# 23 – CONAN (Crom’s Blunder!!!)

System: NES

Release Date: February 1991

First Played: 2005

Status: DEFEATED, August 1, 2014

 conan1

“Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet”.R.E. Howard

 Let me start out by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Conan the Barbarian! I have a collection of the original Howard stories (Robert E. Howard is the creator of Conan, among other famous characters like Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane!), I have comics, novels by other great fantasy writers, a pretty awesome statue set where he’s fighting a giant gorilla, I got all the movies, I even have Season 1 and half of Season 2 of the animated series Conan the Adventurer on DVD! I was first introduced to Conan through the cartoon series; I must have been around 9 years old at the time. For years after I would always have an image in my head from the opening credits; a scene where Conan is chained to two pillars; he lets out a primal roar, BREAKS THE STEEL CHAINS and topples the pillars and the building around him with his bare hands! Being uninformed at the time, I thought he was a pretty good take on He-Man. Truth be told, Conan pre-dates He-Man by at least 50 years, making his debut in the Pulp Magazine “Weird Tales” in December of 1932.

Conan is a legacy. He’s a rare character that stands the test of time, speaking to readers fantasies as clearly now as he did in the 30’s. When you think of Conan you think of power (well, first you’ll probably think of Arnold). You think of a leader, his barbarian code of honor compelling him to do what’s right, no matter the cost. He’s a guy who won’t take crap from anyone or anything. He travels the countries of the Hyborian Age and still has time to get the girl and lop off an evil wizard head or two before drinking and wenching in the filthiest dive bars in Shadizar! So a character with this much action appeal and history would make for the perfect game right??? Well…..

When First We Met…

I didn’t really get into Conan until my early 20’s, when by chance I stumbled upon the novel “Conan the Savage” by Leonard Carpenter at a used book sale. The book itself when compared to the original Howard material is ok, but that lead me down a path of discovery, and I was hooked. So naturally, I wanted this fascination to be translated into video game form. The closest thing I had at the time was the swordsman in Golden Axe, whose influence obviously is taken from Conan. It wasn’t until I really started digging that I discovered this game for the NES. Since it was for an older system, I wasn’t expecting any ground breaking graphics or story, just your run of the mill hack and slash beat’em up in the vein of Double Dragon or dare I say Streets of Rage. So I bought it on eBay, and 2-3 weeks later I had it in my hands!

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conantitle

This is the image on the cartridge! MITRA!!! Look at that! Fire, lightning, Conan looking into the heavens defiantly challenging the Gods themselves! Let’s get this thing started! I press power and am immediately greeted with this…

NESCONANTITLE

Ooooookay…..That’s the title I guess…..why is there an alien head on his sword? It’s so….gray. The music is kind of heroic sounding…..but, it’s Conan! Conan rocks!! Let’s get to the story! Is he fighting Thulsa-Doom? Or Thoth-Amon!? Wrarrl: Devourer of Souls???!!! Or dare I say, even Set himself????(No I’m not having a stroke; these are the names of some of his arch nemeses’ from the stories, movies and comics) I press start…

conanlevel1

BOOM! YOU’RE IN HELL!!!! Whaaaa??? No story, no intro, HELL. I try to get my bearings, a=punch, b=kick, move left…suddenly a sword wielding skeleton emerges from the ground and a flying green gimp comes at me! The skeleton swings so I press down to duck…but I leap instead. The hell? No! DUCK!! I jump off a cliff into hell’s inferno. The music comically stops briefly, only to re-spawn me at the beginning of the level. I soon discover that pressing up makes you jump and pressing down makes you leap…

Boss – My son Jimmy just turned 3 and for his birthday he wants to be game director for a day, so listen to him or you’re fired.

Programmer – Uh, sure! Ok Jimmy, what would you like the up button to do?

Jimmy – JUMP!!!

Programmer – …Ok! What would you like the down button t…

Jimmy – JUMP!!!!

Programmer – uuuhhhh…

At least that’s the only situation I can think of where controls like this could ever come into being. Regardless, with this new information, I attack with a flurry of awkward kicks and stubby arm punches. Eventually, after defeating a skeleton for the third time, he drops a sword! Finally!!! I’ll just pick it up and…I jump off a cliff into hell’s inferno. GGGAAAAHHHHH!!!! Back to start! I repeat what I did, the sword drops, I mash buttons, finally, Conan kneels slightly and I have the sword! Turns out, you need to press and hold “A” then press down in order to duck/pick up items. Naturally!! I press select (the start button is useless) and select the sword. There’s that green goblin thing again! CROM COUNT THE DEAD!!! I dispatch of it easily and it drops…a fire ball? I pick it up and move on. I come across a skeleton hanging from the ceiling, creepy! So I attack it and it falls. Ok, maybe I should follow it…? Yeah right! My instant death senses are tingling, move forward. I clumsily leap from platform to platform until I come face to face with a fire breathing lion! Compared to all the other enemies so far, this one actually looks the best. TASTE MY BLADE!!!! I start shanking it with my sword, which makes a dull “BONG” sound whenever it hits anything. “guh” says the lion as it spits fire at me. Conan goes on his knees, glows slightly, then turns into a little ball of light and disappears. Then this happens…

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NESCONANTITLE

……………..wwwwwwwwwwWWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTT???? I’M DEAD??? No game over screen, not even a “Thanks for buying this game asshole!!” (Which I think would make the most sense) just the title screen. Furious and embarrassed, I banish this game to my closet, and never looked back……….

Meanwhile in the Present…

…….…until now. I had a few goes at this and just plain out died. I had no choice but to look up a walkthrough. I actually found a YouTube video of someone who was able to beat it in 15 minutes (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XwIpG-9duI). Taking what I learned, I press on. Mimicking what I saw was easier said than done thanks to the terrible controls. I’ll try to give a brief rundown of what happened, though this seems more like a fever dream than anything else…

 (DEEP BREATH)

I continue where I left off 9 years ago, apparently I follow the hanging skeleton down, where you meet Satan! Hi there! Shoot him with a Green Goblin fire ball and he leaves a pitch fork. The pitch fork kills the fire breathing lion instantly! And you can exit the stage (though I paid Satan another visit and grabbed another pitch fork). Now you’re in a desert! No end of level anything; this is common throughout the game. Roman soldiers are running at you! Punch then in the face and they die. A sexy lady is standing there, don’t get to close! She’ll turn into a snake and kill you instantly! Shank her till she disappears. There’s a statue you can destroy that will give you a shield (which I never used). Exit the stage and instantly you’re in a cave? Sure why not! Medusa is there, chop of her head (aka poke her belly with a sword) which can now shoot lasers and defeat a giant hydra dragon. I’m on a ship with lightning that flashes so much I think I’m going to have a seizure! What boss is in this level? A crow…a regular sized crow. Punch it or a lightning bolt will come and kill you instantly! You’re in a forest! The giant goat man is attacking you! But, a little blue/gray blob throws a knife at him he dies, so kill the blob and get knives! There’s a lady burning at the stake! Grab a flaming torch and kill the ghosts that are surrounding her. Once done, she flies into the sky (can I come with?) Suddenly a dragon appears! Throw knives at it! It’s dead! You’re in the sky!!! AHHHAAHHAA!!!! Green dragons and what looks like The Shredder start attacking you. You find a castle, with a Shredder guard, kill it with throwing knives; find the second one higher up! I throw my pitch fork! DEAD! A door opens and I carefully leap into a crypt! Mummies everywhere!!!! Punch them in the face! I find some clay pots with urns in them (4 in total) then one of the Mummies drops a blue Egyptian looking eye. I pick it up and find an Egyptian looking dog that shoots lasers at me!! But my Egyptian eye shoots better lasers! I get a cross that makes me jump high! Weeeeeee! I reach a door high above me and enter a room with 4 slots. I have to put the pots in a certain order (THERE ARE NO CLUES AS TO WHERE THEY SHOULD GO. IF YOU CHOOSE WRONG YOU INSTANTLY DIE.) thanks to the video I place them correctly and an axe falls!!! I pick it up, go right and a giant sphinx head shoots lasers at me! I chuck my axe at it maybe 10 times. TINY EXPLOSION!!!! The head disappears! What now? The FINAL BATTLE? The old “Now witness my final form!!” trick? Nope, this happens…

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badconanending

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23 minutes later, I am greeted to the worst ending imaginable. How did he become king from doing that?? Even Conan doesn’t look all that thrilled in the picture; it’s almost as if he’s saying “I know, I know, I’m…I’m sorry…”

Judgement…

AVOID THIS GAME. I went to a video game store in Kensington Market and it was being sold for $40. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I am tempted to say this is worse than FLAPPY…but I don’t think I can ever go that far. But I beat it. I did what needed to be done. There is no glory, no answer to the “Riddle of Steel”, just disappointment; and the satisfaction of knowing that through this blog I can hopefully help someone steer clear from this abomination.

Sorry for the longer blog, but you needed to get an idea of just how terrible this was. What are your thoughts? Have you played this? Have you beaten it? I hope this doesn’t make you want to play it! Sound off in the comments below!

Next time, I’ll try my hand at a space shooter that is as fun as it is hard to pronounce!

Tah tah!

Adamus Prime.

Prime Thumbs up

 

 

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