yes, picture messages on this page.  Just this once.

The worst game I ever loved.

There are a number of games that I remembered fondly for years, only to play them on emulators and be terribly disappointed. Wizards and Warriors, Simant, 7th Saga, and surely others I have thankfully blocked out. However, this game I knew was bad before I ever downloaded it. Zillion II I had to disqualify from the running, on the grounds that as a Master System game, it was unfair of me to expect it to not be terrible. And I don't think think I should have to justify that statement, because I don't believe there's a thing or collection of things you can say to make me believe that was a console worth owning. I've heard legends of maybe two non-awful games that aren't available on a better system. And I haven't even played them, so I can't verify that innegative status. The gamegear at first seemed as if was being managed better, but soon had the exact same problem. Except now instead of mediocre arcade ports, we get mediocreer Genesis and SNES ports. I swear, there's a game-gear version of Tintin in Tibet. A game that's awful enough anyway, near-miraculously made awfuler. If you have any doubt left as to the frightfulness of Master System technology, note that I used no less than four fake words to describe it.

Hal Laboratory are the ones who owned up to creating Air Fortress, the game this page is supposed to be about, and contrary to their logo, the third letter is an L. Hal and I, we have a history together. The Adventures of Lolos were the first puzzle games I ever played, and probably the only ones I ever liked (Tetris doesn't count because it isn't a puzzle game. It just isn't). Revenge of the Gator was the first Gameboy cartridge I ever lost (as well as the only one I never found... ehhh, and eventually lost again at any point). And for a few years I made comic strips featuring a really badly drawn Kirby. In case you were wondering, Kirby is the only video game character to win the Easiest to Draw championship elimination tournament six consecutive times (just barely losing to Diglett in 1998). So for me to do it badly, and for a few years likely signals some kind of developmental disorder. Other video game characters I liked to draw included Dragon Warrior slimes and Adventure squares, if that tells you anything.

At one point I became bothered by Hal's further efforts as a Nintendo subsidiary, and gave mine fingers, sharp teeth and chicken feet, and denied it was Kirby, and in fact went so far as to call it by a different name, but no one was fooled. They'd say "I like how you turned Kirby into a monster." I hated that. I hated it so much that I added another character that looked like regular Kirby and called it Ybrik, and had the first kirboid pick on it. Even now that I've acknowledged it I still hate that. Luckily for the sake of my non-embarrassment now, there was no Side-7 back then.

That last paragraph was 100% irrelevant, but I assure you this is going somewhere.

It must have been advertising that ever made me want to play Air Fortress. It's possible that the main reason I despise any and all whoring practices now is how susceptible I used to be to them. Not that I hate Guardian Legend, it's one of the few I was lucky with, but know that I only had it because

"first there was Zelda, and then there was Zelda II. Now comes Guardian Legend and Battle of Olympus!"

Certainly, were the Nintendo corporation responsible, they would not have mentioned Zelda at any point without prefixing it with "the legend of..." and undoubtedly would have had better visuals than the actual cartridges, but the scheme worked, didn't it. Back then, people could say any old thing to sell a game. Now of course that's illegal, or so I'm told. But if that was a lie too, then... gadzooks!

Guardian Legend is the more well known of the two, despite being the one that didn't feature a cameo appearance by Zeus.

Ehhh... I'll try not to.

This could be for many reasons, like that Guardian Legend is a better game, or that no one's parents would accidentally mistake it for educational. You won't be at all surprised to know that even grossly deformed Greek loreology has every bit as much practical application as Algebra.

I suspect that the main character being a barely-dressed womanish robot who tells you you're the greatest player might have something to do with The TGL Legend's popularity, but first I have to figure out why that would appeal to the maintainers of classic-gaming websites. Can you?

"Not when it's a tiny 16x32 pixel sprite, I can't," perhaps you're thinking. First of all, it's 15x31, so ha ha, loser, and I suppose the fact that

this exists, and that an internet translating club spent months of their lives converting it to English was because it really is original and enjoyable as a game, and that the gamma correction knob doesn't need to be turned down at all.
Sometime between this page's original debut and the appearance of, I did attempt to partake of "Sailormoon Another Story" beyond the scene shown here, and I can tell you it is every bit as miserable as I assumed it was, though it should be noted I only played it at all because I started to doubt that assumption. I should not have. So.

I tried a Zillion (ha ha, ugh) times to think of anything interesting to say about this remarkably unremarkable game. The best I could come up with was "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Robot." That's the best I could do. Therefore, Air Fortress page.

The colony needs more food! The thumbtack-sized ants are too good for cashews, apparently. That's too bad, because whoever owns this house has eight hundred of them just lying around his cathedral-sized living room. You'd think with the roughly equal amount of quarters this guy could afford more than two colors of crayons. But no, it's red and yellow all over the place. Someone's drawing a lot of pictures of Hulk Hogan.

These directions were too hard for some people.

Yepsirah, these graphics were worth updating, all right. Ehhh. The most amusing part about Dragon Warrior games was easily the olde English, but the story the needless retranslators love to give is that it wasn't in the Japanese version, and we must be true to Japan, mustn't we. I say, of course the Japanese version didn't have old English. They can't even speak new English.

You know what it turns out the Japanese versions always do have, plenty of memorable lines like "BASTARD!!!!!!!" and "SHIT!!!!!!" Yes indeedilydope, if not for the brilliant dialogue, I might not have considered Final Fantasy II worth playing through for the eighth time just to find an item that makes the screen turn pink for a few seconds.

But that's a story for another day. We're here to talk about


aren't we.

But enough of that.

Video games have progressed quite a lot since Air Fortress. Even by 1993, it was common knowledge that the incoherent babbling of someone with the intelligence of MEGA-BRAIN can prove lethal if not limited to small, between level doses. It is impossible to say how many people lost their lives reading the introduction to Air Fortress.

I happen to think Farmel is a stupid name for any planet that Master System veteran Alf doesn't come from.

Lightship. Remember that, because this is the only time it's ever mentioned.

It was playing really loud music at night.

How dare it live those civilizations!

“Alright, everyone! Tidy up your desks, it's time to do battle!”

Well, doy. Everyone knows defense is useless against defenses. If this was a Squaresoft game, that strategy would likely result in green numbers appearing on the Air Fortress.

Hey, you just said all their forces had been destroyed. And why the plork do I need to know what specially trained person's id number is? And why not select specially trained persons id00001 through id82591 as well?! I'm succumbing...

Oikes. The people at Hal are either really, really vain, or really really uncreative. Come to think of it, I guess they're both, because what kind of name is Hal for a video game company? (yes, I know that's the name of the computer in 2001 Space Odyssey, but I could cast the exact same dispersions on the inventiveness of the the film folk)

Obviously, Light isn't the brand to go with, after seeing how well their ships fared.

Note: That doesn't mean the suit provides protection. Play the game and you'll understand "Armored" to be merely a cheap Armani rip-off brand.

Save Farmel. What about all the other civilizations the Mysterious Big Fortress was after? I assumed from that Intergalactic Powers bit that there were a bunch of planets at risk. Are they just going to get lived, then?

It's so nice of them to provide this map. I might have gone to the levels in the wrong order without that helpful red line! Hey, you get the same game over indication regardless of where it happens, so why should I spend an hour trudging through five levels before giving up when I could start at the eigth and give up in ten minutes? It's not as if had I purchased the game (it's possible that I did) I could send it back, and if I was renting it, then the rental place would have already bought the game. Hal Laboratory gettin' PAID either way. So let me be done quickly, then. Also note: they're all shiny in the same place, despite being at different angles from the nearest light source, flashing Level One. I'm probably the only person to ever be bothered by that.

Here's Hal. He's either wearing a jetpack or on his way to work at the coal mine in this picture. Whatever it is, I'd love to know however Hal sees through the opaque blue viewthing on that helmet.

It displays the "lives" of Hal's trusty vessel, the Mechanical Dragon Head, at the beginning of every level. This is not understood by me, because you're never allowed to have more than three, you can't use them once in the fortress, and beating a level (as unlikely as that sounds) with less in no way prevents you from recontinuing as many times as necessary with the full three. That it remembers you had one or two is a feature implemented only to annoy you [further]. In the event that you can't beat a level, but still want to start with one life, the provider of my game genie codes thoughtfully provided a means for you to do so. Because sometimes it's just too much work to

mistake the foreground for the background two more times.

The much sought after "start with one life" code (more sought after than even the fabled Street Fighter II "play as bosses and be really disappointed" code) may or may not prove more useful than

this one. Or really anything in here credited to enef4 or with a description that takes up more than two lines.

Hey, Hal, don't you think you'd be safer inside your ship, rather than on it? As it turns out, the answer is no. One hit from anything blows it all up. However, inside the fortress, without the ship, Hal can take up to three hundred hits depending on numerous factors. In fact, he flies around at the same speed as the ship, and can even touch the floor! so I'm really not sure what its purpose is.

Right, so the first part of every level has Hal flying towards the Air Fortress on his space-ship-thing, all the while fending off the likes of

pursuing JACKS and

the cowardly GEOMETRIC DOUGHNUTS. How exactly Air Fortress is destroying planets when the most dangerous things it has to send at Hal are... these things is not known at this time.

He also has to collect

the letters E and B, which are floating around in... bubbles. While official reports swear these represent the "Energy" and "Bombs" that Hal uses once inside the fortresses, my own research has revealed that the game's designers were just really big fans of Bebe's Kids. You might say "no, this game came out years before Bebe's Kids, and it would've made more sense to say they were really big fans of Charlotte's Web." I say, this game obviously takes place in the future, at a point when Bebe's Kids just happens to be the popular retro trend. So there.

What are the chances that this device's guns are the exact distance apart that Hal needs to not get hit by either of them? About the same as this putting Hal in the position to fire upon its only vulnerable point, I'd say.

Every level looks the same, has the same cheap, cheap enemies, and plays the same hal-ish music (I refer to the game company Hal here, thus, no color). Not even the monsters are interesting, save for

this one, who stopped by to ask for directions to Faxanadu.

I left this off of the Widget page because I couldn't think of anything to say about it, but I'm going to put it here, since clearly today is my day to lose focus.


and MAGNETO-SPIKES! I don't have any wacky, zany, nutty comment, I just think magneto sounds funny. I also think Magneto sounds funny.

In my opinion, if something flashes orange when it gets shot, it had better blow up at some point. Apparently Air Fortress thinks otherwise.

Once you've destroyed the Air Fortress' giant sacred meatball with your tomato sauce gun (see picture above above picture), you have to escape before the whole building blows up. Everyone knows you can't run an Italian restaurant without meatballs. It's usually fairly easy to find your way back to the entrance, and as far as the game making any sense at all goes, it would be somewhat plausible for your ship to still be there, but it turns out that's a no parking area, so the Fortress' valet kindly drives Hal's ship

around to the back door, which just happens to be only be accessable from inside an unopened Orange Julius. The stores all close at 9:00, Hal! I love the subtle mocking effect of "OnLY EsCAPE" printed on a door that you have no way of opening.

Air Fortress is one of those games where you can tell you're going to lose long before it happens. But if you reset the game, you still have to do over everything you would have to do if you lost. My recommendation: Don't play Air Fortress. Or pretty much anything on the Playstation 2.

Allow me to translate: Farmel was invaded by the other metroid. Your reward for destroying eight air fortresses is...

Eight more air fortresses! The exact same ones you just destroyed, except now

the colors are different! Apparently Hal's "real power" is MEGA PALETTE-SWAP!

All right, maybe a couple of walls have been moved around, and the teleport pipes drop you off in different places (because that's what becoming more destructive is all about), but I have a hard time imagining someone not being bothered enough at learning they aren't done yet to continue playing. It's just like the Legend of Zelda, except without that fun getting in the way.

Your fortress recovers its function immediately after Hal's exit, but it seems not to have occured to Hal that the fortress didn't blow up, and that he ought to go right back in and shoot some more things before function can finish being recovered. His excuse: "That wouldn't be very sportsmanlike."

This is where the passwords come in.

This game has a four character password system, which means it shouldn't be too hard to enter random nonsense and access a later level. And even if you can't, this is one of the better error sounds I've heard, so I didn't mind failing at this task so much. And besides that, as you likely know by now, I will cheat when I have no desire to play something properly (this presuming that guessing a correct password counts as "playing properly"). Because I'm also not very sportsmanlike. Back to Gamefaqs, then...

After eight one more stages of tedium and meatball abuse you are presented with the real ending,

which says, in effect, I can't thank you enough, so I'm not even going to try. And it doesn't.

1987: Year of the un-ending.