Monday, November 21, 2011

The Adventures of Bayou Billy
With apologies to Jon Bon Jovi: 
Whoooooaaaa! I'm  Halfway There! 
Whooooaa OOH! Best Nintendo Player! 
Bayou Billy won't be as bad as Ikari I swear! 
Whooooaa OOH! Best Nintendo Player! 
Bayou Billy Box
He Doesn't look like
Crocodile Dundee at all.

Ahem. Entry number 6 (Be Seeing You, Number 6) takes us down to the Bayou (or at least what a group of Japanese Computer Scientists think of as "the Bayou"). Released by Konami in 1989, The Adventures of Bayou Billy was advertised as an 8-bit gamer's dream: 1/3 Beat 'em Up, 1/3 Driving Game, 1/3 Light Gun Shooter. Unfortunately, Bayou Billy is a video game dilettante of sorts: advertising multiple genres without excelling in any. The Beat em' Ups are tedious, the Shooters simple and the Driving glitchy. Perhaps knowing this, the programmers try to give you a leg up from the start.

The title screen gives you three options for gameplay: Game A (which utilizes the NES Zapper) Game B (which utilizes only the gamepad) and Practice. I'd wager most people skip practice and dove straight into Stage 1.


Practice gives you infinite tries to master each mode, and even more, rewards you for beating the stages. Practicing Driving nets you an extra life, practicing Shooting nets you more bullets and practicing Beat 'em Up wins you a Meatball (a 1-time health refill).

She's got huge... tracts of land!
Our back story is the stuff of videogame legend: a fat villain (named Godfather Gordon here) swipes your girlfriend and its up to you to win her back.
Re-enacting Raiders of the Lost Ark
Reenacting Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Power-ups in hold, Stage 1 is a Beat 'em Up in a swamp. At first, the task seems impossible: the drones are quick, take 6 hits each and hit direction is sloppy. The key here is knowing that, although drones equal your lateral speed, they move very slow vertically. Also, drones only attack at a certain range, so if you jump kick from just beyond their reach, you can score an easy hit almost every time. With those two bits of knowledge, Stage 1 becomes mostly tedious, broken in bits by crocodiles (just stand on top of them and wail on punch), and a guy with a stick (which is no big deal considering YOU HAVE A GUN).

Billy Stage 2
Billy! Get to dah Choppah!
Still in the swamp, Stage 2 is the first (of two) Shooter levels in Bayou Billy. If you practiced beforehand (and probably even if you didn't) this stage is laughable. Enemies drop extra bullets and extra health as if they were candy on Halloween.

The stage ends with a battle against a helicopter and the drones it constantly spouts. The helicopter attacks little and the drones it deploys are easily killed. After pumping it full of lead, we get quick view of Annabelle's sweet detcollatge, then it's off for more Beat 'Em Up fun.

Stage 3Same as Stage 1, basically, except we have a boss fight this time: A Giant Bald Dude. Apparently there's a programming glitch where you can trap him in the upper right corner and punch him to submission. Sadly, I didn't know that fact and wasted 3 lives practicing my jump-kicks. Yuck. Without using the glitch, Giant Bald Dude is the second hardest boss in the game.

STAGES 4 and 5:
Stages 4 and 5 are the two driving levels.
Stages 4 and 5
If you took the time to practice (and even if you didn't), Stage 4 is a snap. Shoot a continuous stream of bullets, lob grenades at the planes and you're onto Stage 5. This is where driving gets tricky. The road is narrower here and the curves steeper, meaning you may actually have to use the brake a few times to avoid getting blown up. Luckily, I'd amassed quite a few 1-ups in the previous 4 Stages, meaning I had leeway to make a few mistakes. By using a little caution, I made it through Stage 5 with eight seconds to spare.

Stage 6
Uh...A hillbilly whipping a black guy in
Louisiana? Someone call Al Sharpton.
Bourbon Street is the easiest in the game. The new baddies (a man with a Mace and knife-wielding hipsters) have very limited attacks and predictable movements. Also available here is Bayou Billy's Ultimate weapon: the whip. It's quick, has a long reach and causes the same damage as a jump-kick. Whatever you do, once you pick up the whip, DON'T TOUCH ANY OTHER POWER-UPS.


Whip in hand, the rest is laughable, excepting...

Stage 7STAGE 7:
Sheeeeeeeeeet. Stage 7 makes Stage 5 seem like rainbows and unicorn farts. Stage 7, the final shooting segment, is littered with baddies.Guys zoom past on motorbikes. Dudes pop out of manholes and from behind saloon doors. Everyone has a gun and a hair-trigger, so the strategy here is simple: shoot first, ask questions later. This is where that cache of extra bullets (from winning the practice mode) comes in handy.

Luckily, there are a few well-placed health kits and a bullet-proof vest available. If you hit the power-ups, you should make it to the end bosses: Terminator and Knife Guy. These are the hardest bosses in the game. You'll take heavy damage no matter what you do. Kill knife guy first. If you aim for his head, your bullets will deflect his knives. After that, it's a lead-eating race with Terminator. If you're accurate in shooting the Knife Guy, you should be able to finally dispatch Terminator with 1-2 health bars remaining. The gates to the maison open and it's on to the end.

There are 3 waves of unique baddies protecting Godfather Gordon, but, like I said earlier: WHIP + BULLET-PROOF VEST = GOD MODE. I finished Stage 8 on my first try.

Boss Fight 1
That's a bullet in Billy's Face.
Sadly, he hasn't a shit to give.
Finally, a face-off against Godfather Gordon. Have I mentioned WHIP + BULLET-PROOF VEST = GOD MODE? Because in a twist of cruel irony, Gordon attacks by shooting at your bulletproof vest. If you want to take a moment to laugh at his impotence, be my guest. Simply walk circles around the portly Mr. Gordon, whipping him all the while. He has a lot of health, so the battle takes awhile, but as long as you don't royally screw up, this battle is, ironically, the easiest part of the game.

Really--Space Robots?
The inevitable fight vs. Cajun Space Robots.
You'd think killing your rival would end the game, and, of course, you'd think wrong. Never able to leave good enough alone, Konami couldn't resist the urge to shoehorn two Space Robots into Bayou Billy's New Orleans Adventure. You read that right--Space Robots. Apparently these final bosses are supposed to be Godfather Gordon's twin sons, but really they're Space Robots. They're big and fast and there's two of them, but, again: WHIP + BULLET-PROOF VEST = GOD MODE. Run circles around the room and whip when you've got enough distance to do so without getting hit.

Annabelle Sprite
Annabell's Pixel
Bayou Billy End ScreenDefeating the twin Space Robots rewards you with what you've been waiting for since pressing start all those stages ago: Pixelated Boobs! Annabelle jiggles out from her cell, and then we're treated to a cinematic cut-scene of the reunited lovebirds and some fake credits (similar to Castlevania--another Konami title) before a very cinematic, "The End." A pretty decent ending for an 8-bit game, actually.

I actually had a good time playing this game. The practice mode was invaluable, both for its practice (duh) and its power-ups. I made it to Stage 5 without using a continue. The fact you're also allowed 5 continues is a big help, giving you the time to learn the nuance of each baddie and level. Of course I still game overed a few times, but by my final run, I only died twice.

The Adventures of Bayou Billy gets:
3 Controllers
Three controllers out of five for difficulty. Yes, the hit direction can be frustrating, but the learning curve here (compared to Ikari Warriors or even Contra) is pretty shallow. 5 Continues is enough to learn the game on the first or second try, and excepting the luck involved in the Stage 7 Boss, there seems to be little "computer cheating."

I've rounded the corner now on my quest to become

NES MONSTER!having bested five of the ten titles. Next comes the first of the Final Five of the Top Ten Hardest NES Games of All Time. I'm already getting green over it.

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