Electrician, Famicom Disk System

Electrician is a simple wire-connecting game originally made by Synapse Software for Atari 8-bit computers, and later converted to the Famicom Disk System by KEMCO in 1986.

The game is set in New York; the opening cut scene shows a beautiful and poignant pixel representation of the Twin Towers.

Electrician is quite playable. You climb ladders, run around, and jump between levels, so you can run wires between junctions and restore power to the building. Nasties roam the levels and become more challenging to deal with as the game progresses.

Between the vertically-scrolling ‘main’ levels there are also side-scrolling sub levels. To be honest, though, they don’t really add much to the game and are relatively empty in terms of features.

Electrician is an interesting short-term curiosity that is fun to play for a while but not particular challenging.

More: Electrician on disksystemworld.net

Lutter, Famicom Disk System

Lutter is an obscure-but-interesting combination of platform game and maze game, but with RPG elements – like levelling – also thrown into the mix.

You play the titular Lutter, a knight of the realm on a quest to rescue the princess from a maze-like castle of platforms, ladders, doors and monsters.

The aim of the game is to collect keys and power-ups and to find the door to the boss room, then defeat the boss in each level. Getting through the door to the boss room is no easy task, though, and a number of key-based puzzles must be solved before getting there. These get harder as the game progress, although these are generally quite clever in their design.

Combat also plays a big part in the game. Just touching an enemy will initiate combat and you only have a limited number of hit points before death. You can regenerate health by standing still and being left alone, which is very useful. Running away to find a place to heal up is part of the fabric of the game. As are regenerating monsters – when you kill one it will soon regenerate via a door in the room. This can sometimes be a real pain, but in a level-grinder like this it can also be very useful because you can stay in certain places and keep on killing monsters for experience. Boss battles are bit weird and anticlimactic, but are at least not so difficult as to hamper progress.

One good tip for combat in Lutter, though, is to never get attacked while on a rope or a ladder. You’re pretty much defenceless in that situation, but if you attack a monster while IT is on a rope or a ladder (and you are not) it will give you a big advantage.

I really like Lutter. It’s quite basic-looking, but very playable and challenging. There’s a fan-made English translation around, which makes it even better. Well worth a play!

Ai Senshi Nicol, Famicom Disk System

Translating into English as “Love Warrior Nicol“, Ai Senshi Nicol is an obscure Konami shoot ’em up, released for the Famicom Disk System in 1987. It has, to date, never been released outside of Japan.

Despite the funny name, Ai Senshi Nicol is actually quite a tough SOB overhead shooter, reminiscent of Sega‘s Alien Syndrome (actually released the same year as this), and also Nintendo‘s Zelda. It might look a bit cute from the screenshots, but the gameplay is anything but.

You run from room to room, killing monsters, avoiding traps, looking for diamonds and power-ups, and trying not to fall down holes. If you do fall down a hole you drop to a lower level that you must then escape from to return to the main level (each level basically has its own basement).

What makes the game difficult are the regenerating monsters. They are quite hard to kill as it is, but also re-spawn very quickly. Some of them are pretty scary and that’s without even mentioning the boss battles…

Ai Senshi Nicol is not a bad game at all. It’s not a well-remembered classic (especially not as Konami games go), but is nicely made, quite weird, and very challenging.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ai_Senshi_Nicol

Otocky, Famicom Disk System

Otocky is a cute and colourful side-scrolling shooter with a unique and interesting take on the subject. It was developed by SEDIC for ASCII Corporation and first published in 1987.

You see, rather than firing bullets, you throw balls at enemies to destroy them. And you can throw the balls in eight directions, so in effect you can shoot at enemies behind you (and above and below you) too.

Otocky also has a distinct musical theme to it and at times feels (and sounds) a bit like rhythm game. As you’re chucking out balls left, right and centre you can pick up notes and letters (A, B, C, etc.) to power-up your abilities, and also your special weapon.

Completing a level involves collecting all the hidden notes and letters, and until you’ve done that the level will continue on until you die. Eventually the screen will flash and you will be presented with a boss battle. The bosses are all shaped as musical notes and have various weak spots on them for you to throw balls at.

Otocky was (and still is) a beautiful game to play, once you’ve figured out what’s going on. I had no clue what I was doing initially, but managed to work it out without too many problems. Highly recommended to anyone who likes unusual video games.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otocky

WorldRunner, Famicom Disk System

Known in its native Japan as Tobidase Daisakusen, in America as 3-D WorldRunner, and other territories as The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner – I’m sticking with the simpler and more familiar WorldRunner for this website.

WorldRunner is a third-person running and jumping game where you’re sprinting into the screen and must avoid hitting oncoming objects or falling into pits. It starts off easy but quickly gets very challenging. By stage two you’ll be tearing your hair out…

Graphically WorldRunner looks a bit like Space Harrier – the scrolling checkerboard floor, the pillars, and the end of level bosses are all reminiscent of Sega‘s 1985 arcade hit. Must be a coincidence… Anyway, gameplay-wise WorldRunner is slightly more interesting than Space Harrier. At least until you encounter the hands. When you encounter the hands you’ll probably sack it off, like I did, because they’re so damn frustrating. ‘Talk to the hand’ is given a whole new meaning…

WorldRunner was developed by Square and first came out on the Famicom Disk System in 1987. The core of the team who created this game later rose to fame as the team who made the Final Fantasy series.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_3-D_Battles_of_WorldRunner

Arumana no Kiseki, Famicom Disk System

Konami released Arumana no Kiseki in Japan in 1987. It is an action platformer with a cool rope mechanic that you use to climb to out-of-reach platforms.

Arumana no Kiseki is a surprisingly good game when you get used to the controls. The lead character, called Kaito, feels good to control, but his regular jump is a bit feeble. Which is why he has the rope, I suppose – to make up for this. Kaito can pick up and use various weapons to kill the many baddies, but only has a limited supply.

Gameplay is similar in some ways to Konami‘s own Roc ‘N Rope, and Capcom‘s Bionic Commando, but there is no fall damage in this, which is good because it frees you up to experiment with leaping around a bit more.

On the down side: the first boss battle is pathetic. If it was a dragon I fought, it looked like a petrified one… Thankfully the fight was over quickly and later bosses are not quite so stupid-looking.

Arumana no Kiseki gets the thumbs-up from me overall, though. Another hidden gem on the Famicom Disk System and one that needs no understanding of Japanese to play all the way through.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arumana_no_Kiseki

Knight Move, Famicom Disk System

Designed by the same guy who created Tetris (Alexey Pajitnov), Knight Move is a weird kind of puzzle game, with a bouncing chess piece knight who can only move in that funny ‘L’ shape that a knight moves in a real game of chess.

The knight must collect hearts by landing on top of them on the same square on the board.

The catch in Knight Move is that the bouncing knight never stops, and in fact speeds up as the game moves along. Another catch is that portions of the floor start to disappear as you bounce on them, and the holes must be avoided otherwise it’s game over. Thankfully you can reset the holes in the floor by collecting a certain number of hearts. That said: the more holes that are open, the more points you are awarded for collecting hearts. So risky play is rewarded, even encouraged.

Although the appeal of Knight Move is relatively limited there is no doubting that it is a clever and absorbing game. The simultaneous two-player game is particularly good.

Knight Move was first published for the Famicom Disk System by Nintendo in 1990.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Move

Eggerland, Famicom Disk System

HAL Laboratory‘s Eggerland is a brilliant overhead puzzle game that is also known as The Adventures of Lolo on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

That said: the Japanese and English language versions are actually quite different games. This Japanese version is considerably harder then the English version. The basic premise is the same though: pick up all the hearts, then get the key to open the exits. Avoid the various monsters and traps.

Eggerland is absolutely fiendish in its design. It’s one of those games where – if you make a wrong move – you have to quit and start again. Push a box a pixel too far and you can’t complete a level. Forget to pick up a heart at a crucial moment and you’ll have to restart. It’s brutal in terms of difficulty…

There’s no doubting that Eggerland is a great game though. It’s cute, clever and very challenging. Well worth a play today.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggerland

Druid, Famicom Disk System

Another weird one: a conversion of a British game to the Japan-only Famicom Disk System

Druid was originally created by Electralyte Software for Firebird Software on the Commodore 64, and was later converted to the FDS by Jaleco in 1988.

The full Japanese title is Druid: Kyoufu no Tobira, and the gameplay is essentially the same as the C64 original. It’s basically a maze game in the style of Gauntlet, but with baddies that can only be hurt by certain elemental weapons (water, fire and electricity), so you have to switch between them when up against certain monsters. Working out what hurts who is key to survival.

The maze in Druid is riddled with traps and everything that moves wants to kill you. Thankfully there are druidic circles scattered around that replenish your life energy, so you’re not always on the back foot.

I’ve always liked Druid as a game and this Famicom Disk System version is still fun to play now. I’d also say that it’s one of the better conversions of Druid out there and also a hidden gem on the FDS.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid_(video_game)

Fire Rock, Famicom Disk System

Fire Rock is an obscure-but-interesting platform game that was released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan in 1988.

The game features a jittery main character who can jump and climb around a cave-like environment. I say ‘jittery’ because controlling him is not easy – he’s extremely responsive and will stumble on uneven surfaces. Jumping can also be tricky when the slightest touch of the controls can be the difference between standing on a platform or not… You can also climb walls too, which has a weird ‘hold’ and ‘wiggle’ mechanic. The controls in Fire Rock take some getting used to…

That said: it is very much worth mastering the controls, or at least trying to, because Fire Rock is actually quite a decent game and it gets better as you progress. As you collect the various artefacts found scattered around the caves your abilities change, making you jump further or fire different weapons. Being able to jump further opens up new areas of the map.

Fire Rock might seem a bit crappy, and a bit overly difficult initially, but it’s a hidden gem on the FDS and is well worth tracking down to play now.