May 2023 – Super Mario Land 2 (1992)

May! Warm weather! The end of hoodie times. A sad moment for some of us, a long-awaited moment of joy for sun-loving weirdos. You know what everyone loves, though? Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins.

This is another “boys in the back room” special and another easy crowd-pleaser. This was one of the first games I recall playing that really made me realize that video games were only going to get better and it was going to happen at a faster pace than I realized at a young age. It sounds silly, but it was the comparison of the graphics from Super Mario Land and its sequel that had me convinced. We went from something more rudimentary than the original Super Mario Bros. to big, cartoony sprites, world maps, and clever power-ups. Other than being in black & white this wasn’t some scaled-down version of its console counterparts: It felt like a real full-fledged console game, just smaller.  

Anyway, maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic. That doesn’t happen often, but this game definitely accesses specific memories about when I found video games really exciting.

Play it! -IF

I’m stoked to replay Super Mario Land 2 for probably the first time since childhood. My younger brother had a copy but I definitely “borrowed” it often. I remember really liking the music for the spooky zone and figuring out you can do a weird double jump in the space zone by holding down the jump button as you leave a platform.

All the bosses are fun and Wario puts up a good fight. Gunpei Yokoi even produced this one instead of Miyamoto! This one is also available on the Switch Online service, so I hope people give it a go! -NT

I got really into this game about ten years ago and I got to Wario’s castle with like eighty lives. I used like forty of those lives and got really frustrated and decided it was time to take a break. When I came back to the game an hour or so later, it was gone! My game was deleted. Do I blame a twenty year old battery or myself, for trusting a twenty year old battery. Anywho, stoked to play this on the Switch and save me that suffering again. -RV

Dexter’s Imagination – Rick V.

If you read the Dexterity manual it says something about how the entire game is made up from Dexter Doolittle’s imagination. Why would this kid put himself and these cute little creatures through so many punishing puzzles? Dexter has issues.

Rick V. helps keep Yokoi Kids afloat and does punk thing.

We Shoulda Stayed in the Sewers – Rick V.

Origin of The Last Ronin?

(The comic is a sequel to the comic I did for Fall of the Foot Clan four years ago.)

I refused to play Back From the Sewers because I hated how the turtle sprites looked. I especially hated how they stared at you on the player select screen. And the weird tippy toe way they walk threw me off too. But when I decided to finally look past the artwork (funfact: I refused to read The Watchmen for years because I hated the artwork. I was a fool), I figured how bad could it be?

Well, it’s not terrible. The animation is nice and the music is not annoying. I like how the Foot Clan soldiers look like scarecrows. Hell! The second level you are riding on a skateboard! I owed the game an apology for treating it like ugly little sibling of the first Game Boy game.

The game decided to get back at me by ramping up the difficulty toward the end of the second level. The bosses in this game are so hard. They move way too fast for your slow moving little turtle. I eventually figured out the patterns and with the helpful rewind button (Thanks, Cowabunga Collection) , I was able to get a little further.

The underground level with the big-ass spikes coming out of the ground is infuriating and from this point on, the game is no longer fun. Just a horrible chore. There are some obstacles where a one of the big-ass spikes comes up while a Foot soldier if shooting a missiles at you. There is a only a very slim chance you aren’t going to take damage on this part. The Cowabunga Collection features a little guide on how to get past these parts but it’s tricky to get it right.

And speaking of the Cowabunga Collection guide, there is a video you can watch to properly beat the giant Robo Cop to rescue one of your “captured” turtles. I tried it and failed multiple times. It’s pretty dang hard and I would just let that mechanical man kill me so I could just get to the next level.

Mousers and little flying robots re-spawn like crazy and are hard to avoid. On some stages Foot Soldiers race right at you causing unavoidable damage. And the lasers in the Technodrome make you want to throw your Switch/Game Boy/Eddie’s Emulator across the room. The wildest bit about this game is that The Shredder is extremely easy to beat and avoid, and the last boss, Krang can be beat without getting a scratch. Maybe that was on purpose?

Anywho, I’m glad I played it but never plan on playing it every again…this week.
–Rick V.

Rick V. doodles comics and does punk things.

September 2022: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From the Sewers (1991)

Hiya folks, it’s me Rick and I’m here to cover for Ian this month. Not just because he’s busy, but because like most of you folks pushing forty, I really like antics of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I love most of the comic runs, the original line of toys, the extremely solid first movie (the second and fourth movies are enjoyable in a pinch), and of course, the video games. The only thing I truly despise that is TMNT related is the original cartoon series. Sure, I loved it when I was a tiny boy. But have you laid eyes on it since you were ten? The animation sucks, most of the voices are obnoxious, and it’s not funny. Of course it was the gateway to reading the original run of the comics. Which makes me baffled why they chose to turn April into a reporter who gets kidnapped all the time and Baxter Stockman into a nerdy little white guy. And okay, fine! Baxter the Fly is pretty cool. But why are dudes in my age group so matter-a-fact that the cartoon is sacred and shouldn’t be messed with? I don’t get it!

Anywho, we covered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan a couple of years ago and it’s a game we at Yokoi Kids HQ fully endorse. Which brings us to this months game- Fall of the Foot Clan’s inferior sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From the Sewers!

Looks folks, there is a very little talk about this game that I can find on the internet. It’s a forgotten sequel that nobody seems to care about. And why should they? It’s ugly, it’s too hard, and the turtles stare at you. But from what I’ve played so far, it has some merits. The animations on it are pretty damn good (except for that horrendous walk animation), the voice samples are good, and you have some level variation that’s a bit different from the first. It’s worth playing for at least the month of September, eh? And hell, that Cowabunga Collection just came out and this game is on it! So when your done playing all the good games on that collection, play this one. Give it a shot and tell us all about it. –RV

July 2022 – Shadowgate Classic (1999)

Hi, Rick here. I allowed Ian to sit out for this introduction because I effin’ love Shadowgate in all its goofy and cryptic glory. It honestly still gives me chills when the song starts playing after smashing the mirror to reveal the courtyard. Shadowgate Classic is a straight-up port of the NES version. And I’m all for it. Except maybe for everything crammed in the little screen. It was picked by Edgard R., who wrote this about it:

““The Druid’s words still ring in your ears: Within the walls of the Castle Shadowgate lies your quest. If the prophecies hold true, the dreaded Warlock Lord will use his dark magic to raise the Behemoth, the deadliest of the Titans, from the depths of the earth. You are the seed of prophecy, the last of the line of kings, and only you can stop the Warlock Lord from darkening our world FOREVER. Fare thee well” is the first thing you read when you start your quest into Shadowgate.

Shadowgate Classic is a re-release of the NES game with the same title (the NES game also being a re-release of the game on the Apple Macintosh). I was given the game by a friend who wanted nothing to do with the title as it is not a traditional RPG or Platformer that were common on the console. His loss was my gain as I was instantly drawn in by the cover with it’s menacing gargoyle both beckoning and warning players to start their quest. You play as “The Last in the Line of Kings” on a quest to stop the Warlock Lord in his malevolent plans to raise the Behemoth. In your path are instant deaths, sharks, bridge trolls, cyclops, flesh-devouring ooze, were-ladies,  Sphinx, and dragons. Shadowgate takes heavy inspiration from point-and-click adventures and tabletop Dungeons and Dragons games, it rewards players for exploration & creative problem solving but solving a problem incorrectly can result in instant death. Trial and error is one of the best ways to transverse through treacherous terrain. The best features of this game are its creative aesthetics on each panel, the narration which is both comedic and cautionary, and the music which pairs great with each setting (Unless your torch is about to go out which in case the music will raise your heart palpitations). Similar to today’s Elden Rings and Demon Souls you’re aware of the realm that existed before the start of your story. Your role as a player is not only to foil the plans of the Warlock Lord but to also piece together the world as much as possible through tomes, scrolls, and books scattered throughout the game. The franchise continued with Beyond Shadowgate on the TurboGrafx CD and Shadowgate 64 on the N64. Re-imaginings of the original game can also be found on Steam. While every game has their own merits none inspire and captured the imagination more than the original game, which is captured perfectly on the Game Boy Color. I hope everybody has as much fun with this title as I do! Make sure to pack an extra torch!”

Playing Shadowgate on the NES was always an enjoyable and frustrating experience. I recall in high school calling my friend Jason Ghitgo to help me out when I got stuck. It’s always kinda nice phoning a friend when you are stuck in a game even if it annoys their parents, housemates, spouses, or prison guards. Sure, there are plenty of walkthroughs online, but fuck that! I fully encourage you to hit up the Yokoi Kids Twitter and see if a fellow dork can get you out of a tight spot. And heads up, you will probably spend your first playthrough wasting torches left and right. Restarting knowing what to do will save you lots of torch power.

The game is one of those Game Boy Color games than can be played on an OG Game Boy with no issues. It can be picked up for $10-$15 bucks or free if you emulate it. Don’t piss off the skeleton king! –Rick V.

36 Year Old in the Backseat – Rick V.

This is mostly a true story. I spent a good couple of hours trying to beat the last bit of Gargoyles Quest on a trip to a wedding and finally accomplished it. Except we were also chatting and Charlie introduced Eric and I to her favorite childhood song. I started playing Gargoyle’s Quest years before and kept giving up. Which is kind of like this comic, it kinda sucks. I started it weeks ago, but decided to finish it despite how bad it looks. Lil’ note, never try to objects like the interior of cars or Charlie’s hair from memory.
A reminder that you don’t have to be great at anything to contribute to Yokoi Kids!

Rick V. does punk things, writes/draws for Razorcake magazine, eats tofu, has a music podcast, and draws comics. Check him out.

February 2022: Wizards & Warriors X: Fortress of Fear (1990)

January is over?! One down, eleven to go! Grinding out 2022 already! I’m of course back to offer you all another game to check out and this month it’s going to be Wizards & Warriors X: Fortress of Fear. Here’s our kid on the scene Rick V. to explain:

“I thought I would be selfish this time around and pick a game. Even though it gets a lot of flak, Wizards & Warriors on the NES is one of
my favorite games. The sequels…are fine. When I found out as an adult
there was a Wizards & Warriors game I had to play it. At first, I was
impressed. The sprites looked nice, the music was pretty good and Kuros’
sword is actually useful. Then it got difficult with it’s cheap enemies,
crappy layout, and poor mechanics.

This Game Boy game gets a lot of hate that it  probably deserves. But it
plays so much better than a lot of crappier Game Boy titles.  February
is a short month, indulge me by playing this game for at least an hour.
It should at least be a good subject for some contributions.”

I’m actually pretty excited to have an opportunity to look at this one a little deeper. I’ve owned it for a while and remember not liking it much, but there’s something that draws me to the Wizards & Warriors games. They have halfway decent music and a very iconic art style. As a kid I always felt like these games had an air of mystery, that there were lots of things to discover. This pulls me in every few years and each time I realize that they’re pretty bad games with an above-average coat of paint and style. I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any positives to this entry and wringing some sort of enjoyment out of it. ADVENTURE FORTH! 
(There are no Wizards & Warriors games IV – VIII, just in case you were wondering about that)