Pro tip: changing the lift settings in Parsec

For today's pro tip, we go all the way back to 1982, just before the video game market crashed horribly. We go back to a home computer system/personal computer manufactured by a company now known for calculators and pitched by Bill Cosby.

No, really.

One of my favorite games for the system was Parsec. You had to shoot alien ships without overheating your laser, dodge obstacles, and manage your fuel supply.

Once your fuel reaches critical levels, a refueling tunnel will appear to test your maneuverability to get at the precious resource.

But, going through the tunnel (especially later in the game) requires fine control, which your craft just doesn't have.

Or does it?

Down in the center of the screen toward the bottom, you see where it says "LIFT 3"? That determines how fast your ship moves vertically. 3 is the fastest setting, and 1 is the slowest setting. How do you change it? By using the 1, 2, and 3 keys on your keyboard. Something not immediately obvious to me since I got this game without a manual many years ago.

So, by changing the Lift setting to 1

We can easily make it through the tunnel, refueled and ready for more action.

Just make sure you bump the Lift back up to 3 before you start shooting aliens again. Otherwise they're way more maneuverable than you are.

Pro tip: getting the multiple shot powerups in Castlevania

In the classic Castlevania games, you get the very useful sub-weapons. You can only throw one at a time until you find the Double-Shot and the Triple-Shot powerups, which let you throw two and three of them at a time (obviously).

But, aside from certain blocks that always have shot upgrades, finding them is pretty random, right?


You can make the Shot powerups appear simply by using your sub-weapon to hit things.

You can hit candles, enemies, whatever, as long as you actually hit something. Hit about ten somethings and you'll make the Double-Shot appear

Hit about ten more for the triple shot.

Just make sure you actually hit things, if you just throw your sub-weapons off a cliff, you won't accomplish anything other than wasting Hearts.

Pro tip: Metal Man is a pushover

Part of the fun of the Mega Man games is getting the special weapons from the rogue robots and then finding out which weapon does the most damage to each one. Mega Man 2 takes that to the extreme.

Toward the end of the game you have to fight all of the Robot Masters again, even though you've already beaten them once. And that means that you could use their own weapons against them. This doesn't usually do a whole lot... until you get to Metal Man.

Once the battle starts, throw one of his own Metal Blades back at him.

If it connects, BOOM!

Easiest fight in the whole game! Heck, easiest fight in the whole series!

Which is a pretty big reprieve after you've battled your way this far into the game.

Pro tip: Move canceling in Street Fighter II

This one's a little more advanced, but nontheless very important if you want to be any good at the Street Fighter games.

The idea is to do one move, and before the animation completes, you do another move for Big Damage(tm). The easiest way to show this is with Ken. You want to lead off with a Strong Punch, then immediately press Forward, Down, Down-Forward + Strong Punch. If you do it fast enough (and it does take quick fingers) then you'll hit once with the punch, and then three times with your Dragon Punch for a four-hit combo!

Which is kind of tough to see in static picture form, so I've made an animated .gif you can check out here(2.3 MB, watch out, dial-up users!).

There are lots of moves that can be canceled like this, way too many to list here, so have fun finding them!

Oh, and this also works for Street Fighter IV.

Pro tip: infinite 1ups in Super Mario Bros. 3, the shell method

If you're inexperienced at it, Super Mario Bros. 3 is a tough game, made worse by the fact that after you lose your meager 5 lives all the progress you made in each World is negated, and you have to do it over again.

So, like a lot of games, it's very helpful to throw more lives at the problem.

My favorite spot to do that is in World 3-9.

First, stomp on the Koopa Paratroopa and grab its shell.

Then run over to the right, being very careful not to hit the Goomba or the Bob-Omb that's hiding over there. Make your way to the Bullet Bill cannon and kick the shell over to the other side of it.

Then quickly make your way to the platform above.

And wait.

Bullet Bills will continuously be fired from both of the cannons, and the ricocheting shell will take out each one.

Until eventually

1UPs! And you can stand there in safety until the time runs out, which will cost you one life, but you've got plenty to burn at this point.

And, if you're playing a two-player game, it's good form to allow the second player the chance to do this trick also, so that you both have a ton of lives to play around with.

Pro tip: creating squares in The New Tetris

The New Tetris is one of the many, many versions of Tetris to have been released that just barely tweaks the basic formula. This one introduces the concept of Squares.

As you're playing this game, you're going to want to create 4x4 squares of blocks. You can do this by using different pieces, which will yield a silver Multisquare

Or you can do it with all of the same shape piece, which will yield a gold Monosquare

Now, why would you want to do such a thing?

Every line that you clear that includes one of these squares will give you Bonus Lines. And since Lines is the only way to keep track of what your score is, that becomes fairly important fairly quickly to get one of those really high scores.

Pro tip: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest's last boss is a pushover

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is a Role-Playing game for beginners, so most of the game is a pushover. But when you get to the last boss, the game ramps up the difficulty significantly.

Spoilers continue below this line

Pro tip: more extra bonus points

In the NES Skate of Die! game one of the events is the Jam,

where you have to race a computer-controlled opponent down a back alley.

You get points for smashing bottles, doing tricks, and beating up your opponent, just like in real life

And you'll notice that toward the end of the track there's a police cruiser. Turns out that it's not there for decoration. if you can manage to jump on the hood

Sirens blare, lights flash, and you get some extra points!

Which might be enough to put you over the top in a close game.

Pro tip: watching out where you pause in Blaster Master

If you managed to get past the Crab boss in Area 5 of Blaster Master, you get to move on to the ice stage, Area 6, which features these blocks that you have to destroy from below to proceed.

But, say you need to check your status screen for some reason, or you just want to pause the game for a breather

Once you leave the status screen...

The blocks are back!

I sure hope you didn't need to go back down that shaft.

Also, as a bonus tip: the boss's room is to the right once you get to the top of this shaft. If you go left it'll lead you back to beginning of the stage, and some of these mysterious blocks will be back, making you take the long way around.

Pro tip: investigating a Ghostbusters strategy myth

The NES Ghostbusters game isn't very good, but that didn't stop me from playing the heck out of it when I was younger. Mostly because I didn't have much better to do.

Fast forward a few years and I find mention of a technique for raising money that I had never heard of. It's all over the Internet, and boils down to:

buy the Ghost Alarm for $2000 and sell it back for $3000. Keep doing that until you have all the money you need.

But, I didn't have a copy of Ghostbusters to test, so I went out and found the only copy of the game within 10 miles of my house at great personal expense ($3.95 American).

I popped the game in and went to work.

I immediately went to the Shop:

Bought a Ghost Alarm for $2000

And sold it... for $1000

Then I kept doing that until I couldn't buy anything else, and the game was unwinnable because I didn't have any equipment.

But, given the prevalence and specificity of this tip, I'm thinking that there might be some revisions floating around out there that have this bug, but it certainly wasn't in any that I had.

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