Monday, July 4, 2011

The Top 30 Hardest NES Games Ever. Day 4

The Adventure of Bayou Billy

As a kid this game was, to my limited mind, a Backwoods Double Dragon clone.  I think this perception wass based mainly on the fact that I never got much farther than level 2, a testimony to this game's difficulty. (To be fair, as a kid, I also didn't know "Cajun" from "Kiwi" so to me, Bayou Billy could have just as easily been Crocodile Dundee...)  As an adult, I put more time and effort into exploring the game's depth and discovered that it was, in fact, far more than just a hillbilly martial arts game.
The Adventures of Bayou Billy is actually a fairly deep, multi-faceted adventure game combining many different game play elements into a rollicking ride that, in all honesty, turns out to be one of the most fulfilling NES experiences I think you will find.  The game is a perfect blend of martial arts platforming, first person shooting, and something like Hang-On in a rickety truck.  Before it is all over you'll fight alligators bare-fisted, dodge bomb dropping helicopters, and have a shoot out or two in the French Quarter.
Individually, I can't really say the levels are particularly hard, although the later levels on Bourbon Street and the Estate are pretty intense, however the sum total of all of the levels combined creates for a truly challenging experience.  I think some of the difficulty comes from switching formats and adjusting to the new challenges.  The martial arts platforming is pretty tough until you master a few successful strategies (I recommend the old "kick and run" made famous in Double Dragon for the 2600).  You will most likely play these levels several times over until you get the hang of it.  The first person shooter levels aren't particularly hard, but they do feature some tight spots that want you to be very accurate and very quick on the draw.  Finding the secret power-ups on these levels are the key to success.  The driving levels are maybe the toughest of the lot, but only because they require fast reflexes and a good memory.  Once you learn the course and can anticipate the dangers you can maneuver them with skill.  The greatest challenges come, appropriately enough, in the final levels in the French Quarter and on the Estate.  The enemies start carrying far more potent weapons (but if you can snag a whip, you have a much better chance) and they hit much harder.  The last two boss fights are exercises in patience more than skill, mainly because if the bosses get a hold of you, you are toast.  You'll do a lot of running away to survive, but tough it out long enough and you will emerge victorious.
That's right, that fancy Declaration of Independence all you Americans are so proud of, was signed by a guy named Button.  Button, honest to God.

Limited continues and few extra lives mean you'll have plenty of opportunity to learn the early levels inside and out; it also means that you'll spend plenty of time making slow, but eventual progress toward the end of the game.  The good news is the game features just the right balance of challenge and fun to ensure that you'll get a little farther each time and eventually beat the game without becoming so enraged that you want to destroy personal property (those games are on the list, just higher up).  It only takes a couple of hours to beat the game, but you'll invest far more time than that learning how to do it. 

The Adventures of Bayou Billy is a highly underrated gem in the NES library and it makes the list here because it takes some time to beat and is just hard enough that you'll not knock it out on your first couple of playthroughs.  


  1. And they used Ernest P. Worrell's face for the cover!

  2. Pretty damn close, Mr. Mouse. Pretty damn close!