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113 - Black Tiger

Best Games - Black Tiger

There was a carousel of arcade machines that rolled through the 7-Eleven just down the street from my high school. A regular noon hour activity was to head down to the ‘sev’ and get in line early enough to take your shot at one of the machines. The games would get changed out every few weeks, unless it was a particularly lucrative game like Street Fighter 2 : Champion Edition. That cabinet sat in the same spot for so long, a crime scene forensics team could probably still detect its presence.

Once in a while the game would be extremely popular and the lineup would would be several kids deep. The odds of getting a game in before lunch was over was really low if you were trying to play something like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and that machine could handle four players at once. Your lunch would be over, and you would have spent it standing and watching people play.

Other times, a game would barely get any attention at all. Usually it was because they were garbage, like Violence Fight. I know that name sounds like a joke, but Violence Fight is a real game, and it’s as awful as you would expect.

Every now and then, there would be a game that gets some initial attention and then all but a few kids would leave it to play the other games on offer. It was either because the other game was some licensed unit that everyone had some prior knowledge of, like Robocop, or, In the case of Black Tiger, it was because the game was blisteringly difficult.

Black Tiger, titled Black Dragon in Japan, shares some DNA with Ghosts and Goblins. Some would even say that it is a spiritual successor to the Ghosts and Goblins series, but where Ghosts and Goblins is almost unfairly difficult and can only really be beaten through luck and rote memorization, Black Tiger can be mastered through skillful play, caution, and strategic planning. A small amount of memorization helps. The crisp, pixel precise movement of the character, and the ability to level up your weapons, armour, and vitality give the player more than a fighting chance against the tremendous barrage of baddies thrown your way. Just don’t ever get poisoned, never ever get poisoned.

I’ll be perfectly honest. Maybe Black Tiger is only a very good game and not really one of the best games of all time, but here’s where nostalgia kicks in. During those noon hour excursions, and maybe a couple that went slightly over an hour (it was for research), I built up the ability to, at first, beat the game, and then went on to defeat it on a single quarter. I’m sure many other people have accomplished the same feat, but I wasn’t in high school with any of them. Sure it may be a dubious achievement, but anything you manage to get over on the other kids you went to high school with, sticks in your memory. They may not have known or cared at all about my small victory, but that hardly matters, now does it.

Black Tiger, one of, at least my, best games.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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