Friday, March 10, 2017

Adventures of Dino Riki (NES) Review

πŸ”₯Written: March 9th-10th, 2017πŸ”₯
Alternate Title: Shin Jinrui: The New Type [||]
Year: 1987, 1989 | Developed and Published by: Hudson Soft
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit and----really, no 16-bit again??  If I don't review another 16-bit game soon I don't know what I'll do...
September 1986 saw the Famicom release of Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima (aka the Hudson Soft version of Escape's 1986 Wonder Boy arcade game published by Sega) which got followed by an American NES release in September 1988 as Adventure Island with Europe getting a chance to play it in 1992 as Adventure Island Classic, which no doubt many of you have heard of as its Nintendo 8-bit status is well-known whether or not you liked it, for it has been rereleased on numerous occasions (namely on Nintendo's Virtual Console downloadable services).
 
Stone hatchets at work
Long before the aforementioned prehistoric platformer would spawn a franchise however there would be another Hudson Soft-developed prehistoric game on the Nintendo 8-bit console with the February 1987 Japanese release of Shin Jinrui: The New Type (published there by Rix Soft) which wouldn't see an American NES release until September 1989 as Adventures of Dino Riki where unlike Japan Hudson Soft got to publish themselves.  This game is the prehistoric caveman equivalent of the vertical shoot'em up genre, and unlike the other Hudson Soft prehistoric game this game never got followed up by anything nor did it ever get a rerelease (not officially, at least).  So what is this game like?

I!  CREATED!!  FIRE!!!  WHICH I'LL USE
AGAINST YOU ALL!!!!!!
(Provided you don't damage me, that is)
In Adventures of Dino Riki you take control of a caveman named Dino Riki who you can move around in all eight directions as the screen gradually scrolls upward automatically, revealing more of what's ahead of you.  Of course, being the shoot'em up that it is, you can only fire in the direction ahead of you regardless of which portion of the screen you're at.  Largely you'll go about your adventure on foot, but there are moments when you'll have to platform by jumping (which takes a bit to get right), whether it be from lily pad to lily pad or jumping over a gap to a small platform (unless you have wings on your back).  Throughout the course of the game you'll stumble across helpful items which you can unveil by shooting at flowers (because that's how it works) or seemingly empty spots: there's the gems for points, boots for slight speed augmentation (yeah, this is one of those shoot'em ups), a fist to improve firepower (up to three times, everything after if you don't get hit will result in an onscreen enemy wipeout), a heart to extend your health capacity by a bit, a piece of meat to replenish any lost health, a star to wipeout all onscreen enemies, and a bird to give yourself wings to fly in midair by holding down the jump button (you can get up to two of them) so do not let go until you're over the ground.

Soaring high above ground level
All throughout you'll be facing enemies that come either by themselves or in hordes straight on or in curves from offscreen ahead of you or to either side but never from offscreen below you (save for the horned skulls), but one thing to take into account is that they will fire projectiles towards you which you must maneuver around to evade.  The initial projectiles you dish out ahead of you are the tiny weak stones that are thrown at slow speed, but once you get the fist icon you'll upgrade yourself to the stone hatchets which not only are more potent but can be thrown in quick succession at a time for a few moments, after that you'll get a boomerang which not only will be thrown at such a swift pace but also can be utilized a ton by tapping the fire button, until finally there's the firepower which is not only the strongest weapon in the game but it acts as a spread shot which can be used by simply holding down the button (as opposed to the previous three weapons where you had to consecutively tap the fire button in varying quantities).  Each time you sustain damage not only will your weapon be downgraded by one but your current speed will be downgraded by one as well which is a bit annoying but can be sustained if you successfully avoid enemy fire.

Pterodactyl confrontation
Adventures of Dino Riki's visuals are of the colorful variety, transpiring in three different locales: land, ruins, and mountains.  The land segments are plain with the foliage set on each side of the screen where sometimes you'll occasionally reach blue water with some lily pads to help you cross over, a few of which may submerge and reemerge from the water; the ruins segments take place in a desert-like landscape with the yellow sand adorned by stone walls and columns that later on you have to overcome round-shaped quicksand, some of which will disappear and reappear in place; and finally there's the chartreuse-colored mountain segments that are rocky in structure where you have to cross over dark chasms, sometimes stumbling upon fossilized crawler remains (mainly dormant, some will spring to life).  Unfortunately the boss room is lacking in variety as you essentially fight all the different bosses in the same rocky brown dead end with the identically placed swirly plant life.

Demonic pigheads; must be possessed
Dino Riki has got a cute and simple design to him, with his big eyes and basic walking animation and goes all bug eyed flailing his arms whenever he takes damage; despite firing North you can still see him from his sides and front profile whenever you move to the left, right, or towards the bottom of the screen.  Among the enemy roster you'll be facing and putting up with fanged hornets, demonic pigheads, horned skulls, dive-bombing pterodactyls, sentient skeletons, and a series of black circles circling around you as they close in on you to name plenty.  The bosses are huge and imposing, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the huge cobra snake, but likewise all the bosses share the exact same palette, but the explosion effect for when you're victorious over them is brief but satisfying.

Boomerang Power
The music in Adventures of Dino Riki is serviceable and aptly fitting for the respective settings, though they can be on the short side--unfortunately due to the lack of credits no one knows exactly who worked on the soundtrack (a part of me wonders if it was the same sound team from Adventure Island, but I might be wrong in that regard).  The first stage has the most pleasant-sounding theme as it eases you into the current setting at this point, the second stage attempts an ominous tone with the literally dead setting, the third stage sounds okay, and the final stage is foreboding in terms of composition as you're nearing the end.  The title theme is decent, the victory cue is good, and the boss theme is bombastic.

Stay clear of the deadly fire hazard
The first three stages are divided into four checkpoints, so when you lose a life you'll start again from the beginning of one of four parts of this stage, culminating in a boss fight the moment you reach the end.  The fourth and final stage, on the other hand, is divided into four parts--none of which have any checkpoints, which shouldn't be a problem if you can handle it because not only are there many helpful icons to prolong your survival (plus enemy pattern memorization is key) but also these parts are shorter than any of the first three stages by comparison.  If you're one of those people who opposes the notion of boss rehashes, having to deal with the bosses you fought previously until you face the final one... yeah, this is one of those games, I'm afraid: with the first three parts all having paths leading up to the boss you fought before and the final part having a very short path leading to the very last boss.  And while this game might have a health system you will automatically lose a life when you fall on water, fall on quicksand, fall down a chasm, get roasted by a giant laser beam-sized fire spewed by a triceratops statue, or when a skeletal crawler touches you.

A slew of boomerangs surely helps
I first played Adventures of Dino Riki when I was very little when I played on one of my Italian cousins' plug and play, and despite not being very good at it (I never got past the halfway point of the first stage) at the time it left a lasting impression on me; during the 2000's I discovered that the majority of the games I had played on the plug and play were real Famicom and NES games, and so in May 2004 my family and I had bought a top-loaded NES console at GameCrazy (RIP) but I wouldn't procure my own copy of this game until 2005 if I recall correctly (Adventure Island, which I also first experienced via plug and play, was one of the first NES games I bought) and... at the time I never really got that far either because truth be told shoot'em ups aren't exactly my strong suit when it comes to games (that and my gaming skills were not as good or as refined as they are now), at least that's largely the case.  That said though, when I revisited this game quite recently I was surprised at how manageable it was given I managed to get very far after a lot of trial and error.  <=O

So, much, death
The thing about shoot'em ups is that you have to pay attention to what's going on onscreen at all times as there will be enemy projectiles firing towards you which can be easy to miss if you're not cautious or careful... but in this case the enemies don't all fire at you at once and if you're able you can try to maneuver around them in order to avoid them.  The health system is very helpful as you don't have to worry about doing it all without receiving a single hit as is the case with the majority of games in the shoot'em up genre, but what also helps is that you can get a chance to shoot at the enemies before they get a chance to shoot at you depending on they are in relation to you (namely the horde of fanged hornets).  One other thing that really helped ensure progress is the ability to continue from the stage portion you died in once you got a game over: simply hold down the up button during the game over screen and press Start.  =)  Surely beats starting over from the beginning, thanks, GameFAQs.

Flying overhead
And while I'm on the subject, this isn't a very long game; in fact, when I looked up longplay videos of Adventures of Dino Riki on YouTube I was shocked to find that it apparently can be beaten in about as short as twenty minutes if you're truly good at it.  I don't think that's something I can manage, but the idea that a game in this genre can be beaten in such a short amount of time is a bit surprising; it would explain the highly polarizing reception this game has gotten since release (that and there's only one difficulty).  Survival in shoot'em ups require that you be at your most powerful in order to withstand your foes, and being at your slowest can make your situation very dangerous as it makes avoiding enemy firepower hard; at the same time, going very fast can prove to be a detriment if you don't learn how to control it properly as you don't want to accidentally fall off from the land or sustain damage from enemy fire.  Jumping is also something you have to practice when it comes to platforming unless you fly in midair with the wings on your back which does give you a sense of relief as you don't have to worry about going on foot (unless you get hit twice if you got two bird icons).

Life finds a way
Something I noticed when playing this game is that when Dino Riki succumbs to the deadly hazards he'll be stripped of all his speed and power but, when he loses his last bit of health from an enemy projectile he'll keep what power and speed he's got left; for instance, if Dino Riki lost his last bit of health as he had a boomerang then instead of starting over with the measly stones he'll resume from the checkpoint with the stone hatchet.  Depending on the score you got by the time you got a game over and returned to the title screen Dino Riki will have a slightly different or modified appearance; he'll either be smiling or transcend his loincloth in favor of a more modern outfit.  Also this game is very flickery at points; my goodness, I know Nintendo 8-bit games tend to have flicker issues at some points but in here it can be enough to make any of the three parts (if not all three at once) of the HUD disappear outright (mainly due to the boomerangs or the firepower)... on the bright side, I am pleased to have found one other serious shoot'em up I'm somewhat competent at playing to a point outside of Darius Twin, Super Earth Defense Force, and the dragon riding portion of Xak: The Art of Visual Stage just to name three of the exceptions (no, cute'em ups don't count, those kinds of games are much more manageable than regular shoot'em ups in my opinion).  =)

COBRA!!!!!
If you want to play a nonconventional shoot'em up where instead of maneuvering a spaceship around you have to guide a caveman who occasionally jumps then Adventures of Dino Riki is decent for what it is; if you're looking for a very difficult shoot'em up this game isn't it (oh, the fourth stage does amp things up, but the first three stages are a cakewalk once you memorized the item location and enemy patterns), not to mention that the bosses don't really put up much of a fight with their overly simplistic patterns; if you wish to play something short then I think you'll be fine.  It's certainly not a high quality title, which I'm not coy to admit, but honestly you could do so much worse than this rather harmless Hudson Soft-crafted caveman outing.

My Personal Score: 6.0/10
<( ^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^ )>
P.S. In retrospect, you can tell on a visual sense that both Adventure Island and Adventures of Dino Riki were done by the same company... right down to the fact that you're controlling a caveman that goes all bug eyed when they lose a life.
 
P.S. 2 Last Saturday I saw Logan in theatres, and I've got to say it was a really damn good sendoff for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine; and a very adult superhero movie at that for it definitely earned its R rating in terms of violence and language but also grit and emotion (there's an exceptionally human quality to this movie).  Better James Mangold-directed Hugh Jackman movie than The Wolverine, which I still like but honestly would rather watch the 138 minute extended cut than put up with the 126 minute PG-13 theatrical cut that took out the entire badass ninja fight sequence.  WHY???  That change just bothers me.  >_<
 
P.S. 3 After not having seen it for a very long time, I got to watch Don Bluth's Anastasia (the only film of his that I saw in theatres when it came out in 1997) on Netflix (I don't own a widescreen DVD of it which I should seriously rectify)... I was disappointed that they showed it outside of its 2.35:1 aspect ratio save for the ending credits (because God forbid an animated movie be shown in CinemaScope, even though nowadays that's pretty much the norm) but because it's been so long since I saw it I decided to put up with it.  I remember liking it when I was younger, but my goodness have I forgotten how good it was!  I think what struck me the most outside of the beautiful colors and wonderful rotoscoping animation combined with occasional CGI (which I also forgot was there) and very good chemistry with the main characters was the writing (the writing, in the context of the movie, carries meaning and depth I felt), and honestly I forgot half the time that it was even rated G (also David Newman's soundtrack is quite good).  I admit I was a bit hesitant to revisit it on account of learning more about the actual events that happened in years past which I feared would affect my enjoyment of it, but I'm glad to say that I still enjoyed it for what it was despite the otherwise historical inaccuracy (which I can overlook because of how good it was for a non-Disney movie of the '90s, in my opinion, and it's got heart to it).  Long story short, still love it, would like to watch it again someday in its proper format.  =D
 
Happy 30th Anniversary, Shin Jinrui: The New Type!
 
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment (spam will not be tolerated) and let me know what you think; hope you have a great day, take care!  =)

2 comments:

  1. Great review! πŸ‘πŸ» You went into so much detail.
    Diana

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    1. Why thank you, that means so much! <=)

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