Category Archives: 2015 Posts

Home Alone (NES)

Home Alone NES Full Cover

Prediction

It’s Christmas time, and what better way to get into the spirits than with some classic Christmas movies, specifically Home Alone. I’m sure we all know the story by now. Poor little Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone for the holidays while the rest of the family went on vacation. On his own, he must defend his house from the would be burglars Marv and Harry, the Wet Bandits.

Home Alone NES - 01

Convert that action to the NES and you create the nightmares of my childhood a gem of a game. Kevin has already called the police, but it’ll be 20 minutes before they arrive. Use every tool you can find to defend yourself and stay alive until the police come to save the day.

Gameplay

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As I mentioned, the goal is to stay alive for 20 minutes until the police arrive. Just like in the movie, Kevin has a whole arsenal of traps he can set to slow down the burglars. In the game, each trap is represented by a square tile showing what the trap is. There are light bulbs, nails, ornaments, even the pet Tarantula is there. Kevin can hold up to 3 traps at a time. But you can set as many as you want, and there are a lot of them to set. Unfortunately there’s really no indication or distinction between a set trap and a triggered trap. Either way it’s just a square sitting on the ground.

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With only 2 enemies to worry about, you might think it’ll be simple. You would be wrong. The game is damn near impossible. For starters, the bandits move significantly faster than Kevin. Then the game is very demanding in regard to the stairs, at least the side view stairs. If you’re not in the exact right position, you’ll just be standing there waiting to be captured.

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Personally, I blame this games difficulty on the police. What kind of response time is 20 minutes? Kid, home alone on Christmas, with burglars trying to break in. They should be there in 5 minutes or less.

Verdict

Price – $11.50

I’m going be honest. I’m not sure this is worth anything more than $5.00.

Fun Rating – 2 / 10

The concept is mostly good. I can’t really think of a better way to replicate the action of the movie. The problems are in the execution. The AI is too good, and the controls aren’t tight enough. In the end, constantly losing isn’t any fun. Thinking about it, even if you did have a strategy to win, the game never changes, and only lasts 20 minutes. So there’s really no replay value either.

Play Again? Probably not

I owned this game as a kid and I rarely played it even back then because of how hard it is. Since then I’ve only ever played it ironically to refresh my mind with how stupidly hard it is.

Total Deaths 15 Deaths

I didn’t even play the full 30 minutes, I only played for 21 before I quit and felt I had enough to write the review. Most of the attempts I couldn’t even last a full minute. Even my best attempt only lasted 8m 56s! It’s simply too difficult.

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of Home Alone. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even Donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Penguin Wars (Gameboy)

When I got my Holiday Bonus from work this year, most of it went towards presents. I did manage to set aside just a little bit for myself, and I used it to expand my Gameboy library. I didn’t get my hands on a Gameboy until the Gameboy color series was already out, so I missed out on a lot of the early titles. I got a few classics like Tetris, Mario Land, and Kirby, but there was one game that caught my eye and I just had to buy it. That game was Penguin Wars.

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I had never heard of this game before, and I’m not really sure what it was that made me want to buy it so badly, but it went straight into the cart. When I got them home, it was the first game I tested, and I felt like a little kid again. Just that pure joy of putting in a game, not knowing what to expect, and having it be just a pleasure to play. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take a look at what made the game so much fun.

Gameplay

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Despite being called “penguin wars”, you can actually chose to play as any of the 5 different animals. There’s a Penguin, a Bat, a Rabbit, a Rat, and a Cow, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. The Cow for example moves the slowest, but throws the hardest, whereas the Rat moves the fastest but throws really slow.

 

As for the gameplay, it’s very similar to dodge ball. Each match is played “best of three games” to decide the winner, with each game having a 60 second time limit. You each start off on opposite ends of a table with 5 balls each, with the ultimate goal being to send all 10 balls over to your opponents side of the table. If no one wins within the time limit, whoever has the fewest balls on their side wins.

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Like I said before, the game is basically dodge ball. Hitting your opponent will stun then temporarily, giving you the time you need to send all the balls over to their side. But watch out, because if you get hit, you’ll go down too. The AI is also very relentless and won’t let you back up once they knock you down.

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Of course the best and easiest defense is to simply dodge the balls as they come, but you can also throw your own ball into theirs to deflect it. The physics were actually pretty good in this game, sending the balls bouncing around the table when they collided.

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If the match starts to run long, around the 20 second mark an obstacle will appear in the center of the table. These can range from a “slime monster” which bounces the ball back at you, or a spinning disk which sends the ball flying in a random direction. Sometimes it’ll even be a…God only knows. Given my choices from the manual, my best guess says this is the “Crazy Dog”, but that’s no dog I’ve ever seen. To me, it looks like some little guy with a ponytail, and every time you hit him he chugs a drink. It’s weird, but oddly cute at the same time.

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Speaking of oddly cute, I have to point out the match against the Rat. The poor little guy is so short he can’t even throw the balls. Then when you hit him, he falls over screaming for help and trying to quit. You just can’t help but feel bad for him a little.

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After you beat all 4 of the other animals, you’ll be crowned the winner of the tournament. How did the Rat take 3rd place? He couldn’t even throw the ball. I guess it doesn’t matter, because the fun isn’t over just yet. After your moments on the victory stand, the whole thing starts over again, this time with the other animals powered up.

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You’ll have to be extra careful this time around, because they’ll be rocketing over “Power Balls” every chance they get. You can give them a taste of their own medicine by powering up your own shots as well, but the charge up leaves you more vulnerable, so use it at your own risk. Either way, let the war continue as long as you can hold out!

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

The gameplay is incredibly simple to pick up, using only the direction keys and a single button for every action. But the fun is in the simplicity. Anyone can pick up the game and right away figure out how to play. My only complaint comes from how brutal the AI can be after knocking you down. Often if you fall down, you stay down.

Graphics – 8 /10

While the graphics are limited, what is presented is very well done. All the characters are cute and very likeable. Then the pseudo 3D effect of the balls as they roll across the table is very impressive for the Gameboy.

Audio – 6 / 10

The music is actually very nice in the game, there just aren’t a lot of different songs. That’s not why it gets such a low score though. When the game first boots up, the logo sound is a loud, sustained, single note screech that nearly made me go deaf. While this isn’t really a part of the game proper, it’s still your very first impression of the game, and it’s not a pleasant one.

Story – N / A

A bunch of animals got together and wanted to play dodge ball. You got a problem with that? I didn’t think so.

Total Playtime – 0 h 21 m

It’s a really short game. I actually managed 2 full tournaments in that time frame. But that’s typical of many Gameboy games, especially these types of games. It’s only meant to be played in short bursts, and that’s fine.

Total Deaths – 3 Loses

I made it to the final match of the 2nd tournament. I don’t think that’s too bad. I can probably make it farther if I played more.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

This is one of those games you can happily come back to again and again. The gameplay is simple, but has just enough challenge to keep you on your toes. With its combination of cute characters, catchy music, and tight controls, it’s hard to find any real fault with this game. Also, I found my copy for just $5, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t add this game to your collection.

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I hope you enjoyed Penguin Wars. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even Donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Tetris Attack (SNES)

Tetris is one of those classic games that virtually everyone has played at some point. It’s easy to pick up, difficult to master, and just generally fun to play. Even though the basic gameplay hasn’t changed much in the years, new Tetris games are still being released on nearly every major system. Thanks to the strong grip the Tetris Company has on their branding, no matter which version you play, you’ll have an authentic Tetris experience. All except for that one game that slipped through their fingers. That game being “Tetris Attack” for the SNES.

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To be fair, Tetris attack has a very valid reason for being so different from any other Tetris game. That being that it was never intended to even be a Tetris game at all. When it was released in Japan it was called “Panel de Pon” and featured a magical girl theme. During localization, Nintendo of America thought it would sell better under the Tetris name, as well as giving it Mario characters instead of the magical girls. The Tetris Company agreed, and would later regret, to letting Nintendo use the Tetris name. Thus, Tetris Attack was born. It has drastically different play style to any other Tetris game, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, does it?

Gameplay

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For starters, let me explain the gameplay, since it really isn’t Tetris at all. It’s actually more similar to games like Bejeweled. The game starts with a stack of panels already on the screen and more panels slowly rising from the bottom. Your job is to clear away the panels before they reach the top of the screen. You accomplish this by moving panels around in order to make lines of three or more. Unfortunately, you can only move the panels left and right, which can make finding matches difficult at times. However, you don’t have to make a match with each move, you’re free to move the panels around as much as you want to set up chains and combos.

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Taking the time to make chains and combos can really pay off, especially in the later levels. You don’t get any special tiles like in other block games, instead the stack stops rising for a few seconds depending on the complexity of your combo. It might not sound like much, but in the later levels, it gives you that extra second you need to plan out your next move, and can really make the difference between winning and losing.

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For the game itself, it has several different modes of play. Of course, it has the classic endless mode. You play the game like normal for as long as you can until it finally becomes too much and you lose. It’s basic, but it’s still a lot of fun to play.

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There’s also a time trial mode. In this mode you have limited time to score as many points as possible. Again, it’s very basic, but still fun.

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Now we get into the real meat of the game. The puzzle mode is just what it sounds like. The panels are prearranged to make a puzzle and you have a limited number of turns to clear them all out. These start out insultingly easy, with puzzles you can solve in one move. The later levels however can get pretty crazy and I admittedly couldn’t finish all of them.

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Then there’s the challenge mode, which is probably the largest part of the game. This mode is actually more of a survival mode. You have to clear panels away as quickly as you can until the clear line appears. Then you have to clear all the panels out from above that line to win. Each round is relatively short, but as you progress the levels get harder by increasing the speed and number of panels to start with. Again, I was unable to finish this mode, I got to the 3rd to last level and the speed was just too much for me.

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Someday i shall defeat you!

 

In the challenge mode, there was also a boss battle with Bowser about half way through. You’re intended to lose this battle, but no doubt you would face him again at the end when your skills have improved. Although I only lasted about 6 seconds against Bowser, it still showed off an interesting mechanic. Instead of just surviving, Bowser had a health bar that decreased with each match made until eventually you would defeat him. It looked like fun, and I wish it was used more in the game.

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The final mode also happens to be my favorite. In Tetris Attack, Vs mode also doubles as the story mode. It’s a simple story. Bowser has used his magic to make it rain all over Yoshi’s Island as well as enchant all of its residents. Only Yoshi was immune to the magic, and it’s up to him to stop the rain and save his friends.

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As the name suggests, Vs mode is head to head play against the various residents of Yoshi’s Island. Now it’s not enough to just survive the level, you need to outplay your opponent. In this mode the chains and combos become even more important. Instead of stopping the panels like they did before, now they will send a large block over to your opponent’s side to ruin their day. Watch out, because they can do the same thing right back to you.

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Once you’ve rescued all your friends, it’s time to head to Mt Wickedness and teach Bowser a lesson. Or, um, teach Naval Piranha a lesson. Maybe you get to fight Bowser in the higher difficulties. If that’s the case, I’ll probably never know.

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Hang in there yoshi!

 

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

The inability to move panels up and down made this feel harder than it needed to be at times, but that’s really my only complaint. The game is still fun and very addicting. There are several modes of play for whatever you feel like playing. Then the controls were just perfect, keeping up with even the most frantic of inputs. I can’t fault the game for my lack of skill, it held up perfectly from start to finish.

Graphics – 8 / 10

While not a graphically intense game, every element still had so much life to it. The color pallet was just so bright and vibrant. The backgrounds were detailed and just beautifully drawn. Even the little faces on the panels had some character. You almost feel bad for destroying them.

Audio – 9 / 10

The music in this game is just fantastic. It’s so lively and memorable. Every so often I still find myself humming one of the tunes to myself, or just have one stuck in my head, and I love it. When you’re getting close to losing a level, the music even switches to a much more frantic version of itself, and it just builds the perfect tension for the moment.

Story – 7 / 10

The story mode isn’t some sprawling epic. It’s simple, and fills the basic needs of a story. However, it’s still fun, and the inclusion of a story mode at all is a delight to see. Considering it’s a puzzle game, vs. mode could have easily been a single match like endless or time trial, but they took the time to build a story for it, and it really made the game for me.

Total Playtime – 2 h 51 m

Seeing everything the game has to offer doesn’t take long. The whole story mode only took me less than an hour. But this is one of those games that you gladly pick up and play time and time again, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Even with the time I put into it, I still didn’t finish everything, and I would love to come back and tackle them again when I get a chance.

Total Deaths – 77 Failures

Once the speed levels got up into the high 30’s I just lose it. I always get too focused on one section and before I know it the other side is already hitting the top.

Overall Score – 9 / 10

The Tetris name might have helped to push it off the shelf, but Tetris Attack can easily stand on its own. The gameplay is rather unique, and takes a little time to get used to, but it’s well worth the learning curve. Everything about this game is an embodiment of a fun game. Good graphics, good sound, good controls, likeable characters, and fun gameplay. Every aspect of the game just made me so happy while I was playing. Sure, I got frustrated at the higher levels, but never AT the game, only ever at my own lack of skill. Honestly, find a copy and add it to your SNES library. You won’t regret it.

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I shall frame this for all to see!

 

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I hope you enjoyed Tetris Attack. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Alice in Wonderland (GBC)

November 26, 2015 will mark the 150th anniversary of the original publication of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and I’m actually really excited about that. If you’ve never actually read the books, I insist you give it a try. They are an amazing read, and have so much more to them that never made it into any of the movies. If you do read it, you might want to try one of the annotated versions. The story is intentionally very silly and confusing, and the annotated version gives you a lot of insight into what’s actually going on.

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As part of my celebration for this anniversary, I’ve decided to play Disney’s Alice in Wonderland for the Gameboy Color. The 1951 animated Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite Disney movie. Growing up I would watch this over and over again until I think I eventually broke the tape. However, it’s only loosely based on the book, and actually received quite a negative initial reception for being too far from the original source. It has since gained a huge cult following, and is regarded as one of the greatest Disney Classics. So with that in mind, let’s jump in and see how far the Gameboy Color can be pushed.

 

Gameplay

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Just like in the book and movie, the game starts with Alice day dreaming during lessons from her older sister. It is her older sister right? She could easily pass for a young mother. Anyway, Alice spots the White Rabbit running off, and out of curiosity of seeing a rabbit with a pocket watch, she chases after it.

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There is a lot of detail in this game that is impressive for a Gameboy Color game. Little details like the reflection distorted in the water. Or the upside-down reflections in the mirrors as you fall down the rabbit hole avoiding random objects. These little details are just so uncommon for Gameboy games.

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In the Hallways at the bottom of the rabbit hole, the game begins to play like a typical platformer. Alice, the innocent girl she is, has no weapons, and can only defeat enemies by jumping on them. These enemies include giant stop watches, and the musical instrument frogs from the movie.

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Scattered around wonderland, you’ll also find mushrooms which allow Alice to grow or shrink in size. These add some puzzle elements into the game by forcing you to find the mushrooms to make your way through openings too small for regular Alice. Then find a way to change back to make jumps too high for small Alice. It’s a fun element added to the game that nods at the numerous times Alice changed size in the movie.

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The goal, at least in these early stages, is quite simple. Hidden in the level are keys to the doors. Find the keys and bring them to the door to continue on your adventure. Though, this is often easier said than done.

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The game isn’t necessarily HARD, it just has instances that cause a lot of backtracking. The moving platforms for example gave me no end of annoyance. Jumping from one platform to the next requires patience and timing, and a missed platform will send you back to the bottom. With 15 moving platforms to reach the top, this section took me some time to get through.

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Your reward for making it to the top however is the first boss battle of the game, The White Rabbit’s Pocket Watch. It’s a rather simple fight, jump on its head until he is defeated. As an added bonus, every time you hit him, an accordion bird will fly by with power-ups like temporary invincibility or restore your health. I also got a super jump once. This made Alice jump to the ceiling, which was nice for jumping over the boss, but it threw off my timing and made it hard to actually land on his head to damage him.

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Death Count: 3

 

After the fight with the pocket watch, Alice becomes frustrated that she’ll never catch the White Rabbit. This causes her to start crying enough to create a river. She shrinks down, lands in a bottle, and needs to navigate her way through the river of her own tears. It’s a dangerous river full of rapids, fish, and krakens. Forgive me for trying to find logic here, but this river is made of her tears, so where did the fish and kraken come from?

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From here, the game becomes a bit open world. You’re free to explore several iconic areas from the movie, like the Tea Party, and the White Rabbit’s House. To fully explore them, you’ll have to help recover lost items for some Wonderland’s Residents. The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Dodo, and The Red Rose, each have lost something important to them, and will reward you with an item necessary to explore the other areas.

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Find the Walrus’ cane in The White Rabbit’s house, and he’ll reward you with a compass. This will let you navigate through the Caterpillar’s Woods. Here, Alice can float up inside giant bubbles to find hidden smoke letters the caterpillar blew. This area is primarily a puzzle maze. There are lots of branches making small passages which require the shrinking mushroom. There are also a few spots that required perfectly timed jumps. Ultimately not a hard level and it was quite enjoyable. Collect all the letters to make “ALICE” and the Caterpillar will reward you with a Medal, in this case the Spade. You’ll have to collect all 4 medals if you want to be allowed into the Queen’s Courtyard.

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While exploring the caterpillar’s woods, you should have found the Carpenter’s hammer. Return it to him and he’ll give you some fresh baked biscuits to bring to the tea party. This is no normal tea party however, not when the Mad Hatter and March Hare are involved. To proceed from this area, you need to unlock the gates. Where is the key you might ask? Well, that is attached to the Dormouse’s tail. He runs just as fast as Alice, so you’ll have to be clever and cut him off if you watch to catch him. But beware, because the Mad Hatter and March Hare will steal the key back if they catch you, and they actually can run faster than Alice. You’ll have to do this 3 times to unlock all the gates and escape this madness, as well as recover the Dodo’s lost Handkerchief.

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Trying to escape the tea party apparently greatly offended the Mad Hatter, as he attacks you when you try to leave. As far as boss battles go, he’s pretty easy. He will throw his hat at you, which is slow moving and easy to dodge, and then just stand there waiting to be attacked until his hat returns to him. Stomp some sense into his head, and he’ll reward you with the Diamond Medal.

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Death Count: 9

 

After fighting the Hatter, you’ll be thrust into a foot race with the White Rabbit. I’ll be honest, these races were the hardest part of the game, and I’m sure some people will be thankful they’re optional. The race isn’t very long, but it’s through a maze, and you have to run it PERFECT, or there’s no way for you to win. The White Rabbit is just so much faster than Alice and the slightest slip up or hesitation will be enough for the rabbit to navigate to the exit before you.

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If you do beat the rabbit, talking to the Brush Dog will grant you access to a secret area. Ultimately nothing very special, but the completionist types will probably love it. Personally I wasn’t very thrilled since it didn’t really add anything.

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When you’ve had enough of secrets, let’s go return that handkerchief to the Dodo. He is so grateful that he gives you the Tweedle Brothers’ hats to return to them. More of a chore than a thank you, but either way it progresses the game. The Tweedle’s area was actually a bit frustrating for me. It’s a rather large maze with lots of enemies like the pencil birds and glasses birds wondering around, as well as the Tweedles themselves. The objective is actually quite simple. Make to the exit at the top of the map without dying. A very easy task for the patient, but the impatient like myself will have some trouble running though this area. To make matters worse, when I did eventually make my way through, I realized I had never found the Red Rose’s conducting wand which was hidden in the maze. This forced to run the maze all over again, plus actually search for the wand.

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Death Count: 12

 

The Tweedles are so happy you came to visit, that they just have to dance. Alice, however, is apparently not in a dancing mood, because this becomes another boss battle. As with the other battles, it’s not too hard. The Tweedles will mindlessly jump and dance around as you stomp on their heads. They’re also spaced nicely apart allowing you to jump from one’s head straight onto the other’s. A few head stomps each, and you’ll have won. They’ll thank you for playing, and reward you with the Heart Medal. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes I had to fight this particular boss battle a second time after I went through again to retrieve the conducting wand.

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Having further brain damaged the Tweedles, let’s repent with the good deed of returning the Red Rose’s conducting wand. She’ll be grateful and reward you with the key to the White Rabbit’s house. An odd thing for her to have, but this is wonderland, so no point questioning it. This obviously will grant you access to fully explore the White Rabbit’s house, and retrieve the last of the four medals.

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Inside the White Rabbit’s house is very similar in play style to the Hallway area earlier in the game. There weren’t a lot of enemies in this area, and instead the focus is put back onto platforming and well timed jumps. VERY well timed jumps actually, even a tiny split second off would be enough to ruin a few of the jumps. True mastery of the running jump ability is required for this area. The moving platforms also return, testing your patience as you wait for the perfect time to jump to the next one. I really wish they were just a little bit more synchronized.

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Just like in the movie, while exploring the White Rabbit’s house, Alice eats some cookies and grows to monstrous size, becoming stuck in the house. It’s up to the loveable lizard Bill to climb up the house and pull the monster out. Changing the play style yet again, you now control Bill instead of Alice as he makes his climb up to the chimney. I’ll admit I had a bit of a hard time with this section. Not because it’s actually hard, but because it requires patience which I simply didn’t have at the time I was playing it. Bill can’t jump, he can only climb his ladder and fall off ledges, so getting lost is kind of out of the question in this section. That didn’t stop the developers from putting arrows everywhere to make sure you knew where to go. The only obstacle comes from the various birds flying around that will damage Bill or push the ladder off the platforms.

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It’s a short section with a big payoff. After guiding Bill to the chimney, you’re treated to several images making up the scene of bill being stuffed into the chimney, causing Alice to sneeze, and launching him unfortunately into space. Mistaking you for the hero who vanquished the monster, the Dodo rewards you with the Clubs Medal, thus finishing the set.

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Death Count: 27

 

You’re also forced into yet another race with the white rabbit. This one seemed even harder than the last. It’s still not a complicated maze, but the level of perfection required is just so unheard of, and feels out of place with the rest of the otherwise fairly easy game. Beating him again unlocks a secret area with the Brush Dog, but that’s again underwhelming. The real reward is knowing you can now enter the Queen’s Courtyard.

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Upon entering the courtyard, you quickly come across a card guard frantically painting the roses red. Being the kind person Alice is, she agrees to help. With only a limited amount of time, Alice needs to find all the white roses and paint them red, or it will be off with her head. As true to the movie as that is, I don’t recall any of the rose bushes ever trying to EAT Alice as she painted them.

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Death Count: 30

 

With all the roses painted red, the Queen of Hearts remains in a fine mood and asks Alice to play a game of croquet with her. Just like in the movie, the cards don’t exactly play fair. Not only does the flamingo Alice is using as a club act up, but the cards move around when it’s Alice’s turn. Patience and timing, once again it’s all about Patience and timing.

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OFF WITH HER HEAD!! It’s the only logical conclusion to losing a game of croquet, at least if you’re the Queen of Hearts. Alice must run for her life through the hedge maze if she wants to survive. This section is very similar to the Tweedle’s area. The map is a maze with lots of enemies, but they’re not particularly interested in Alice. Instead they just walk around in patterns. Hurry, but be careful as you make your way to the outer edge of the maze.

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In one last act of desperation, the Queen of Hearts sends the full deck of card guards after you. Alice must fight them all off if she ever wants to get home again. On their own, the card guards are pathetically weak, dying instantly with one hit. But as the battle progresses, they become faster, and appear quicker. The later parts of the battle actually do become quite hectic. But keep at it, and Alice will surely escape back to the real world in no time.

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Falling through a magic portal, Alice wakes to find it was all just a dream. A crazy, seemingly drug induced dream. Either way, you have completed the game, congratulations.

 

Verdict

Gameplay – 7 / 10

The ever changing game styles really make this an interesting game. One second it’s your standard platformer, the next you’re running a maze from a top down perspective. You just don’t know what’s coming next, and it’s so much fun. However, the controls aren’t as tight as they could be. Alice’s jump in particular feels a little short, making some of the platforming elements require more precision than should be necessary.

Graphics – 9 / 10

Considering it’s a Gameboy Color game, these are some of the best graphics I’ve seen from the system. All the character sprites are detailed and the backgrounds are very impressive. Then there are the cut scene images that seem to be pulled straight from the movie. Admittedly, there were the rare graphical hiccups, but nothing that ever really detracted from the experience as a whole. In the end, the graphics were thoroughly impressive.

Audio – 8 / 10

Just like with the graphics, the audio was top notch. Most of the songs were compressed versions of the movie soundtracks and were easily recognizable. One little touch that I thought was great was how the music changed pitch when Alice changed size. Whenever she shrunk down, the music would switch to a slightly higher pitch, then back again when she grew to regular size. It’s the little things like that that really stand out. Unfortunately, some of the sounds were a bit too high pitched, which probably wouldn’t be a big deal, but with headphones on like when I played, they can be deafening.

Story – 8 / 10

It followed the story of the movie rather well, touching on most of the major scenes. From chasing the rabbit down the hole, to the tea party, even the crochet match with the queen, you can’t really ask for much more from an Alice in Wonderland game. The choice to make the second half non-linear I think made the story a bit choppy, but the ability to freely explore wonderland like that was fun in its own right, leaving me with a bit of a mixed emotion. Being one of my favorite Disney movies, I was just happy to be able to relive some of the more iconic scenes on my own.

Total Playtime – 2 h 04 m

A little short maybe, but a wonderful amount of fun.

Total Deaths – 31 Total Deaths ( 20 of which were lost races against the White Rabbit)

Over all, this was a relatively easy game. The final boss battle against the deck of cards got a bit hectic, and those races against the rabbit could seem impossible, but I was rarely frustrated with the game as a whole. The younger audience might have a tough time with a few spots, but most veteran gamers will rarely struggle. At times, patience was the real key to this game, which made it harder than necessary at times for me.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

It has a few flaws, but this was still a wonderful recreation of the classic Alice in Wonderland movie. Everything you could have asked for was there and more. Not just that, but it felt like it really pushed the handheld to its limits to create the best game possible for the system. Search out a copy for yourself and be happy to have such a wonderful game in your collection. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of the books, and celebrate 150 years in Wonderland.

 

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Happy 150th Anniversary to Alice in Wonderland!!

 

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I hope you enjoyed Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions

Daffy Duck may never be my favorite Looney Tunes character, that honor goes to Taz. However, the Duck Dodgers episodes are ranked highly among my favorites in the series. Daffy’s slapstick lovable loser personality just works so perfectly beside Marvin’s calculating monotone.  So when I saw Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions on the shelf, I just had to have it. Getting to play as Duck Dodgers saving the earth from Marvin Martian, how could that go wrong?

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Released in 1993 by Sunsoft, Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions is an action platformer for the SNES. You play as Duck Dodgers following Marvin Martian to various planets to stop his evil plans. You’ll be equipped with your trusty blaster as well as a few other weapons you’ll find along the way, like the freeze gun and the antimatter gun. You’ll need all the ammo you can get, because Marvin has a whole supply of instant Martians at his disposal. So, is the game any good? Well…

Gameplay

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Marvin is causing trouble on the resort planet Magma, and it’s up to Duck Dodgers to stop him. Before you head out, you’re allowed to buy upgrades at the store. There’s ammo for the various different guns, fuel for your jet pack, even extra lives and continues. While in game stores aren’t a new thing, it’s kind of disconcerting to see one before you even start playing. It’s basically advertising “your standard gun is useless, buy a real gun while you can”

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When you start playing, you’ll notice two things. First, the graphics are top notch. Daffy’s sprite is very detailed for his size, and the environments feel very alive. The second thing you’ll notice is that Daffy is near impossible to control. He feels like he’s on ice at all times. And to make matters worse, every time you shoot there is a very noticeable kickback that will have daffy sliding backwards on his ass after a few shots.

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The enemies also have fairly high health and give little to no reaction when you damage them, causing you to questing if you’re damaging them at all. The instant Martians for example, one of the most common enemies in the game, takes 6 shots to kill, and has no damage animation. They don’t even flash or anything to show damage. The only hint you get is that the blaster ray disappears after it hits them.

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The levels themselves are also very maze like, but not in a good way. If it weren’t for the frequent checkpoints showing me which direction I’m supposed to be going, I don’t think I would have ever made it through some of the levels.


Death Count: 8

 

The boss fights bring the lack of damage indication to a whole new level. Marvin has such an insane amount of health that I was convinced my game was broken. He also has the most subtle damage flash I have ever seen. The only redeeming quality of the boss battle was the fact that it was VERY patterned, allowing you to get the hits in once you got the pattern down. But that doesn’t excuse the 146 hits it took to kill him. Yes, I counted, that’s way too much health for the first boss of the game, especially with no health bar or real damage indicator of any kind.

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Marvin escapes the previous attack and retreats to Aquarion-4 with an all new evil scheme. Oh goody, Daffy’s controls weren’t bad enough already. Let’s include water physics to the mix. The first stage at least isn’t that bad. It’s one of the few completely linear stages in the game. It has you running along the back of a giant sea serpent as Marvin drops instant Martians into the water to slow you down. Eventually you face the 2 heads of the sea serpent in what was a rare enjoyable mini boss battle for this game. One head breaths fire while the other only sprays water. Keep attacking the water breathing head for a nice victory.

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One of these is a death trap, the other is a leap of faith. Can you guess which is which?

 

The rest of the planet however is exactly as I feared for a water level to be. While underwater, daffy feels even more floaty, as if that was even possible. The water levels also had my first introduction to the many bottomless pits that are to come. Just to be clear, bottomless pits are a common and acceptable obstacle in many early games, it’s the WAY they were done in this game that makes them annoying. As I mentioned before, the levels are very maze like, with many leaps of faith down into the unknown, so the bottomless pits don’t distinguish themselves from any other random ledge you’re expected to drop down. It’s only after they kill you that you see them for what they are.

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Death Count: 15

 

The eventual boss battle with Marvin once again suffers from lack of any type of damage indicator. There are two targets, Marvin on the top, and a jar of instant Martians below him. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea if attacking the jar of instant Martians actually registers any damage, or if it just knocked out more enemies. I went with the assumption that it only made my life miserable, and did my best to only attack Marvin. I hope you stocked up on Antimatter ammo when you had the chance. Without them, this battle, and really all the following boss battles, will seem impossible.

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Marvin’s defeat means we’re finally done with crappy water physics. This brings us to planet Zeus-3, an ice planet. OH COME ON!! Why would they do that? Have mercy. The controls can only get so terrible. Anyway, this time you have to rescue Dr I.Q High who has been kidnapped by Marvin.

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As feared, the whole planet is covered in slippery ice and deadly environmental hazards. Daffy couldn’t possibly be any less controllable than he is on this planet. This is also the first time I actually noticed how annoying the limited rocket fuel really is. There were a few spots where the next ledge was just slightly out of reach for a normal jump. Thankfully the knockback on the gun also lets you jump slightly higher, allowing me to actually reach these platforms after I ran out of fuel.

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Because Dr I.Q. High was kidnapped and forced to work for Marvin, the whole planet is full of robots and lasers. The most annoying of which is the robotic instant Martian that serves as a mini boss. He attacks fast and bounces around a lot making it hard to actually get any shots in. It’s even worse when you fight two of them at once later.

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Death Count: 35

 

When you find Dr I.Q. High, he is strapped into some giant contraption shooting lasers at you. Maybe I’m just not that good of a gamer, but I couldn’t figure out where the safe spots where for his pattern. Instead I went with the tried and true method of “Ignore the damage and just shoot him in the face with your biggest gun until he dies”. Thankfully this worked and we are done with all the stupid ice.

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Planet Amazonius finally frees us from annoying movement physics. Well, besides Daffy’s naturally horrible controls. Instead, the gimmick is that Daffy has been shrunk down to the size of an ant. This is actually my favorite planet of the whole game. The environment is much more enjoyable than the other levels, and it’s just generally more creative than the other planets. Plus it’s the only planet where you’re not fighting instant Martians, so the change in enemies is rather nice.

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This planet also has a lot of mini bosses. First you’ll fight what I guess is the ant queen as she bounces around the map and summons her ant guards. Then shortly after, you’ll be facing off with the dragonfly. Get it? Because it’s a fly, but it looks like a dragon. HAHA! I’ll stop now.

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Death Count: 52

 

The final boss of this planet brought the lack of damage indication to a whole new level. You can’t even see the boss this time, just a foot and the tip of the gun. I have no idea where my target is, I don’t even know what was causing damage. Hell, when I DID manage to beat him, I didn’t even know it. At one point while fighting him the laser blasts switched from a solid beam into kind of a wavy beam. I had no idea what this meant so I kept fighting. After a few minutes of no change, I gave up. I only head 1 hit left in my health, so I intentionally got shot so I could quit playing and look up a strategy guide. But when I got hit, I didn’t die. NO, that wavy beam was actually an enlarging ray that brought me back to normal size. You are SUPPOSED to let it hit you. HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?! I couldn’t even tell I was hitting him and they expect me to just KNOW to get hit by the enlarging ray. I would say that’s lazy, but they didn’t even bother to give I’m guessing Marvin two feet in this fight.

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Back to our normal size, we finally make it to the planet Mars. Oh look, some cameos by other characters. Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and um… Shrek? Shrek was a Looney Tunes character, right?

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When you catch up to Marvin, prepare yourself for a mini boss fight seemingly pulled straight from the cartoons. Marvin, along with his Martian dog, will shoot a large gun at you, but the knockback will send them flying off screen while the giant bullet stays in place. I wish more of the game pulled from the cartoons like this, but sadly we’ll have to accept what little we get.

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Death Count: 67

 

Finally there’s another appearance of a known Looney Tunes character. This time you’re fighting Gossamer, the giant red hair monster. It’s not a very exciting fight, he just runs at you, and you try to avoid him while shooting him. As happy as I am to see any kind of cameo, it feels like a case of too little too late at this point.

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It’s time to finish this once and for all. Marvin has his giant ray gun set on earth, and you have to stop him. This is a really annoying battle even compared to all the other annoying battles. The area is rather large, and Marvin is a small fast target, so most of the battle was spend blindly shooting at where I thought he might be just off screen. Not that it would have mattered much, he still doesn’t give any signs that he’s taking any damage.


 

After his defeat it ends with one of those weird power struggle scenes where everyone walks off screen then back on with the power reversed. It works in the cartoons, but it just doesn’t seem to translate well to the game. Either way, be happy that the game is over and you never have to play it again.

Verdict

Gameplay – 3 / 10

The controls are horrible, the default gun is useless, the levels are confusing, and it’s just all around not fun to play. I really can’t think of anything positive gameplay wise to say about it. The best I can say is that it’s not broken, but it’s just barely functional. This is a shame because it was so close to being good. Stabilize Daffy’s movement, get rid of the knock back on the guns, and maybe make the jetpack into a double jump instead of requiring fuel and that would have made this game so much more enjoyable. Then lower the enemies’ health into the reasonable range and just like that this would have been a fun game. But as it is, it’s hard to enjoy.

Graphics – 7 / 10

The graphics are mostly really good. The sprites are well detailed as are most of the backgrounds. My only major complaint with the graphics is the lack of visual confirmation of damage. Some enemies did have damage animations, but most didn’t. This was especially frustrating with the bosses.

Audio – 4 / 10

On one hand, Daffy’s sound effects are really nice, using sound bites that seem to come right from the show. On the other hand, everything else is terrible. The music was very forgettable and practically the same song for the whole game. All the other sound effects boiled down to basically two sounds, gun shots, and death screams. I would also like to note there was only 1 death scream shared by every enemy.

Story – 2 / 10

Each planet was introduced as if it was a mission given by the government, but it was filled with the worst kinds of puns, bad dad jokes and just the worst attempts at humor. Things like “HHHEEELLPPP!! (Bring back some cool T-shirts)” they’re so horrible it makes you not want to save them.

Total Playtime – 1 h 56 m

2 hours of playing, and several more hours of writing this review that I’ll never get back.

Total Deaths – 75 Deaths

Those bottomless pits

Oh how much do I hate thee

I wrote a haiku

Overall Score – 2 / 10

Avoid it. Forget it existed. There is no reason to ever play this game. It was horrible, I hated it, and the cartridge will never again come anywhere near my console. I’m actually really upset about this because I wanted so badly to like it. Like I said when I started, the duck dodger cartoons are some of my favorite. Sadly the game is one of the worst I’ve ever played.

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I blame this game’s failure on you “The Fed-Ex Guy”

 

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I hope you enjoyed Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Paperboy 2

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Prediction

Paperboy is a classic game that everyone should have played at least once. It’s a fun game where even if you’re not very good at it, you can still enjoy what you do experience.

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I’ve never played Paperboy 2, and I’m not sure where it can improve upon the original other than a graphical face lift. That’s not a bad thing really, the original game was amazing, and better graphics could only improve on an already winning formula.

Gameplay

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Like I thought, the gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original. You play as a paperboy on his bike trying to deliver newspapers to everyone on your route. You throw the papers from your bike and need to get them into the mailbox, or land on the doorstep.

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That on its own is a pretty boring game, who would want to play a work simulator. The fun comes from all the environmental elements, nearly everything in interactable. There’s the obvious choice to be able to break the windows of the houses, but you can be more sinister than that. You could knock an old couple off their bench, or hit the car jack, and let the car drop on some poor neighbor.

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There are a huge number of obstacles standing in your way though. There are the normal things you would expect, like dogs chasing after you, and cars driven by people who clearly don’t mind killing a kid on his bike. But there are also the insane, like ghosts, sewer mutants, and run away babies.

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Some of the houses themselves pose an immediate danger to you as well. Demonic gargoyles will shoot fireballs at you while you ride by. Or this very confused and misplaced castle will shoot cannon balls at you from behind its moat and draw bridge.

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Survive your route, and be treated to a bonus round obstacle course. Try to hit the targets for the high score. Then start the route again the next day while compiling your hazardous working conditions lawsuit.

Verdict

This is a wonderful game, and a perfect addition to anyone’s game library. It’s not the type of game you could get lost in, but it’s the perfect type of game for those quick breaks from reality. You can play it seriously and try to be the best paperboy ever, or you could just wreak havoc attacking everything just to see what happens. Find a copy for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.

Price – $12

Fun Rating – 8 / 10

Play Again? Of course I’ll play it again. I may never complete it, since I’m terrible at it, but it’s a fun arcade style game to just pick up and play every now and then.

Total Deaths 25 deaths. Yeah, I’m not very good at this game at all.

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I don’t care. I don’t need a job THAT bad

 

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of Paperboy 2. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even Donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Ren and Stimpy: The Quest for the Shaven Yak

SNICK, The Big Orange Couch, All That, Ren and Stimpy, Are You Afraid of the Dark? I can’t remember a more important time block in my childhood life. I loved all those shows, and I wish I could find copies of them to watch now. They are all amazing pieces of nostalgia that I could write at length about, but right now we’re only going to focus on Ren and Stimpy.

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I love Ren and Stimpy, but it has always held some mixed emotions and mixed signals in my life. For some reason I never understood, my parents didn’t liked me watching it. They would still let me, but they weren’t happy about it. Sure it was a bit more violent than the other shows, but it was silly and crazy and I loved every second of it. Now that I’m older, I can see the jokes that went over my head as a kid, and I fully understand why my parents weren’t happy with it. It really is a rather disgusting show. That’s not even including the later seasons when it moved from Nickelodeon over to Spike TV and became “Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoons”. I’m an adult now with a child of my own, and I still don’t feel like I’m old enough to be watching that smut.


Before we jump into the game, I think we need a little back story. The game gets some inspiration or at least its kick off point, from one of the show’s short segments featuring Yak Shaving Day and The Great Shaven Yak. Yak Shaving Day is a holiday vaguely similar to Christmas where you hang dirty diapers from the walls, fill your dad’s boots with coleslaw, and leave a pot of shaving cream next to the bathroom sink in hopes The Great Shaven Yak will visit you in the night and leave shaving scum in your sink. Not the kind of holiday I would want to celebrate, but to each his own.

Gameplay



Stimpy enters the living room excitedly one day to find a new pair of shoes waiting on the floor. But they aren’t any normal shoes, in fact, they aren’t shoes at all, they’re hooves. These hooves belong to The Shaven Yak who must have left them by accident last Yak Shaving Day. They must return them or Yak Shaving Day will be ruined forever.

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You can choose to play as either Ren or Stimpy, and you are free to switch at the beginning of each level, so it’s not a major decision you’ll be stuck with. They play nearly identically, but they do each have a special move which makes some levels easier with one rather than the other. Ren is capable of jumping high into the air, allowing him access to higher areas that would be inaccessible to Stimpy. Stimpy on the other hand has a ground stomp ability that lets him break small branches and open secret areas that Ren can’t get to. In general I like to play as Stimpy since I like him more and also the branches are a little more obvious than the random higher ledges.

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death count: 1

 

Their journey north begins in The Blacker Than Black Forest, a rather bright and cheerful wooded area despite its name. Here you’ll encounter all sorts of woodland critters like squirrels, birds, and skunks. None of them present a serious threat, but they do show up in a rather high frequency.

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The only enemies that present any real challenge are the porcupines and the bears. Both are immobile, but they are also immortal, making them more of an obstacle than an enemy. The porcupines will throw out projectiles, and you have to time it just right to jump over them. The bears on the other hand will completely block your path, you need to attack until they start crying, then you can walk right past them.

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The levels themselves are rather easy and straight forward, but there are a large number of hidden objects and secret areas. As mentioned before, Stimpy’s ground stomp ability opens up several areas, but there are also hidden enchanted canoes that will carry you to high ledges that even Ren’s high jump wouldn’t be able to reach. With all these areas and items you’re rarely short on health, which you might have noticed in the top left corner is measured in rubber nipples. Who could possible dislike a game where your health is measured in nipples?

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death count: 3

 

The real challenge comes from the boss fights. I’m not sure exactly what it is we’re fighting, a bear? Or maybe it’s a wolverine? Either way, it moves fast, hits hard, and has a lot of health. Luckily, it has a predictable attack pattern. It might take a few tries before you recognize it, but once you do he becomes a push over.

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Survive the boss, and you’re treated to a short cut scene where Ren gets stung by a scorpion. I feel really stupid now, but when I was younger, it never clicked that Ren’s outburst of pain was anything other than just that. It’s actually the password so you can continue your game from the start of this stage. It’s a really clever way to mix the password into the game without it slowing down the pace any. It was just a little too clever for 8 year old me.

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The Stinking Dry Desert ramped up the difficulty pretty quickly compared to the forest. There are a lot more indestructible obstacles compared to the last stage. For the desert stages, many of the cacti have replaced the porcupines, launching projectiles that must be avoided. Apparently this desert is so hot the cacti are actually exploding. Or maybe you’d rather be killed by the undead cows throwing their bones at you.

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death count: 5

 

Not all of the obstacles are immobile though. There’s also a variety of tumble weeds and mini tornadoes going around ready to damage you. The tumble weeds are usually easy enough to avoid since they generally just roll straight towards you. Even when they do bounce they aren’t much harder to avoid. The tornados on the other hand can be a bit more troublesome. They are faster than the tumble weeds and seem much more intent on following you. How tiny sentient tornados can form in the first place is anyone’s guess, but there they are for the world to see.

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The regular enemies are trickier too. You’ll be attacked by plenty of vultures intent on laying their eggs right on your head. At least I hope those are eggs. There’s also occasionally refreshing glasses of lemonade that are actually just mirages. Once you get too close they’ll reveal themselves to have been scorpions all along.

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There are also several underground caves to explore, breaking up the pace nicely. These caves are full of immortal spiders lying in wait for someone to walk under them. The many stalactites on the cave roof also seem to be dripping oil. Curiously, many of these oil droplets seem to come to life, sprouting legs and walking after you.

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death count: 8

 

Survive the dangers of the desert, and you will come face to face with a spitting cobra as the stage’s boss. Maybe it’s just me, but the cobra wasn’t nearly as challenging as the previous boss. A rapid fire attack with just the minimal amount of dodging was enough to beat him.

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This brings us to The Stinking Wet Bayou. This time around, Ren tries to attack a giant mosquito about to drink Stimpy’s blood, but instead just manages to punch Stimpy in the nose. Poor Stimpy, he’s always being assaulted by Ren.

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death count: 13

 

I am a little disappointed that the mosquitoes in the levels weren’t the blue ones in the cut scene. Instead they are these giant eyed generic things flying around everywhere. The blue ones fit the style of the cartoon better and I could have sworn I remember seeing them in the show like that before. They make up for it a little by including mudskippers just like I remember from the show.

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They also went ahead and added crocostimpys, which are crocodiles that look surprisingly like Stimpy and have a call that sounds like the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song. They’ve popped up randomly in the other levels, and I think they might have been bonuses, but I never managed to kill one, so I can’t really confirm what they do. Either way, I was happy with their inclusion since there have been so few direct show references so far.

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death count: 18

 

Avoid losing all your blood to the mosquitoes and you’ll eventually face the, um, leech? I think it’s a leech. Whatever it is, it gave me the hardest time of any of the bosses. It moves really fast and even knowing the attack was coming, I wasn’t always able to avoid it in time. The draw distance of the screen also played a part in making this level harder. It was short enough that if I waited to actually SEE if he was walking or lunging, I wouldn’t be able to react in time. Jump when he was walking, and I’d land on its head, wait till I could see the lunge and I wouldn’t be able to jump out of the way in time. His pattern also seemed the most random of any of the bosses. But a pattern is still a pattern, and once you get the rhythm, he’ll eventually go down just like the others.

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We’re getting close now as we climb The Perilous Mount Hoek. Unfortunately our team wasn’t paying attention and walked off a cliff. Will cartoon characters never learn to not walk off the edge of cliffs? At least gravity seems to ignore them until they notice it, and if I remember correctly, being distracted and forgetting your falling was the secret to flying.

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The laws of physics aren’t the only thing a bit questionable in these mountains. For some reason there seems to be a high number of mountain chickens and mountain crabs. That’s really the best they could think of? Mountain crabs?

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It just gets worse from there with mountain snails and whatever the hell those red things are. Seriously, they’re little red worm things with a single eye, and when you kill them, they don’t die. Instead they crunch up into a ball and start bouncing towards you. What are they even supposed to be?

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death count: 22

 

Eventually they just start throwing the whole arsenal at you by including the birds from the first level, the vultures from the second levels, and the blue mosquitoes from the cut scene. Where were you guys the whole last stage? If you’re going to be enemies now why were those other mosquitoes filling in for you before?

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death count: 30

 

My mosquito complaints aside, eventually you’ll come face to face with a crazy lumberjack. I haven’t quite decided if he’s amazingly good or bad at his job because I don’t think I saw a single tree on this mountain. So either there never were any trees, and he should go to the blacker than black woods, or he is so good that he chopped down every tree on the whole mountain. Regardless, he is psychotic and somehow mastered the aerodynamically impossible ability to throw an ax like a boomerang.

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It’s the final stretch. We’ve made it all the way to The Great Frozen North. All that’s left now is to find out where exactly the Shaven Yak lives. That is, if these icicles don’t kill our heroes first.

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death count: 36

 

This is where the game really cranked it up to 11. The enemies aren’t really anything that bad. But there are giant snowballs rolling around everywhere, making some areas nearly impossible to get through without taking a decent amount of damage. This was the only part of the whole game that made me feel like rage quitting.

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There are also immortal polar bears blocking your path at seemingly every turn. They can’t be killed, and unlike the regular bears, they can’t be stunned either. All you can do is try to jump over them. Even with the high ledges over then, this is sometimes easier said than done.

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death count: 39

 

This brings us to the final boss of the game, the Abominable Snowman. At first, I thought he was the hardest, near indestructible, almost cheatingly impossible boss the game had to throw at me. That’s because there appears to be only a single point in his whole attack pattern when he is even capable of taking damage. Any other time your attacks will just pass right through him. Once you notice and accept this though, he becomes the easiest of all the bosses, you just have to be patient. But I wasn’t disappointed. Yes he was easy, but you still have to watch his pattern and keep it up while you slowly drain his health or you will still die. Because of this, I truly felt like I had beaten him with pure skill rather than largely luck like the other bosses. It let me end the game with a real sense of accomplishment.


 

 

Having finally found The Shaven Yak, returned his hooves, and saved Yak Shaving Day for everyone, there’s only one thing left to do. Dance to the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song, then fly back home in the Shaven Yak’s enchanted canoe.

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

The game is just as much fun to play now as I remember it. The controls are simple and well executed. And the level designs are varied enough to keep it entertaining. They’re a little too easy, which causes a noticeable contrast when you finally make it to the boss fights. While the bosses do have fairly rigid attack patterns, they aren’t immediately obvious, and will take several attempts before you figure the pattern out. Followed by several more attempts to find a suitable counter attack. However, because of the rigidness of the pattern, I never felt cheated when they killed me. It was all part of the learning process.

Graphics – 7 / 10

The graphics were great for the system. Ren and Stimpy look fantastic, as do most of the enemies. I can’t really complain about what is presented, but rather the missed opportunity. I remember the show having several nature mockumentary episodes that introduced a variety of random animals what would have fit nicely in the game, so it’s a bit disappointing that nearly all the enemies are generic animals. Also it was kind of odd that the crab enemies seemed to be reused in every stage, even if it made no sense for there to be crabs in those areas.

Audio – 9 / 10

They did a wonderful job with the soundtrack, recreating as best they could several iconic songs from the show like the main theme, the Muddy Mudskipper Song, and Happy Happy Joy Joy. Even with the limited quality of the system, any fan of the show should be able to recognize them without trouble. They also used one of my favorite classical songs “Night on Bald Mountain” as the boss battle music. While these songs were all reused in each stage as opposed to stage specific songs, I can’t really fault it because I enjoyed it all the same. They are catchy songs that draw you into the game and make it more enjoyable.

Story – 7 / 10

The story, weak as it is, is still the perfect level of crazy to match the show. It explained the different locations as simply part of their journey across the globe trying to find the Shaven Yak. Add in the short cut scenes between levels, and it became a fun journey to save Yak Shaving Day.

Total Playtime – 1h 42m

It’s a rather short game, but a very enjoyable one.

Total Deaths – 39 Deaths

The enemies, though numerous, were rarely any frustration. Most of these deaths were from fighting the bosses, and the others were typically from falling down bottomless pits for an instant death.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

I really love this game. The levels are fun, the bosses are challenging, and the music is catchy. Plus the passwords at the start of each new stage saves you from having to constantly replay the early stages, thus avoiding one of the biggest frustrations of retro games. It’s not perfect, and if you’re not already a fan of the show, you admittedly might find it a bit generic. Fans of the show however should find it to be a truly enjoyable experience, even if the true show tie-ins are a bit few and far between.

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I hope you enjoyed Ren and Stimpy: The Quest for the Shaven Yak. If you did, Like me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Beavis and Butt-Head

Travel back in time with me. Back before Family Guy was the top of the FCC’s most wanted list. Back before South Park shocked the world with elementary school children swearing. Back to when MTV actually aired music, and the vulgar behavior of Beavis and Butt-Head were destroying the very fabric of society.

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Originally airing from March 8, 1993 to November 28, 1997, Beavis and Butt-Head became the scapegoat to any and every terrible thing committed by the generation X youth culture. Whether that be throwing bowling balls at cars from the overpass, or shoving firecrackers up cats’ butts. Some of these claims probably could be linked to seeing it on Beavis and Butt-head first, so eventually MTV took drastic action to prevent this in the future.

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Of course, by drastic action, I mean they simply put a disclaimer at the beginning of the show. “Beavis and Butt-Head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy whom we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-Head are dumb, crude, thoughtless, ugly, sexist, self-destructive fools. But for some reason, the little wiener heads make us laugh.” This of course was later changed to the more eloquent disclaimer found throughout the rest of the series. “Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They’re not even human. They’re cartoons. Some of the things they do could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don’t try this at home.” Somehow I find it amazing that a simple disclaimer absolves you of all responsibility. Without the disclaimer, people can sue you for making them hurt themselves doing something that any rational person would know beforehand is going to hurt someone.

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Controversy aside, the show was very popular, and culturally influential. Several games were based off the show, and today I’m going to focus on the Sega Genesis version. I owned this game growing up, and I loved it. I never beat it, but I loved it none the less. It’s primarily an action – adventure game, with a little bit of puzzle solving thrown in. it’s not a particularly hard game, but with only a single life, a tiny slip up can mean quite a bit of back tracking. So join me as we experience a glimpse of the lives of Beavis and Butt-Head.

Gameplay

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GWAR is coming to town, and Beavis and Butt-Head, the rock aficionados that they are, immediately buy tickets. Unfortunately, Tom Anderson’s dog swiped them right out of their hands and ate them. After chasing the dog home it eventually barfed them back up. With no shortage of bad luck today, Tom Anderson is mowing his yard at that same moment and accidentally mows over the tickets, chopping them to pieces which fly away. We must now search all over town to find the ticket pieces if we want to see the GWAR concert.

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We start our search in Beavis and Butt-Head’s house, which will act as a hub for the rest of the locations. In their bedroom, there is a GWAR poster which will hold any ticket pieces we find, as well as give us a password save so we can continue the game later. We’ll probably want to look at this poster every time we come home, and write down the new password. You only get one life, and the odds of dying unexpectedly are pretty high in this crazy world. The bedroom floor will act as a sort of storage for any items we find. Just drop them on the floor in the bedroom and they’ll be safe until we need them.

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Back in the living room, the TV will be our literal window to the world. Just use the remote to channel surf until you find a location you like. All the locations in the game are open right from the start, and we are free to explore them in any order we want. So since we have nothing better to do right now, let’s jump over to the Turbo Mall 2000 and see what we can do over there.

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Right away there are security guards attacking us. I know these two guys are screw ups, but what could they have done for security to just attack us on sight with no warning? We’re not even in the mall yet, we’re just trying to make it to the door.

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I don’t want to alarm anyone, but inside the mall is apparently haunted. There are shopping carts charging at us the whole time we’re inside and it’s really annoying. We need to get out of this hallway and into one of the stores or these carts are going to kill us. How about we duck into the ice cream shop where it’s safe.

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Then again, maybe it’s not safe in here either. I don’t know what these two did last time, but this ice cream man is out to kill us. Run before he impales you with ice cream cones! I’m not enjoying this trip to the mall so far.

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We haven’t really found any clues to finding our ticket pieces. Maybe there’s something in the laundromat. It’s a good thing we brought our dirty pants off the bedroom floor or the security guard wouldn’t have let us inside. Now that we’re in here, I have the greatest idea. We should open all the machines and see what’s inside.

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Death Count: 1

 

Bingo! We found our first ticket piece. It’s not that easy though. The door was very squeaky, and woke up granny over there and she’s none too happy about us digging through her delicates. She’s got us pinned in the corner with no escape and she will stab us to death with her knitting needle.

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If we want her to stay asleep, we’re going to have to fix that door with some oil from the auto shop. Now that it’s nice and quiet, we really have gotten our first ticket piece. I have a feeling that’s how most of the tickets are going to be found. A combination of random exploration mixed with deadly trial and error.

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Now it’s time to check out some other locations. Let’s start with The Street, that seems a good place to find some new information. Right off the bat, there’s this guy with a suction dart gun trying to kill us. It seems kind of odd with how controversial the show is that the game would tone down the violence to suction dart guns. Different medium, different censors I guess.

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It would seem we’ve returned to where all this started, Mr. Anderson’s yard. And he’s still on his rider mower. The grass can’t get much shorter before you start digging it up by the roots. He also for some reason hates us and starts throwing his beer cans around. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong, but Mr. Anderson always seemed pretty nice to Beavis and Butt-Head in the show. Sure, he was kind of stupid, and way too trusting, but generally nice. So this random attack seems a little out of character for him. Guess they just needed to trick us into attacking him so we can steal his shed key from around his neck.

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death count: 2

 

Having the shed key is one thing, but getting into it is another. Mr. Anderson’s dog continues to be an annoyance by attacking whenever anyone gets too close to the shed. It looks like we’ll have to come back later with some new item to distract the demon dog.

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There isn’t really much more to see in the street before it’s blocked off by a wooden barricade. Just look at it, it’s clearly impossible to get past. You can’t possibly walk around it. And walking under it would just be silly. No, we must do the only thing possible to get past this ungodly barrier. We must enter the sewers to go under it.

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death count: 5

 

What fresh hell is this? What is wrong with the sewer system in this town? Is this what’s going through their pipes? That stuff looks so radioactive I feel like I’m still playing Toxic Crusaders. And what’s with all the skulls? How many people have gone missing down here? This has to be the explanation for both Beavis and Butt-Head’s general stupidity and their misshapen oversized heads. Living above this much radiation has to be at least part of their problem.

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We finally make it to the end of the radiation sewers and somehow we’ve only traveled about 5 feet. How is that even possible? We traveled at least a mile jumping over skulls and avoiding swimming in the toxic radiation. Why couldn’t we have just ducked under the barricade like I suggested before. And did we just pick up a bird and put it in our pocket? We did! What possible use could we have for a random bird?

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In either case, we’re past the barricade, so let’s go play in the junk yard for a while. Of course there seems to be toxic waste spills in the junk yard too. This really isn’t a very safe town after all, is it? Not that the junk yard is the best place to be playing anyway, but there at least shouldn’t be all this toxic waste everywhere. All the way at the deepest part of the junk yard is a random bone. We must need this to distract Mr. Anderson’s stupid dog. OH NO! That means we have to go ALL the way back through the junk yard, and ALL the way back through the sewers again. But we barely survived the last time. I’m pretty sure I still have radiation poisoning from last time. Does anyone have a RadAway or something? Damn, that’s the wrong game, isn’t it?

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Finally back in Mr. Anderson’s yard, we can distract the stupid dog with the bone, and gain access to his shed. Inside we find a fishing pole and a chainsaw which Beavis absolutely loves. While it’s listed as a weapon, there’s really only one thing you can do with the chainsaw, and that is cut down the tree in the yard.

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This is all you need it for, because it nets you another of the ticket pieces. I guess all that radiation was worth it in the end. All that running around really worked up an appetite though. How about we head over to Burger World and see what trouble we can get into there.

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Before we head inside, how about we check around back and see if there’s anything weird that might help us. We’re in luck, someone threw out a perfectly good dead rat. Not sure exactly what we can do with a dead rat, but I’m sure something will come up.

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Since Beavis and Butt-Head actually work here, let’s just head in through the employee entrance and get whatever we want. Looks like this customer is demanding we actually work though, and he’s being an ass about it too. It looks like we found our use for the dead rat. This will teach you to be an ass to the people that make your food.

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That’s right, eat it all up. Suffer for telling people to do their job. How dare you!

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And apparently he threw up a ticket piece. How did he even eat the ticket piece in the first place? He must have been standing there for a LONG time if he resorted to eating random pieces of paper that float in on the wind.

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We’re starting to build up a nice little collection of seemingly useless junk. So how about we head back to Turbo Mall 2000 and see if we can pawn off any of this stuff. The random bird from the junk yard, and the headset from Burger World were all we could sell, but even that little cash should be enough to keep us going. While we’re here, let’s check out the military recruitment center. Not much going on in here, but that folder on the desk just looks so stealable. Can’t resist, must steal military secrets!

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death count: 9

 

OH WOW! The military secrets were actually hiding a ticket piece. SCORE! Or not, seeing as the general over there has no problem chucking grenades around inside the mall. Curiously, he has no problems with us stealing the bomb off the shelf next to him. These idiots definitely can’t be trusted with a bomb. Unfortunately we can’t scare him away with the bomb, so it looks like we must do something else to distract him if we want that ticket piece. Maybe he’s afraid of snakes. It’s the only animal we’re allowed to buy from the pet store, so it’s worth a try.

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Good day shop keep, one of your finest snakes please. Packaged? Do pet stores usually gift wrap the pets? That doesn’t seem like the safest thing to do for the pet. But while he’s distracted wrapping up the snake, we can steal his keys. Didn’t really plan on stealing his keys, but they were just sitting there so unprotected, we just had to. I wonder what they open. Can we open all the animal cages and cause chaos? Let’s do it. Let’s let all the animals out. Or just the bird since that’s the only cage this key opens. WHY DOES THE BIRD HAVE A TICKET PIECE?!

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Whatever reason the bird might have for sitting on our ticket piece, we have it back now. A quick stop at the army recruitment center later and sure enough he is afraid of snakes, netting us a second ticket piece. This trip to the mall ended up being better than expected.

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Well, we’ve done well today. I think we deserve a movie at the Drive-In now. Don’t mind the fact that we don’t have a car, that’s discrimination, and I won’t stand for that. I wonder what they’re playing now anyway. Cool, Man-Eating Zombie Chicks. I love that movie!

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We need snacks for the movie though, so let’s hit up the snack bar. Ok, we need 2 buckets of popcorn, a couple of sodas, some Butterfinger BBs. They still make Butterfinger BBs right. Hello? Well this guy just isn’t listening to anything I’ve said. That’s just rude. So you know what, YOU CAN BURN FOR YOUR RUDENESS! Knew I brought this bomb with me for something. Stupid snack bar, not selling me my Butterfinger BBs.

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Let’s just go find a bench or something we can sit at since we don’t have a car. Oh, what is this? That van is shaking pretty hard, and you know what that means. There’s some sexy times going on in there. Quick, take a picture of the sexy times.

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THAT’S NOT SEXY TIMES! I’M NOT EVEN SURE THAT’S A WOMAN! RUN! WHATEVER IT IS WILL CLEARLY EAT US IF IT CATCHES US. QUICK, HIDE IN THE SNACK BAR, MAYBE WE CAN LOSE IT IN THERE! It’s a good thing we blew this place up, I think whatever it was is dead now. And apparently a ticket piece was trapped in the folds of its fat. So this was a great trip to the movies. There were explosions, we killed a giant monster, and we got a reward. I wish all my trips to the movies were like this.

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Between the radiation in the sewers, being attacked by a monster woman, and everyone just generally wishing death upon us, we should really head to the hospital, at least for a checkup. Why are these security guards attacking us outside the hospital? What could we possible have done that would make the hospital angry enough to attack us on sight when we come to them for help? And is that a janitor throwing meatballs at us? I don’t even know what to think about that. There’s no way we could have done something so bad that the janitorial staff would throw meatballs at us.

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death count: 18

 

Someone left their keys in the power scooter. I know we shouldn’t, but I’ve never driven a power scooter before. Maybe just a quick spin around this floor, no one will even notice it’s gone. SOMEONE NOTICED IT WAS GONE! I’m just going to take a wild guess and say this scooter actually belongs to that fat guy that was running on the treadmill a second ago and is now chasing after us. We better floor it or he’s going to crush us under his massive ass.

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death count: 35

 

That would probably be easier if this hospital didn’t leave all its medical supplies just lying around in the hallway. No shelves or storage closets or anything, just throw the first aid kits on the ground and be done with it. That’s not good for inventory. Oh crap, there’s stairs coming up, can this thing go down stairs? I guess we’re going to find out.

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The answer to that is no, it cannot go down stairs. Luckily neither can fat guys. Ah stairs, the natural enemy to the weight challenged, you have saved my life. And it would seem a ticket piece was trapped in the folds of this monster as well. Those ticket pieces really did find their way into some weird places.

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We need help and guidance. Clearly we have done such terrible things in the past that the whole world wishes death on us. We should head to school right now, get an education, and maybe people will stop trying to kill us. Help us Mr. Van Driessen. Thanks, I guess. That probably would have been helpful before I killed the monster of the drive-in, but not now.

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death count: 36

 

Maybe Coach Buzzcut can give us some better advice. Um, Coach, I’d hate to tell you how to do your job, but I’m pretty sure you’re doing something wrong if balls of electricity are jumping off of whatever that is. And it probably shouldn’t be anywhere near whatever those chemicals are. Quick, do something to distract him so we can get those chemicals away from him.

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We need to report this to the principal. Coach Buzzcut has clearly gone insane. Principal McVicker, we have to tell you about…what is that on your head? We’ll trade you these chemicals for that ticket piece. Here, we’ll put them in the same bottle so it’s easier for you to carry.

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OH NO! We didn’t mean to. I mean, we didn’t know that would happen. We’ll just take our ticket piece and we’ll leave. Are you ok? I’m going to assume he’s ok. We should probably go home.

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That’s it. No one is left to help us. We should just accept that the world is trying to kill us and never leave the house again. We’ll just sit on the couch and fish for food out the window. Let’s cast out the line and see what lunch we can catch. I think we caught a big one, pull it in so we can all eat. And we caught…a ticket piece?

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WAIT! How many pieces is that now? WE DID IT! WE’VE COLLECTED ALL OUR TICKET PIECES! WE CAN GO TO THE CONCERT NOW! I can’t believe it. I didn’t think we’d manage to find all the pieces in time. We should go, the concert is starting soon.

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Here are our tickets, I know they look like crap, but they’re whole, and we’re seeing this concert. I can’t believe we made it. I can’t believe…how crappy these seats are. Didn’t our tickets say third row? I can barely see GWAR from here. I’m not accepting this. We risked our lives to see this show and we’re getting closer to the stage. I don’t care what anyone says now.

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GET OUT OF MY WAY SECURITY!! I’M GETTING CLOSER TO THE STAGE! Do you have any idea what we went through to get here?! We’re getting closer to the stage. No, we’re getting on stage, we’re going to be rocking it with GWAR right there ON STAGE!

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NOW it was all worth it. We can die happy 10 minutes from now when security regroups and kills us.

Verdict

Gameplay – 6 / 10

The gameplay is an interesting mix of puzzles and action and it works great. The pitfalls of the game really fall to the many unpredictable instant deaths mixed with the horrible password save system. The fact that the password system uses uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols made it very frustrating to read the password the next day. Is that an “O”, “o” or “0”? I can’t tell, so this password is useless now. Have to start from the beginning. The only other gameplay complaint I can think of is the high number of random damage causing objects zooming around everywhere, like the shopping carts in the mall. They come at such high frequency that they really do become an annoyance.

Graphics – 7 / 10

The graphics are great. The sprites are big and detailed and they capture the style of the cartoon beautifully. My only complaint with the game graphically comes from the relatively short draw distance, for lack of a better term. Because the character sprites are so big, it means you can’t see very far around you. This becomes a problem because it doesn’t give you much time to react to enemies. By the time they’re on screen, they’re already in attacking distance. Also the combination of the enemy’s high health and the knock back from your attacks will often push the enemies off screen before they die. This leaves you wondering are they dead, or have I pushed them past the edge of rendering?

Audio – 7 / 10

The game makes great use of several sound bites from the show, as well as recreating the show’s theme song. The rest of the soundtrack however was a bit on the generic side. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It worked, and it was enjoyable. It just wasn’t particularly memorable.

Story – 6 / 10

Trying to recollect the shredded ticket pieces was a great way to set up this game. It’s a bit of a mystery how the pieces got where they were, but it’s a game, don’t stress it. It’s not like the game is very story driven anyway, and it didn’t need to be. It gave you enough reason to explore the whole town and a great motivation to keep you going.

Total Deaths – 36 Deaths

26 of those deaths were from the hospital level. That section was impossible.

Total Playtime – 2h 42m

A lot happened in that relatively short amount of time.

Overall Score – 7 / 10

I enjoyed playing this game. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important part of any game. It has some flaws, the unexpected deaths can set you back a while, and the hospital level is near impossible. But overall it was a fun game and one I would recommend anyone should play.

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I hope you enjoyed Beavis and Butt-Head. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Toxic Crusaders

Toxic Crusaders (1)

It’s late and the lights are off as I watch an old cult classic B-movie. I’ve heard terrible things about it, but hope it manages to pass as “so bad it’s good”. I’m not disappointed. The horrible acting is punctuated by over the top graphic blood and violence with a splash of sex and nudity for good measure. As the film rolls to an end, I watch as the corrupt mayor desperately tries to stuff his intestines back inside himself. If nothing else, this movie has firmly implanted a single though in my head, “They should make a Saturday morning cartoon out of this.”

 

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That’s exactly what they did too. I’m not sure what the thought process was behind the show, but someone somewhere thought it was a good idea. They took the brutally violent Toxic Avenger concept and turned it into The Toxic Crusaders, a kid friendly anti pollution show similar to Captain Planet. Even though he was alone in the movies, he has a whole team of mutated superhero friends in the cartoon to help him. The whole thing only lasted 13 episodes, which would explain why I have almost no memory of it beyond the fact it existed. That was long enough for it to pump out a video game based on it, three actually, one each for the NES, Gameboy, and Genesis. Each was made by a different company, and each is vastly different from the others. Today, I’m going to focus on the Sega Genesis version.

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In the game, you can play as one of three of the characters from the show

There’s Toxie, the main character of the movie and cartoon. He was originally a wimpy janitor at a health club and was regularly picked on by a group of the club members. After one prank, which involved him wearing a tutu and kissing a goat, he ran away in embarrassment and fell into an open barrel of toxic waste. Yeah, even in context it doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, the toxic waste gave him super strength as well as hideously deforming him into a green melted faced monster. He chose to use his new power to literally mop up crime. Exclusive to the cartoon, his mop also mutated and gained a mind of its own and he befriended a small furry mutant thing he named Blobbie.

Then there’s No-Zone, a new character made for the cartoon. He was originally a test pilot, but after flying through a hole in the ozone layer, he crashed his plane into a silo full of radioactive pepper. Is that even a thing? Are they expecting me to believe radioactive pepper is thing I should be worried about? Somehow, the radioactive pepper gave him blue skin, a wheel for a leg, and a giant nose. He also gained the amazing superpower of being able to sneeze so hard he blows people over.

Finally, there is Junkyard, yet another character made for the cartoon. Originally, Junkyard was a regular junk yard dog. But one day a homeless man took shelter in his toxic waste covered kennel which was then struck by lightning, fusing the two together. Really, it’s like they weren’t even trying. Then again, I have heard worse origin stories.

Gameplay

Tromaville

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The game starts out kind of weird. It’s primarily a beat ’em up game, but for some reason you start on a rocket powered skateboard with a front mounted machine gun. Sure, you’re allowed to get off the skateboard at any time to fight the bad guys, but you’re given no incentive to do that. Your goal is to make it to the far right of the screen, and that’s all you have to do. Weave up and down as you go to avoid being hit by cars, but otherwise this first section doesn’t really do much to set up the game.

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Death count: 5

The next area feels like it starts the game proper. In typical beat ’em up fashion, you’ll be fighting in the streets mostly beating up radiation rangers. These are the generic henchmen from the cartoon which resemble people in hazmat suits, but are actually Smogulans, cockroach like aliens from the planet Smogula.

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Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something oddly disturbing and unfitting for a kids game about melting my enemies down into a puddle, even if they are cockroach aliens. Of course you can’t just LEAVE a puddle of melted aliens on the side of the road. If Toxie walks over to the puddle, he’ll use his mop to clean up the mess. It’s kind of cute the first couple time it happens, but since it’s an automatic action, eventually it starts to become annoying, especially since you can still take damage during the animation.

Troma Park

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Death count: 9

Starting in Troma Park, it becomes painfully clear that the level design itself is intended to kill you. While that is true with many older games, it’s a little too obvious and disruptive in this game. Like with these viewing ponds in front of the park benches. There is only the narrowest of walkways between the ponds, and a single touch of the water means instant death. No wonder I haven’t seen any ducks in this park.

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Death count: 13

Make it past the deadly ponds and you’ll eventually encounter your first boss, the weed monster. This two headed fire breathing dragon was actually a kind of nice boss. Not very strong, and it had a nice patterned attack that required at least a slight amount of attention. Probably one of the few well done feature of the entire game so far. Attack his heads until they eventually melt off, then head inside the cave.

Space Ship

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Remember that praise I just gave the game? Don’t expect to see any more of that, it’s pretty much downhill from here. At the end of the last level, Toxie said he was going into a cave, but this level is called “space ship”, and it looks like some kind of factory. So I have no idea what is actually going on right now.

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Death count: 15

This level expands even more on the level being designed to kill you. It’s stuffed full of flames shooting up from the floor, laser guns built into the walls, heavy machine presses, and even some Smogulans in the foreground throwing stuff at you.

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This level also has a few sections that have you detouring around the machine presses by riding an elevator up and over them. This wouldn’t be such a problem except that the presses aren’t particularly hard to get past, and there’s no off switch or anything at the top of the elevator. In fact, there’s a wall at the top of the elevator, which caused some confusion for me. You’re supposed to ride the elevator up and jump off the ledge past the machine presses. At least put an actual wall to jump over if you’re going to do this instead of an arbitrary invisible wall.

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Death count: 18

The gaps in logic don’t stop there though. Starting with act II, a “Freefall” warning will occasionally flash on screen. I don’t know what freefall means to everyone else, but in the game it means “runs at half speed.” Whose idea was this? Was there really a game designer that thought “you know what everyone loves? When their game lags and starts running at half speed. Let’s work that into our game.” Toxie CAN jump higher in free fall, but with all the enemies firmly on the ground, this is a useless feature.

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Death count: 22

At the end of the spaceship levels you’ll get to fight Dr Killemoff. Even though he looks like an old man with an oxygen mask, he’s actually the main recurring villain from the cartoon. Since he comes from the planet Smogula, he can’t breathe the air on our unpolluted planet, and needs the help of his breathing apparatus to survive. He is also a terribly designed video game boss. He has no pattern that I could see, and leaves no openings for a hit and run style attack. He shoots his machine guns nonstop, and will follow your movements so he’s always shooting you. As a kid, I don’t think I ever managed to get past him, and he was the main reason I rarely played this game, despite having so few other games to play at the time.

Airport

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Death count: 28

Gone are the wide roads and hallways of the previous levels, replaced with very narrow walkways more typical to a platformer game. You still have 8 directional movement though, and with no guard rails you are free to fall off the front of the walkways to your death.

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Death count: 31

Normally, such a drastic change would be unwelcome, but in this case I think it works better. The narrow platforms actually give this game a little bit more structure which I think it was lacking before. The whole game would have probably worked better as a pure platformer where bottomless pits and instant death ponds are more common elements.

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Death count: 34

Excuse me for one second, let me check my notes. Yes, this section right here where you are very clearly riding a train is called “Airport – Act III.” Why? Why put a train in the airport level? For that matter, why bother with the train at all? I’m allowed to jump off the train and just run along side of it. Not just that, I could outrun it if the screen didn’t keep locking. The only reason for the train at all is to further make this a platformer with a single narrow path to stand on rather than the full road like the beat ‘em up this game originally intended to be.

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Death count: 37

The level ends with you jumping off the train, making the whole ride pointless, and being attacked by this guy in a giant motorcycle thing. I’m guessing he must have been a character from the show, but after tracking down and watching a few episodes, I had to stop for fear my brain would melt. So I will continue to not know who this guy is. Similar to Dr Killemoff, this boss doesn’t seem to have much of a pattern and simply attacks nonstop. Yet another poorly designed boss fight.

Channel

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Death count: 42

In a nice change of pace, the channel level has you riding some kind of Jet Ski down a highly polluted river on the planet Smogula. This level plays very similar to your typical side scrolling shooter. The only problem is that your machine gun is front mounted, and most of the enemies come from behind you. There are power ups that would allow you to shoot backwards, but I rarely managed to stay alive to make good use of them.

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Death count: 45

Make it to the end of the level and you’ll be attacked by this giant mutant octopus thing. Finally a well done boss. He’s not shooting anything at you nonstop, instead he will dive under the water, and you have to attack him when he jumps back out. It’s a nice simple pattern for an enjoyable simple boss.

Smogula City

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Death count: 48

When you make your way into the heart of the city, you’ll find that it’s almost exactly like Tromaville. Wide roads full of radiation rangers and a whole bunch of cars trying to hit you. The difference this time is that you can knock the driver out of the cars. I thought I’d be able to jump inside, but sadly that is not the case. It’s definitely a missed opportunity. I think it would have made this level more fun if you could mow down radiation rangers with one of their own cars. Oh well.

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Death count: 53

Eventually you’ll enter the sewers, and once again, you are contained to a narrow platform surrounded by instant death. The developers really should have just made this a platformer. The only thing of note for the sewer area is that it gives you the first use of your mop’s swinging ability. This will come in very useful in a later section, and is useless for pretty much the rest of the game.

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Death count: 65

With no lack of bad design choices so far, the developers thought they’d add small moving platforms to the mix. Anyone who has ever seen platforms in a game like this knows that it is nearly impossible to actually land on them. The depth perception with this camera angle just isn’t up to the task of allowing you to know where you’re going to land. To make matters worse, when you finally DO land on one of them, there’s a sludge monster that will pop out of the toxic water to attack you. I eventually just gave up trying to land on the platforms and made a mad dash across, taking damage from the water and making it to the other side with just barely any health left. Thankfully this is one of the few sections where the water isn’t instant death. I don’t think I would have ever made it across otherwise.

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Death count: 98

It doesn’t get any better on the other side though. Now you have to scale a wall by swinging on the exposed pipes and using the few platforms to make it to the top of the building. What’s really annoying though is the hit detection with the platforms. Sometimes you’ll pass right through them, but other times you’ll hit it and fall to your death. Also the pipes are arranged in a way that you don’t always grab the one you intended to. This really screwed up quite a few of my swings. One thing that I’ll admit was my fault was that I forgot I could jump. Swinging from the pipes took such central focus in this stage that I forgot I could sometimes just JUMP to the next platform rather than swinging to it.

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Death count: 111

Make it to the top, and you’ll be greeted by this jet pack guy. He’s a little bit better than the other bosses. He attacks at a much slower pace, giving you at least some chance to get your hits in.

Fortress

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Death count: 123

Well, we finally made it. We’re about to fight the final boss and beat the game. And you know what everyone loves doing right before fighting the final boss? That’s right, fighting all the other bosses again one after the other. None of the bosses were particularly good boss battles the first time, and having to fight them again is nothing short of torture.

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Finally you get to meet Czar Zosta face to face. Prepare yourself for an amazing final battle. Or not. As soon as you get close to him, his chair flies up through the window and he escapes.

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The End. Congratulations. Now enjoy the soundless credits, and then go cry in the corner for having spent money on this game.

Verdict

Gameplay – 4 / 10

So many of this game’s problems come from simply trying to be the wrong genre. The Narrow ledges, bottomless pits, and moving platforms would all be right at home in a platformer game, but they feel out of place in what was supposed to be a beat ‘em up. It still probably wouldn’t have been a GOOD game, but it would have been at least acceptable. That’s not even to mention the terrible hit detection. there were several times I would walk into a barrel of toxic waste or on occasion an enemy only to have them stuck to me causing constant damage.

Graphics – 4 / 10

The backgrounds are nice enough, and the enemies are pretty good. But there’s just something wrong with the hero. Even for a melted face mutant, he just doesn’t look right. He neck seems stretched out like he’s a turtle or something. There just isn’t enough detail on him. All of the character sprites could probably have benefited from being larger, like most other beat ‘em up games. There were also a few color inconsistencies I noticed. Blobby for instance is pink in the cartoon, but showed up yellow in the game for some reason. Dr Killemoff, the second boss of the game, and main antagonist of the show also had close to a purple complexion, but was seen with a more human skin color in the game. That is of course the least of his problems as a boss sprite since most of the bosses were just static images. The weed monster was nice, as was the octopus thing, but the others were just large static sprites sliding up and down the screen.

Audio – 3 / 10

The audio suffers mostly from bad balance. The background music was so much quieter than the sound effects that it was almost inaudible. Not that it would have mattered much, what you can hear is very bland and forgettable. Bland as it is, it’s still noticeably absent in a few sections, leaving only the generic sound effects to fill the silence.

Story – 3 / 10

The few episodes of the cartoon I managed to watch before I threw my hands up and quit didn’t have very great stories. Most of them seemed to revolve around the Toxic Avengers simply being present as the evil plan quickly imploded on itself with the Toxic Avengers offering little help. In that sense, the game did very well in replicating the feel of the show. I had no idea what I was doing or why and still don’t know what evil plan I may have foiled.

Total Deaths – 127

Nearly half of those deaths coming from swinging on the pipes late in the game.

Total Playtime – 1h 15m

The impossible difficulty was no doubt meant to make it feel longer, since you’d never actually beat it normally.

Overall Score – 3 / 10

There’s a certain charm that comes from watching a terrible movie. Being able to laugh at what was meant to terrify, or seeing the zipper of the rubber costume, breaking the suspension of disbelief. It’s why I watched and generally like The Toxic Avenger movie. But the same charm is rarely found in terrible video games, and The Toxic Crusaders is no exception. With sub-par graphics, sound, level design, and general game mechanics, there’s very little left to enjoy. I actually owned this game as a kid, and even though I only had about 10 games in my collection, I remember rarely playing this game. Just more proof that even a child couldn’t be tricked into thinking it’s a good game.

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I hope you enjoyed The Toxic Crusaders. If you did, like and follow me on Facebook. Also leave your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. If you’re feeling real generous, you can even donate to help me keep the site going. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Pokemon Trading Card Game

The Pokémon franchise is arguably one of the largest, most popular franchises in the world today. It has spawned several generations of games, hundreds of episodes of anime, over a dozen movies, and merchandise of all kinds. The Pokémon franchise has gained such wide popularity that in 2008 scientist even named a newly discovered protein in the human body “Pikachurin” after the series mascot Pikachu. Most important to today’s topic however, the Pokémon franchise has created its own spin off trading card game series.

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When the trading card game was first introduced, I remember the lines of people as I waited to buy booster packs. Everyone wanted them, and they quickly became both hard to find and very collectible. The feeling of opening up a pack and finding a shiny was almost incomparable to anything else at the time. Unfortunately I never actually learned how to PLAY the game. I didn’t mind much, I was happy being a collector, plus everyone I knew that collected Pokémon cards was also strictly a collector. A little over a year after the Initial North American release of the card game, a Gameboy Color adaptation was localized and would go on to sell over 1.5 million copies in its first year. It had proven to be insanely popular, and after playing it, I can see why. It follows the rules and gameplay of the actual card game very faithfully, as well as replicating nearly all of the official cards released to date.

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So, with little knowledge of how to play, let’s dive in and see what I’ve been missing all these years.

Gameplay

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The legendary Pokémon trading cards, I must have them. I’ll just stop at GameStop on the way home from work and pick them up. What do you mean I can’t pick them up at GameStop? How else do you get legendary Pokémon? BY BEING THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD?! But… I’ve never even played the trading card game before…

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Thankfully, the game starts with a nice tutorial battle to teach you the basics. If you’re interested you can find full tutorials on the Pokémon website if you want more details on how to play.

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For just the basics, you each play with a deck of 60 cards. You draw 7 cards into your hand, and place between 2 – 6 cards down as prizes for when you knock out an opponent’s Pokémon. During your turn, you draw a card and can place 1 Pokémon in play and up to 5 Pokémon on the bench. Each turn you can attach 1 energy card to your Pokémon which is needed to perform attacks. You can also play trainer cards, which have various effects like healing your Pokémon or searching your deck for specific cards. You end your turn by attacking, if you have enough energy, and then it’s your opponent’s turn. The match continues with this back and forth until one player either collects all of their prizes for knocking out the opponent’s Pokémon, or if the opponent doesn’t have any more Pokémon on the bench to send into play.

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After you finish the tutorial match, you are presented with the most difficult task of any Pokémon game. You have to choose your starter. I love all three of the original starters for different reasons, but I’m going to pick my favorite starter, Charmander. The starter deck you get from Dr Mason isn’t a great deck, but it will get you through the first few battles until you can customize it yourself.

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Here is where the Pokémon trading card game differs greatly from the rest of the main series Pokémon games, or even just RPGs in general. There is no linear story. Your goal is to go to each of the 8 clubs and challenge the club masters so you can win their medal, similar to the gyms and gym badges from the main series. Once you’ve collected all 8, you will be allowed to challenge the 4 Grand Masters, similar to the Elite Four. However, since the cards themselves don’t gain levels or become stronger, the only thing that separates a rookie player from a pro player is the balance of their deck. As such, you are free to challenge any of the clubs, in any order, at any time right from the start. There’s no world to explore, there’s no subplot to complete, there’s no towns to visit or anything. There is just the world map with the 8 clubs and a very small handful of important locations.

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All of the clubs are laid out in the same way. You enter the club to an empty lobby with the exception of a receptionist who will give you some information about the club. To the left is a lounge with a few NPCs to talk to, as well as the link counter and a computer. Occasionally one of the club members will be hanging out in here as well and challenge you to a match.

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Heading up from the lobby brings you into the Clubroom. Here is where you will have most of your duels and where you will challenge each of the club masters. You can’t challenge the master right away though. Most of them require you to challenge all of the other members first before they will duel you. Some of them are a bit more annoying with their requests, like the fighting club master who sent his members off to the other clubs to train. You have to FIND them before you can even challenge them.

 

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When you first start out, even the regular members are going to be tricky since your starting deck isn’t all that great. Thankfully, every time you beat a club member, you are rewarded with 2 booster packs full of random cards. You can also have rematches with any of the club members as many times as you want until you build up a deck you are happy with.

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I had a bit of difficulty making a good deck. You really do need to have a theme behind it for it to be functional. At first, I tried a fire & psychic theme, since the love the ghost types, but that didn’t work out too well for me. Eventually I settled on a pure fire deck, and that ended up lasting me for most of the game with only minor adjustments.

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Once you have a good deck made, go ahead and challenge the Club Master. The Club Masters play just like any of the regular members, except they use 6 prizes and have a slightly better balanced deck. But since there are no levels, once you beat one Club Master, you’re pretty much good to challenge any of the other clubs. You might need to make small adjustments to work around type disadvantage, but that’s about it. My fire deck had some trouble in the water club, but even then it was well balanced enough that I was able to win with it. If you want, Dr Mason even has a machine that will copy the deck of any club member as long as you have that club’s medal. It very helpful if you’re not sure how to make a good deck yourself.

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did you really name your deck after yourself? that’s so lame.

 

Since the game is nonlinear, it also has very little story. The only thing that really breaks up the gameplay any is the occasional challenge from your rival, Ronald. He will show up and challenge you in the lobby after winning certain numbers of medals, and if you beat him he will give you a rare promo card. Otherwise, he lacks much character depth and is just another random opponent.

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Once you collect all 8 medals, it’s time to face off against the 4 Grand Masters. Again, because there are no levels, these 4 play just like every other battle, and if you’ve made it this far, they shouldn’t give you much trouble.

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The only thing that makes this different from other battles is that you’re not allowed to leave the table until you’ve beaten all four of them in a row. But don’t worry, you’re still allowed to save and adjust your deck in between battles. You just won’t be able to go around collecting lots of new cards, so it’s not a big deal.

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As is tradition, once you beat the 4 Grand Masters, you are told you were too late, and someone else has already beaten them, your rival. Since he already beat the masters, he is currently in possession of all of the legendary cards. No reason to worry though, while the legendary cards are powerful, they also take a long time to set up. Once you knock one of them out, it seemed unlikely he would recover from the blow.

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Beat your rival one last time, and OH MY GOD THE CARDS ARE MAGIC! Are all the cards magic or just the legendary ones? Whatever the case may be, congratulations, you have become the greatest Pokémon Trading Card Game Master in the world and completed the game.

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

I’ll admit I was addicted to this game while I was playing it. Everything was really simple and easy to pick up. Then there’s just an evil joy to using your Charizard to do 100 damage to a Rattata that only has 30 health. The only real fault I have with the actual gameplay is a fault present in all card games and board games. So much of your strategy boils down to luck. You’re lucky when you get a Pokémon and its evolutions all in your hand at once. You’re lucky when you flip a coin and get 3 heads in a row for maximum damage. You’re unlucky when you flip a coin and get tails and your Pokémon doesn’t wake up from being put to sleep. One of the club leaders I lost to after 40 rounds because we were very evenly matched. On the rematch I beat him on the 3rd turn because I had a lucky hand and he didn’t. There’s just nothing you can really do about it in a game like this though.

Graphics – 8 / 10

It’s a Gameboy Color game, so you can’t be expecting realistic CGI graphics or anything fancy like that. It’s good for what it is and you can’t expect much more from it. Where it really shines though is with the Pokémon cards themselves. Since they’re based on the real world cards, they managed to capture the image of each card the best they could and to great success given the limitations of the system.

Audio – 6 / 10

There was nothing particularly wrong with the audio. The music was pleasant, and fit the game nicely, and the sound effects were spot on. It’s just that nothing really stood out as memorable. To be honest, I can already barely remember the soundtrack, and I just finished playing it.

Story – 2 / 10

This is where the game really failed. The story is so shallow as to be non-existent. You want the legendary cards, and the only way to get them is to be the best in the world. So that’s what you do. You also have a rival, who also wants the legendary cards, and is given no further character development beyond that point. The fact that it’s just a card game is no excuse for a lack of story. The Yu-Gi-Oh card game series for example has you protecting the world from reincarnated Egyptian gods through playing the card game. So story IS possible in card games.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

Overall, I really enjoyed this game. Even with the shallow story, it didn’t take anything away from the total experience. It a fun game that is easy to pick up, but has a lot of depth and customization. I had never played the Pokémon card game before this, but it was a wonderful experience and I might have to start collecting again. My poor wallet, please forgive me.

Total Deaths – I never DIED. I wasn’t playing poker in the old west or anything. But my final record was – 47 Wins – 14 Loses

Total Playtime – 11h 40m

11 hours is a good length. Any longer and I think it might have become repetitive. There is still more to do after you beat the game though. You can still go around challenging club members to try to collect all of the cards. There’s also the challenge hall and challenge machine for some additional, well, challenges. So you could easily keep playing for hours more after you beat the game.

 

MVP

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With 35% of all the knockouts in my playthrough (yes I counted all of them) Arcanine is my Pokémon Trading Card Game MVP. He requires a little time to set up, but with 80 damage, the take down attack was able to knock out most of the opponents Pokémon in one hit. Yes it causes 30 points of self inflicted damage, but with 100 health and a few potions, it was worth it. The flamethrower attack was also well worth the 1 fire energy cost to use and caused good damage on its own with 50 damage, enough to take out many of the weaker Pokémon, or 2 hit KO nearly any other pokemon.

 


 

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