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NES games are great! They can also be hard. That’s why I’m glad I discovered the YouTube channel U Can Beat Video Games.
Yes, video walkthroughs are nothing new. Yet I appreciate this channels approach. First off, each video starts with some context on the game’s history. Then the guides feature voiceover on top mostly real-time gameplay footage. This means that you can mostly just play along with the video.
He also has a good approach to exploits, cheats, and shortcuts. He’ll show you them, but you’ll also be given an alternative to using them. In his Battletoads video, he shows off a glitch that lets you skip the difficult speeder bike section, but he still plays through that part and gives you tips for beating it the legitimate way.
You can beat it
After Metroid: Dread‘s reveal earlier this week, I was in the mood to play something from this series. I realized I had never beaten the NES original. It can be a daunting game. Unlike in Super Metroid, you don’t have a map to help guide you. You also start the game with little health. It’s easy to die before you can get your bearings.
So I’ve been playing Metroid along with U Can Beat Video Games walkthrough, and I’m already further than I’ve ever gotten before. Look, maybe you can call it cheating, but it’s not like most of the people who beat the game back in the day weren’t depending on Nintendo Power or other guides.
Besides, you still have to execute on what you’re told to do. The video can show me where to go and give me tips on fighting and avoiding enemies, but it can’t play the game for me. It is still a challenge defeating all of those enemies and surviving against all those hazards.
Or just watch it
Even if I’m not using one of these videos to help me with a game, they’re still fun to watch. Watching someone play through an NES game while explaining how its down almost does feel like experiencing the adventure for myself.
His latest video is on Wizards & Warriors, one of Rare’s first NES games. Honestly, I have little interest in playing that action platformer myself for more than a few minutes, but it’s still fun to watch U Can Beat Video Games go through the whole game.
If you love NES games but feel intimidated by them, give these videos a look. It can help you beat titles, like Ninja Gaiden and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, that feel insurmountable.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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