PopLurker Plays: The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES)

By Kitsune Hatfield

 

Growing up, I played a number of difficult video games.

From the challenging puzzles and pin point platforming of the cult classic High Sea’s Havoc, to beating the infamous rage fest that is Ghouls N’ Ghost for the Sega Genesis.  I wouldn’t say I was an expert at tough games, but I always enjoyed a challenge. As I grew up and had to do more adulting, my time free for video games quickly disappeared. Ever since college and working, I have mainly stuck with playing mobile games. Most of my experience with video games since my childhood has mostly been put into watching reviewers play games such as Youtube reviewer Markplier. My favorite review show of all time though has been Game Center CX, a long running Japanese game show where a middle age comedian Kacho (chief) Arino plays through difficult video games in hopes of beating them with the help of his AD assistants. Lately I’ve been hooked on the show and have even shared it at my job in the library with others (they loved it).
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This last month my love for Sailor Moon and Game Center CX has drawn me into playing video games once again. Going back to video games has been a chance to relive my childhood fun, try some new games retro games I missed as a kid growing up with a Sega Genesis (debatably the world’s best video game console), and/or complete games that couldn’t beat while growing up.

After enjoying my time playing many of the Sailor Moon games for the SNES I decided to expand my horizons and try something new. I wanted to play a NES game that was both new to me and a real challenge. My mind immediately jumped to a game I have wanted to try out for a long time, The Adventures of Bayou Billy.

I have always been curious about this game, because it has developed such an infamous reputation among people as one of the most difficult beat em’ up games of all time, and as a bad early Komani game (surprisingly those do exist). Having never played the game before or watched anyone else play it was an exciting chance to see me what the game was like first hand. I wanted to share the beginning of my journey and thoughts (and pain) as I travel into the dark swamps of The Adventures of Bayou Billy. This account, dear reader, will hopefully give you a sense of why this game is considered, “NES Hard,” and why playing this game could be a health hazard for those without a boat load of patience.

 

Level 1: Into the Swamp
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They say “seeing is believing,” and after playing and witnessing The Adventures of Bayou Billy for the first time I belief the game is product of a twisted evil. Bayou Billy doesn’t work the way most beat em’ up games do where you kick ass and take names, no in Bayou Billy be prepared for your ass to be the one kicked right into the swamp, again, and again, and again. This game apparently decided that games were supposed to be realistic rather than fun and that playing this game should be as hard as actually wrestling a gator with no prior experience.

Basically, this game will maul you.

I must really enjoy this type of suffering though, because oddly enough I actually kind of enjoy this challenge. Yes, it took forever to beat the first stage and it was super frustrating, but it is nice I guess to have to work for your win (either that or I just enjoy pain).

The game starts with Mr. Biggs (he’s a generic New Orleans mob boss so I assume this is his name), a man who does not mess around. He holds Billy’s girlfriend (wife, partner, friend, acquaintance?) hostage at knife point and demands Billy come after him if he wants to save her. Why does he do this? Who knows, my guess is that it amuses him to ruin innocent people’s lives. Also Mr. Biggs must have too much time and money on his hands I guess. Anyone who was sane at this point would call the police and let them handle things, or find a new girlfriend (wife, partner, friend, acquaintance?) as going on a suicide mission through deadly alligator infested swamps filled with an army of hired goons is beyond a terrible idea. Billy apparently either hasn’t gotten this memo or he has a death wish, because he sets out on his rescue mission armed with only his bare hands.

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Anyone who completes more than a few screens in this game should be given a medal. Some of the screens within even first level are harder than entire games I have played. Each screen tests poor Billie’s resolve, as goons with as much or even more health then he does challenges Billy to a swampy smack down, in hopes of making Billy into fresh Gumbo for the gators. Billy must traverse the perilous swamp waters battling goons, armed swamp divers, Bayou strong men who love to throw huge boulders at him, and of course the gators who raised him (Billy must be having family troubles). Needless to say you will die a lot, even when you have mastered the patterns.
Here is some advice for living longer (if you are lucky): Move and jump kick, repeat… Standing still in this game is like asking for death’s cold embrace. Just like in real life trying to take on multiple people with your bare hands while alone and standing still is never a good idea. Unlike in real life though, Billy sadly doesn’t have the sense to run away so the least you can do is lend him hand and allow him to take out a few people before he’s beaten into submission.

4.jpgSecondly with the gators it’s either cheat or become meat. Find a safe spot and kick them gators in the nose. Surprisingly this actually works (in the game, don’t actually try to this if you value your limbs) as the gators must want to give their relative Billy a sporting chance. Don’t expect the other enemies to be so generous though.

That’s My Boy! Go Get ‘Em Son!

Enemies will also steal your items and try to beat your brains out, which leads me to my third point, expect to die…a lot. This game wants to make it clear that you are at its mercy, and it’s not feeling too generous. If you aren’t ready for this then be prepared to lose your tv or computer screen in a fit of rage. Each time I pleaded for the first level to be over, I was met with despair as another wave of fierce enemies were just waiting to finish the job. Bayou Billy is a game only for who enjoy being tormented (I guess that now includes me :/) I won’t tell you how many times I died just trying to beat this first stage, but let’s just say that Billy probably has a coffin bill totaling more than the GDP of most countries and has probably become a mascot and spokesperson for a booming mortician company.

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I can safely say that this level is the hardest, meanest, and cruelest first stage I have ever played.

 

Level 2-Swamp Town Shoot Out

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After all the pain, effort and miracles needed to beat the first stage of The Adventures of Bayou Billy I was finally awarded (or cursed) with the chance to play stage two, a Zapper light gun shooting stage. In true Bayou Billy fashion this stage is not a relaxing reprieve from the last stage or a place to take a breather, but instead quite the opposite. Stage two involves battling an army designed with the goal of continuing to torment your soul. Why the game suddenly decided to add a crushingly hard shooting stage and how it fits with the story is anyone’s guess but based on with stage my best guess would be that after surviving his beating in the swamp Billy got drunk on moonshine (perhaps to sooth his broken body) before taking up his six-shooter to fight an army while drunk. As for where and how Mr. Biggs got an army of armed men and a military grade helicopter…I assume he is rich and that I shouldn’t ask questions at this point.

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Playing this stage as mention before is like literally taking on an army drunk. Sure, most of the goons go down in one shot this time; the real problem with this stage though is the number of soldiers that appear on the stage, their zipping around the stage, and the difficulty aiming at them. Even while trying to spray the screen with bullets; it is impossible to keep up with all the enemies jumping down from the sky in endless waves and running back and forth like the Flash after a quadruple shot of espresso. It doesn’t help matters that your accuracy has to be pin point to hit anything. Billy’s drunk so of course his aim is really terrible. Even if you aim at a particular area, often you will miss your mark.

The only hope you have in this stage is to be accurate, be constant, to survive long enough to make it to the next check point, and to plead that a health pack or an extra life comes your way. It’s not much, but at least it’s something, and it’s the most the game is willing to give. The boss is a helicopter dropping Special Forces members as though it were some sort of flying clown car, and yes, it is just as hard as you should expect it to be by now, absurdly hard. It’s so hard in fact that you would have better luck trying to shoot down a helicopter with a six shooter in real life blind folded then in this game. Be sure to shoot the soldiers and keep constant fire at the helicopter, so basically just multitask and hope to survive.  Personally, I haven’t been able to survive it yet (despite all my rage I’m just a player in a cage).

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I would love to tell you about the Boss and driving stages, but chances are it would take me a life time (if I am lucky) to beat this shooting stage…not that I won’t continue to suffer and try (wish me luck).

 

 

Kitsune is a teen librarian, activist and writer. She has an anime and book review blog for the Old Town Newhall Library teen department, or you can find her on Facebook.

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