ToastyFrog’s NES ABC: 8 Eyes
Thinking Rabbit/Taxan | Sluggish Platformer | 1990
I like reading science fiction, especially stories about alternate realities. But some theoretical realities are too frightening to even contemplate! Like the one that Taxan’s 8 Eyes came from, for example. Clearly, this is the hellspawned creation of a dark alternate world where Castlevania was made by a bunch of soulless monsters who hate fun (and people who like to have fun). What a terrible world that must be.
A lot of 8-bit action games were directly inspired by Castlevania, but 8 Eyes was a lot more blatant about it than most. The whole game appears to have been traced from screenshots of Simon’s Quest, and the action even revolves around visiting a series of mansions — sound familiar? Unfortunately, the developers must never have played the game they were knocking off, because they completely failed to realize that what made Simon Belmont’s adventures so fun was that he was a limited but capable hero, with a lengthy attack range and access to useful secondary weapons. The hero of 8 Eyes is merely limited, not capable. His attack is a stubby little dagger rather than a whip, and nearly every enemy in the game has a longer reach than him and can soak up multiple hits; in order to hurt foes, you have to stand within their range and soak up their retaliation. Hit-and-run tactics work from time to time, but the controls are so poor (and the foes so much speedier than the lousy protagonist) that without impossibly great timing you’ll just leave yourself even more open to attack. You do have subweapons, and you can even choose from among them! But they all suck, and ammunition is beyond scarce.
The selling gimmick for 8 Eyes is that the hero is accompanied by a falcon, which is ostensibly capable of attacking foes. In my experience, though, he just flies around and take damage, even when I put him on the offensive. Supposedly 8 Eyes is slightly easier if you play it cooperatively with someone else controlling the bird, but I can’t think of anyone I dislike enough to inflict this game upon. I watched some YouTube playthroughs of this game out of curiosity and discovered that the only people who can play it well are soulless robots, probably ones that came from the same grim universe as this game.
In short, 8 Eyes clearly exists to tease Castlevania fans with a game that looks terribly enticing but is actually about as fun as running a cheese grater over your eyeball. It’s not often a game makes me genuinely angry, but this insult makes me want to find the portal to that other world and stuff it full of high-yield bombs so that we can destroy the demonic fiends who created it and ensure they never hurt us again.