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Today in Retro Gaming – Datsugoku: Prisoner of War (NES)

Taking prisoners has been a part of warfare since upright-walking hominids started hitting one another with increasingly sharper sticks and heavier rocks. That said, no matter how nicely your captors treat you, you’ve still wound up in a colossal mess. Unfortunately for you, the insidious GOD (Government of the Dark) has you in their filthy little paws, and word has it these guys could teach even hardened drug cartels a thing or two about torture.

But GOD isn’t counting on your capture being part of an elaborate (if suicidal) plan. Brought behind enemy lines, your job is to break out of prison and smash the enemy hordes where they’re most vulnerable and unaware. You’ve just lit the makeshift explosive which will blow the door off your cell. Bring GOD to its knees? All in a day’s work for this special forces soldier. At least it is if you’re playing Datsugoku: Prisoner of War in Japan, released today in 1989. Or as it’s known in the rest of the world, P.O.W.

Datsugoku: Prisoner of War was SNK’s answer to the likes of Double Dragon and Renegade, a scrolling brawler where you use anything at your disposal from recovered enemy machine guns to your own teeth to cut down the rank and file of GOD’s own army. You’ll wade through the starting POW camp, a warehouse complex, the surrounding jungle, and an enemy base before you’re done cracking skulls. Of course, if you’re captured a second time…well, best not to think about depressing things like that.

Gamers today have quite the love it or hate it relationship with this title, with some praising its simplicity and non-stop action, and others condemning it for those same reasons. Whether you love it or hate it, it all happened today…in retro gaming.

Sadly we don’t have a Japanese ad for you, so you’ll have to make do with this US magazine full-pager:

POW

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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