Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Top Gun

Retro Game of the Day! Top Gun

Top Gun by Konami, an early 1987 NES release based on the extremely popular Tom Cruise film released a year earlier.

Aaack. I feel somewhat ashamed to be writing a daily retrogame-themed blog for just about a whole year now, and am only just getting to mentioning this game. Asleep at the wheel, you know?

Anyway, if you were in your early teens when the NES was released stateside, odds are quite high you had this game; either you bought it with your afterschool job money, you borrowed it from your buddy, you stole it from the fat kid in class, or you got it as a present for your Bar Mitzvah. In any event, the visuals and sound effects of this title are still deeply burned into the back of your brain all these years later. The frenetic dogfights, the captivating explosions, the trademark Konami music and sound effects. Know what else is burned into the back of your brain?
That's right - the accursed landing sequence. Many jokes have been made about how after every round of play, you needed to properly land your F-14 Tomcat on the aircraft carrier, and how this apparently was programmed to be an accurately advanced simulation of how difficult it would be to do in real life. So few video games have had segments as frustrating and critically intense as this one right here. Doesn't look like much, but the blood pressure of a million gamers jumps on viewing such a screenshot.

In spite of it's rep, the landing sequence wasn't that difficult. Going through it a few times, one could figure out the "trick" to it and nail it nearly every time. As for the rest of the game, it was standard conventional flight-sim fare, arcaded-out for the NES crowd. Rather spartan in presentation, but quite unique for it's time and handled well-enough to be rather enjoyable. Flying, dodging, and blasting away in first-person on the NES was not really done - ever - and they did an impressive job in this case.

Top Gun for NES will never be much remembered past it's flaws, but a few of us remember how much of a charge the film was when it released in the theater, and how crazy good the NES cart seemed when we all played it in our living rooms.

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