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Smorgasbored!

When I was playing Legendary Wings last week, I was struck by the odd color scheme for Player 1. You're forced to battle wave after wave of technological and mythological enemies...while wearing knee-high boots, hotpants and wrist-bands, all colored the brightest of fuschias. This is especially odd because Player 2 wears powder blue, instead; that seemed a little more normal.
But that got me to thinking -- haven't I seen that strange two-player simultaneous Pink and Blue palette swaps somewhere else?
Granted, the NES can't have too many different pictures or too many different colors on the screen at the same time, so simple palette-swapped heroes for two-player simultaneous games makes sense. But Newborn Baby Pink and Blue? How many other games could have chosen those hues?
Well, I guess two of them.
Yup, the excruciating Ikari Warriors and the old-school Ice Climber both shove your barechested feet-of-clay rambos/your bizarre vertical leaping Inuit through the gate in these garish tones.
So I thought, "hey, maybe I can milk a whole article out of this!" But as I started to review all the NES two-player simultaneous games I could think of, I stumbled on a much bigger trend:

RED + BLUE

Yes, good ol' Fire-Engine Red and True Blue seem to be the most common go-to colors for Player 1 and Player 2. Let's look at a few examples:
Contra
Yup, when Mad Dog and Scorpion hit the jungles of Southern *COUGHWHATEVER*ia, they chose those colors for their pants (fishnets?)
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Billy and Jimmy Lee are on the same page in their second NES quest for two-player action (instead of being blood enemies)...AND on the Red and Blue bandwagon.
Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones
Despite the weird font and lack of extra lives, Billy and Jimmy stuck with what works in the vest/pants department!
Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
Paul and Vince trade in their odd pink and powder-blue gear for their ridiculously-plotted sequel; also Vince seems to have gotten himself a wicked tan!
Kung-Fu Heroes
The oddly-deformed heroes of Kung Fu know that white collars and buttons work equally well on Red and Blue karate garments!
LifeForce
It may be a bit of a stretch -- because the colors are mainly related to the wing-sheen and cockpit -- but these are two wild and crazy Warp Rattlers!
Marble Madness
Well, they may just be spheres with only their sheen and oddly-rotating-dots to indicate motion...but dammit, they're BLUE and RED spheres!
N.A.R.C.
WINNERS DON'T DO DRUGS. Nor, evidently, do winners have the end of their weapon's barrels in the cover art. Additionally, Red-Uniformed Player 2 is African-American in the game, but as pasty white as Player 1 on the title screen; he must have the same "Cutscene Disease" that has blighted Douglas Bild (aka Norton or Slash) throughout his career.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy's up against Red-y and Blue-y in this nightmare of a game (and additionally faces Female Red and Female Blue if you have the four-player adapter). Also I guess it's nice that they gave the kids slightly different skin-tones.
S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team
Unfortunate name aside, the members of THIS special team certainly chose the winning COLOR COMBINATION teams to be on! Extra points for making the sprites slightly different. Negative points for pretending their characters are knockoffs of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sigourney Weaver
Shadow of the Ninja
Ok, so the colors are a little more pastel, but there's always room to highlight one of the great, obscure two-player-simultaneous Ninja Platformers out there.
Like in S.C.A.T., here you've got slightly different sprites for your He-Ninja and She-Ninja. You can even choose which one you wish to play as -- not that it makes a difference to any reasonable player (but it wins it beaucoup d'brownie-points with me!).
Snow Bros.
I'm not sure if the title should be, Snow Bros: Nick Tom, but either way, these fez-and-overall-wearing enchanted snowmen are...wait, it's just struck me how insane this game is.
Vindicators
If you can forgive the butt-ugly chartreuse lettering, you'll be welcomed into a world of weird egg-shaped tanks...or should I say, weird egg-shaped tanks with GREAT COLOR-CODING!


...and there's so much more!
If you broaden your color wheel to include dull gray-blue, you can include Contra's sequel, Super C (where evidently Mad Dog traded in his previously-brand-new jeans for the "Stone Washed" craze):
...AND while we're on the whole "gray-blue counts too" kick, you get the OTHER even-more-obscure, even-more-great two-player-simultaneous Ninja Platformer...Ninja Crusaders
Ninja Crusaders is a game where THE WORLD HAS BEEN CONQUERED BY ROBOTS, but a pair of NINJAS (who can TURN INTO ANIMALS) are the last hope for humanity.
It's probably for the best that no one ever heard of this game, because if it was more well-known, people might have decided there was no actual need to invent the internet. We'd all just come home from work and stare at a copy of Ninja Crusaders for four hours, then pass out from an overdose of groovyness.
And if the internet was never invented...
...I'd never be able to tell you about the most exciting and puzzling element of the whole Red/Blue list:
Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue
Paul and Vince have given up their guns for the relative joys of "beating 'em up." Their costume's evolution has continued as well: while we've got one of the (brothers? very good friends?) still in his Fire Engine Red best, the other guy wears faded cyan-ish powder blue pants and headband (similar to Barry Bostwick in MegaForce).
But what's this? In a change from Ikari Warriors and Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road, this time it's PLAYER 1 who's got the blue-s, and Player 2 is red?
Did Paul and Vince switch controllers, or favorite colors? Is the titular "rescue" a fashion intervention?
Well, if I could choose one question to answer about this game, it would be "what the hell is happening in the Intro Movie?"
...and I can't make heads or tails out of that thing, so...yeah.
Anything to add, Pitfall Harry?
Hey, who's your friend?
— carlmarksguy, 2013-05-03
1
Little Ninja Brothers also has the red/blue P1/P2 color scheme, although technically it's a sequel to Kung Fu Heroes.
2
Yeah, what's the deal with Little Ninja Brothers -- I almost bought the SNES version of that the other day; is it a super-version, or just a not-so-spiffed-up port, like the nes & snes "Paperboy 2"?
3
Super Ninja Boy is another sequel in that series, and it's actually a direct sequel to Ninja Boy II for the Game Boy. It's okay, but it's not as good as Little Ninja Brothers. The battle controls on the NES game are a lot more responsive and fluid, the music quality is higher, and it's just overall more fun.
4
Thanks! It's always good to hear this stuff from a trusted source. I'm wary of SNES ninja action/adventure-y games that SHOULD be fun, ever since Quest of the Mystic Ninja turned out to be only like 10% successor-to-River City Ransom due to poor design choices (you lose 1 level of most powerups in ONE HIT; WHY!?)
5
I wouldn't say Super Ninja Boy is totally not worth playing. I've beaten it a couple of times. It just felt disappointing compared to Little Ninja Brothers. And if you haven't played Ninja Boy II, the reveal of who the final boss is won't make a lick of sense. BTW, I actually reviewed Legend of the Mystical Ninja and while I wasn't terribly negative towards it, I did mention some problems with it that other sources don't seem to care about. Mainly - too much focus on the towns and minigames, not enough action.
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