It’s time to head back to that stolen pile of video games (allegedly) from my childhood and hopefully pick a beloved classic that people remember fondly to this day. Actually, fuck that. Last time I pulled a “classic” it was ‘Battletoads’. This time I’m going to look back at a game that always intrigued me, though I was terrible at it. Which is probably most games, but… shut up.
When I was young, I didn’t exactly know what to make of ‘Golgo 13’. I didn’t know why we even had it (stupid, stupid naive me). It was nothing like the other games we owned. It felt more “adult”. Almost taboo, like I was too young to play it. My older cousin also owned ‘Golgo 13’ and he beat the hell out of it many times over. To me, this just proved that I wasn’t old enough to understand it. To some extent this is true, but it turns out that it was the content that was more adult, not the gameplay.
A lot of emotions regarding this game flowed through me throughout the years. I was intrigued by it, bored by it, entertained by it, even grateful for it since it introduced me to the Anime. I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to feel about it when I get back into it.
HERE’S WHAT I REMEMBER:
Firstly, there was the side scrolling segments. During that time, when you were plopped into a side scroller, your goal is simple; go right and shoot everything. So I went right and shot the first person I saw. And nothing. It turns out that you’re supposed to maneuver through the level and shoot one specific person who is trailing you. Or did my brain just make that up? As I type this, I’m uncertain about the particulars. Maybe you did have to shoot people, but it was in a non-linear way? I remember it was different than a normal game, but for the life of me, I can’t remember how.
My memories about this game aren’t as scrambled as usual, but they aren’t necessarily that clear either. What I mean by this is that when I think about most games from my childhood there’s a huge “Reel Missing” hanging in my brain where a memory should be. In the case of ‘Golgo 13’, I’m absolutely bombarded with information. So much so that it’s like I’m revisiting several different games, and in a way, I am.
What I do remember very clearly are the segments where you have to shoot down helicopters and missiles in a first person perspective. I also remember being annoyed by these segments, like they were filler. I doubt I would have used the word “filler” at the time, but it’s the best way to describe the “uggggghhhhh, not this again, this is dumb, and boring, and stupid” feeling that popped into my head when I remembered it.
Speaking of filler, the rest of my memories are basically just that: filler. I can remember the opening where the helicopter explodes, the zooming in on Golgo 13’s eyes, him constantly turning towards a building where someone walks into his view to chat with him, and of course, the time(s?) where he’s in a room with a woman, the light goes out. Yup, there’s banging in an NES game.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
I guess it’s as good as I remember it. For once, I can say that a game holds up exactly as I remember it. I just wish it was with a game where the bar wasn’t set at the height of an ant’s dick. Where should I start? Let’s take this in chronological order for a change.
We start with a cut scene of a helicopter exploding next to the Statue of Liberty. So far so good. Then we get a wall of text explaining the plot. Not great, but it’s on the NES. Can’t expect a hearty plot to be intricately explained on old hardware. Start moving the character and he maneuvers like an elderly dog after being run over by a truck.
Everything in the main section of the game moves so… goddamn…
As you meander down the streets of Soviet era Moscow, complete with depressing brown and brick red pallets, sometimes you’ll see another person. But wait! Don’t rashly pull out your gun and shoot them! They might be an innocent person! Actually, fuck it. Shoot ’em. If they’re innocent, the bullet goes through them, and if they’re a bad guy, they’ll… explode. Sure, why not. Besides, if it actually is an enemy you’re shooting at, 99% of the time they’ve already shot you. Don’t worry though. The game lets you dodge the bullets by jumping twenty stories into the fucking air giving you just enough time to fall back down onto the second bullet. I got crafty and realized that if you hold down and jump, you can jump lower. Well, the enemy sometimes hesitates with the third bullet and shoots you anyway. When I got wise to this tactic, I timed my jumps perfectly… until they started switching back and forth between hesitating the final shot and just shooting three in a row, because fuck me, right?
After all that, I finally made it to the segment that annoyed me the most as a kid, and guess what? It STILL annoys the shit out of me. At some point in each section, a little hand with a gun would pop up and surprise me with a first person shooting section. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was once or twice, but it happened over and OVER again. And it’s not that fun to play. If you didn’t put the one pixel crosshair over the constantly moving sprites, all of which jump and flip around like ninjas on adderall, you miss. This goes for helicopters as well. I missed so many helicopters… HELICOPTERS FOR FUCK’S SAKE! Given how close they fly to you, I should have been able to channel my inner Spanish grandma and take them down with my chancla!
Here’s the biggest kick to the mangina. Your health slowly depletes. That’s right, not only do you move as quickly as a 94 year old stroke victim, your health goes down over time… like said stroke victim. Want to know how to get it back? Shoot people! But, oh wait, they only give you 10 health back and you can lose upwards of 100 in a bad encounter. What’s that? Killing enemies in the FPS segments land you 50 heath back each? That’s right! To keep playing the slow monotonous levels, you have to grind through the shitty FPS segments!
And then there was a 2D flying level, and a sniper level, then I boned a chick, then I got some scuba gear, then I realized that while this all sounds exciting and sexy on paper, in reality I was having more fun smelling the guy next to me on the bus (imagine spilling fruit punch in a gym bag, then take a shit in it) than I was playing this game. I can only assume that the only reason that I kept playing this game when I was younger was because it felt more “adult”. My older cousin had a copy and he loved it, so clearly there was something that I was missing. Nope. It was boring then, it’s boring now, and it will be boring when the core of the sun condenses down into a white dwarf.