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Vice: Project Doom




Genre: Action

Publisher: American Sammy

Total time played: 3.5 Hours

Short review: An action platformer that plays like Ninja Gaiden mixed with Batman, with some first person action as well as some driving levels. The game also has a pretty involved story.

Interesting links related to Vice: Project Doom

Fresh Air

After so many long, hard and/or boring games in a row it was nice to get a short and to the point game with good controls, a good story and no unfairness…well, almost no unfairness.

That’s Different

The first stage of the game is a top down driving stage that plays like Spy Hunter where your goal is to drive fast and clear anything in your path with a gun. Before playing the stage you are presented with the beginning of a story that feels like a futuristic film noir. After beating this level you are presented with more story and then finally, the title screen. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game with playable prologue before the title screen, at least not on the NES.

drive.jpg?w=875Starts out as a driving game

Hey, Wait A Minute

After the first driving level I had assumed the game was a driving game, but, I was wrong. The first level after the title screen is a side scrolling platformer that plays like a mixture of Batman and Ninja Gaiden, but, not as good as either of those.

platform.png?w=256The bulk of the game looks and plays like this.

Controls and Gameplay

The gameplay is really straight forward, A jumps, B swings your sword. Most enemies are killed with a single hit and bosses are all pretty easy with easy to distinguish patterns. Throughout each level the enemies you kill will drop 1 of 5 items:

Coin – Collect 100 of these for an extra life. There are unlimited continues and levels are pretty short so I never really felt the need for these extra lives.

Skinny tube?? – This replenishes 2 points on your health

Hunk of Meat – This replenishes a lot more of your health

G – Adds grenades to your inventory. To select the Grenade, hit select until it is highlighted on the heads up display at the bottom of the screen. Grenades are thrown in an arc and have a pretty big blast radius.

B – Adds bullets to your arsenal. To shoot the gun, hit select until the gun is highlighted. The gun has a longer range than the sword but not much longer. I found this to be the least helpful weapon in the game.

As a side note, I used the sword 90% of the time, so much so that I rarely if ever ran out of bullets or grenades. It wasn’t until I was on the last level that I realized B was for bullets and G was for Grenades. I thought G was for gun and B was for bomb.

Another Game?

After a few levels you are presented with the 3rd type of gameplay, it is a first person on rails shooter where you move the cursor over the enemies and fire. There are 2 of these levels in the game, both are short, which is good, any longer and they would have gotten old.

first-person.png?w=256A different type of level

The Story

I’m not going to go into the story, mainly because I don’t remember exactly what it is about as I only read through it once. But, I can’t think of another game on the NES with a more detailed story. In fact, this video, shows just the games cutscenes and is 14 minutes long! Compare that to a game like Super Mario Bros. which has 0 cutscenes and no story.

Pretty Shallow

The music in the game is pretty great, the controls are solid and the level backgrounds and gameplay is pretty varied. But, there really is no depth to the game, no strategy. For the most part, you just use your sword and walk through the levels fairly easy. I’d say of the 11 levels I got through 6 of them on my first try. With unlimited continues it was easy to practice the harder levels until I mastered them.

I also found the enemies to be pretty random and not detailed. There didn’t seem to be any consistency to the enemies, it was just a bunch of random guys with non-memorable looks. But, as I said earlier, the game is mainly polished and feels incredible after the last few games I’ve had to suffer through.

That Final Level Difficulty Spike

As expected, the further into the game you get the harder it is. The final stage was pretty difficult, guys jumping out and throwing stuff at you from every which way. There are even some big holes you have to navigate while dodging triple ninja stars thrown by Ninjas who come out of the holes. Not only that, the narrow platforms provided disintegrate if you stand on them for too long. I spent more time on this level than all other levels combined. But, I eventually got pretty good at the level and could get to the final boss every time.

The Final Boss

The final boss is pretty underwhelming, its just a guy who looks like you, he jumps between the middle and both sides of the screen and fires his gun if you are not close to him and swings a sword if you are. After a few tries I found the secret, when he lands a jump and shoots his gun you can hit Down+Forward and run toward him in a ducked position avoiding his bullets. Get close and hit him a few times with your sword. If you hit Down+Forward to early, before he shoots his first bullet at you, he will shoot from a crouched position and you won’t be able to run toward him. After getting the feel for this he is easy to beat.

The Final Final Boss

This is one of those games with 2 final bosses and of course the final final boss is massive and a nightmare to beat.

The first 5 or so times I got to the final boss I didn’t get a single hit in before I died. After watching some videos I found a strategy, stand under his legs so that when he lands a jump you can swing your sword at him from below. This didn’t work for me, you have to be in the perfect position or he is going to kill you quick.

After a lot of trial and error I found that you can easily dodge the projectiles he fires when he lands. After dodging, throw a bomb to do one hit point of damage. Unfortunately, I never had enough bombs to actually beat him. If you die on the final boss you have to play through the final stage again, I was able to find a spot in the final level where I could farm bombs. As it turns out, the enemies re-spawn if you walk off screen and then walk back. On top of this, the enemies always drops the same items. So, I was able to gather a lot of bombs and refill my health before the final fight.

I was feeling confident with full health and 32 bombs, more than enough to beat the boss. But, after hitting him twice the screen turned red and I died. I thought the game glitched so I tried again, same result. It turns out there is a timer in the game, one that never came into play before this level. There isn’t time to farm health and bombs because then you won’t have enough time to beat the boss!!

After some trial and error I learned that throwing a grenade at the boss right before he lands his jump allows you enough time to dodge his projectiles and because the grenade explodes so slowly it actually hits him two times. With this new strategy I only needed half as many grenades!

final-boss.gif?w=256This guy took longer to beat than the rest of the game combined.

Final Thoughts

After a bunch of brutal and un-fun games Vice: Project Doom felt like a masterpiece. But, it isn’t a masterpiece, it is just a really solid game that is in the top 20% on the NES library but never reaches that all-time classic feel. As detailed and long as the story was I was disappointed that the end of the game was just a quick story wrap up and this:


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Nice, dude. I played this for the first time a few months ago. I remember thinking "this is a pretty good game," and "I will probably never play it again."

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