through this game. These mazes are difficult, if anything they are the most difficult part of this game as they lack any kind maps to help you find your way to the end, and they are typically filled with soldiers and traps trying to kill you. To make matters worse to the unseasoned player there is a maze in this game which was put in specifically to kill the player, this particular maze has no ending and goes on into infinity. Aside from the dick move that is the infinity maze the other mazes require patience, a good hand at mapmaking(or a Google search for online maps), and a quick trigger finger for killing the soldiers before they can hit you. Though I think it’s best that I let you glean a better understanding of what horrors these mazes are, so below I shall include a brief video highlighting the mazes.

Surprisingly enough I found this game while thrift store shopping and was honestly astonished by what a great game this is, I find that it holds a good deal of replayability in it as the game has lost of little odds and ends in it (i.e. the thermal goggles, and NPC interactions) that are easy to miss. This game is hard to pin into any given category such as “Platformer” or “FPS” as the game combines elements of an RPG, with side-scrolling occasional platforming, with beat-em up action with interspersed first person shooter segments. So if you are a fan of any of those things it’s probably a good bet you will enjoy this game. This game has become a personal favorite of mine and I believe that if you (the reader) were to give it a chance it would occupy a special place in your heart as well.

Long story short: This is a good game that is relatively inexpensive so you should get a copy.

Fun Fact: This game has a sequel, so if you enjoyed this you would most likely enjoy the sequel which is an aesthetically pleasing prettier and more finely tuned sibling to this diamond. It is called, Golgo-13: The Mafat Conspiracy.

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