Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

Golgo 13 (1)

Prediction

I don’t remember where I heard about this game, but when I saw it I had to pick it up. If I remember right, Golgo 13 is based on a manga by the same name. In Japan, he was an assassin, but was changed to a spy thanks to Nintendo’s censorship policies.

My guess is I’m going to be primarily running around and shooting a lot of people, typical NES action game.

Gameplay

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Wow. this game just doesn’t want to pick a genre.

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Like I predicted, a large section of the game is walking around town shooting KGB Agents. Shooting the agents seems to give me extra bullets, which is nice, but they are really annoying to try to kill. Maybe I’m just unaware of a control option, but I can’t seem to shoot them when they’re crouching down. I’m too tall and I shoot over their heads, and I can’t seem to shoot while crouched down like they do. They do die after one hit though, and you can jump really high and over them. So they aren’t too bad.

Golgo 13 (6) Golgo 13 (7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every so often, a gun will show up on the edge of the screen and trigger a first person shooter section. You’re under attack by multiple enemies, so shoot them all before they shoot you. It’s a very interesting mechanic and breaks up the action nicely. As an added bonus, killing enemies in this section restores your health.

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The game shifts pace again for the second act by becoming a side scrolling shooter. You are in a helicopter trying to make it to the TV tower to stop a sniper. There’s a bit of an oddity in this section that caught my attention. I have never seen a shooter that gives you limited ammo. It was never really an issue, destroying the enemy planes gave you more, but it was still an unusual choice. I’m not used to needing to conserve ammo instead of being able to just rapid fire the whole time.

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Amazingly, the gameplay changes yet again when you later make it to a KGB base. Once you enter the base, the game changes to a first person maze. I should really have started drawing a map, because I got lost in here. There were even traps, and multiple floors, and collectibles. This was a well fleshed out change. Now that I’m very lost in this maze, and I’m already well over my 30 minute time limit, I’m going to stop here.

Verdict

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This was a very enjoyable 30 minutes. The character models are rather large and decent enough for the NES. The backgrounds are fairly detailed too. I also found it quite enjoyable to have the conversations done in an over the shoulder view.

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The game does have quite a few flaws though. I encountered a fair amount of backtracking and repetition already in just my short session. Finding the first contact required me to locate an informant at the far right side of town. After finding her, she tells me that the person I’m looking for is in the subway, specifically the station I started the game in front of. That’s unnecessary padding. They could have just as easily put the contact at the far right and skipped the informant all together. Backtracking also still triggers the first person sections when you walk past their trigger points, so expect to see them often.

Golgo 13 (16) Golgo 13 (17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s still a fun game though. The constant genre shifting does break up the pace and keep it from becoming boring, and the story is interesting enough that I want to see what happens. There’s also the way the game handles death. Instead of a lives count and a game over like most games, Golgo 13 treats it like a TV show. Every time you die is the end of an episode, flashing a “to be continued” over the screen. Then you are treated to the title screen showing your new episode number before starting again at the last checkpoint.

All in all this was an enjoyable game. I’d love to play more of it.

Price – $7

Fun Rating – 7 / 10

Play Again? – Yes, definitely. I might even consider a full review for this game

Total Deaths – 17

Golgo 13 (18)

 

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