Video Games

Victory Fanfare: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of STARTROPICS

StarTropics–being the great game that it is–is one of THE MOST frustrating games I have EVER played, but I eventually finished it. I didn’t play too much of this game as a child. I actually played Zoda’s Revenge more than this, but it makes sense to me now as an adult. I didn’t own a manual to StarTropics when I was young, and it’s hard as hell. I’m not too sure how long this took me, because it doesn’t let you know the hours you played, but I’d estimate around three weeks.

The Good:
In StarTropics you play as Mike, and your uncle has gone missing, so you need to find him. This game is full of everything: aliens, robots, snakes, and bats. Everything a NES game would have, I guess I should say. I own this game for the NES, but I also own it on the Virtual Console, and if I hadn’t found out that you can look at the games actual instruction manual on the Wii, I would have never been able to find out ‘747mhz’. Stuff like this makes this a game you’d like to have for your NES, although fine on the Wii, I would’ve enjoyed getting Dr. J’s letter wet to reveal the code. Oh, and if you watch Happy Video Game Nerd’s episode on StarTropics, he reveals this too.

The first thing that I loved while playing this is the music. OH MY GOD, THE MUSIC! Not only is the music great, but the puzzle and level structure is absolutely amazing. Your main weapon is a yo-yo, which is probably one of the coolest things ever as well! I’m not sure if you know, but I’m quite the fan of a little game called EarthBound, they also have a yo-yo as a weapon which I’d never suggest using. In StarTropics, though, that’s your main weapon.

The gameplay in the dungeons have this very specific way you are able to move, but the game and controls work so well. It may seem kind of funny at first, but quickly you’ll learn this is the way a game like this on NES needs to be. I love Zoda’s Revenge because I played it first, but I do agree that the colors are bland, and the dungeons are designed for StarTropics and not the more loosely controlled Zoda’s Revenge. I still have a soft spot for it, though, and I’ve only beaten Zoda’s Revenge once as well.

startropics01


The Bad:

Some things in StarTropics can get annoying. In the beginning you do need to talk to everyone and find out certain things before you’re able to do them. It’s really only for the first portion of the game, so it’s not that big of an issue. StarTropics can be a butt-ass-hard game sometimes. If you’re not up for a challenge and would rather have your game do some hand holding and explaining, this game may not be for you. If you’re a seasoned NES player, you will quickly adapt.

The Ugly:
Honestly, the ugly here is something that in this day and age is not a matter at all. Back in the ’90s when I first played this game, I really didn’t like it. I had no idea how to play it. I had no manual, no walkthrough or anything! That made me really just think it was a hard game. When I finally repurchased it–first on the Wii Virtual Console, then found it at Level 7 game shop for a few bucks–I replayed it to the end. Yeah, at some points I needed to find out what I was missing, but there’s just some things you would not know without some gamefaq or walkthrough.

I honestly couldn’t suggest this game enough. I love it to death. It’s absolutely amazing and one of the better NES games. It’s kind of what got me back into NES, so if you want it for NES it’s usually no more than 8 dollars. You can also buy it on the Wii Virtual Console. If you’re a NES fan, you owe it to yourself to play this game.


Victory Fanfare” is a monthly game review effort to go through Johnny Ketchum’s game collection and play them all. Once the game is complete Johnny takes all of his random thoughts and breaks it down to the good, bad, and ugly.

The Author

Johnny Ketchum

Johnny Ketchum

Writer and content creator from Denver Colorado, mostly knowledgable in the realm of retro video games he also creates music and music mixes.

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