Life Force: The Psychosis of NES Gaming

Life Force on the NES
Life Force.

Something of a NES classic this week in the form of Life Force. Yes! Great name, bloody difficult game, but also one that’s enjoyable good fun.

It’s from the traditional space shooter heyday. Released in 1986, it also goes by the name of Salamander in some regions. Weird? Yes, well this is one surreal, but endearing, video game.

Life Force

Right, so we explained earlier this month about the absurdity of the Capcom game Ghosts ‘N Goblins on the NES. Arguably the most difficult video game in history, we figured it couldn’t be topped.

Let’s recap for a moment: NES games were, artificially, made more difficult so they’d last longer. This being the late ’80s, their comparative length to modern games wasn’t on.

Developers upped the difficulty to make stuff last, but this led to games like Life Force. It’s a very good game (think of Space Invaders and you’re almost there) but it’s insanely difficult.

This isn’t a a “well after 30 minutes it became a bit jolly!”, it’s a full on “you have 10 seconds, and we’re not going to apologise for it” thing.

We’re not joking: you have 10 seconds, otherwise it’s a no go. Game Over. Go and play Call of Duty. Now that’s one hell of a statement, given back in the ’80s you’ve just paid £40 for this thing.

If you’re a particularly stupid kid, you’re not going beyond the 99p stage. In fact, you’re not making it beyond 30 seconds of screen time.

It’s staggering to think these NES games were so difficult—but they are. The Wii U, in all its brilliance, allows you to download NES classics such as Super Mario Bros 3.

An incredible game, but difficult beyond belief in its closing stage, but nowhere near Life Force’s lunatic levels.

For this game you need professional help. Professional Morons. Such as us. We completed it (we’re not really sure how)—give us a ring.

Space Shooters

This genre remains popular—lots of indie games like to hark back to the NES era. Minus the insane difficult settings and with modern gameplay mechanics.

Star Ghost on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch is a personal favourite of ours. It’s from Squarehead Studios, the boss is a former Retro Studios employee.

The game is innovative and subtle in its complexities. Plus it’s boasting a David Wise soundtrack.

We very much recommend, lots of gaming time has gone into mastering it.

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