Category Archives: 2016 Posts

Tin Star (SNES)

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Prediction

I’m sorry everyone, I have failed you! When I started playing Tin Star, I did it with the intent to beat it and give it a proper full review. Now I’m half way through the game and I’m calling defeat. I simply can’t keep up with the game and it is too much for me to beat without cheating. I know I already use infinite lives cheats to get through most of the games I play, but I draw the line at infinite health. Still, I already have a few hours invested in this game so I’m going to review as much as I’ve seen.

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If you’ve never heard of the game, let me give you a quick introduction. Tin Star is a Western themed game except for the fact that everybody is a robot. You play as the title character Tin Star, the new sheriff ready to clean up the town. Ideally you would play the game with the massive SNES Super Scope light gun, but without that you can also use the regular controller to play. Of course, playing a light gun game with a typical controller has its downsides. But I’m jumping the gun, let’s get to the game and see what it’s all about.

Gameplay

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The game takes place over the course of Tin Star’s first week in town. Before we start each day we get a little bottle shooting practice game. Shoot the bottle and then continue shooting it as it bounces around the screen for more points. It’s a great way to warm up for the day, and more importantly it’s an easy source of cash early on. You’ll need as much money as you can get since you have to pay every time you want to save your progress.

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Now that we’re properly warmed up to the controls, let’s jump into the real story. Tin Star and his companion Mo Crash are waiting to catch the next stagecoach into town when they strike up a conversation is a very googly eyed and manly looking old lady. She recognizes him as the new sheriff in town, to which Tin Star adds a terrible pun about also being the new “Head of Sanitation”, because he’s going to “Clean up the town”.

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After a terrible pun like that, I can hardly blame her for insisting he ride up on the roof with the baggage. In the end it’s for the best since the stagecoach is almost immediately under attack. You’ll have to do your best to shoot all the bad guys as they try to climb aboard and kill you.

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As I mentioned earlier, this game is ideally meant to be played with a light gun, but it can also be played with a regular controller like I am. In this case, a cursor shows up on screen which you can control for your targeting. What’s really interesting about this game is that despite being a light gun game, you can actually see your character Tin Star on screen while you’re playing. You can’t control him at all, but it’s odd for a light gun game not to be in first person perspective.

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Tin Star will be jumping all around the stagecoach in true action movie fashion, and after taking out a few waves of enemies you’ll face the game’s first boss, Joe Twiddley. Joe isn’t a particularly hard boss to fight. He’s somewhat fast and agile, thanks in part to his spring legs, but he only needs a few shots before he’s defeated. It is only the first level after all, so you can’t be expecting too much.

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I’m not entirely sure how you unlock it, but sometimes after you finish a stage you’ll be able to do a bonus round. In those bonus rounds, you have to shoot star targets from around a busty female robot as she spins around on a target board. These stars are small, so hitting them is rather difficult, but they are worth a lot if you do. Either way each stage will end with the undertaker assessing your performance and paying you accordingly. You’ll also be brought back to the stage select screen to be allowed to save your game should you so choose. It would be wise to save often, but as saving costs money, you may want to consider risking it.

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Once we get to town, Tin Star does the gentlemanly thing by offering to carry the Old Lady’s bags for her. However, the Old Lady wants nothing to do with him and says she can manage fine on her own. Tin Star is rather insistent about being a gentleman and tries to forcefully take the bags from her. During their disagreement, the Old Lady eventually shoves Tin Star away, causing him to knock over a potted flower which was sitting in the middle of the road.

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Apparently that innocent looking flower was actually Tiny Johnson’s prize geranium. And in true western fashion, Tiny Johnson doesn’t take kindly to people messing with his prized flowers. This whole thing is starting to feel like a set up. However, it looks like there’s no time to contemplate the situation as the mayor informs us of more pressing issues. It would seem the troublemaker Black Bart is currently busting up the saloon. As the new sheriff in town, we can’t just let that happen. So off we go to the saloon, Tiny Johnson will just have to wait.

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Inside the Saloon, the gameplay is a little different than the first stage. This time it is a first person perspective, but we still have no control over the camera angle. Instead the camera will slowly shift from side to side and you’ll just have to shoot all the enemies as quickly as you can. There are a lot of targets, so you’ll have to be quick about it. I also love the fact that a lot of the background items are interactable. You can shoot the bottles off the bar counter if you want. Or if you shoot the piano it will start playing. You can even shoot up the moose head hanging on the wall for some quick entertainment.

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After clearing out the saloon, Tin Star’s attention is quickly drawn to a pretty female robot outside. She seems to be quite taken by Tin Star as well, judging by the hearts that float up past her head. Unfortunately the romance has to be cut short when Mo arrives with some bad news. It looks like some rustlers have tied up Macnulty and they’re stampeding his cattle.

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This stage plays a lot like the first stage on the stagecoach. The screen will then scrolling right along with the action and you simply have to try your best to keep up with all the enemies. And trust me, there are going to be a lot of enemies trying to kill Tin Star. In addition to all the rustlers, you’ll also have to keep an eye out for sticks of dynamite that are randomly thrown at our hero. There are also quite a few vultures that for some reason have taken offence to our hero.

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Once again, do your best to survive the waves of enemies and you’ll be thrown into yet another boss battle, this time with Bareback Jack. We’re still only on the first day, so Bareback Jack isn’t much of a threat either. When you shoot him it will cause him to go spinning, revealing a nice target strapped to his back. Shoot that too and he’ll go for another spin. Just keep the bullets flying and he’ll be defeated without much trouble.

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With the cattle rounded up, it’s time to head back to town. Unfortunately, Tin Star just can’t catch a break today. No sooner do we get back into town do we hear that Tiny Johnson is also in town and out for revenge after we knocked over his flower. Seeing as we’re in the old west, there’s only one way to settle an argument like this, a good old fashioned quick draw.

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The quick draw stages of the game are the most obvious examples of where having a light gun is vastly superior to using the controller. In these stages, you’ll have to wait until the chamber of your revolver shows up in one of the four corners of the screen. When it does, you have to quickly shoot it to draw your gun, and then quickly aim your shot at the enemy. This can be quite the challenge with the controller since its movements are not nearly fast enough or accurate enough for the task at hand. But I don’t have a light gun to play it with, so we’ll just have to do the best we can.

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Tuesday starts out innocently enough. The town is going to be welcoming its first ever train. Back in western times that was probably a really big deal. While I’m sure it has great significance to the rest of the town, Tin Star is such a hero that he’s only happy to hear he’ll be connected to every jail in the territory now. The mayor however seems to only be concerned that the train will be bringing his caviar. I didn’t know robots ate caviar. Maybe it’s like some weird robot fish eggs. But wouldn’t that just be ball bearings? Whatever, we’re getting off topic now.

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Tin Star and the Mayor ride off together to greet the train, but it looks like Black Bart has his own plans for the train. And so we start our first stage of the day defending the train. Even though it was clearly morning just a second ago, it is now dark out as if in the middle of the night. Chronology aside, you’ll have quite a hard time defending the train. Especially since the bad guys seem to have rented out a few of the cars to set up stationary mini guns.

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Death Count: 1

Lucky for us, Tin Star is quite dexterous. He can jump from car to car without much trouble at all. In fact, at times he’ll even be hanging onto the side of the cars with one hand while shooting the bad guys with the other. And there are A LOT of bad guys this time. It’s honestly hard to keep up with just the controller.

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When you finally make it to the front of the train, you’ll have to face off against Black Bart himself. Somehow the fat bastard has wedged himself inside the smoke stack of the engine car. From there he’ll occasionally pop his head out to throw bombs at you. Once again, a real light gun would be much appreciated here. Because you have to shoot Black Bart to beat him, but you also have to shoot the bombs to avoid being blown to pieces.

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Eventually, you’ll have defeated Black Bart and the train will have successfully reached East Driftwood. All thanks to the actions of Tin Star. He deserves whatever reward he wants after that fight. Unfortunately, while we were out defending the train, the Bad Oil Gang went out and started attacking a wagon train in the area. It looks like we’ll have to take a rain check on that reward until after the Bad Oil Gang is taken care of.

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This is another stage like the saloon from the other day where the camera slowly moves side to side and enemies will pop up from every corner of the screen. There’s really nothing more you can do but to shoot as fast as you can and hope you hit everyone.

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After defending the wagon train, a robot named Schemp comes to tell us that Snake Oil is in town looking for us. However, Tin Star seems more concerned about the fact that Schemp looks suspiciously similar to his sidekick Mo. Turns out the two of them are actually brothers.

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And so we enter another of the quick draw stages. These are already starting to get really hard with the controller. It simply doesn’t move fast enough to draw the gun and then center back onto the relatively small target of the enemy before they draw their own gun. But somehow we manage it, and bring an end to the second day in town.

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Snake Oil is unfortunately still alive after our little shoot out the other day, but thankfully he is safely behind bars where he belongs. Of course, Tin Star has the worst of luck, as Snake Oil’s men are already planning to break him out of jail. As the acting sheriff, we can’t let that happen.

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Death Count: 2

This stage gave me no end of trouble. It’s another one of the side to side levels, but with a twist. This time, in addition to the waves of enemies that usually flood the screen, there are also a few enemies that are trying to blow up the jail. The problem is that they are a blink and you’ll miss them type enemy, and missing them is an instant failure for the level.

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Death Count: 13

This leads you to a tough balancing act between the normal enemies and the instant failure enemies. If you focus on the normal enemies, you’ll more than likely miss your tiny window of opportunity to actually prevent the destruction of the jail. However, if you focus too much on the jail, you’ll be shot full of holes by all the other enemies on screen. This stage alone was enough to make me want to quit, but after a handful of attempts, I somehow managed to beat it.

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Turns out the whole stage is kind of pointless in the end. Even if you successfully defend the jail, Snake Oil still manages to tunnel his way out to freedom anyway. In the end we have to chase him down again anyway. So saddle up on your horse Aluminum and go after him!

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Things just keep ramping up faster than I expected. On top of all the bad guys trying to kill you, there are dozens of sticks of dynamite flying through the air ready to explode in your face. These are just such small targets moving very quickly, it’s nearly impossible to hit them. And you can completely forget about hitting ALL of them.

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When you’re not avoiding explosions, you have to keep an eye out for dive bombing vultures. The problem with these guys is that they simply move too fast to react to. By the time you see them and get the cursor over towards them, they’ve already hit you and flown off. Then there’s the fact that they usually fly in groups. After being hit by one, you’ll be momentarily stunned and have no hope of recovering in time to shoot any of the others.

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In the end, you never do manage to recapture Snake Oil. To make things worse, you’re confronted by Bugsy as soon as you get back into town. So get ready for yet another quick draw, all because you knocked over a stupid flower back on your first day in town.

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Death Count: 15

This is probably going to be the last quick draw I can manage with the cursor. The amount of time you are given just isn’t enough anymore to accomplish with the cursor alone. I need to invest in the super scope at some time. Wouldn’t that be a sight? Doing a quick draw with a bazooka!

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The next day starts peacefully enough. Tin Star is bathing, while at the same time insisting to Mo that too much bathing will weaken a man. Also that he can’t wash his hair, because he only takes his hat off on Sunday, and it isn’t Sunday yet. Also I thought everyone was robots, Tin Star is pretty ripped and muscular for a robot.

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Anyway, the peaceful bath time is quickly interrupted by a bunch of Women and Men shooting up the town. At least that’s what Tin Star thought, Mo was quick to correct him that it’s actually the Bad Oil Gang in disguise. Looks like we’re going to have our hands full today as well.

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However, Tin Star is a good guy, and the Good Guy Code says never to shoot women and children. So it looks like Tin Star might be helpless to defend the town at the moment. That’s when Tin Star notices a convenient loophole in the rule. It clearly says not to shoot Women AND children. But these are just women with no children in sight. So grab your gun and start shooting!

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The journey through town is going to be a dangerous one. There are just so many members of the Bad Oil Gang it’s unbelievable. They’re around every corner. They’re on the roof tops. They’re bouncing around on springs. They even have stationary mini guns set up.

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Death Count: 18

With so many enemies, Tin Star is jumping all over the place. Occasionally he’ll be running from rooftop to rooftop. At one point you even manage to dive off a roof and into a water barrel down on the ground. Good luck keeping up with all the action.

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If you somehow manage to survive the journey through town, you’ll face off against the Blousey Bros! These criminals dressed up in flowery dresses and are prancing around between the water barrels trying to hide from you. What makes this so hard is the fact that for some reason there are innocent old ladies also hiding in the water barrels.

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Death Count: 23

If you shoot them while they’re trying to offer you some cake, you’ll end up taking damage for you error. Not only that, but you’ll fail to shoot the real bad guy and end up getting shot by them as well. Then of course there are the instances where two of them pop out of the barrels at once. Throughout the whole game I’ve been complaining that you simply can’t move fast enough to hit multiple targets with the cursor, and this is just another example of that flaw. The only redeeming quality of this boss fight is that it is perfectly patterned. There are no random elements to trick you up, and after enough failures, you eventually memorize the pattern well enough to beat the level.

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After finally making it past the Blousey Bros, we find out that the rest of the gang is busy trying to rob the Driftwood Savings and Loan. What is wrong with this town that there is this much crime?! So we saddle up again and head over to defend the bank now.

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Death Count: 28

This is another side to side shoot out where you can instantly lose at any moment if you fail to shoot one of the bombers. And you know what, I quit now. This is all just too much to keep up with. Are there any people in this town that aren’t criminals? Haven’t I already murdered hundreds of bad guys already? Is it possible that this town is populated entirely by criminals? In which case why am I bothering, I quit!

Verdict

Price – $10.47

It’s not a bad price, and it is a very innovative game. But I would highly recommend only buying it if you have a super scope and a CRT TV.

Play Again? – Maybe

This game frustrated the hell out of me. But I would LOVE the chance to play it with an actual super scope. I can imagine this becoming one of my favorite light gun games if I actually HAD a light gun to play it with.

Total Deaths – 28 Deaths

I’m blaming a lot of those deaths on the cursor. It simply isn’t fast enough or accurate enough to keep up with the action on the screen.

Fun Rating – 7 / 10

Most of my review of this game has been complaining, so I want to take this moment to say that I actually did really enjoy this game. It is hard, and very frustrating, but it is also a lot of fun. I’ve said it way too many times already, but this is a game that clearly needs to be played properly with an actual light gun to get the full enjoyment from the game. However, I do want to praise it for even giving it a controller option of play. Most light gun games don’t even consider the controller as a possible alternative play mode. The action might be a little too much for the cursor to keep up with, but at least they tried. The story segments are also fairly funny, with a lot of fun wordplay. I honestly do wish I could finish this game because I’m curious to see how the whole thing ends. The graphics and animation were also top notch. Everything has a very cartoony look to it, and all the movements are very fluid. It’s also interesting in the approach to the genre. Even though it’s technically an on rail shooter, it’s interesting to actually be able to SEE your character on screen. Usually these types of games would be in first person with the enemies shooting directly at you. In the end, everything blends together to a rather unique and fun game. It’s just unrelentingly hard at points when you’re trying to play with the controller. Even so, it’s not an overly rare or expensive game. Why not pick it up and see if you can make a better sheriff that I did.

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You can keep the town! I don’t care anymore!!

 

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of Tin Star. 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.

 

 

Vegas Dream (NES)

Everyone dreams of someday winning it big and living out the rest of their lives in luxury. And there isn’t any place better to realize that dream than the wonderful city of Las Vegas! Even without the promise of wealth, gambling video games have always been around. Today we’re going to take a look at one of my favorites of them from back on the NES, Vegas Dream.

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I don’t think I ever actually won a game of Vegas dream before. I would usually end up having to take a walk of shame home a penniless loser. But that never really mattered to me. I still remember it being a fun game to play, primarily because it had such fun interactions throughout the game. So join me in Vegas and let’s see how well this game holds up now.

Gameplay

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The game starts out simple enough. You arrive fresh off the plane in beautiful los Vegas with $700 in your pockets, and hopefully a bit of good luck. The casino you end up staying in has a fairly limited selection of games to play, only four in fact. You can choose to play Blackjack, Roulette, Slot Machines, or Keno.

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We’ll start our night off with a little Blackjack. Of the four games available, it’s kind of surprising that it’s the only one that isn’t entirely luck based. For those who might not know, the object of blackjack is pretty simple. You’ll be dealt two cards with the option of asking for more. The basic goal is to get your hand to total up to 21 without going over. Whoever is the closest to 21 wins.

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Despite it being the only skill based game available, it still feels like it’s unfairly rigged for the dealer to win. Nearly every hand the dealer ends up with an exposed face card, or they end up perfectly at 21. Of course, when you control the deck, it’s not surprising they can get all the best cards. So you know what, let’s move on to the next game.

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Roulette is a much easier game to play. Just guess what number you think the ball will land on, and if you get it right, you win. Of course, there are a variety of options that are more or less risky. You can place relatively safe 50/50 bets by guessing if it will be red or black, or even or odd. You can also go risky and bet the exact number that will come up. It’s really risky, but it will have a huge payout. Then you can bet just about anything in between.

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Damn you ZERO!!!

Roulette will usually end up being my go to game since the 50/50 odds make it relatively safe, while quickly increasing my money with some high stakes bets. But we have 2 more games to check out, so let’s move away from the roulette table for now and see if we have better luck somewhere else.

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The slot machines are roughly what you would expect them to be. You can pick a variety of price points ranging from $1 spins all the way up to $100 spins. Of course, the higher the price, the bigger the payouts. You also get the option to play only the center line or you can pay extra to play the top and bottom lines as well.

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Ignoring the fact that virtual slot machines are inherently rather boring, the biggest problem I have with playing the slot machines is the fact that you can’t win anything with diagonal lines. Without the diagonals, it’s virtually impossible to actually win anything. The whole time I was playing I barely won anything other than the single cherry in the first column. And even then it’s winning at a loss, since that only pays out 1x my bet, but I paid 3x to get all 3 lines. So we’re moving on from the slots to our final game.

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The final game, Keno, is most similar to your standard lottery drawings. Or more precisely the quick draw games you may have seen at some restaurants, bars, or even bowling alleys. You pick between 1 and 15 numbers, after which point 20 winning numbers will be picked at random.

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Generally speaking, you need to have at least half your numbers win before you can break even with your card. Of course the more matching numbers, the more you’ll win. This game is by far the most random of all the games available, and because of that it has always been my least favorite or the selections. So we’re not going to spend much time here.

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With only 4 games to choose from, you would probably expect things to get boring pretty quickly. However, that is where this game really excels. While you’re playing, you’ll occasionally be prompted with a random event. You can choose how to react to these situations however you like. Personally I choose to go along with all of them just to see what will happen since every situation has a 50/50 chance of going good or bad. For example, I have the option to give $200 to this random stranger or to ignore them entirely.

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Regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll hear how things went on the nightly news. In this case, my random act of kindness was later rewarded with $1000 when that woman won it big. So it’s a good thing I offered to loan her the $200.

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However, not every situation will end up pleasantly. In another instance a waitress was walking by and accidentally spilled the drinks she was carrying onto my jacket. She felt so bad that she offered to take my jacket and have it cleaned for me.

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Unfortunately I found out later on the news that she was actually the thief. By giving her my jacket, she ended up stealing my wallet, and with it half of all my money. You win some, you lose some I guess. That’s what makes these situations so much fun.

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There are also times when you’ll be challenged to some private high stakes games with other casino guests. Sometimes you’ll use the Keno board for a simple game of high or low. Or maybe you’ll have a simple Red or Black guess at the Roulette table. These are another fun diversion from the normal gameplay.

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Of course, this is Vegas, so if you end up with a bad streak of luck, you’ll quickly find yourself penniless and ready to walk away in shame. However, the game offers you up one last chance before your game over. You’ll get a spin at the slot machine for some really high winnings on the line. Sometimes you might just get lucky and be able to head back to the floor.

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While in real life you would probably play until whatever random point in time you feel you’ve had enough, this game does have a definitive winning condition. You start off with $700 with the ultimate goal of not leaving Vegas until you’ve managed to win $10 million dollars. You’ll have to make some huge bets if you ever plan to make that kind of money. Thankfully there’s a little trick I picked up on. The game has a password save system so you can come back some other time right where you left off. I just wrote down the password and bet it all on even at the roulette table. If I won I would get a new password, if I lost I would load up my old password and try again.

 

The money shot up pretty quickly when it doubles ever win, and before long I had the $10 Million I was aiming for. Unfortunately, the money seems to have turned me into one of the world’s biggest A-Holes. So maybe I would have been better off returning home penniless…

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

All of the games play as well as you would expect them to. Sometimes it feels like the game cheats, but that might just be because the games are naturally hard to win. Honestly the only thing I can think to complain about is the fact that Blackjack doesn’t total up the cards for me, I have to actually do the math myself. Of course that’s a minor issue, which is easily overshadowed by the fun random situations that break up the otherwise repetitive gameplay.

Graphics – 8 / 10

There wasn’t anything too graphically intense to be shown in the game anyway, so there’s not really anything to criticize. I’ve always been relatively happy with the graphics of the game.

Audio – 7 / 10

The audio is ok, but it can get a bit repetitive and annoying after a while. Also some of the music is a little bit too high pitched at times for my taste.

Story – 8 / 10

The $10 million dollar goal is a bit high for someone heading to Vegas with only $700, but that’s hardly the main focus of the “Story” of the game. The “Story” is all the little situations that present themselves while you’re playing. The fact that every situation has a winning or losing outcome makes them even more fun. You can’t just memorize “Don’t trust the waitress when she spills the drink” because there’s a 50/50 chance that waitress is a normal and honest waitress. So technically speaking, the story is different ever time you play it. For me, I had a call my grandfather had died, leaving me $6000 in inheritance. I helped a woman who later returned the favor when she won big. But then I lost half my money with the fake waitress stole my wallet.

Total Playtime – 0h 47m

I technically cheated just so I could see the good ending. Doing that, you can beat the game pretty quickly. If I played a bit more conservatively though it would probably take much longer.

Total Deaths – 0 Deaths

I know I was playing high stakes games, but not anything life or death.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

I really love this game. I’m not much of a gambler in real life, I simply don’t have that much luck, but I do like the occasional gambling video game like this. This one is probably one of my favorites because of all the little situations that come up. They really break up the repetition and help keep the game from becoming boring. Everything in the game plays well, but I can’t really ignore the fact that there isn’t much substance to the game. If there were more games to play it might have held up better. Particularly more skill based games like poker for example. However, the game as presented is very well made, and I still like it after all these years. If you’re interested, you can easily pick up your own copy of the game for less than $10, so why not pick it up and see what happens to you in Vegas. Better yet, the game does offer 4 player co-op, so you could easily make a game night out of it.

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More often than not, this is how my games ended. Sadly walking home without a penny.

 

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I hope you enjoyed Vegas Dream. 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.

 

Pilotwings (SNES)

Pilotwings (SNES) - Full Cover

Prediction

Welcome back to another 30 minute review everyone. Today we’re going to be taking a look at a true SNES Classic, in fact it was a launch title here in North America. I of course speak of the wonderful title Pilotwings. The game itself is rather simplistic, but what makes the game so memorable is the extensive use the SNES’s Mode 7 capabilities which allowed 3D graphics on the 2D system. In essence the game was basically a giant tech demo for the then new mode 7 graphics. Nintendo however has a great history with making amazingly fun tech demo games. Just look at Wii Sports. It’s still listed as one of the best games for the system, and that was a pack in game just to show off the new motion controls.

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Anyway, In Pilotwings, you play as an aspiring pilot as you go through various training sessions. But don’t knock the game as a simple flight simulator. In addition to the traditional plane you would expect, you also get to control a hang glider, a sky diver, and my favorite the rocket belt. I feel like I know a lot about this game, but truth be told I think I only played it once or twice at a friend’s house, I really don’t have much experience with the game. So join me as we test our skills and try to earn our pilot’s license.

Gameplay

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Join the Flight Club Now! So for the first lessons, we’ll just be learning the basics of the game. We won’t have access to everything right away, just the airplane and skydiving for now. But not to worry, I’m sure Tony here will have us flying like a pro in no time.

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As we play, we’ll be scored on how well we accomplish each task, and to pass we need to score at least 120 points between the 2 objectives. First we’ll start with the airplane where our goal is simply to land the plane without killing ourselves.

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Death Count: 1

It should be simple enough, we’re already flying straight into the landing strip. All we have to do is follow the markers down and land softly on the ground below. Of course this is our first time flying, so we land a little harder than we would have liked. I think our wheels just fell off… we’re going to have to try that again.

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The second attempt goes much better. We land safely on the ground and score an impressive 90 points on this first objective. That means we’re almost guaranteed to pass even if we completely mess up the skydiving portion. Speaking of which, we should probably get over there now.

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For the skydiving, you start out on the ground as a helicopter carries you up to height while you hang onto a ladder. It’s a very unusual form of skydiving that I’m unfamiliar with. I thought you usually fly up in a little plane and then jump out the side. Anyway, as you’re dropping down out of the sky you need to try to fall through a couple of rings. This sound simple enough, but the skydiver is a bit tricky to maneuver.

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Once you get close enough to the ground, you need to open up your parachute and try to land in the center of the target. Again the controls are a bit tricky here, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it. Somehow we even manage a pretty good landing. We might not have hit the center of the target, but we at least landed within the circle of the target.

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With that I manage to pass the first lessons and get my A class license. So it’s official, I’m now a certified pilot! The skies are open to me now! Of course, that was just the basic training. The lessons are only going to get harder from here.

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Lesson 2 gives us a new instructor, Shirley, and the promise that we’ll actually get to use the rocket belt soon. With 3 objectives this time, we now have to score 220 total points to pass. You may also notice we’ve had a change of location. And it looks like there’s now a pool of water surrounding the skydiving target area. But we’ll worry about that when we get to it.

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Death Count: 2

First up is the airplane objective. Once again we have to pass through a few rings on the way to the landing strip. However, we’re not already approaching it head on. So this is basically our first lesson in turning and maneuvering in the air. Unfortunately I couldn’t straighten myself out very easily and we ended up crashing again.

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We might still be able to do this though. So let’s move onto the skydiving objective. This time it feels like we flew up to a much higher altitude, and there were quite a few more rings this time than there was last time. That pool of water is quite intimidating though, it doesn’t leave much room for error.

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Death Count: 3

As I feared, we end up slashing down right into the water. With 2 bad performances already, it’s unlikely that we’ll end up passing this certification. So let’s just start over right now.

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This time around I have an almost perfect landing and get a much better starting score for the plane objective of the lessons. In the skydiving objective I end up missing a few of the rings, which is a bit disappointing. But I have a much better landing. I still didn’t hit the target, but I landed in the target zone outside the water for an easy 40 points.

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Now we finally get to play around with the rocket belt. This is so much fun, but it is a bit hard to control. In this objective, we have to pass through 3 rings before we head back to the target zone for a gentle landing. As fun as this is, I do have a bit of a complaint with the rings. They are a bit hard to spot at a distance since they are just tiny dots until you get close. Only once you get close do they expand out to full size rings.

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Death Count: 4

Once you actually find the rings, passing through them is quite easy. Landing on the other hand is not as easy. Just like with the sky diving, we have to be careful not to land in the water. Unfortunately that’s exactly what we end up doing. I’m not positive, but I don’t think jet packs work very well underwater. That also means I failed the lesson again and have to start over AGAIN.

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So once again we go through and get a good flight on the plane objective for a nice 74 points. Then we follow that up with a great landing in the sky diving objective for an additional 82 points. So it looks like we’re in really good shape to beat it this time. I thought I should take a slightly different approach this time and head for the target by crossing the bridge. That way I don’t have to worry about the water as much. It pays off as I get a fantastic 90 points for the rocket belt section.

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So with my total score of 246, I pass another lesson and get my B Class License. This game is already a lot of fun, even if it is rather challenging. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.

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We still have a little bit of time before my 30 minutes are up, so let’s check out Lesson 3. This time we’ll have Lance as our instructor, and we’ll finally be introduced to the hang glider. This time there won’t be a skydiving objective, instead it’s just the plane, rocket belt, and hang glider.

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Death Count: 5

So we start off with the plane. For the first time we actually have to start on the runway and get up to speed to take off. I was a bit hesitant though, and well, I ended up driving off the end and straight into the water… how about we give that one more try.

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Once we’re up in the air, there are quite a few rings for us to fly through this time. We’re actually doing quite a large loop out over the ocean before turning around and heading back to the island. It’s hard to tell since the island is almost never in frame, but I think we might have actually flown a full lap of the island this time around.

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Death Count: 6

The final ring however was a bit deceptive. It has you flying really high into the air right before you need to land. This made me dive too quickly in an attempt to still land on the runway. Predictably, I ended up crashing spectacularly. But no time to worry about that, let’s just move on and see what else we can play with in this lesson.

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The rocket belt level played out roughly the same as last time, except this time we need to touch pillars of lights rather than flying through the rings. This is quite a bit harder to accomplish, but not too hard. Then of course we have to land on a tiny target in the middle of the water. Surprisingly I have a great landing on my first try.

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It’s a nice score, but not enough to allow me to pass the lesson. No worries though, we’ll just go onto the hang gliding objective anyway to at least see what it’s like. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing here. You start by being pulled behind a plane, but then it detaches and lets you off to do whatever you want. Since I have no other indications of where to go, I decide to head straight for that odd pillar of white clouds.

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Death Count: 7

Turns out that pillar of clouds were actually an updraft that pushed me way up into the air. Soon after I was giving my only instructions, try to land without killing yourself. But where am I expected to land? Do I aim for the tiny sky diving target? Or perhaps I’m supposed to land on the runway like a plane? My indecision ends up wasting too much time and I crash land in the middle of the lawn. But that’s ok, we’re out of time anyway.

Verdict

Price – $9.00

It’s a cheap game, so there’s no reason not to add it to your collection.

Play Again? – Absolutely

This game is one of those simple yet challenging type games that are just loads of fun. I will absolutely come back and play this from time to time.

Total Deaths – 7 Deaths

At its core, it is a flight simulator game, so you need to be very careful with your landings. It’s not just going to hand you a “close enough” passing score.

Fun Rating – 8 / 10

This is a really fun game and I suggest everyone should play it at some point. The controls take a little while to get used to, but you can’t deny how much fun it is once you get the hang of it. On top of that, the graphics were quite revolutionary for the time, and in my opinion are holding up well enough for their age. No matter what, it’s hard to properly show depth in videogames, but this game does a good job of it. Even if I did die a few times I knew it was always my fault and I never got mad at the game. From start to finish it was a fun game, and sometimes crashing was the most fun part. Seriously, add this game to your SNES collection and be happy with the purchase.

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Someday I’ll fly free in the skies… Someday…

 

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of Pilotwings. 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.

 

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Remember in the early 90’s when 7 UP was the coolest drink ever? No? Me either. Still, I do remember their ad campaign, Cool Spot. For anyone that might not remember Cool Spot, he was the mascot for the 7 UP brand for the late 80’s through to the mid 90’s. Somehow they took the random red dot on their logo, gave it arms and legs as well as a pair of cool shades, and called it a day. It might sound kind of stupid now, but it must have worked for them to keep it around for as long as they did. Moreover, I can’t think of the last time I actually drank a 7 UP since the campaign ended. I know I’ve had Sprite and Sierra Mist since then, but never 7 UP.

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Regardless of my soda drinking habits, we’re here to talk about videogames. If you haven’t already figured it out, retro games were crazy, and everyone got their own game if they were even slightly popular at the time. To that end, we’ll be playing Cool Spot’s self titled game for the Sega Genesis today. I remember seeing this game when it first came out, and I remember wanting it so badly for some reason. Unfortunately I never ended up getting it, so I’m happy to finally get a chance to play it. Let’s just hope all these long years of waiting haven’t been in vain. Truth be told, I really don’t know much about the game other than the fact it’s a platformer starring Cool Spot. So now that I finally have a copy of the game, let’s jump right in and see what I’ve been missing.

Gameplay

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The game begins with no introduction to speak of. This is really a shame because as I’ve mentioned, I have no idea what the back story of this game is. Obviously we play as the mascot Cool Spot, and if this splash screen is any indication, we are tasked with rescuing other Cool Spots who have been trapped in cages. It looks like we also need to collect 7 UP logos and cups as well as collect tons of regular non mascot Cool Spots.

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We start out on the beach, and it looks like this game is going to primarily be a collect-a-thon style game. There are tons of the little Cool Spots scattered around the world just waiting for our hero to collect. Apparently our main objective is to collect at least 60 of these spots before we’ll be allowed to complete the level.

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Of course, what game would be complete without a whole collection of enemies waiting to stop you? For this first level, the whole beach is literally crawling with crabs waiting to sink their claws into our hero. Good thing he isn’t defenseless out there. Somehow he can shoot soda bubbles out of his hands to defend himself.

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Progress along the ground is fairly easy, even if there are a ton of enemies. The latter half of the level however is slightly harder. You’ll have to grab onto the balloons floating in the air and jump from one to the other. Occasionally you’ll even have to bounce off of a floating soda bubble to keep going. The problem I have with this area is that there are a lot of blind jumps, and a single miss will have you falling to the ground, forcing you to start the whole trek over again.

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There aren’t any enemies up here in the air though, and the ones on the ground never respawn, so there isn’t much stress here. Just don’t take so long that you run out of time. Eventually you’ll find your buddy locked up in his cage. One good shot with your soda bubbles and he’ll be free once again.

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Before moving onto the next level, I happened to unlock one of the game’s bonus rounds. This is fairly easy to accomplish if you explore the levels enough. You need to collect 60 Cool Spots to be allowed to open the cage, but collecting 85 will grant you access to the bonus level. In these levels you are confined to the inside of a 7 UP bottle. Here you need to bounce around collecting as many Cool Spots as you can before time runs out. More importantly, each bonus round contains one of the letters in the 7 UP slogan “UNCOLA”. Do your best to collect all of these, because they act as your continues. At the time of the game’s release, collecting all the letters in UNCOLA would also give you a splash screen at the end of the game which you could send in to win a contest.

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Death Count: 1

From here we move our search away from the beaches and onto the pier. While the location may have changed, the goal hasn’t. You’ll still be exploring the level looking to collect 60 of the Cool Spots while defending yourself against the various enemies. This time around you’ll still be fighting some crabs, but you’ll also be fighting worms which must have escaped from the bait bins, as well as a good number of flies.

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Death Count: 4

In addition to those enemies, there is also the occasional clam to deal with. These guys can be quite annoying because their hard shells will simply deflect Cool Spot’s soda bubbles. You’ll have to attack them when they open their shell if you want to kill them. Curiously there is also the rare fish popping its head out of the puddles of water in the wood. I don’t know how deep that puddle could possibly be, but I doubt it’s enough room to sustain a fish.

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Death Count: 5

The first level tried to slow you down with the blind jumps at the end, but this second level doesn’t resort to such cheap tricks. Instead it simply tries to get you lost in the maze of ropes and then bombards you with enemies around every corner. Just keep pressing forward and you’ll eventually find your buddy and free him.

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The quest to free our captured friends quickly moves inside as we now find ourselves exploring the space inside the walls of a building. This is definitely no place for an unsuspecting Cool Spot to find himself. With the confined spaces limiting your movement, and the plethora of exposed nails threatening to impale you, you’ll be lucky to make it out of this wall alive. Although I must say, it is rather fun to launch yourself with the mousetraps, just don’t get stuck under it.

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Death Count: 7

Despite all the mouse traps, they don’t seem to be doing much to control the mouse population here. In fact the mice seem quite happy and comfortable in their red and white pajamas. It’s almost as if they’re simply angry at our disturbing their sleep. They’ll pop their heads out from holes in nearly every piece of wood and throw their cheese at you to make you leave.

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Death Count: 9

They’re hardly the most dangerous or even numerous enemies in the wall though. The whole place is swarming with spiders waiting to drop down on you. If I’m not mistaken, those markings look to be that of the black widow spider as well. A bite from one of those will surely ruin your day. Squash as many spiders as you can, and before you know it you’ll have rescued another of your friends.

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Death Count: 12

When we finally emerge from the wall, we find ourselves surrounded by water inside what I assume is some kind of inflatable pool. Unfortunately, Cool Spot can’t swim at all it would seem. You’ll have to jump between the lily pads, boats, and rubber ducks to keep yourself out of the water.

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Death Count: 17

However, you’re goal isn’t at the other end of the pool. Instead it’s high up in the air. You’ll have to jump up onto the various toy blimps and space ships hanging from the ceiling if you wish to proceed. This part I had a real problem with because there are a large number of blind jumps up in the air, and missing any one of these will have you plummeting down into the water below.

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Death Count: 18

What makes this even harder is the fact that the background moves at a different speed than the foreground. Because of this, you really have no frame of reference anymore for where your next platform is once it drops away off the bottom of the screen. What’s more, the tiny UFOs tip over as soon as you touch them, so you get very little time to assess the situation and plan your next jump. Somehow I managed to make it though here to free my friend.

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Death Count: 20

Now that we’re safe from the threat of drowning, it looks like we’ve stumbled into a toy store of some kind. There are dozens of toy robots and chattering teeth patrolling nearly every inch of this level. When you’re not under fire from the robots, you’re probably trying to avoid the green goo balls bouncing around everywhere.

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Death Count: 23

This level really does feel massive, and it can be easy to get lost in here. It’s also very easy to fall off the higher platforms and be forced to backtrack quite a distance as you make your way to the top of the level. It’s a good thing all these shoes are just randomly laying around though. Their laces provide a convenient rope for you to climb up. Eventually you’ll find your way to the top and manage to free yet another of your friends.

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Somehow it looks like we’ve gone and trapped ourselves inside a pinball machine or something while we were exploring the toy store. Now we’re stuck tumbling down all these ramps completely out of control. Then just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, you end up getting sucked up a tube and thrown right back to the top.

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Honestly, this was the easiest level in the game. There are no enemies around attacking you and unless I missed them there weren’t even any environmental hazards to worry about either. You are free to just have fun rolling down the slopes collecting Cool Spots without a care in the world. You do still have a time limit though, so don’t take too long before you head off to rescue your buddy.

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Death Count: 25

Most unfortunately, this is about where the game peaks. From here we’re pretty much just playing the game over again in reverse. And so we exit the pinball machine and are right back into the toy store. Obviously the level layout is much different and more complicated, but it doesn’t throw much new at you. The only new enemies I think I saw were some yellow pencil topper goblin things.

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Death Count: 27

Just like before, you’ll be fighting your way through wave after wave of toy robots and chattering teeth and even the occasional racecar. So climb up those shoelaces and fight your way to the top of the map. You’ll be leaving piles of scrap in your wake as you force your way to your caged friend.

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Next up we have my most hated level from the whole game, “Loco Motive”. In this level, Cool Spot is riding through the toy store on top of what must be a toy train. The train itself isn’t bad, and was a nice change of pace from the last levels. The problem is the background. You can’t tell from the still images, but the background is actually rushing by as fast as you would expect it to while riding on a fast moving train. This level honestly gave me a bit of motion sickness just looking at the background and I had to look away occasionally. This is especially upsetting because I’m not usually prone to motion sickness.

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Death Count: 28

That’s not what makes me hate this level so much though. Much like the pool level earlier, you eventually have to start traveling upwards to reach your goal. This time instead of blimps and rockets to jump on, we’re now jumping on the backs of goofy looking fat kids. My problem is that the blind jumps were hard enough before without a motion sickness inducing background throwing off your trajectory.

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Death Count: 29

It’s virtually impossible to judge how far you’ve jumped with the background rushing by like it does. This left me falling down to the train so often that for the first time I actually ran out of time for the level. Eventually I did manage to make it to the cage and free my friend, as well as free myself from having to look at that background anymore. I can honestly say without exaggeration that even if the rest of the game was wonderful, I would never play this game again simply to avoid this level. I have never before gotten motion sickness from a game, and I don’t wish to repeat the experience.

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Death Count: 30

Thankfully, it doesn’t look like we’ll have to worry about that anymore as we once again crawl back inside the walls of the building. Other than the occasional dancing electrical sparks, not much has changed since we were last crawling through here. There are still tons of mice in pajamas, and even more black widow spiders infesting every corner of the map.

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Death Count: 31

As a whole, this map does feel a lot bigger than last time, but that might just be my imagination. However, because the whole map is so tightly confined, it’s hard to actually get lost. It’s not like the much more open toy store levels we just left. Just keep following the helping hands and you’ll eventually free another Cool Spot.

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Death Count: 35

Now that we’re back outside, we’re once again on the pier. That means lots of crabs, flies, and the occasional oyster. Again, there isn’t really anything significant to set it apart from our last adventures on the pier. The level is much more difficult, and there are a lot more spots where you can fall and need to backtrack, but not much else new.

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Death Count: 40

There were a few spots I thought were a bit poorly designed though. Simply because Cool Spot has such a high arc to his jump that you end up hitting your head in the tight areas. I think that was the point though, you have to make the jump perfect, or you fall and have to try again. Overall it wasn’t a very difficult level, and we eventually free the Cool Spot from the cage. Just one left to go.

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Death Count: 41

So here we are on the final level. And wouldn’t you know it, we’re back out on the beach where we started. Personally I’m a bit upset with this circular level progression the game made. It makes the whole quest feel somewhat pointless.

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Death Count: 42

This time around, the balloon to balloon jumping takes it to a whole new level. In fact it’s the majority of the level. Now the balloons are actually moving around as well, which makes it even harder to land your jump. There are so many of them this time though that it’s not much of a problem and before long we free the last of the captured Cool Spots and finish the game.

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In an anticlimactic finale, all the Cool Spots get together to spell out “COOOOOOOOL!” with flash cards. Then they just kind of wander off as the credits roll. All of this is accompanied by what sounds like the song “Wipe Out”, and that alone is supposed to make the whole thing feel cool and relevant. But without any kind of big boss fight at the end, or even a relieve of who the villain was, the whole game ends on a flat note for me.

Verdict

Gameplay – 6 / 10

The controls and general gameplay of the game are fun, even if they are a bit generic. Unfortunately the game is full of tiny annoyances. Nearly every level has a handful of blind jumps and leaps of faith. The only thing more annoying than the blind jumps are all the backtracking you have to go through when you miss them. Then there are the swarms of enemies which boarder on the obnoxious level. Thankfully they never respawn, so they are at least somewhat manageable. They’d be even more manageable if the game allowed you to stand still while attacking, specifically in the diagonal directions. Because the diagonals incorporate in part the left and right directionals, you start walking in that direction as you’re shooting. Not only does this bring you ever closer to the enemy you were trying to kill, but it also moves your aim off your target. The real nail in the coffin though is the complete lack of boss fights. It leaves the whole game feeling shallow. Yeah you rescued all your friends, but you never learn anything about how they got captured in the first place, and there’s no real resolution to know it will never happen again.

Graphics – 7 / 10

I thought the graphics were generally great. All the enemies were rather large and very detailed and all the animations were very fluid. Unfortunately they started recycling assets very quickly, just the layout was different. My biggest disappointment wasn’t even when I was playing the game, it was afterwards when I saw a YouTube video of someone playing the SNES version. There are just so many little details that are so much better on the SNES version than they are on the Genesis version. Just one example that really sticks out is the balloons. In the Genesis version they are all solid red, but in the SNES version they are multi colored and semi transparent. These little details go a long way towards the graphics.

Audio – 6 / 10

Honestly I just finished playing the game and I’ve already mostly forgotten what the music was like, so I’m giving it a midrange score out of ignorance. If I don’t remember it than there must not have been anything too horrible, but there also wasn’t anything that was overly memorable either. Don’t get me wrong, the music all fit the tone of the game very nicely, but it was all so generic that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it all came preprogrammed on the synthesizer.

Story – 0 / 10

I love RPG games with deep stories, that’s part of why I grade all the games on story. But I know not every game needs an epic story to be a great game. That’s why a lot of times I’ll simply give games like this a “N/A” score. This game was an exception and it earned an honest 0 because its half assed excuse of a story I found detrimental to my enjoyment of the game. Without the manual, there is no story to speak of. You have no idea WHY your friends are trapped in cages. All you know is that you need to free them. If you have the manual you’d know that they were captured by “Wild Wicked Willy Will” while you were out surfing. That’s why you are the only one that wasn’t captured. It’s a simple story along the lines of other platformers, but other platformers at least show you the villain throughout the game. Everyone knows when Bowser kidnaps Peach, or when Dr Robotnik does… whatever it is he does… Serious, what is Robotnik’s plan other than stop Sonic? Sorry, getting off topic. My point is that “Wild Wicked Willy Will” is such an anonymous villain that even Google couldn’t find him. So his inclusion in the manual is pointless and adds nothing to the game. In fact, the lack of resolution with him at the end of the game makes his inclusion infuriating because there’s no resolution at all. It’s because of this that the half assed attempt at a story is actually worse than no story at all.

Total Playtime – 1h 43m

It’s a very short game which no doubt relies on its difficulty to create the illusion of value. Honestly I doubt I’d ever be able to beat this game normally.

Total Deaths – 42 Deaths

If I slowed down a bit, I probably could have avoided a lot of my deaths. The fact that the enemies never respawn really helps to keep this game balanced. However, all of the blind jumps can make the game very frustrating, especially on the pool level where a missed jump means instant death.

Overall Score – 5 / 10

Before I start badmouthing the game, let me start by saying I generally did enjoy playing this game. However, it is objectionably a generic game at best and a bad game at worst. The lack of story or boss battles or really any other gameplay elements beyond collecting items destroy any satisfaction you would normally get from playing a game. It also removes any possible replay value the game might have. You can only collect so many Cool Spots scattered around the levels before you just stop caring. Without any boss battles to raise the excitement, the whole game is just a bland trek from the start of the level to the end. And while the levels themselves are rather large, your progress through them is mostly linear. You also only need the smallest amount of exploration to collect the minimum 60 Cool Spots before you reach the cage at the end of the level. Add to this the minor frustrations present in nearly every level, and you are left with a generally bad game. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun. Like I said at the start, I still enjoyed playing the game. It’s just that the game will never make my top 10 list, and in fact I doubt I’ll ever bother to play the game again, there’s simply no reason to.

Cool Spot (Genesis) - 64

That’s the only trophy this game is getting…

 

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I hope you enjoyed Cool Spot (Genesis). 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.

 

The Powerpuff Girls: Paint the Townsville Green (Gameboy Color)

The Powerpuff Girls - Paint the Townsville Green (Gameboy Color) - Full Cover

Prediction

I loved watching the Powerpuff Girls growing up. The original version, not this weird reboot they have on now. There was just something so fun about it. Especially with the character designs, with their huge eyes and lack of hands they definitely were bug eyed freaks. Even the villains in the series knew this and would regularly call them freaks and pumpkin heads and so on. I think it’s funny that the lack of hands wasn’t even just a design choice, they really had no hands. You can tell because of when they swapped bodies in the episode “Criss Cross Crisis” and Buttercup couldn’t figure out how to use Professor Utonium’s normal hands. She was so used to everything just sticking to her stump that she thought his hands didn’t work right.

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Anyway, I’m getting off topic now. The Powerpuff Girls were so popular that they received a lot of videogames in their time. Each of the girls even got their own solo games for the Gameboy Color. Today we’ll be looking at Buttercup’s game, “The Powerpuff Girls: Paint the Townsville Green”. I picked this game over the other two because of the fact Buttercup is so much more violent than her two sisters. I figured that violent nature would lend itself better to a more action oriented game. It’s just unfortunate that she doesn’t get a higher ranking villain to fight. While her sisters get the iconic Mojo Jojo and Him, Buttercup is stuck with the Gangreen Gang, a group of rowdy teens with severe skin conditions. On the other hand, that’s more people to fight and more butts to kick, so maybe it won’t be all bad. Let’s fly over to Townsville now and see what trouble is brewing!

Gameplay

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The game begins at the Pokey Oaks Kindergarten where the Gangreen Gang has started trouble. Not only that, but they apparently brought the entire population of the Townsville prison with them. These convicts are everywhere, and they don’t have any problems attacking little girls.

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As you fight your way thought the school, you’ll also be collecting dozens of random items along the way. These things are hidden everywhere. In the halls, up in the clouds, even in the air conditioning vents. I don’t know where all this stuff came from, but good luck finding all of it.

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In all honesty, I’m actually a little disappointed with Buttercup’s abilities. In the show, she was never shown to get tired by flying, yet in this game she can only fly for a few seconds before drifting back to the ground. The real crime however is her fighting power. There is a noticeable cool down period between each punch you can throw. Coupled with the short reach of her arms, this makes fighting even weak enemies a challenge.

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She is capable of shooting off an energy attack, however this too is somewhat disappointing. As cool as the attack looks, it actually causes no damage at all to the enemy. Instead it simply freezes them in place for a few seconds. This is very helpful to get your punches in, but it would have been better if it damaged them outright.

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Despite her shortcomings, Buttercup does eventually find and rescue Ms. Keane. Despite being tied up, she’s still a really sweet kindergarten teacher and simply wants Buttercup to ask them nicely to leave. Of course we’ll make them leave, but it won’t be as nice as she wants it to be.

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Outside, we face our first boss fight with a member of the Gangreen Gang, Snake. This basketball court fight is actually rather easy. Snake simply walks back and forth on the court, only occasionally throwing a basketball at our heroine.

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A few good punches, maybe a few energy blasts and Snake won’t be bothering the kindergarten any more. And so once again, the day is saved! Thanks to the Powerpuff Girls….well…only Buttercup since she’s the only one you can play as.

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Or I wish I could say the day was saved. We’ve only taken down one member of the Gangreen Gang. The others are still causing trouble in other parts of the town. Reports are already coming in of vandalism in the subways.

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Once again, the entire population of the prison seems to be freely roaming the tunnels of the subway station. While they’re probably up to no good, they could also very well simply be lost since the station is quite the maze to navigate. One of them seems to be so lost and disoriented that they’ve lost their sanity and now believe themselves to be a bird.

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Even after getting onto one of the subway trains, the villains aren’t exactly the biggest threat to our safety. That goes to pure child like curiosity. Where could the vent on the top of the subway lead to? What treasures can we find up there? Well, the answer more often than not is death by being thrown off a moving subway train because you went up onto the roof of it.

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But it’s late, and Buttercup is tired from her near death experience. The Gangreen Gang will have to wait for another day.

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Verdict

Price – $5.00

It’s a great price for the game. If you’re a fan of the Powerpuff Girls you should pick it up.

Play Again? – Maybe

This one is a bit weird. When I first started playing, I hated it. However as time went on I started to like it more and more.

Total Deaths – 6 Deaths

The game as a whole isn’t overly difficult and most enemies die after just 2 hits. However your attack speed is kind of slow, making it easy to take damage from even weak enemies.

Fun Rating – 6 / 10

I still find it amazing how game companies can fail so spectacularly at implementing basic functionality into their games. I’m not even asking for much, just the ability to attack at a reasonable rate so I’m not being killed by grunts. Honestly there is about a 2 second cool down period between each of Buttercup’s basic punches. I’d understand if it was the energy attacks. Those would be difficult to shoot off back to back. But one of the show’s trademarks are the close ups of the rapid fire punching and kicking combos the girls regularly perform on the bad guys, so the extreme delay not only makes the game hard to play, but departs from the spirit of the source material. If the attacks were better, this would actually have been a very enjoyable game. The art style is very consistent with the show, which is an amazing feat considering the limited graphics of the system. Then there’s the fact that the stages are quite large and have a lot of collectables to be found. It’s a bit skimping on the health items, but that can be forgiven. Even the music I thought was quite good for the system, and fit well with the style of the show. Even the character design was spectacular and fit the style of the show. It’s a bit disappointing that most of the enemies are random convicts, but they are at least done in the show’s style and look semi recognizable from various episodes. All in all it’s an ok game, and one that starts to grow on you the more you play. Like I said earlier, for $5.00 there’s really no reason not to get it if you’re a fan of the show. Just don’t expect to be blown away.

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Is that George Jetson? What are you doing in Townsville?

 

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Bonus Trading Cards

This game has a large selection of trading cards you can find in the levels and trade with people using the link cable. I thought it would be fun to share all the ones I found with you here.

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Blossom Buttercup Bubbles
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Mojo Jojo Gangreen Gang Him
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Roach Coach Ace Rainbow The Clown
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Professor Utonium Big Billy Boogie Man
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Sara Bellum Little Arturo The Mayor
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Brick Snake Talking Dog
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Volcano Mountain Grubber Boomer
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The Rowdyruff Boys Fuzzy Lumpkins City of Townsville
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Princess Ms. Keane Utonium Family
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The Powerpuff Girls Butch Townsville City Hall
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Utonium Chateau Townsville Dump Townsville Art Museum
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Sedusa Broccloid Emperor Evil Cat

 

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of The Powerpuff Girls: Paint the Townsville Green. 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.

 

Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (Game Gear)

It looks like we’ll be heading back down memory lane with another of my Game Gear favorites. Today we’ll be looking at what was one of the first games I ever beat on my own, Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck. Growing up, I know I beat this game quite a few times. I remember it being a fun, but fairly easy game with a lot of charm. Unfortunately I can’t remember a whole lot about the game past the first few levels. Let’s hope it comes rushing back to me as I play.

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I’ve never played the original Chuck Rock game, I should probably pick that game up at some point to review too. Anyway, in Chuck Rock II, you play as Chuck Rock’s son, Chuck Rock Jr. It would seem Chuck’s archrival Brick Jagger has captured dear old dad, and now it’s up to you to save him. And so Chuck Rock Jr puts on a clean diaper, grabs his wooden club, and sets out on his own adventure. Do you have what it takes to survive the harsh prehistoric world to rescue your father? Let’s find out!

Gameplay

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The game starts with no introduction. Instead you’re simply thrown into the world and expected to find your way, which was a common opening for most games back then. You’ll quickly find yourself coming across some of your caveman neighbors who for some reason act as enemies in this game. Most of them seem to be minding their own business. Especially this guy who’s wig doesn’t seem quite dead yet.

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Even if the enemies aren’t all that threatening, the environment will be. In addition to smashing your enemies, you’ll have to use your club to smash down a few brick walls as well. You’ll also have to hold on tight as you swing over the occasional spike pit. But it’s all for the sake of saving dear old dad after all.

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Before we get too far, I want to point out that the game is just full of hidden surprises even right from the start. There are tons of hidden passages full of treats to find, and lots of invisible platforms to reach even more treats. Even out in the open, many of the flowers will give you points if you attack them. They look like just plain scenery, and really serve no other function, so it’s kind of impressive that they hid some points inside them.

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Anyway, the journey ahead is going to be full of many dangers. Landslides could happen at any moment causing rocks to come tumbling down the hills on top of you. You’ll have to swing across tons of vines, and risk your life over the spike pits. You’ll even face off against fierce dinosaurs hungry to make you a meal.

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…or at least your neighbors dressed up as dinosaurs for some reason. But don’t let any of that stop you. Face every danger head on and before you know it you’ll have made it to the end of the stage. We’re one step closer to saving dad now!

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There are of course great dangers lurking just around the corner for young Chuck Rock Jr. It seems he’s caught the eye of a hungry dinosaur, a real one this time. Despite being what looks like a brontosaurus, a plant eater, this dinosaur is eager to make a quick meal out of our diaper wearing hero.

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Chuck Rock Jr isn’t going to be quite the easy meal however. With his wooden club in hand his swings are strong enough to knock the teeth right out of the hungry dinosaur’s head. Next time he should pick a safer target for dinner, especially now that he’s lost all his teeth. It would be kind of hard to gum a creature to death.

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We may have escaped being eaten alive, but now it looks like we might be cooked alive instead. Just around the corner our young hero finds himself surrounded on all sides by red hot lava. Not only that, but the volcanoes in the distance are erupting, sending flaming balls of lava into the air.

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It would be hard for anyone to survive in these harsh conditions, yet alone a baby. However, the local dinosaurs seem to have figured it out. Equipped with full body fire retardant suits, these dinosaurs are perfectly safe from the heat. In fact they are so well adapted that they have come to master the flames with the use of their flame throwers. Wait a minute. Fire suits and flame throwers? What kind of dinosaurs are these.

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With genius dinosaur enemies like this, it’s good to know you have some friends on your side. In this case it’s a small turtle that seems to rather enjoy the lava. If you ask him nicely, he’ll be willing to ferry you across the lava to safety on the other side.

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Curiously, we seem not to be the only person here in the scorching waste. It would seem a mother is dragging along her children as they try to cross to lava fields no doubt in search of the greenery of the stages we just left. Unfortunately she becomes very hostile at the sight of our young hero and must be dealt with. Sadly this leaves the infants alone and vulnerable. They will no doubt soon die as well without their mother.

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Though we have become surrounded by death, these lava fields are also capable of breeding new life. Such is the case with the giant bird egg we find and witness hatch. Normally a bird would imprint on the first creature it sees and treat it as its mother. Sadly that is not the case with this bird. It is born with an instinct to kill by dropping flaming hot rocks on its enemies. This is something we can’t simply ignore, and we must teach this bird a lesson.

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This newborn sure does grow quickly. After a few dips in the lava, the creature seems to have grown out its feathers and even its beak looks more birdlike. No longer one to drop boulders on its prey, the bird now dive bombs at our hero in an attempt to finish the job personally.

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Again, we can’t let such actions go unpunished, especially from a newborn. With some quick actions, little Chuck Rock Jr brings his club down on the new born bird and sends it sinking back down into the lava where it belongs. Let’s hope mama bird wasn’t around to see any of that. I’m not sure we’d be able to handle her at our age.

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We made it out of that lava field and back to the safety of the green forests. No longer in the safety of our own neighborhood we won’t find any other humans out here. We will however find many of our distant cousins, the monkeys. These guys will constantly be jumping around, and throwing their bananas around at you. At least they aren’t throwing poop at you. Still, it’s very rude of them, and there’s only one way to stop them for good, a nice strong bash with your wooden club.

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Other than the monkeys, these levels are very similar the first stages. Swing from a few vines, try to avoid spikes and rocks, and just get to the end of the stages. The only new element I think worth noting are the giant ants you can occasionally ride to get across the spike pits.

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The monkeys of the forest may have been only a minor annoyance, but they’re no match for Ozric’s tentacles. This octopus like creature is ruler of the water, and a major threat to the life of young Chuck Jr as it spits water and throws small swordfish at our young hero.

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In a situation like this, there’s only one thing to do, grip up on that club and swing away at those swordfish. If you hit them just right, you can knock them into the air and arc them back to hit Ozric right in his oversized head. A few hits like that and he’ll be down for the count.

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Swimming past Ozric brings us down into the sewer systems. The idea of a sewer system on its own is very advanced for these cavemen, but where did they get all that toxic waste? That stuff doesn’t exactly occur naturally, especially not in clearly marked barrels like that.

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Also where did all of these pipes and conveyer belts come from? Am I missing something here? Did we travel into a different game entirely? I thought we were following a little cave baby rescue his cave dad. Are we working under Flintstone rules here where everything is stone age but somehow also futuristic?

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Survive the polluted horrors and you’ll finally find Chuck Rock and come face to face with Brick himself. At least I think that’s Brick. Is Brick a green fish bird thing? I have no idea who Brick is because I never played the first game. Whatever it is, it will regularly shoot its head off straight into the air as gears and springs come popping out. So I guess this must be some kind of robot controlled by Brick. Again this is very advanced for cavemen.

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After a few hits the green fish thing will disappear to be replaced with a somewhat more human looking thing that must finally be Brick himself. I think it’s supposed to be a seat back, but it has always looked like he has a massive tail like a kangaroo or something. With his robot fish thing destroyed he’ll try to finish you off himself by rising up and hitting you from below.

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Step out of the way when Brick goes for the kill, then swing away at his stupid face. How dare he kidnap your father like that? How dare he make a child travel across that treacherous world to get here. Bash him good until he can take no more and you’ve saved dear old dad.

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Just like that dad is safe, mom is happy, and brick goes to jail. All’s well that ends well.

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Verdict

Gameplay – 8.5 / 10

The gameplay is fun, but admittedly very simplistic. Each stage is fairly short and straight forward, but there are tons of secrets to find if you feel like looking for them. Then the controls are very responsive and everything is very intuitive. There are also a few standard mechanics I thought the game handled really well. For one thing, many of the spike pits are set up in a way that they won’t constantly damage you. After the initial damage you can safely walk among the spikes without fear of death. Finally there are the boss battles which are the cornerstone of any good action game. They all telegraph their attacks very nicely and make for fun but fairly easy fights.

Graphics – 9 / 10

I thought the graphics were very impressive, especially for a Game Gear game. The environments are all very vibrant and detailed. All the characters also have a lot of expression and humor to them, like the people dressed like dinosaurs or the dinosaurs with flamethrowers.

Audio – 9 / 10

I love the soundtrack of this game. All the music is very upbeat and fits the game perfectly.

Story – 3 / 10

The story as described in the manual is a fairly interesting one. Unfortunately none of that is really portrayed in the game. Really, you could go through the whole game without ever knowing what your goal is. However, that was common place for games of the time.

Total Playtime – 0h 40m

It’s a really short game, and even with all the secret areas there really isn’t much you can do about that. It’s kind of to be expected though. The game has no save system, and the Game Gear can only stay on for about 2 hours on a full set of 6 batteries.

Total Deaths – 12 Deaths

The game isn’t very hard, and most of my deaths were from simple carelessness. Like I said, I used to be able to beat this game legit when I was a kid. As it is, I only died 2 times more than would have been allowed in a legitimate playthrough. I’m sure I could beat it for real if I played it again right now. On the subject of deaths, I would like to point out how well this game handles dying. Any time you die, you get to continue playing right from where you died without much interruption to the gameplay.

Overall Score – 8.5 / 10

I loved this game as a kid, and I still love it now. The game is very short and easy, almost to a fault, but what little game is there is a fun one. The graphics are great with a lot of humor on the little screen. Then the music is fitting and memorable. Possibly most importantly are the fun boss battles. They were all easy if you paid just the slightest attention, but they still felt like epic battles. The first boss in particular has always been my favorite. There’s just an odd thrill to knocking its teeth out and seeing as his face became bandaged and swollen. If you still have a working Game Gear, do yourself a favor and pick up this great title. If not, there’s also a version for the Genesis which has extra levels in it. Honestly I’ll have to pick up that version for myself at some point too. Whichever version you end up playing, you’re almost certain to have a good time.

Chuck Rock II - Son of Chuck (Game Gear) - 53

Yay! We’re a family again!

 

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I hope you enjoyed Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (Game Gear). 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.

 

Pokemon Diamond (DS)

I’ll be starting my next Pokémon adventure soon, but before that I thought it would be nice to collect my whole Pokémon Diamond journal in one place for easy reading. I’ll also finally give the game a proper review like I always meant to do. So without further ado, please enjoy my journal from Pokémon Diamond!

Pokemon Diamond Logo

Table of Content

Part 01: An Adventure Begins!

Part 02: Filling out the Party!

Part 03: Saved the Galaxy, Now I’m Lost in a Cave!

Part 04: My Life as a Berry Farmer!

Part 05: Relaxing by the Lake!

Part 06: Stop That Grunt!

Part 07: Train to be the Very Best!

Part 08: The Bucket List!

Part 09: Playing in the Snow!

Part 10: Catching the Legends!

Part 11: The Final Stretch!

Part 12: The End of a Journey!

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Verdict

Gameplay – 9 / 10

Since this is the first Pokémon game to arrive on the DS, the second screen came with a few changes. Mostly I think the game handled things very well. Being able to use the bottom touch screen to select your attacks was a great choice. Then the addition of the Poketech and all the apps you can get for it were a fun use for the bottom screen while exploring. Honestly my only gameplay complaint is with the item system. The fact that your bag can carry an infinite amount of stuff is great. No more being forced to drop stuff off at the computer to make room. However, the removal of the computer storage entirely was an annoyance. It’s nice to have everything with you, but sometimes I WANT to drop things off in the computer just to get rid of clutter. Without that ability I’m stuck scrolling past a lot of items every time I open my bag. The game easily makes up for this fault with the addition of the occasional companion. Not only are these instances a great help to get through a difficult area, but they offer up an amazing opportunity for some amazing level grinding.

Graphics – 8 / 10

The sprite work in this game doesn’t appear to be much improved from the Gameboy Advance games. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. All the Pokémon have always been highly detailed and this game is no exception. The overworld might suffer slightly, but this is a common trade off in most 2D RPGs and can’t really be held against it. They have at least made attempts to improve the appearance of the overworld. Instead of being the flat tiles of previous games, everything is layered to give an almost 3d appearance, allowing things to shift with your perspective. Personally I didn’t care for this effect because it causes everything to look heat rippled. However, I do think it is the right direction for the series to be going in.

Audio – 8 / 10

The Pokémon series has always had good music to back up the gameplay, and this game is no exception. They have also improved some of the Pokémon calls as well as introducing some rather unique calls to certain Pokémon, for better or worse. That distinct call for Kricketune for example can actually become quite annoying.

Story – 8.5 / 10

I was actually really pleased with the story of this game. It really dug deep into some of the lore of the Pokémon universe. Gen IV offered up true gods and creators of the universe this time with its legendaries, and it’s funny in a way when your 10 year old character captures it to become essentially your pet. It’s like, hey look at my pet rat. I taught it how to tackle. That’s cute. Now check out my god of all creation. I taught it not to destroy all of humanity. Honestly any time you can start your day with a walk to the lake, and come home with the god of time and space as a pet, you’ve had a good day. On top of that, the story was much more engaging than previous titles, with characters meeting you out in the world to thicken the plot.

Total Playtime – 62h 54m

The Pokémon games, and honestly the RPG genre in general, have always been known for being very lengthy games. At just under 63 hours, I definitely got my money’s worth with this one. On top of that, there is still a whole list of post-game stuff I could do. I may have seen all the Pokémon to fill my Pokédex, but I didn’t catch all of them. I also know that are a few side quests that only become available after you have beaten the elite four. You could easily play for over 100 hours and still not finish everything.

Total Deaths – 0 White Outs!!

That’s right! For once I have a game where I never died. My Pokémon may have been knocked out a few times, and without any recordings to look back on I can’t give any solid numbers for that. However, I do know that my whole party was never wiped out even a single time while playing. I did good this time.

Overall Score – 8.5 / 10

The Pokémon series has always been a joy to play since the very first game, and Pokémon Diamond is no exception. While this game didn’t add anything particularly groundbreaking to the series, you can still see where they started laying the groundwork for future games. For example, the move to a 3D rendered world rather than the flat sprites of previous games hints towards the fully 3D games seen in Gen VI. The story itself is also much more engaging than previous titles, and with a lot more on the line. You’re not just stopping Team Rocket from stealing a few Pokémon, you’re stopping Team Galactic from literally destroying the whole world. Beyond these changes, the game follows in the already successful footsteps of the games before it. With hundreds of Pokémon to choose from and hundreds of moves to teach them, you can customize your party to suit your personal play style. You can also play the game a dozen times with different parties for new experiences. Then of course there is still a very deep substructure for the competitive players to dive into and craft the perfect Pokémon from. As deep and complex as that substructure may be, the more casual players like myself can still easily play through the whole game completely oblivious to their very existence. So don’t let the fanatics scare you away from the franchise. You don’t need to know the names and stats of all 700+ Pokémon. You don’t need to know anything about EVs and IVs. You don’t even need to research the perfect party. All you have to do is pick up a Pokémon game and enjoy the experience, whatever that may be for you.

Art Pikachu

Thank you for reading, and look forward to Pokemon Black & White!!

 

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I hope you enjoyed Pokémon Diamond. 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.

 

Urban Champion (NES)

Urban Champion (NES) - Full Cover

Prediction

There are a lot of great fighting game series out there nowadays like the Mortal Kombat series and the Street Fighter series. Then there is my favorite fighting series, Marvel vs. Capcom. There’s just something so satisfying about watching Spiderman punch Phoenix Wright in his face. Anything to stop hearing him yell OBJECTION! But no matter how different the fighting game, they always have one thing in common. They all have lots of combos and special attacks and the likes. Those have always been so hard for me to remember and pull off, so it’s nice to go back to simpler fighting games before all that. That’s why today we’re going to be looking at Urban Champion for the NES.

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I remember loving Urban Champion back when I was a kid. I mostly remember loving the fact that it was one of the few games I was better than my brother at. Of course that meant my older brother would end up beating me up in real life afterwards, but that’s the price you pay as a younger brother sometimes. Anyway, I still love this game and I’ll occasionally come back to play it for a few minutes of fun. So join me as we look at a classic fighter from the NES days.

Gameplay

As I mentioned, this is a very simplistic fighting game. You don’t have combos or special moves or anything like that. You don’t even have a health bar technically. You do have a stamina gauge, but that’s more of a time limit than anything. There aren’t even multiple characters or anything to choose from, instead you play as the Blue Haired Guy on the left and you’re fighting the Green Haired Guy on the right.

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As for attacks, it’s all very simple, but can become very strategic if you let it. You have 2 hand positions, either up by your face, or down by your stomach. You also have 2 attacks, a weak attack and a strong attack. The weak attack has the benefit of being faster, while the slower stronger attack has the benefit of sending the Green Haired Guy tumbling. All you have to do is keep punching wherever he isn’t blocking, either the face or the gut, and you win.

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Now, without a health bar, you might be wondering how you actually win a fight. Well it turns out this is more of a turf war than it is a battle to the death like other fighting games. As such, all you have to do is knock the other guy off the curb and off your turf. Of course a single defeat isn’t enough to stop this up and coming street thug from coming into your turf. So you need to show him the ultimate humiliation and send him flying down an open manhole. Then everyone will know who’s boss around here.

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There are a few things thrown into the game to make it a bit more interesting. One thing to look out for is the residents of the buildings you’re fighting in front of. Not all of them are too happy to see a street fight taking place right in front of their house, so they’ll do what they can to break it up. Mostly this means dropping potted plants out the windows in hopes it hits one of you in the head. This will leave you quite disoriented and be an easy target for the other fighter.

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Occasionally, the residents will even do the responsible thing and call the cops on the two of you. But they’re too lazy to actually get out of the car and stop you, they’ll just do a drive by to break things up. Just look innocent until they go away. These police drive bys are actually really annoying. They are completely random, and it essentially resets the fight. It doesn’t matter that one more punch and you would have taken control of the block. Nope, the police had to drive by and now you are both starting over in the middle.

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As a classic arcade style game, there’s really no story to any of it. This also means there’s no real end to it. You just keep fighting and fighting until you can take no more. This will probably come sooner than you expect actually. That’s because each new challenger gets a brand new set of three blocks before taking a dive into the sewers. You however only ever have the three you started with. After two loses, that manhole will just stay there taunting you until finally you fail and fall into it yourself. And just like that a new urban champion is crowned.

Verdict

Price – $10.00

It’s not a bad price for such a fun game.

Play Again? – Absolutely!

I’ve already said that I occasionally come back to this game. Admittedly that is for a bit of nostalgia, but it’s also because it’s a fun game.

Total Deaths – 3 Defeats (and 1 Swim in the Sewers)

I’ll admit that I didn’t play a full 30 minutes. I only played a single play through. But I got all the pictures I needed for the article, so that was good enough for now. I ended up lasting about 15 minutes before my game over.

Fun Rating – 7 / 10

It’s a really simplistic game, but at the higher levels you can really add some depth to the combat by actually paying attention to the blocking and timing your attacks properly. Or you can just have fun throwing punches wildly and hope something hits. Either way it’s a fun game to break up your afternoon with. The single player game is ok, but it really is a game best played with a second person. Either way, pick it up and add it to your collection, you’ll be happy that you did.

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DOUBLE KNOCK-OUT!!!

 

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I hope you enjoyed this 30 Minute Review of Urban Champion. 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.

 

Taz-Mania (Genesis)

When I played Taz-Mania for the SNES last week, I just wanted to see what I was missing since I had only ever played the genesis version. If you’ve actually read that article you’d already know that I wasn’t quite impressed with it. At the same time, I remembered the genesis version not being very good either, but I still felt really nostalgic for it and wanted to play it again. I just never really planned to be reviewing it back to back with the SNES version.

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Whether I originally planned it or not, here we are playing Taz-Mania for the Genesis. Unlike the SNES version, the Genesis version is your standard 2D platformer. I also remember it being very hard with a lot of cheap shots thrown in. Even so, it was still one of my favorite games growing up and I played it so much I actually beat it back then. At least I’ve always thought I had beaten it once before. Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a perfect memory of the first half of the game, but I can’t remember even a single thing about the second half. So maybe I never did beat it back then. Only one way to find out, we’ll have to play this game through to the very end. Join me won’t you?

Gameplay

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Our game begins with Taz’s dad telling a story to the family. According to him, Tazmania used to be ruled by giant birds so big, their eggs could feed a family of Tazmanian Devils for a whole year.

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There is also a legend that these giant birds still live somewhere on the island. The promise of giant eggs is apparently all it took to convince Taz to go get one. No sooner does his dad’s story end does Taz spin off into the distance in search of one of these eggs.

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The island of Tazmania has quite the dramatic climate zones to it. There is an icy peninsula to the south, snowcapped mountains in the middle surrounded by dense jungle, and of course the burning deserts of the north where our game begins. Even though it clearly looks like a desert in the world map, the levels look very rocky as if we’re actually in the mountains instead.

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Taz controls just about how you’d expect him to in a game like this. He runs and jumps and of course can perform his trademark spin, during which time he’s nearly invincible. He also has a habit of eating nearly anything he touches.

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Most of the time he’ll be eating health items like the various foods scattered around the levels. Other times he’ll be eating power ups like the hot peppers that let you breathe fire. However he’s not above eating smaller enemies as well. You’ll take some damage from touching them, but it’s just so much fun to pick them up and eat them.

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Death Count: 1

You can’t eat all the enemies though, only the smaller ones. That means these larger square rock monster things are off limits. You can’t eat them, and you can’t kill them, you can only stay away from them. That’s fairly easy to do because they’re very slow moving. However, they can gang up on you when you’re stuck in the quicksand.

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Death Count: 3

The levels are also full of geysers shooting up into the air. These form platforms to help you get to higher areas, but they are also somewhat dangerous. Some of them will simply smash you into the spiky rocks above, killing you instantly. If you miss the platform, the stream of water shooting up will also damage you. And in the earliest instance of the games bad design, you can occasionally fall down the gap between the ledge and the geyser, again falling to an instant death.

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Death Count: 6

As further evidence of the bad level design, there is a zig zag of platforms Taz has to fall down. Unfortunately, waiting at the bottom of each of these leaps of faith is a bomb that Taz will instantly eat if you touch it. Unlike the food, bombs will obviously hurt Taz if he eats them, and so the first time through the level, you’re going to eat every single one of those bombs and possibly die.

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Death Count: 8

Since this is a platformer, the main goal of each level is fairly simple, just make it to the end of each stage where the conveniently placed wooden sign will point you in the direction of the egg. The levels aren’t very long, so at least for the first few levels, you should be able to just fly right through them.

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After a few levels, you’ll come across your first boss fight. Here two of the characters from the show, Bull Gator and Azl, are driving a truck back and forth trying to kill you. All you have to do is jump on the roof of the truck a few times to crush it in. it’s a very easy boss and you shouldn’t have much trouble with it.

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Following the boss fight Taz finds himself inside some kind of Acme owned factory. With all the cars around on the ground floor, I always thought it was an auto garage. But I don’t know any auto garages that have conveyer belts and spinning blades randomly along the upper floors.

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There are also a few giant presses that don’t seem to really be doing anything important. There are also several furnaces that keep popping open to reveal the fires inside. But otherwise this is a very short, rather uninteresting level.

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However, completion of it does bring us to the inner workings of the factory. Here we find ourselves actually on the assembly line where they’re building some kind of tanks. Unfortunately for us, there are several inspection points that Taz can’t go through. Not without getting electrocuted anyway.

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If we want to make it to the end of the factory, we’ll have to find the control switches to temporarily shut the factory down. Now that the assembly line is shut off, we can safely continue our journey.

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Death Count: 9

We’ll have to repeat this process several more times before the stage ends. Each time however there are more switches to choose from before you find the one that shuts the line down. Choosing the wrong switch will leave Taz with quite a nasty electrocution. That is if he isn’t killed by the multiple mounted guns already constantly firing at him.

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If you manage to make it through the factory in one piece, we’ll finally be in the icy southern peninsula of the island. Taz has really traveled quite the distance already. Here, the whole ground is covered in ice, and Taz will be sliding around very uncontrollably, just like you’d expect from an ice level.

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Death Count: 10

Luckily you won’t have to worry about the ice very much. Most of the level is actually spent jumping from ice drift to ice drift. So really your biggest concern is falling into the water. If you miss your landing, Taz will instantly be frozen into an ice cube when he touches the water.

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Even after all these years, I still remember a secret area on this map.  Right before the level ends there is one last ice drift just kind of sitting there. If you actually ride this down until it sinks, you’ll find that the water it was floating on is fake. It will actually bring you to a small cavern under the ice with a few fish for Taz to eat, as well as an extra life and an extra continue.

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Turning north, Taz quickly leaves the frozen waste to return to the dense jungle. Here we find ourselves under attack by whole families of primitive mice with little loin cloths and stone spears. There are also quite a few sentient plant monsters roaming around. They use their roots as legs, giving them somewhat of a spider appearance. But their heads are very lizard like in appearance.

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Death Count: 14

The real threat of this level however is the level itself. It is filled with so many leaps of faith and bottomless pits. Add to that how quickly Taz travels while spinning and you can easily spin yourself right off the ledges and fall down to your death.

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The next level is much simpler. Your task is to jump from needle thin branch to needle thing branch as you try to make your way up to the top of a massive tree. This level still has a lot of leaps of faith, since you can’t see the branches on the other side of the tree. But at least if you miss, you’ll just fall to a lower branch and try again.

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Make it to the top of the tree, and you’ll enter into another boss battle, this time against Francis X Bushlad. This young tribal member is on a mission to hunt Taz to fulfill his rite of passage into manhood. However, the fact that he’s wearing what looks like a diaper and hunts with a bow and arrow, I always thought he was supposed to be some kind of cupid. As for the battle itself, simple keep spinning on top of him and he’ll be defeated before you even know what happened.

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We’re not out of the Jungle yet however. First we must travel down the river. This is probably the turning point for the game from a forgettable platformer into a hellish pile of crap. For this river level the logs floating in the river are in a foreground while the platforms of land are in the background. You can jump between them whenever you want, but there is no indication of which level you are on. Not only that, but there aren’t just the 2 layers, there are actually about 5 layers for the different log paths as they float down the river. What this means is that even though you might be positioned vertically above the logs, you’ll unknowingly be on the wrong layer and splash down in the water instead of landing on it. The only thing saving this level is that there are a lot of solid platforms to jump between, keeping you out of the water entirely.

 

 

Death Count: 20

Things just get harder from here as Taz travels into the mountains at the center of the island. Deep inside the mountains we come across an old abandoned mine cart and must use it to travel through the cave. But this is going to be the most dangerous mine cart ride ever.

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Death Count: 27

You’ll have to use the cart’s scissor lift to safely rise up above obstacles, but you’ll have to be just as quick to drop back down or you’ll smash into the ceiling of the caves. There are also several portions where the track has broken. Rather than fix it, they seem to have just set up traffic lights to tell you how to clear the gap. Green means go fast to clear a large gap, while yellow means go slow, or you’ll smash into a low hanging support beam.

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Death Count: 42

Amazingly, that wasn’t even the worst part. Deeper in the mine, the game ramps the difficulty up to 11. For starters, the whole cave is a bit of a maze, so you have to remember where you’re going. But to make things worse, there are several instances of trap elevators that will break as soon as you step on them, sending Taz plummeting down to his death on the rocks below.

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Death Count: 49

The worst thing however is trying to jump from elevator to elevator. These sections have the elevators swinging side to side at a very fast pace and spaced far enough apart that you can barely see where you’re going. Even if you could see it, the landing area is so small that it’s almost impossible to land on it. This all wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that missing the jump means instant death when you land of the sharp rocks below.

 

 

Then if you do manage to make the near impossible jumps, the game isn’t done being annoying. The level has several instances of rubber band elevators. What I mean by this is that the elevator doesn’t move up and down with the levers like the ones you control. Instead you jump on it which makes it drop down, and then it will bounce back up. You jump again to make it drop lower and then bounce higher than before. You keep doing this over and over until you eventually make it to the top. Most of them only require one or two good jumps to reach the top. But the one towards the end requires several minutes of jumping before you can actually reach the top. And if you mess up any one of your jumps, it will also set your progress back even further. I’m not sure if spinning down actually helps at all, but it made me feel like it was working better.

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Death Count: 52

Immediately following this stupid rubber band elevator is a fast moving elevator doing figure 8’s. You have to time your jump very carefully just to land on it without falling to the rocks below. Then you have only a tiny window of opportunity to jump across to the other waiting elevators.

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These however are also unsafe and will drop as soon as you land on them. You’ll have to be quick and jump to the next elevator which will also fall. Just keep jumping and eventually you’ll finish the level and be done with this stupid cave, and back on your way to finding that giant bird egg.

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Death Count: 69

The game however has other plans for you. Once again it will throw you into the river with its multiple layers. This time however, you don’t have the benefit of solid platforms in the background. Instead it is just a long stretch of river with the occasional small rock to stand on. Even then you’re not safe because tiny little crocodiles will jump out of the water onto the rock in an attempt to eat you.

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Death Count: 72

The second half of the level even manages to make it worse. For the second half the river is flowing to the left instead of the right. So now you are forced to jump from tiny platform to tiny platform since the logs are now completely useless. So to recap, you’re now taking leaps of faith to land on tiny platforms you can’t see on 3D layers you can’t tell you’re on. It was at this moment that I realized I never actually beat the game as a kid. I have a perfect memory of the desert and the factory as well as the jungle and even the mine cart and parts of the elevators. However I have no memory of this river or anything that happens after it. So in truth, I must have never made it past the elevators in the second mine level and my brain was just tricking me into thinking I had beaten it.

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Death Count: 80

After several attempts to clear the level properly, I finally caved and just went for a full on reckless approach to the level. Just jump as high as I could and spin jump as far as possible. The water will bounce me back up and then just keep spin jumping again and again. I didn’t have much health left when I made it to the exit, but you know what, I don’t care, I still finished the level.

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Thankfully the rest of the game sticks to a much more traditional platformer style with few annoyances. And it kicks this off with yet another boss battle. This time you’re fighting the mother of all the little plant monsters you killed in the previous levels. This one is much bigger than the others, but thanks to Taz’s spin attack the battle isn’t hard. Just keep spinning and occasionally jump spinning to hit the monster in the head, and it will easily die before you.

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We’re heading into the final stretch of the game now as we travel to the small islands on the west coast of the main island. Here you’ll be traveling through the ancient ruins of a long lost civilization. If the statues are any indication, the ancient civilization was also a breed of Tazmanian Devil. However, their absence doesn’t stop the statues from breathing fire from their seemingly infinite supply of fuel.

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These levels were actually quite enjoyable, especially after the last few levels had me raging so much. They follow the basic platforming formula without any major annoyances. The levels are set up like a maze and there are enemies around every corner. But they aren’t much of a threat, just spin through them and you’ll gradually find your way to the exit.

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Then the game throws a new annoyance at you with the third of these ruin levels. This level is the exact same level as the first of the ruins levels. I thought somehow the game glitched and set me backwards instead of forward. After the hell they just put you through, I guess the developers figured no one would ever see these last levels, so why bother making more of them.

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The level does have a single change to it. The exit isn’t there anymore. Instead a path has opened up to a previously blocked area. Inside, one of the stone Tazmanian Devil statues comes to life and is yet another boss battle. Just like all the other battles, simply spin attack until it’s dead.

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Death Count: 81

This brings you to the final level and the final boss battle with the giant bird. Thankfully this is actually the best boss battle in the game. It actually requires some thought and strategy to it if you want to win. To hurt the bird, you need to spin attack it in the face. But to do that you need to jump up on the platforms to jump high enough.

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After each attack, the bird will also counter attack in its own way by swiping its wings down at you. You’ll have to quickly spin from side to side to avoid the bird’s giant wings. After successfully dodging all the bird’s attacks, it will once again reveal its head for you to attack again.

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Repeat the process a few times and eventually the bird will leave in defeat, and Taz is free to claim the giant egg for himself. I do feel a little cheated though. Taz’s dad said that egg would be big enough to feed a whole family for a year. That sure is a giant egg, nearly as big as Taz is, but he could still eat that whole thing in a single sitting.

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In the end, it really doesn’t matter because Taz never gets the chance to eat it. As soon as Taz goes to pick up the egg, it cracks open to show the little baby chick inside. And as new born birds do, it instantly imprints on Taz as its mother. So the game ends without Taz ever getting the egg he fought so hard to get.

Verdict

Gameplay – 1 / 10

The first half of the game isn’t great, but I’d still give it a 6 for being a fairly standard platformer. There were a lot of cheap shots specifically designed to kill you, but the game was still functional. Then the whole game derailed in the middle into an unplayable mess. The mine cart ride itself is forgivable. It was hard, but it wasn’t impossible. You just needed to have a good memory and good reflexes. The other mine level however is complete crap. The jumps were nearly impossible, and with the whole thing being over instant death pits, you only had one shot at them. Then that bouncing elevator cart was pointless and annoying. But the final nail in the coffin was when you had to jump down the river. This level could have been handled so much better by simply keeping it on a single layer. Instead they gave it a true 3rd dimension without bothering to give you any indication of depth. Adding insult to injury was the boss battles. Because Taz is 99% invulnerable while spinning, there really wasn’t any challenge to the bosses at all. You have to wiggle back and forth while spinning and that was the entire strategy. The only redeeming battle was actually the last one. That at least required some thought.

Graphics – 8 / 10

The graphics at least I have always enjoyed. The sprites were really well done, and Taz especially has a lot of personality thrown into him. The environments were all also very well detailed and fun to explore. I am a little bummed that the vast majority of enemies were just those tribal mice in various different pallet swaps though. And I’m still not sure what those stone block enemies are supposed to be. Maybe they were in the cartoon and I just don’t remember them.

Audio – 7 / 10

The audio was also a rather high point for the game. It’s not the greatest soundtrack ever, but I have always enjoyed it. It also has quickly a few good sound effects thrown in.

Story – 5 / 10

The story is pretty standard. Taz wants an egg and leaves to go get one. Then we never hear from the story again until the final boss.

Total Playtime – 1h 45m

If it weren’t for all my deaths, you could easily beat this game very quickly. In fact I happened to have watched a speed runner beat the game in just over 16 minutes, so there you have it. The whole game could be beaten in 16 minutes if I didn’t suck at it.

Total Deaths – 81 Deaths

I die a lot in games. In fact, I die so much while playing games that I started a website to chronicle how many times I die while playing games. But this is one of the few times when I actually started raging because of how many times I die. Usually a death is a learning experience. I did something wrong, and I need to learn from it to get better. Here, especially in the mine, it wasn’t entirely my fault. The game is very poorly designed and meant to kill you.

Overall Score – 3 / 10

I want this to be right out in the open. If I wasn’t so nostalgic for this game, I would probably have given it an even lower score. But because I remember loving this game so much, I’m scoring it in two parts. The beginning and the end of the game, where it is a pure platformer I’m giving a 6 / 10. The graphics keep the game afloat for what is an otherwise forgettable platformer, but there were just too many cheap shots to make it a good game. The first levels in particular, with all those bombs at the bottom of blind jumps were rather annoying and uncalled for. Then the fact that Taz is slightly difficult to control definitely had an impact on the score. When he’s spinning he moves so fast you need to be very careful with him. But also when he jumps he has a slight bit of momentum to him that takes some getting used to. Then we have the middle of the game where everything simply went to hell. Honestly I give the whole middle section of the game a solid 0 /10. I have never raged so hard at a game as I did during the mine and river sections. They are just so poorly designed and implemented that they killed any and all enjoyment that could be had from this game. It was so bad that for the last 20 years my brain has tricked me into thinking I had actually beaten this game as a self defense mechanism to prevent me from wanting to play it again. The best thing I can even say about this game is that I’m glad I have this website as proof I finished it so I never have to play it again.

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Congratulations Taz! You’re a responsible mother now!

 

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Taz-Mania (SNES)

Taz-Mania (SNES) Full Cover

Prediction

If you’ve read some of my other Looney Tunes articles, you might already know that Taz is my favorite of the bunch. You might also know that growing up I owned a Sega Genesis and not a SNES. Naturally I owned Taz-Mania for the Genesis and it was one of my favorite games. Admittedly it wasn’t a great game, just a fairly generic platformer, but I loved it because you got to play as Taz. I didn’t recognize most of the other characters and enemies since it was based on the show, and I could rarely remember when it was on, but that’s ok, I loved it all the same.

Taz-Mania (SNES) - 01

You might have noticed by now that I’ve decided not to play the Genesis version and instead play the SNES version today, and here’s why. While the cross platform games are usually the same game, just with minor adjustments to accommodate the system, I’ve heard the SNES version of Taz-Mania is actually a completely different game. I’ve tried to avoid any details beyond that fact so I can go into this game blind. But like I already said, the Genesis game wasn’t great, so I’m hoping this one is better. So let’s see how well they did with my favorite Looney Tunes character.

Gameplay

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