Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Top 30 Hardest NES Games Ever. Day 17

The Adventures of Dino Riki

I will only say this once to you (which is a total lie, you are going to hear this over and over, but for effect, stay with me), I will only say this once to you:  If you lose your power-ups in Dino Riki after level 4-1, you are dead in the water.  Just go ahead and start over, do not waste your time.

Remember Adventure Island and level 8-2 (of course you do, even I am sick of me talking about it at this point), well imagine a game where every level was like 8-2 and the last four levels were like 8-2, but the difficulty has been increased exponentially.  You don't have to imagine, because that game exists and it is called the Adventures of Dino Riki.  Please do not be fooled by its bright colors or comically drawn caveman hero, this game is a vicious pack of evil.
Like many tough scrolling shooters on this list so far, Silver Surfer, Ikari Warriors II, Abadox, learning the level design and enemy placement is very important to success, but AoDR decides that those things are simply not enough.  Instead, AoDR throws in a few extras you don't really need to make the game even harder.  For instance, the game is a scrolling shooter, meaning that the playfield scrolls automatically, so as you play, Dino Riki marches happily and heedlessly along toward the end of the level.  I say heedlessly because Dino Riki will lemming himself right off a cliff, into a river, or into the path of a fire-breathing triceratops (they don't teach you about that one in elementary school!).  He will not stop, so when you are faced with one of these serious problems, you are going to have to do some fancy maneuvering to stay alive. That's not uncommon, we have that in Silver Surfer.  But wait!  There's more.  Since you are already on a forced scroll, why don't we throw in some really tricky, platforming-esque, jumps for you to execute?  With the birds-eye perspective and constant scrolling, these jumps will be some of the most dreadful things you'll encounter in the game.  Be prepared to lose many, many lives figuring out how to make these jumps, even once you feel you have the hang of it.
The jumps alone make AoDR harder than half of the games on this list already, and we haven't even talked about the monsters.  All scrolling shooters have things for you to shoot at, and most usually they shoot back.  The Adventures of Dino Riki decides to up the ante a bit by doubling and sometimes tripling the amount of hostiles on your radar, throwing as many as twenty enemies (and probably more) at you at once of several different varieties.  And the intensity never lets up.  By level 1-3, you are already starting to see swarms of bad guys and you'll be pushing your reflexes to the max to keep up.

Your only saving grace in the entire game are the power-ups.  Your weapon has four stages (I don't count the fifth, your mega form because it is useless and is guaranteed to get you killed, avoid), first little rocks, then axes, then boomerangs and finally fireballs.  The fireball is the only weapon that can be rapid fired (the rest require you to rapidly press the button), and is the only weapon that can be fired in greater quantity than there are foes on the screen. The boomerangs are good, but the fireballs spread out and give you the most complete coverage.  Armed with the fireballs you stand a pretty good chance of fending off most of the enemies that are sent your way.  But fireballs do not help you make those vicious jumps that are coming.  To bypass those horrible perils, you are going to need to find the pterodactyl wings (the manual calls it a bird, but pterodactyl fits their them better and I think it is cooler).  This power-up enables you to fly over all of the ground obstacles, and thus avoid those nasty jumps.  If you pick up two pterodactyl wings before you take off, you will be able to land once and then take off again.  And this is important, because although you are up in the wild blue yonder, you are going to miss a few other important power-ups on the ground (you can only pick up the power-ups by walking over them, not flying).  You are going to want to collect every single heart that you uncover because they add hit points to your pool and give you more chances to keep the game going.

Even armed with fireballs, pterodactyl wings, and all of the hearts you are still not guaranteed success.  Eventually an enemy will get through your barrage; there are some that fly right under your firing pattern.  And while flying keeps you from having to navigate ground obstacles, since you are shooting down at your enemies, you cannot shoot through those ground obstacles, so you will have to still act like you are walking on the ground in order to be able to have a clear shot at the bad guys.  And if you are hit, you will lose your wings and your weapon will be reduced a level.  The trick is simple: don't get hit.

Once you have all of this down pat, the first three levels of the game will be much easier for you to complete.  Heck, you might get good enough to be able to fireball fly through all of them.  And then you will hit level 4.  Level 4 is made up of four of the hardest, most intense scrolling shooting levels I have ever played (and we have at least two more scrolling shooters on the list coming up!).  Actually, levels 4-1 and 4-2 aren't so terrible.  They are hard, but they are not impossible.  Levels 4-3 and 4-4, however, well, you can forget it.  You had better be damned near perfect if you stand any chance of getting to the final boss at the end of 4-4.  If you lose your power-ups anywhere, at any time after level 4-2, just turn the game off and go take a nap or do something else.  It is nearly impossible to work your way back to full power once you have lost your power-ups and to add insult to injury, you also lose hearts each time you die, so you will have less and less hit points to work with.  What you end up with is a slow grind to death as you struggle for air. Just start over.
Just look at that ancient bastard!

With no continues (without cheating) and such painfully designed levels, The Adventures of Dino Riki makes for one extremely difficult game.  I was able to get to the final boss fight three times, but each time I had so few hit points left that I was unable to take him down.  The game is short, takes about an hour to get to the final boss, but the challenge is high and if you lose your power-ups you are toast.  I have a feeling one good, lucky, perfect run and Dino Riki falls to you, but it is going to take true mastery of the game to make that run possible.

1 comment:

  1. im doing a review show and im playing this game next i gotta say the jumping is b.s.! look for them wings and fly like u drank a redbull