This is an NES Homebrew made by Vectrex28 called Brony Blaster. My Little Pony has been canceled and the Bronies are causing a riot. You are called in to stop the madness. Punch your way through the levels and face off against the boss!
The gameplay is that of a fairly standard beat 'em up. You can of course move left, right, up and down, as well as jump, but you can also punch the everloving shit out of people too, in true beat 'em up fashion. You can take 4 hits before death, and of course, if you fall in to any of the pitfalls, that's instant death. The punch is very short-ranged, so you have to be very careful when using it.
Thankfully, there are a few crates scattered around the levels, and sometimes when you walk over them, you'll acquire a weapon upgrade. This can range from a knife, which is essentially the same as a punch but with slightly increased range, to a gun, which makes things substantially easier and less dangerous.
In addition, there are coins scattered all over the place that you can pick up for not only additional points, but as actual currency that can be used in the level right before the boss.
There are also some light platforming elements to the game, and overall they aren't too shabby.
This prototype is only of the first world, so it's hard to really judge it just from this, but most of the time the platforming is utilized during the final level before the boss, and to hide crates or other little hidden areas, which are usually located lower than the main playing field of the stage. It certainly isn't a platformer at heart, but the platforming is a welcome addition to make the gameplay a bit more interesting and less monotonous.
There are a pretty wide array of enemies for you to fight, ranging from easy to absolute tanks.
There are two varieties of these guys. We'll call them Bronies. The only difference between them is that one of them just briskly walks at you in a straight line, whereas the other runs (and occasionally) jumps at you. Both are the basic enemy types, and both only require one hit with any weapon.
Then there's these guys. These aren't really enemies so much as they are obstacles. We'll call them Bouncing Balls. They're pretty simply, they just bounce up and down infinitely, and they'll hurt you if you touch them. They're also unkillable, so you just have to avoid them unfortunately.
Then there's these guys. We'll call them Mr. Suit. These are essentially the basic enemies on steroids. They run at you almost as quick as you can run, and they will start wildly jumping at and around you if they get too close. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but the tricky part is that you have to hit them in a specific part of their body for them to die, otherwise they'll simply bounce backwards without taking any damage and continue attacking you (except with the gun, which can kill them no matter where it hits them.) To be honest, I still haven't fully figured out where you're supposed to hit them, but it appears that if you hit them on their head, most of the time they'll go down. As long as you hit them in the head, they will also go down in only one hit with any weapon.
Then there's these freakazoids. We'll call them Ponies. These guys are essentially like longer versions of Mr. Suit, except they only jump at you in an arc, rather than initially running at you. This is also the first example of an enemy that takes multiple hits to kill! It seems to vary based upon what weapon you have, but most of the time these guys will take 3 to 4 hits to kill. Not too hard to deal with, but they can very easily catch you off guard when they spawn in.
Then there's these guys. We'll call them Billy Bomber. These guys are pretty simple to avoid, but can be devastating if they catch you off guard. Essentially, all they do is walk around on whatever platform they're on indefinitely. Once you come close to them, they'll get some cRaZy eyes for a second, and then KILL THEMSELVES BY EXPLODING THE DYNAMITE THEY'RE WEARING AS CLOTHING. YEAH. These bombs have a MASSIVE amount of range, like we're talking nearly Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde bomb levels of insane range. The explosion sprite itself is pretty small, but the range goes WELL beyond what it shows, so er very much on the side of caution when dealing with these guys. You can kill them in 2 or 3 hits, but generally speaking it's better to simply approach them, and then run away from them as fast as possible once they start gettin' a bad case of the cRaZy eyes.
Then there's these absolute rat bastards. We'll call them Car Crooks. These guys can and will catch you off guard if you don't already know they're there. As soon as they spawn in, before you have ANY time to react, they will zoom right at you at the speed of light, and there's nothing you can do to stop them unless you already know where they appear. Once they reach the end of whatever platform they're on, they'll stop for a second, and then slowly back up back to their original starting point. Once they do, if you get in front of them, they'll zoom right at you again. These guys are quite tanky, usually taking around 10 hits to kill.
And finally, there's these fellas, the tankiest of them all. We'll call them Newspaper Nincompoops. These guys are very tall, and they stand completely frozen in place, only turning to face whatever direction you're in. What's the big deal, then? Well, the deal is that they will throw newspapers every couple of seconds, and the newspapers travel in a medusa head pattern. Anyone who's played a Castlevania game, you know precisely what I'm talking about. This makes them one of the most frustrating enemies in the game, since you have to not only keep track of the arc of the newspapers, but also deal with the other enemies around them, since they'll oftentimes spawn alongside other clumps of enemies. And, to top it all off, these guys take so many hits that I'm still not sure how many it is exactly, but I count around 20. Yes, 20. And sometimes they'll spawn in places in which they're impossible to kill, so you have to just use invincibility frames to get past them. No thank you!
I would go in to detail with the boss, but hey, I don't want to spoil everything about the game (It's pretty easy)
The difficulty of this game is one of my gripes with it. Once you get used to it it isn't too bad, but it starts out rough. Enemies spawning in unfair positions, enemies spawning in literally completely unavoidable positions, enemies spawning in such a way that there's almost no way you'd avoid them if you didn't already know they were there, platforming that can sometimes be a bit unforgiving if you go for the hidden areas, etc. The amount of enemies that spawn isn't too bad, but man are the positions they spawn in punishing. I think some prior experience with the beat 'em up genre would help quite a bit when playing this game, and since I lack that experience myself, the game punished me quite heavily at first.
Let's put it this way, the difficulty of this world doesn't really feel like that of a first world. This feels more like the type of world you'd want to play once you've already familiarized yourself with the mechanics of the game. Perhaps a 2nd or 3rd world.
The visuals for this game, subjectively, are quite appealing. It has quite a dark color palette with a lot of blue in it for the first couple of levels, but it manages to still be nice to look at, with a good bit of personality to boot. Plus the title screen, as you can see above, is pretty damn awesome The enemies all have very distinctive looks and are easy to identify, you'll never confuse one enemy for another. Most of the time it's clear what is a platform and what isn't, the setting is pretty good, and it's overall just a pretty decent looking game. No complaints in that department.
The audio is also quite good and satisfying. The punches have a nice, satisfying sound to them (as any beat 'em up should) and when you get the gun, it really manages to sound powerful despite the limitations of the NES' sound. The music is also great. The title screen theme is super catchy, and the level themes are also great. Once again, no complaints there.
So, in conclusion, what did I think of the game? Well, being someone who hasn't played a ton of beat 'em up games, I thought it was quite enjoyable. I thought the limited story for the game was pretty hilarious, and I liked both the audio and visual aspects of the game quite a bit. The gameplay was punishing at first, but rewarding once you get the hang of it. There are plenty of moments that are just objectively unfair, but they don't detract much from the overall experience. I loved fighting all the different varieties of enemies, and I'd love to see what other types of enemies there'd be if the game was finished. The last level right before the boss was a nice change of pace (No spoilers ) and the boss itself, while probably being the easiest part of the game, was still quite enjoyable.
Overall, I'd give this game, in it's current unfinished state, a 7/10. Give it a try if you're a fan of beat 'em ups, it's worth a shot!