Game Analysis: Great Gatsby for NES

Zeeblee

It has been a good long while since I’ve read The Great Gatsby, but I’m fairly sure that The Great Gatsby for NES does not truly reflect the novel in any way outside of its cutscenes and aesthetic.  It’s built just like any old platformer where it tells you the controls, but doesn’t tell you anything about the game world (though the controls are not displayed in-game).  It’s really short, so there isn’t all that much to actually comment on, but I found it enjoyable and worth a playthrough.  The lack of a pause button means it’s sort of an all-in adventure, but due to its short length that’s actually not that awful.

The one thing I will comment on is how I think it did a poor job of educating the player on how to fight the first boss.  Your attack (throwing a hat) operates as a sort of player-seeking boomerang.  The first boss is most easily defeated through the use of this mechanic by throwing the hat and then jumping up near the boss, but there is a problem:  the game doesn’t really present this to you as something important to practice until the boss fight.  Just about every enemy you encounter can be dealt with by just throwing the hat straight at them, which then also makes it bounce straight back to you.  The range on the default hat (there is a yellow hat power-up) is also extremely short, so there isn’t much opportunity to alter its trajectory.  On top of that the screen is actually rather thin, and since it tracks the player avatar (keeps it in the center) the short attack range of the default hat ends up being almost equal to your field of vision.  This makes it so you can’t really prepare for enemies by throwing out long shots, which also means that there isn’t much time to play with hat trajectory.  The issues of range/sight combined with how just throwing straight is all you need means the player likely won’t discover and develop the technique(s) required to manipulate the hat projectile in the first boss fight until that very boss fight.  Developing the skill required to defeat the boss is also rather unsatisfying as it never comes up again and the rest of the game can pretty much be played as before (throwing straight shots).

But I’m willing to look past this flaw because of just how classy the game is.  Or maybe it’s because I drank a martini every time I grabbed up a martini power-up…

Zeeblee

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