Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keith Courage in Alpha Zones

Hudson Soft / NEC

Being that this pack-in action-platformer was my very first Turbo game, I was pretty excited to give it a try back in 1989. Ten minutes into my first session with it, I'd already determined that it wasn't any good, so I shut it off and started playing The Legendary Axe instead. I didn't get around to beating it until a long time after that, as it was a game I never really felt like playing. But as middling as it is, it gradually made its way over to my good side.

KC's flaws have been discussed ad nauseam, but since I like to nauseate people, I'll do a recap. It feels terribly repetitive, whether you're grinding for cash by fighting beanie-wearing midgets and flying cats in the overworld areas or wandering around in the every-path-looks-the-same underworld zones. Also annoying are the slow gameplay in said overworld areas and the inevitable blind leaps into spike pits in said underworld zones.

But enough about the bad stuff. Let's do something that deviates from the Keith Courage-article norm: focus on the game's positive elements.

The basic concept itself is awesome: a goofy fellow bumbles around a wacky overworld and earns cash for blade upgrades and auxiliary bombs; then, he puts on a mecha-like suit, pulls out a lightsaber, and battles his way through a dark, mazelike underworld.

Everyone loves the "donning the suit" sequence that takes place as Keith enters the underworld.

The "gun guy" is one of the most memorable enemies in Turbo history, without a doubt.

Actually, many of the enemies, particularly the bosses, look pretty darn cool, even though they fight like chumps.

There's also the flashing title screen, which got me all pumped up for 16-bit gaming the first time I saw it. The upbeat, electric track that plays during that fancy opening is extremely cool, as is the eerie boss-battle tune, and the sound effects are incredibly dynamic. And let's not forget the bit of text at the end that advises us to watch for a "NEXT KEITH COURAGE ADVENTURE." Man, I'm psyched for that.

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