Category Archives: Genesis

QuackShot Starring Donald Duck (Genesis) – Part 1

What would you do if you happened to find a hidden treasure map during a visit to your Uncle’s house? Would you mention it to your uncle? Or would you hide it and keep the treasure for yourself? Well, if your name is Donald Duck, and your uncle just so happens to be Scrooge McDuck, a man with a literal swimming pool full of gold, maybe it’s about time you got your own share of treasure.

That’s just what happens in Quack Shot Starring Donald Duck for the Sega Genesis. Prior to this, I’ve never played Quack Shot, but I went into it with high hopes. The Genesis was a haven for Disney games. They always had some of the most impressive graphics and music the system ever saw. They were notorious for having a few random hard spots to slow you down, but otherwise were usually praised for being high quality games. This game differs slightly from some of the others though because it’s an original story instead of being based on one of the many classic movies. But I’m not worried, like I said, the Disney games were always great. So let’s steal that map, grab the kids, and go get that treasure!


One day while visiting his Uncle Scrooge, Donald found a rather interesting book in the study. It chronicled the life of King Garuzia, the once great leader of the Duck Kingdom. According to the book, King Garuzia hid his most prized possessions just before he died.

As luck would have it, there was a map hidden inside the book with clues to finding the treasure. This is just the break Donald has always wanted. If he can find this treasure, it would make him filthy rich. Possibly even richer than Scrooge, though I find that hard to believe.

Unfortunately, Donald isn’t the only one with dollar signs in his eyes. At that exact moment, a member of Pete’s Gang just so happened to be spying through the window and saw the whole thing. As Donald headed home with the map, Pete’s Gang started to chase after him, but they were ultimately done in by an open manhole, allowing Donald to made it home none the wiser.

Once home, Donald grabbed his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and together the took off in their plane to start their treasure hunt. Just then, Daisy shows up demanding answers, they were supposed to be home for dinner an hour ago. But there’s no time for dinner now, not when there’s treasure on the line.

They left daisy behind to be as mad as she wanted to be, but she wasn’t the only one watching that plane fly away. Moments later, Pete and his gang had their own planes in the air following after Donald and that treasure map.

With the story out of the way, we are presented with the World Map and given our choice of destinations. As of right now, we have no clues, so we really have no incentive NOT to start in the default location of Duckburg. So the kids, apparently together acting as the pilot, drop Donald off and fly away until he needs them again.

First things first, the sprite work in this game is just gorgeous. Exactly what you would expect from a Disney game. Onto the gameplay itself, we have a somewhat typical action platformer game. It is surprisingly non-violent though, with Donald using a Plunger Gun which only stuns the enemies. But then in a dark turn, the enemies occasionally dropped whole chickens which will restore Donald’s health. Don’t get me wrong, whole chickens are a very common item to find in older games. But when the main character is a duck, you start edging into implied cannibalism.

In addition to eating his own kind, Donald can occasionally find Hot Peppers scattered about the world. Collecting these will increase Donald’s Temper Gauge. Once full, Donald will go into a full blown rage, running forward out of control and completely invincible.

By the time Donald calms down, we’ve already made it to the end of the stage where we’re informed we need to find a way to climb walls. Clearly we must have missed something while Donald was in his rage, so we start backtracking through the stage looking for what we missed.

We manage to make it all the way back to the start of the level, and we didn’t find anything new. So I don’t understand what we’re supposed to do now. We just started the game, how are we already this stuck? The only thing we’re doing now is taking damage and needlessly draining our health.

After finding a scan of the instruction manual online, I figured out what I was doing wrong. At the end of the stage, Donald planted down a green flag. When we’re standing near it, we can actually call the boys back with the plane from the item menu and then travel to a different location. So I guess we’re going to be doing quite a bit of back tracking in this game.

We still don’t have any real clues what to do next, so how about we just head off to the next location of Mexico. The scenery changed, but so far the gameplay hasn’t. All we have to do is make it to the far side of the stage. Nothing too hard yet.

There are of course a few minor changes. We encounter new enemies, like these cactus monsters. They’ll explode into flying cactus bits if we get too close to them, so we need to stun them quickly. We also encounter some quicksand, but it’s hardly a threat. Just keep moving and we get right out of it.

Mexico does have one major change compared to Duckburg though, it has more than one screen to the level. It is in this next stage that some new obstacles start coming our way. First of which is a large number of bottomless pits to jump over. Following that, we come across some poorly placed dynamite plungers that send explosions all across the ground.

Death Count: 01

However, it is the moving platforms that end up causing the first death of the game. We had the unfortunate timing to have a beehive dropped on Donald’s head just as he landed on a platform. During his damage animation, the platform simply moved on without him, sending him falling into the pit below. But we don’t let that stop us. After that minor setback we finish the stage and are informed that now we also need to find special key to enter the Ruins.

We’re told that someone had taken the key back to Duckburg. However, we already know we’ve hit a dead end back in Duckburg, so we might as well keep moving forward to Transylvania instead.

Death Count: 02

As you might expect, Transylvania is a much spookier environment than we’ve encountered before. There are some new enemies like these little bats, and there are new dangers like these waterfalls. Unlike the quicksand in Mexico, these waterfalls will kill Donald instantly, so they are to be avoided at all costs.

Death Count: 04

The general layout of the level admittedly isn’t very difficult. However, my lack of focus caused us to miss a couple of jumps and fall right into the water. After a couple of these, we end up with our first Game Over.

Thankfully, this game offers unlimited continues. We lose a little progress, but otherwise we are simply sent back to the world map and need to start the Transylvania section over again.

Our next attempt at the level goes much better. As it turns out, we were practically at the end already when we got that game over. Obviously, a trip through Transylvania would end at Dracula’s castle. However, unlike the other sections, we can actually enter the castle. Or so I thought. Just a few feet inside and we are stopped by a ghost which informs us we can’t pass unless we have a way to blow up walls, which we currently don’t. So wonderful, 3 location choices and all of them dead ends.

The only clue we’ve been given so far is that the Hero Key is back in Duckburg, so we head back there first. Thankfully the boys are smart enough to drop Donald off at the end of the level, so we don’t have to do all that again. Even better, the person at the end of the stage just so happens to have the Hero Key on him! He’ll only turn it over if we are a hero though. Is Donald a hero? OF COURSE HE IS! What is more heroic than risking your life for treasure to give to the poor? …What? …Donald is poor… Compared to Scrooge everyone is poor…

Now that we have the Hero Key, we call the kids back and we return to Mexico. After using the key on the door, the temple opens right up for us. I wonder what we’ll find inside.

What we find is a maze guarded by living fireballs. I didn’t notice it while playing, but when taking the screenshots, it actually looks like they might be flaming skulls. They move in predictable patterns though, so we just need to proceed carefully.

It is in this temple that we learn another of the mechanics of the game. At one point the only path forward is about half a block too low for Donald to actually walk under. It would be amazing for no one to have noticed this during play testing, so there must be another way through here. And of course there is. If we crouch down, and then hit the jump button, Donald will actually do a short belly slide across the ground. We need to do a few of these to make it all the way through, but now we know for the future.

After this, we have a little bit of trouble climbing a rather steep passageway. The platforms are simply too far apart for Donald to jump between them. You would think being a duck would allow him to fly, but for some reason he has never shown to have that ability. Instead, we need to stun the various Thwomp-like enemies and use them as stepping stones to make our way up.

Shortly after, we come to the end of the maze and find Goofy just kind of standing there. What the heck is Goofy doing in the center of an ancient Aztec Temple? Apparently even he doesn’t know why he’s here. He was just looking around, and randomly found his way here. He did find a note on the ground though, if we want it.

He also mentions that he found a funny plunger thing. If we shoot it at walls it will help us reach high places. So this must be an upgrade to our plunger gun that will allow us to climb walls.

Finally, he tells us that Gyro back in Duckburg is looking for us. Not sure how Goofy trapped here in an Aztec Temple knew about that, but ok. Either way, we now have exactly what we need to continue deeper into Duckburg, so it’s time to get out of here.

Death Count: 05

Unfortunately, there is no quick way out of the temple. We have to backtrack through the entire thing. My impatience with that design choice actually cost us a life, nearly 2, but we do eventually make it back out.

With our new red plunger, we can now use the plunger handles as platforms to climb walls. Sadly, they don’t appear to be any stronger than our old plungers. Case in point, these damn turtles. If they hide in their shells, the plunger can’t hurt them, it just bounces off their shell. That would be fine if they weren’t positioned in a narrow passageway with no way around them. They also don’t like to ever come out of their shells if we’re too close to them, so they can be very frustrating.

Death Count: 06

I also feel I need to comment on the fact that, despite this being a city with buildings that are clearly built on the ground, there are still bottomless pits positioned between some of the buildings. I would accept this as a death by falling, if it weren’t for the fact that we manually climbed up these buildings just a second ago. We’re only maybe on the 3rd floor, and we actually can, if we choose, jump down to the ground rather than use the ladder once we make it to the other side of this same building. There is no reason for bottomless pits here.

Death Count: 08

Of course, that offense is minor in comparison to the next part of the level. In it, Donald must hold onto a pulley as it rides along the telephone wires. At various points there will be dangerous obstacles and Donald will be forced to jump off to another pulley, or risk falling to his death.

Death Count: 10

It takes us a few tries, but we eventually make it safely across the telephone wires. Waiting for us on the other side is Gyro. He has invented a new type of ammo for our gun, Bubblegum, which when shot from our gun will actually make Exploding Bubbles. With this, we can head back to Transylvania and blow up those walls that were blocking our path.

Before that though, we need to get back to the checkpoint to call the plane. Just like in the Temple, we are going to have to physically travel all the way back to the checkpoint. However, unlike the temple, there is actually a convenient, safe path back this time. Well, part of the way at least. We still have to jump across the building tops, but at least there is a single pulley we can ride the whole way back across the telephone lines.

Once we get back to Dracula’s Castle, that same ghost shows up again to remind us that we need to blow up the wall. Of course, it also questions why we came here in the first place. It’s so scary here. As it turns out, Count Dracula just so happens to have the treasure map we need here in the castle! Though, the ghost doesn’t think the count will be willing to part with it easily…

No point in standing around wondering though. As soon as the ghost vanishes, we switch to our new Bubblegum ammo and blast away this wall. I do want to note that the bubblegum ammo is somewhat annoying to shoot, and best used at point blank range. Standing right up against the first section of wall, I was able to blast away all 3 blocks. However, the next shot from a distance allowed the bubble to bounce a bit as it drifted through the air, and so it only destroyed the top two blocks.

Now that we’re actually exploring the castle, we have to keep an eye out for any new threats we might encounter. Right away a fairly obvious one shows up. That ghost at the entrance wasn’t alone, and some of his buddies show up throughout the castle. Unfortunately, our Plunger Gun just passes right though them. They are ghosts after all. So all we can do is try to avoid them as much as possible. On the plus side, they don’t follow Donald around or anything, they just kind of lazily drift through the air. So avoiding them isn’t much of a problem.

Then, once we get past the spirits of the dead, their skeletal remains climb out of their caskets to attack us as well. Thankfully these guys can be stunned with the plunger gun, so they don’t pose much of a threat. Also, they are very helpful in showing us where to go next. This section of the castle just kind of ends with an invisible wall. If the skeletons hadn’t fallen down the hole, I would have thought the stage was broken.

Death Count: 11

Maybe we shouldn’t have followed them though, because down the hole leads to a horrible water section. Apparently Dracula has some bad plumbing and his whole basement has flooded. And of course, Donald can’t actually swim, he just moves slowly through the water. Seriously Donald, you can’t fly, you can’t swim, you eat chicken, what kind of duck are you?!

Death Count: 12

Somehow we manage to make it through the spikes and wrecking balls swinging around down here in the water and make it to the other side, and we only died one more time in the process. Now we just need to climb this wall because Donald certainly isn’t going to SWIM up to the surface…

When we emerged, we find ourselves in a long hallway chasing after a rather large ghost. He paid us no attention and simply drifted away from us whenever we got close, so I assumed he was leading us somewhere. Oh how wrong I was. After a little while of following him, he suddenly got a big grin on his face and exploded into a swarm of smaller ghosts just to mess with us!

His trick does tell us one thing though, we’re definitely not supposed to follow him anywhere. So it looks like we’ll have to find our own way out. Thankfully, some of the blocks are a different color, which makes me think to shoot them with the Bubblegum Ammo. That was exactly what we needed to do, as one of the blocks turns into an elevator to carry us up to an otherwise inaccessible door.

We’re not safe yet though. Through that door is just another long hallway full of ghosts. After that, there is a massive wall he need to climb. That would be bad enough on its own, but a sudden loud rumble tells me we’re in for another surprise. Turns out the wall next to us is closing in fast and will crush Donald like a bug if he doesn’t make it to the top in time!

Donald climbs fast enough to avoid being crushed, but now we’re stuck following that big ghost again. Thankfully we learned from last time and keep an eye out for a hidden door above the hallway.

Death Count: 13

Unfortunately, this door brings us RIGHT into Dracula’s Chambers. With very little health left, Donald dies almost before we even knew what was happening. Good thing we still have plenty of lives left. Time to fight Dracula, which is easier said than done. He is constantly sending waves of bats flying out of his cloak which protect him from our attacks.

We quickly see a new strategy that might just do the trick. Dracula is flying so high that we can simply stand directly under him and shoot him in the ass. From here, the bats barely pose a problem to us. We can start shooting Dracula before he has a chance to summon them, and even when he does, they mostly just fly away from us.

Doing this, it doesn’t take long before Count Dracula is defeated, and Donald claims the real treasure map for himself. Once defeated, the door to the room opens, and we can head back out of the castle to our next destination. This time, for once, the level is nice and drops us off right at the castle entrance. I don’t know that I would keep playing if it made me trek all the way back through the castle again.

Now that we have the REAL treasure map, there are several new locations opened up on the map. A Viking Ship to the north, Egypt, Maharajah in India, and then the South Pole. Much like before, we really don’t have any clues yet about which order we should visit these places in, so we just head to the Viking Ship and decide to start from there. The ship has obviously seen better days, but somehow there are still living Vikings defending it.

With the deck full of angry Vikings, we eventually seek safety up in the sails. Unfortunately, it looks like Pete’s Gang has beaten us to the ship and is likewise hiding up here already. No matter, the whole ship is falling apart below our feet anyway. They’ll probably fall soon as well.

Somehow we make it through the ship safely and manage to find the captain of the ship. Unfortunately, he is currently captain in name only. Apparently ghosts have taken over the ship and he is currently powerless to stop them. If we can help him get his ship back, he will hand over a diary that will help us find the Duck Treasure.

Well, how can we pass up an opportunity like that? All we have to do is go inside the ship and clear out all the ghosts. Problem is, we can’t get inside the ship right now. The hatch is locked and we don’t have the key. Even if we did get inside, I’m not sure we have any way to actually get rid of the ghosts either…

I guess that’s a dead end for now. Might as well call the kids and head off to the next location. We still don’t have any clues, so let’s see what we find in Egypt. What we find is more of Pete’s Gang already 2 steps ahead of us.

Death Count: 14

They’ve even managed to somehow learn to swim in quicksand! With surprises like that, it was only a matter of time before Donald was done in. On the plus side, many of them drop hot peppers when we stun them. After a few of those Donald can just go on one of his rages and run straight through most of the stage.

Egypt ended up being an incredibly short stage, at the end of which is a locked door. This time, we don’t even get a clue about what would open it. So this is a complete dead end. Might as well call the kids…

From Egypt, we hop over to the Maharajah and are immediately swarmed with enemies. At times, it’s a good thing Donald has such a short temper. One of his rages was just what we needed to rush through the early parts of this stage.

We quickly make our way to the Palace, and for once we aren’t turned away. Instead we are offered a challenge. If we can defeat the Tiger in the Garden, we will be rewarded with a Sphinx Tear. We’ve never heard of the Sphinx Tear, but that sounds like it might be what we need to get through that door back in Egypt. So of course, we accept the challenge.

Just hearing that we need to fight a tiger, we already knew we would be in for a difficult challenge. However, we didn’t expect that challenge to include FINDING the tiger. Unlike the previous areas, the inside of the palace is a literal maze of doors going from room to room and looping back to the beginning.

Of course, this task is made all the more difficult by the variety of enemies lurking around the halls. The worst of which has to be the snake charmers. If Donald so much as hears the music, he will be frozen in a trance. Then the snake will slither out of the basket and attack Donald before he can snap out of it.

There are maybe 20 doors in the palace, so we resign ourselves to having to check every single one of them. FINALLY we manage to find the door leading to the Garden and the Tiger. Unfortunately, we have no idea what we’re supposed to do about it. Not only do the plungers pass right through it, but for some reason this tiger is capable of breathing fire. What they hell kind of tiger is that?

Death Count: 15

We try the Bubble Gun, and that also causes no damage. As a last resort we switch to the Popcorn Gun which we’ve so far never used. Apparently this shoots out a shotgun like blast of popcorn in a wide arc. This actually does seem to cause some damage to the Tiger. However, we don’t have nearly enough ammo to expect to win the fight that way. Not that it matters because we also have nowhere near enough health to survive the fight either.

Death Count: 17

When the battle restarts, we are still down to only a single shot with the Popcorn Gun since it takes 5 kernels per shot. When that runs out we’re left helplessly firing plungers at the beast with no effect at all. All we manage to do is run around while it slowly kills us…

Once the game continues, we now have another problem. Yes we managed to find the door, but I can’t remember what sequence of doors it was that actually brought us there. It takes us a while, but we finally figure it out. From the palace entrance, we need to jump down and go in the first door we see. From there, we need to head to the right, and straight into the door with a 5 over it.

In the next room, we need to ignore the first door we see. Instead we need to climb the wall and belly slide to the door hidden away behind the small opening.

Finally, we need to get past the snake charmers and head all the way to the right. There is a small passageway that Donald needs to belly slide through. If we send Donald all the way down this hall, the door there will just start the loop over. Instead we need to get him to stop in the opening about half way through. This is the door that leads to the Tiger!

After a bit of luck, we finally manage to land a hit on the Tiger. Apparently we can only damage it if we manage to shot it in the back of the head. Since it’s usually facing us that is a rather difficult task. However, there is an opening. When the Tiger jumps around the room, we need to be quick and shoot it before it manages to land. If we keep firing as fast as we can, we can actually land a few shots all at once.

Death Count: 18

Unfortunately, the Tiger is craftier than we gave it credit for. We thought it would be safe to stand underneath it when it jumped to the upper ledges. We were very wrong. Apparently this tiger, in addition to breathing fire, can actually control the path of the flames with its mind, bending it around the floor to attack Donald below…

Death Count: 19

In fact, it can ever transform the flames into a pride of little fire tigers that run across the ground. As it turns out, dead center in the room is just about the safest spot to be. From this relatively safe spot, we manage to get in our attacks when the tiger jumped down, and eventually it was defeated!

True to his word, the prince hands over the Sphinx Tear now that we’ve managed to defeat that tiger. Maybe now we can head back to Egypt and see what’s inside that temple.

Death Count: 20

Before that though, I figured we might as well check out our last location first. And so, we head our plane all the way down to the South Pole. As you would expect, the whole area is coated in ice and Donald will be sliding a bit with every step. However, that isn’t what annoys me the most about this area. What really annoys me is the fact that the whole area has so many extremely steep hills, and it’s so hard to hit the penguins when they slide down them.

Thankfully, the South Pole is an extremely short stage. After just a few hills, we find a key frozen in a block of ice. No doubt that’s the key to the Viking Ship. But how are we going to get it out? I guess we’ll just have to come back later.

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.


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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.


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.

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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.


Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (Genesis)

We’re back yet again with another Looney Tunes video game. I can’t really blame game companies for making so many different games for the franchise. There are just so many fun characters to play as, and just as many fun villains to be fighting against. Not only that, but thanks to the shared universe you could have any combination of the characters show up in just about any game. There is however one odd pair in the whole Looney Tunes universe, even compared to all the other odd characters. This pair rarely interacts with the rest of the characters and instead is mostly off doing their own thing out in the desert. I’m of course talking of the Speedy Road Runner, and the self proclaimed “Super Genius” Wile E. Coyote.

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Honestly, this pair feels like they would work so perfectly together in a video game. Playing as Wile E. Coyote you get to experience all his hardships while trying to catch the Road Runner. You’ll get to use all his different Acme products, and hopefully try to avoid having them backfire on you. Then there’s the option of playing as the Road Runner, speeding away at the last second and watching as Wile E. Coyote’s plans fall apart. That’s exactly the type of game we’re going to be looking at today, because it just so happens Desert Demolition lets you play through the entire game as either one of the characters. So let’s open up those Acme product catalogues and head out to the desert to see what trouble we can get into.

Gameplay (Wile E. Coyote)

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Playing as Wile E. Coyote, the game drops you right in the middle of the desert, exactly as you’d probably expect. Of course, you’ll be chasing after the Road Runner, and due to its speed and maneuverability, you’ll more often than not fail to capture it.

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However, even when you do manage to capture the speedy bird, your reward is lackluster to say the least. Rather than being some great victory for the coyote, the Road Runner simply explodes into a cloud of bonus points and extra time.

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Even if catching the Road Runner isn’t a hugely important facet of the game, getting to use all the different Acme products is still quite fun. Of course this first level starts you out with one of the most recognizable of the coyote’s toys, the rocket skates. These babies send you flying through the desert just as quickly and just as uncontrollable as you would expect them to, and they are just a joy to play with.

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Since the main goal of the game isn’t actually to catch the Road Runner, you’re only real goal boils down to simply reaching the exit at the end of the stage. In itself this is a very easy feat to accomplish, simply continue to the right while avoiding all the random dangers that fill each stage.

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As you play, you’ll constantly be changing locations between levels. One level you’ll be out in the desert where we started, the next you’ll be chasing the Road Runner through a small town. All the while you’ll be finding new inventions to help you along the way, like the helmet unicycle thing. Honestly, who would ever think that was a good idea?

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Beyond the town, you’ll chase the Road Runner across a moving train full of dangers. There’s no fear of falling off the side of the train, but you might just accidentally blow yourself up with one of the many explosive barrels sitting around.

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From there, the pair finds their way into an old abandoned mine. This level feels a bit out of place for me. I can’t think of a single time when they were ever in an old mine. The coyote also seems especially uncomfortable trying to use that jackhammer to break apart the rocks.

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He seems a bit more comfortable outside on the cliff sides. Here he can happily fly around in another of his more famous acme products, the wing suit. If only wing suits worked as well in real life as they do for the coyote. Just be careful or you might find yourself falling painfully back down to earth.

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Through our travels we’ve been slowly but surely making our way straight towards the Acme factory. Inside, the Road Runner has quite the nasty treat in store for us. He has hijacked one of the construction vehicles in the factory and is threatening to run poor Wile E over.

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Thankfully, safety has clearly never been a top priority for the Acme Company. As such they have explosive barrels already lined up and ready to be dropped at the flip of a switch. Drop a few bombs on the Road Runner’s vehicle and it will soon be disabled for good.

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For stopping the Road Runner, and presumably for using so many of their products, Wile E. Coyote is invited to an Acme Corporation staff meeting where he is awarded the Customer of the Year Award. Congratulations Wile E., you’ve won your award and beaten the game.

Gameplay (Road Runner)

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Playing as the Road Runner is slightly different than it is for the coyote. For starters, you’re now the prey instead of the hunter, so there actually is an enemy this time around to be concerned with. Also, as the Road Runner, most of the gameplay will be spent simply speeding through the levels as fast as you can since there’s no point in sightseeing with Wile E. hot on your tail.

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While you do play through the same levels as before, they appear to have been altered slightly to make them more accessible to the Road Runner. For example, many of the levels have speed boosts which allow the Road Runner to run up walls and even upside down through giant loops.

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Playing as the Road Runner does feel significantly harder than playing as the coyote. This is due in no small part to the Wile E’s apparent ability to teleport around the stage. All the Acme crates that you used to be able to jump into are now potential traps hiding a coyote ready to jump out at you.

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While that change should seem pretty obvious, there is one other change that makes playing as the Road Runner harder, and that is in regard to restoring your health. As the coyote you could simply collect a bottle of water and you’d be healthy again. As the Road Runner however it’s a bit trickier. You need to find one of the random piles of bird seed which are both harder to spot and seemingly less common. Then you have to actually stop and eat it as opposed to simply collecting it.

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Death Count: 2

Even with this added difficulty, the game as a whole is still fairly easy. Before long you’ll be speeding across the train. Then you’ll be navigating your way through the abandoned mine. Eventually you’ll be running up walls in the canyon, and finally find your way straight into the Acme Corporation factory.

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Inside is virtually the same boss battle as when you played as Wile E. Coyote, just with the roles reversed. This time Wile E. is driving the truck while you as the Road Runner drop bombs on him. The same basic strategy still applies though. Pull the levers to drop the bombs on the truck, and eventually the truck will break.

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Once again, completion of the game will bring you into the Acme Corporation board meeting. However, in a twist I never expected, the Road Runner is not awarded “Customer of the Year” like Wile E. was. Instead it’s reveled that the Road Runner is actually the Acme Corporation President. This revelation explains a lot about why the inventions never work as intended. Unfortunately this news was too much for Poor Wile E. Coyote, and he opts to jump out the window to his death.


Gameplay – 7 / 10

The gameplay can be summed up pretty easily as “Fun but short”. Playing as Wile E. Coyote is exactly the fun you would expect. You get to use a variety of very memorable Acme Products in your quest to catch the Road Runner. Unfortunately, Catching the Road Runner in and of itself isn’t much of an accomplishment. This I felt was a real shame since that was the whole point of the cartoons. Also with only a small handful of levels and a very tight time limit, there isn’t a whole lot to do in the game. That’s made even more obvious when you play as the Road Runner. You speed through the levels so fast you don’t really get to see anything.

Graphics – 7 / 10

Graphically I’m a bit torn with this game. Both the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are animated perfectly. You can tell the artists really studied the cartoons to get the mannerisms just right for all their actions. The environments as well were well animated in the style of the show. However they made a lot of odd shading choices. Perhaps it looked better back on the old tube TVs where the colors would blend together. But on a modern system where you can see ever pixel clearly, you notice that everything have a distinct striped pattern to it which I feel takes away from the appeal of the graphics, if only slightly.

Audio – 5 / 10

The audio in the game is ok, but it suffers from a quirk seemingly all Looney Tunes games have, that being that the music is directly related to your actions. When you’re standing still, the game is virtually silent. That’s not much of a problem since you shouldn’t be just standing around,but even when walking it’s hard to call the audio “background music”. It’s really more like white noise. Granted the audio fits with the action on screen, but the lack of a good soundtrack is definitely missed.

Story – N/A

I’m giving the game a pass for not having a story, simply because the shows never really had a story either. As Wile E. Coyote, you want to catch the Road Runner so you can eat it. As the Road Runner, you want simply not to be eaten. There never really was much else to know about what was going on.

Total Playtime – 0h 34m (Combined Time)

Even with two characters to play as, the whole game barely breaks a half hour. Wile E. Coyote’s gameplay took a little bit longer, maybe 20 of the 34 minutes, but ultimately neither was very long. It would have been fun to explore more since the levels are fairly expansive. However the ticking clock at the bottom of the screen makes that difficult.

Total Deaths – 2 Deaths (Both as the Road Runner)

The game as a whole is by no means a hard game. Playing as the Coyote I didn’t die a single time. Playing as the Road Runner is somewhat harder, but it’s still not a huge challenge. There are options to make the game harder or easier, but these changes don’t amount to much. They make the opponent AI a little smarter or dumber respectively, and maybe change some of the time limits. But the levels themselves don’t change any.

Overall Score – 6.5 / 10

I have always liked this game, ever since I was a kid. The gameplay for the most part is fun, and the game’s only real fault is being too short. I would however like to point out the difficulty involved with the final boss. Like the rest of the game, it’s not overly difficult, there’s just no build up to it. Most games would spend the levels training you so you know what to do by the time you reach the boss. This game however just throws you in the middle of it and wishes you the best. Had I not played this game numerous times as a child, I could imagine not having a clue what to do at the end. But that has never stopped me from greatly enjoying the game. Obviously playing as Wile E. Coyote is significantly more fun than playing as the Road Runner. Just that thrill of getting to play with all the different Acme Products you remembered seeing from the show and hoping you can handle them better than Wile E. ever could. Honestly if you’re a fan of the show, you should really check the game out. It’s very short, but it’s also a lot of fun.

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Bye bye Wile E Coyote. You will be missed!


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I hope you enjoyed Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (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.


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?


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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.


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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Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators (Genesis)

It wasn’t so long ago that every major corporation wanted to have their own videogame to draw in some extra cash from the growing market. I’ve already played one of the Cheetos games based off their mascot Chester Cheetah, and I’ve had my eye on 7-Up’s Cool Spot games since they always looked fun. But today we’re going to be playing a game from one of the biggest chains in the world, McDonald’s. Specifically the Sega Genesis game Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators.

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Unlike some of the other corporately licensed games, Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators wasn’t just a big marketing tool for the brand. Instead it tried to spearhead the image that McDonald’s cared about the environment, hence the “Global Gladiators” portion of the name. That’s right, this is an environmentalist game, technically. Not that that the message really matters, or even got through sometimes, but more on that below. Truth be told, I actually owned this game as part of my small genesis collection growing up, and I remember rarely playing it due to it being nearly impossibly hard. Maybe I was just bad at it back then, not that I’ve improved much as a gamer in the interim. Still, this is one of those games that has always been on my “To Beat” list, and its number has finally come up. So join me as we protect the world with the help of good old Ronald McDonald.


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One day, Mick and Mack were out eating at McDonald’s while reading a comic book about the “Global Gladiators”.

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Then out of nowhere, Ronald McDonald magically shows up. Without any explanation, Ronald uses his magic powers to throw the unsuspecting children straight into the comic book they were just reading. And so begins our story.

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Before starting the game proper, I want to point out the recycling mini game, mostly because this is where I spent most of my time playing when I was a kid. It’s a simple game, trash will rain down from the sky and you have to sort it into the correct recycling bin. As some kind of sick joke, there will also be anvils that occasionally fall from the sky as well. I remember loving this part of the game, but I don’t remember it being so hard. The game ends if you don’t almost instantly sort the garbage. If there are ever even just 2 pieces of trash on the ground, you lose.

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But enough about the mini game, onward to the real game. There isn’t really a whole lot of explanation about what’s going on. You start out in a slime world armed with a super soaker full of what I always assumed was mustard. You’ll run around shooting everything in sight and that’s pretty much all you know at this point.

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There are a ton of enemies in this game, most of which shoot projectiles at you. It can honestly feel a bit overwhelming at times. As if you’re in a bullet hell shooter instead of the action platformer that game really is.

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The playfield is also really big for the time with tons of branching paths to choose from to make it to your goal. There are also tons of secrets and collectables like health and extra lives. Not only that, but there are tons of invisible platforms scattered around leading to even more fun secrets.

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In the end, the main objective is very simplistic. All you need to do is make it to the far right of the stage to find Ronald McDonald waiting there for you. Of course, he won’t let you finish the level unless you’ve managed to collect at least 30 of the McDonald’s Arches scattered throughout the stage. I’ve never collected them all, but the counter in the bottom right goes up to 3 digits, so I’m guessing there are at least 100 in each stage. The point being that these are so common that even the slightest bit of effort towards collecting them will reward you with at least 30 before the end of the stage.

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Anyway, make it to the goal and Ronald will carry you away to Slime World 2, which is exactly like Slime World 1, just kind of brown instead of green. The goal remains the same, collect 30 arches, find Ronald, and beg him to let you go back home and finish your meal in peace because you never asked for this.

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But of course he doesn’t listen to your request and instead sends you off to Slime World 3 to do the whole thing all over again. At least the color returned to green, that brown wasn’t very appealing. In any case that’s how this game is going to progress. There are 4 areas each with 3 stages and very little variance in gameplay.

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When you finally manage to escape Slime World, you’ll be brought to the Mystical Forest. Maybe it was just me, but this area made me question the environmentalist message the game was trying to make. Sure, there are some living axes you can destroy, but they’re kind of rarity in these stages.

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Instead the most common enemies you’ll be facing are beavers which are constantly throwing chunks of wood at you. I mean, I guess beavers cut down trees, and an beaver population of this size could understandably do some serious damage to the local environment. But still, I would think you would want to protect the animals anyway.

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Ethics aside, I found the forest to be the hardest section of the game and I think my death count proves that. It wasn’t even the constant barrage of projectiles that made it hard either, it was deceptive traps in the environment. For example, there are a lot of waterfalls in these areas which act as instant death pits. Admittedly, I should know better at this point in my life, but they didn’t look like a threat to me. The water is barely flowing over it, and I can clearly see ground under the water. It’s a very low volume stream that a child should be able to walk through and it just didn’t look like a problem to me.

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I’ll take responsibility for not knowing waterfalls are dangerous. However, this next thing I just can’t brush off. Many of the trees in the area come to a point at the top. Most likely from the beavers chewing on them, which is understandable. However, I can’t accept the fact that these are treated as instant death spikes. They aren’t sharpened spears that could impale little Mack, they are 5 foot around tree trunks. There’s simply no possible way touching a tree trunk like that would kill someone.

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Before we move on from the forest, I just want to point out one last thing. The fish in this area are crazy. A lot of times they’ll just jump up out of the water to make the jumps a little harder. But occasionally they’ll actually come up on the land and start walking around after you. And just look at them. They look like they have giant dentures or something. I just find them really comical and they actually helped to make this area a lot more fun.

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Having murdered every furry little creature in the Mystical Forest, we set our sights on the big city of Toxitown. I can’t help but feel relieved to finally be out of the forest. Toxicity is obviously over flowing with enemies, possibly even more so than the forest was, but it somehow felt so much easier.

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You gotta love Virgin’s self promotion here

I think maybe it felt easier because the I-Beams of the construction site just feel more familiar as platforms. When climbing through the trees in the forest there were a lot of times when I would question the footing. Can I stand on this branch or not? Usually when I was wrong I’d go falling into the water and drown. But the I-Beans don’t have any of that guess work.

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Toxicity also corrects the environmental message that was almost completely absent in the last area. This time around we really are fighting pollution as we destroy living trashcans, living balls of fire, living jack hammers, and even living clouds of pollution. Together with our super soaker full of mustard, we’re really making a difference in this city.

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For all the good we did in the city, we go and ruin it when we move our adventure up to the arctic. There are tons of pipes all over the place, possibly oil pipes of some kind. And these pipes have become the homes to dozens of snow monsters. Or maybe they’re yetis of some kind, I can’t really tell. Either way they look like they’re probably bad for the environment up here in the arctic.

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But at the same time we’re also killing dozens of polar bears, and they’re already endangered as it is. Not only that, but we’re also decimating the arctic bird population. Other than penguins I’ve never even heard of any arctic birds, so they must be super endangered already. And here we are shooting them out of the air with a mustard super soaker.

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Things don’t get much better as we move inside to one of the many arctic caves. Here we get to lay waste to the rare and most certainly endangered arctic bat. At this point I can’t help but feel like the environment would have been better off without my help. It even seems to be defending itself from me now as small localized tornadoes start barreling towards young Mack.

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Venturing deep into the cave, we finally wind up at a dead end. After a leap of faith, we find ourselves face to face with a living wall of ice. No doubt this is the guardian of nature himself. We have done too much damage to the environment while trying to find our way home and now we’re going to be punished for it.

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So naturally, we end up murdering this guardian just as we did all the creatures we’ve murdered up until now. How do we do that exactly? I mean, it’s a giant face on a wall of ice. Well, you just have to do the obvious and spray mustard in its eyes. Eventually the spicy mustard will melt through to his brain and destroy the ice face.

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Only then will Ronald use his magic to bring you back to the restaurant. While it might have originally seemed like the clown had some master plan to help the environment, in the end it seems he may have just been bored and decided to entertain himself for the day by torturing two little boys.


Gameplay – 6 / 10

The game mechanics themselves work very well. Everything is very intuitive and the controls are very tight and responsive. However, there are a lot of glaring flaws that make the game very unenjoyable. For starters, there are simply too many enemies, and almost all of them have projectile attacks to just fill the screen with enemy fire. On top of that, you don’t have much if any immunity time after taking damage. So there were times I was pinned down by the enemy because I simply couldn’t break out of their attack pattern. The icing on the cake had to be the lack of bosses though. Without any bosses at the end of the areas, there’s really no sense of accomplishment with anything you’ve done in the game.

Graphics – 9 / 10

The graphics were easily the best part of the game, and probably the only reason I would occasionally play this game back as a kid. This game has some of the best sprite work I’ve seen for the system. All the characters had a lot of detail to them, and their movements were all very fluid. I’m not sure the best way to word this, but everyone had that kind of rubbery animation style to them that you might see in old Mickey Mouse cartoons, and I loved it.

Audio – 8 / 10

While none of the music was very catchy or memorable, it was still very enjoyable. It was all very high energy and fit the game perfectly. There were also a lot of well used sound effects that really held the game together.

Story – 1 / 10

Ronald shows up out of nowhere and torments 2 kids who just wanted to eat their happy meals in peace. Honestly I’m not sure what anyone was supposed to take away from this game. Nothing about it really promotes the McDonald’s brand other than Ronald being an asshole, which isn’t really a good message. Then there isn’t really much of an environmental message either since the second area has you killing whole families of beavers and the final area has you killing polar bears. Sure the slime and garbage where probably bad for the environment, but the message is kind of lost.

Total Playtime – 1h 28m

It a short game, and would have been even shorter if I wasn’t dying all the time. Honestly the difficulty of the game was only there to pad the fact that there wasn’t much of a game.

Total Deaths – 39 Deaths

I’m not sure how anyone was ever expected to beat this game with the default 4 lives and 1 continue the game gives you. There are just too many enemies on screen to survive for any length of time. Really the game’s only saving grace was the fact that enemies didn’t respawn after you died, meaning you had a clear path to get back to where you where from your last checkpoint.

Overall Score – 5 / 10

I’m glad I finally played through this game because it has been bothering me for quite some time. That being said, I won’t lose any sleep if I never play this game again for the rest of my life. It has a lot of potential to be a relatively fun game, but any potential fun is lost under the extreme difficulty. However, even if the difficulty was toned down, there isn’t enough content left to really satiate any gamer’s appetite. Even for the discount bin price it usually sells for now, I still can’t really recommend it. There are plenty of other better games you can buy.

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Oh! Of course! Those were mutant beavers and mutant polar bears. It all makes sense now!


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Altered Beast (Genesis)

Back when the Sega Genesis first launched, Sonic the Hedgehog was still a few years off. Without the Blue Blur telling people to “Go Fast”, the system was marketed more for its arcade ports. Arcade ports like the original pack in game with the system, Altered Beast. A side scrolling beat ’em up game where you play as a shape shifting Centurion warrior resurrected from the grave by the god Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena from the Demon god Neff!

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If you’ve been following me closely, you might already know that I grew up on the Genesis side of the Console wars back in the day. “Back in the day”? I’m getting old. Anyway, back then, Altered Beast blew away my tiny little mind. Making that jump the 8-Bit Nintendo to the 16-bit Genesis was like night and day. The huge sprites, the music, the action, “Sega does what Nintendon’t”! I loved this game back then, but how does it hold up now?


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“Rise from your grave!” Hear the immortal words of Zeus as he resurrects your character from the grave. This was the first snippet of videogame voice acting I ever heard and it made me so excited just to play the game. Even now it fills me with an amazing nostalgia. For the time, it is actually quite impressive. The game plays out in typical Beat ‘em up style. Enemies will come at you from either side of the screen and you need to punch and kick them to death. What’s slightly unusual is that the screen will auto scroll to the right for the whole game, forcing you to keep up with it as it moves along.

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There aren’t any collectables or weapons or anything like that to pick up in this game with the exception of a single power up. Every so often, a small pack of three headed wolves will run across the screen. If you manage to kill the blue one, it will release a spirit ball which will make you stronger. Grab it quickly or it will float away off the screen.

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The first and second spirit balls boost your power and increase your muscle mass to monstrous size. Your punches and kicks are noticeably stronger, and there’s even a glow of energy whenever you attack. The real fun however doesn’t start until you collect your 3rd spirit ball.

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After collecting the 3rd spirit ball, you will be transformed into a half man half beast of amazing, near invincible power. Each stage has a different beast transformation starting with the Werewolf. As a Werewolf you can now shoot fireballs from your hand, or even better perform a flame streak where you rush across the screen killing everything you touch. With your new found power, you’ll mow down the enemies like they aren’t even there.

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Those look like heads to me, but according to the manual they’re actually “Beads”


Soon you’ll be confronted by Neff who will then transform into the boss monster Aggar. This giant monster can spawn an infinite number of heads which it will rip off and throw at you. It’s gruesome, but amazing and the sprite was huge for the time. Just keep using the flame streak attack and you’ll soon defeat him.

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Just as quickly as you’ve won you feel cheated as Neff saps away your power, returning you to the weak human you once were. But the battle is won, and you continue on to the next stage. While the game doesn’t exactly contain a narrative, there are these images shown between each stage depicting…something. I’ll be honest, I never fully understood what I was looking at as a kid, and I still don’t fully understand these images now.

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Death Count: 1


The action continues in the dark cave as we venture ever closer to the underworld. While I love the atmosphere of this level, it also introduces some of the most annoying enemies in the game. I absolutely hate the round leeches in this level. These purple little bastards will jump high into the air and engulf your whole head, sapping away your energy as well as paralyzing you until you knock it off. The other annoying enemy is the chicken stinger. They’re not quite as annoying as the round leeches by design, more by oversight. They attack quickly, and due to the game not giving you ANY kind of temporary invincibility after a hit, this little bastard can easily kill you while you flail in frustration against an otherwise forgettable enemy.

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The game makes up for these annoyances by letting you transform into a FREAKING DRAGON! As a dragon, you can now fly around the screen shooting lightning at anything that comes near you. Not just that, but you can encase your body in an electrical field which will kill all enemies on contact. Those bastard round leeches don’t stand a chance anymore!

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Death Count: 4


Now, if you through Aggar was gross throwing heads at you, just wait until you have to face Octeyes! This plant like beast has the nerve to throw dozens of giant floating eyeballs at you. They’re very slow moving, and kind of bob in the air, more like a bubble than a projectile, making them easy to avoid or attack. Protect yourself with your electrical field, and these eyes will be popped in no time.

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Heading onward into the mountain cave, a new obstacle presents itself in the form of several bottomless pits. Not only does this lend an element of platforming to this level, it also means enemies are more likely to get the drop on you from the higher platforms. Be on your guard, or the blue wolf might just jump right over you in this level.

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Death Count: 7


Manage to gather 3 spirit balls and this round you’ll be transformed into a Werebear. As a Werebear, you have the amazing ability of stinky bear breath so bad your enemies literally turn to stone. You are also now master of the aerial body spin attack which will destroy all who come in contact with you. Considering this predates Sonic by a few years, I almost wonder if it inspired Sonics’ attacks a little.

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Inevitably, you’ll come face to face with the Moldy Snail, a giant half snail half salamander. Why the “Moldy” snail instead of literally anything else, maybe something related to his salamander half? Your guess is as good as mine. What does he do? Again, I have no idea. After jumping into his shell and scrambling up his insides with the spin attack, he’s usually dead before he even knows what happened.

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Talk about a strong left hook

Death Count: 13


We’ve arrived at the gates of the underworld, but passing through will be possible the hardest of all the challenges. This stage felt short even in comparison to the other already very short stages. That just means the enemies are going to be coming faster and hitting harder than ever before.

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Death Count: 18


It also means you’ll have to be on the top of your game if you want to transform into the Weretiger. It’s very similar to the werewolf from the first level. The differences are that the fireball bobs up and down as it travels. Also instead of the rush style flame streak, you instead have a “pillar of fire” vertical attack.

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This is the face of true evil!!!

Death Count: 31


It may not be the final boss, but in my opinion the Crocodile Worm is the hardest of all the bosses, even harder than the final boss. That’s because it’s the only one that does touch damage when doing your special attack. You can’t just attack like crazy like with the other bosses, you actually have to time and aim your attacks to simply graze him instead. He’s not going to make that easy either. When he’s not blasting fire across the screen, he’s making small fire dragons to chase you down. Once you get a good rhythm going, he’ll go down just like the others.

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Death Count: 34


Welcome to the underworld, home of new fast hitting enemies like the Gory Goat and Dark Unicorn. They both have great speed and reach, making them rather difficult to deal with. They really make this feel worthy of the final stage. What’s not quite as worthy is the fact that your final transformation is the same as your first. Was it really so much to ask for them to not repeat the same transformations? There are only 5 levels, they could have thought of SOMETHING else for the final stage.

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Neff finally shows his true form this time around as he transform into a Wererhino. His attacks are very patterned. All he does is charge back and forth across the screen. Meet him head on with the golden arrow rush attack and you’ll show him what happens when you kidnap the daughter of Zeus!

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With Neff defeated, Athena is safe at last. I hear the arcade version shows the characters removing their costumes, revealing the whole game to have been simply a stage performance. Sadly, there is no such wrap up in the Genesis version. You win, the end.

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The only kind of fun thing left for you after your victory is the fact that you still control your character during the credits and can have some fun attacking them.



Gameplay – 7 / 10

The controls are simple enough for a beat ’em up game. Everything is really tight and responsive. The one fault is the lack of any temporary immunity after taking a hit. There were several times when a weak enemy hit me and just kept hitting me until I died. That’s really the only thing I can think of that annoyed me, but it was so annoying it brought the score down quite a bit.

Graphics – 10 / 10

The sprites are huge, especially the bosses. Add in the parallax scrolling with the background and the graphics can’t get much better for the time. The transformation sequences in particular have always been impressive for the generation, and they’re still amazing even now. Really there’s nothing I can think of graphically to fault. Everything was amazing.

Audio – 10 / 10

The audio has always been one of my favorite parts of the game. Voice acting has become so common place now that it’s hard to even remember a time when those “Rise from your grave” and “Welcome to your doom” sound bites were mind blowing. I still get chills hearing them now. Then the music is so unique. It manages to fit the action of a beat ‘em up while still maintaining a gothic pipe organ sound. Then when you transform the music picks up to an amazing new faster pace soundtrack. Again, I can’t think of anything to fault with the audio.

Story – 4 / 10

The story as described in the manual is somewhere between good and average. But I dropped the score mostly because none of the story is really shown in game. There are those pictures between stages that I guess show something story related. But even now I can’t really tell what the hell is going on in them. But it’s not really that important for there not to be a strong in a beat em up, so it doesn’t really matter.

Total Playtime – 0h 46m

It’s an arcade port, so the short game length is somewhat understandable. But even for an arcade port it’s kind of a short game, especially considering it would be even shorter if I was a better player. But it’s a fun game every time I play it, so it does have pretty good replay value.

Total Deaths – 34 Deaths

The 4th stage boss took me forever to find a good plan of attack. 24 of those deaths were from that damn Crocodile Worm. Luckily, when you die and get a game over you can hold down the A button while hitting start on the menu screen to start at the level you left off on. I so wish I knew about that back when I was younger. It’s not like it’s a secret either, it’s right there in the manual if you ever bother to read it.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

I’m probably adding a point or two simply for nostalgia, but I’ve always loved this game, and I still love it now. The graphics and music really hold this one together, but that invincible feeling you get after transforming is what keeps you playing. Sure it’s a short game and it’s clearly lacking in story, but if you’re playing a beat ‘em up for the story, you need to reevaluate your life choices. In the end it’s a fun arcade style game that you’ll be sure to come back to.

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you will haunt my dreams you floating bastard!


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I hope you enjoyed Altered Beast. 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.


Disney’s Aladdin (Genesis)

If I remember right, Aladdin was the first Disney movie I saw in theaters. At the time, it was probably my favorite movie. It’s still ranked highly among my favorites, and for good reason. It won several awards and was nominated for a dozen others. It also can’t be understated that Robin Williams as the genie really made the movie as great as it is.

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When the games came out, there were several different versions, depending on which system it was released on. Since I’ve never played any of them before, I chose to play the Sega Genesis version. It’s partly because I grew up with the Genesis instead of the SNES, but also because the Genesis version actually had Disney staff members on hand to draw everything, which were then converted to sprites for the game. I just felt the version with actual Disney involvement must be the better version. Let’s see if I was right.


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The game starts in the Agrabah Market. Right from the start the graphics are amazing. Aladdin looks like he’s pulled right from the movie. All the animations are just so fluid and very expressive. One curiosity though is that they gave Aladdin a sword. I mean, I guess it makes sense. He needs to defend himself in an action game, but it’s still a bit of an oddity, especially since he also throws apples which do nearly as much damage as the sword.

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Exploring Agrabah Market boils down to the basic platformer goal of “make it to the end”. While that’s not particularly innovative, the level design and enemies keep it interesting. There’s a few different guards taken right from the movie, as well as the sword juggling street performer, which I thought was a nice touch.

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While the levels are mostly linear, there are a few spots hidden away with extra collectables. As it is, the levels are already overflowing with extra apples to throw, giant gems to buy extra lives and continues, and extra health. But there are still the Abu tokens and genies to look for. The Abu token is rare, only showing up in a few stages, but finding it allows you to play a fun little mini game. You play as Abu with a sword trying to avoid pots falling from the sky

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The genies are much more common and straight forward. For every genie you collect, you get one spin of the slot machine between levels. You can win extra apples, gems and even lives from this. Unfortunately, if you land on Jafar, not only do you not win anything that spin, but you lose all your remaining spins. I had the worst of luck with this, usually landing on Jafar on my first or second spin.

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Having escaped the palace guards, Aladdin is confronted by an old beggar and tasked with finding the cave of wonders. To do this, he’ll need to recover the two halves of the golden scarab, the first of which is lost somewhere in the desert.

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Death Count: 3


The level design for the desert was really interesting, if not a little confusing. A large part of the level actually takes place in what seems to be an ancient ruin rather than just a vast expanse of otherwise empty desert. However, there are a frighteningly high number of large bones lying around. There are also these weird spikes that rise up and down from under the sand. I can honestly say I have no idea what they’re supposed to be.

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There are a few fun Disney easter eggs that I noticed scattered around the level. Things like Mickey ears hanging to dry with the rest of the laundry. There’s also Goofy’s face carved into a pillar in the ancient ruins. These are the kind of fun little details you kind of expect Disney animators to sneak in.

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While the level design is fun, the actual level objective of finding the scarab falls a bit flat. You’ll encounter it a few times during the level, but it will fly off before you can grab it. Then when you make it to the end of the stage, it’s just kind of waiting there for you. There’s just no sense of accomplishment. There’s no boss guarding it, or any other big monster you would usually expect to be keeping an important item for itself. The level just kind of ends and everyone moves on with their lives.

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The second half of the scarab is apparently back in Agrabah, so right back to town we go. It’s not entirely the same as before though. This time around, you’re given the secondary task of finding the flutes scattered around the level. I say secondary, but really finding the flutes enchants the various ropes which will then fly you around to the next areas of the level. It’s an interesting idea, but Aladdin’s auto grab mechanic feels a little temperamental, which ruins some of the fun.

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Waiting for you at the end of the level is Gazeem, Jafar’s vertically challenged henchman. He is the games first boss, and you just feel so bad for him. It’s like beating up a kindergartener, a very hairy, angry kindergartener. That’s not just an attack on his height, he is also just so pathetically easy to beat that I hardly want to count him as a boss battle. But he is a boss, and defeating him will earn you the second half of the scarab.

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We’re not finished yet however. Immediately following the “Boss battle” with Gazeem, you are taken to ANOTHER boss battle with Razoul, the captain of the palace guards. Apparently Razoul is a bit confused about what game he’s in, because he starts throwing barrels at Aladdin like he’s Donkey Kong. This is another pathetically easy boss battle. Jump over the barrel as he throws them, and throw an apple while still in the air. He’ll go down pretty easily.

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Death Count: 6


Even though you beat Razoul, Aladdin is still captured by the palace guards and thrown into the sultan’s dungeon. The dungeon is actually a rather fun level with a lot of pseudo 3d effects. There’s the ball and chains swinging between the foreground and background as well as spikes shooting out of the wall. As annoying as they are, there’s also bricks that slide into and out of the wall to making timed platforms. All of these effects I feel were very well executed.

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There are also several more Disney references hidden in the dungeon. For starters, many of the skeletons are wearing Mickey Mouse hats. Also about half way through the level, it appears like Sebastian the crab from the little mermaid series has been captured and is hanging on the wall. One of the more subtle references I noticed is actually for pirates of the Caribbean. Right at the start of the level there is a dog holding a key just out of reach of a prisoner reaching through the bars in reference to a memorable section of the ride where the same thing happens.

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Once again, the level ends with Aladdin simply walking away through the exit. Even throughout the level, the actual enemies were a bit scarce, with environmental hazards posing the largest threat. With this being a dungeon that just makes it doubly confusing that there’s no one guarding the exit.

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Either way, Aladdin is once again confronted by Jafar disguised as an old beggar man and is guided to the Cave of Wonders to steal the magic lamp. Much like the dungeon, there aren’t a lot of enemies in the Cave of Wonders, focusing again instead on environmental hazards. If you’re not dodging falling rocks, you’re trying to avoid the many sharp stalagmites scattered around the cave.

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While in the cave, there are also several monkey statues you’re required to destroy to progress. There’s also a bunch of I believe Shiva statues which are easily the most annoying enemies in the game. When you’re looking at them, they are simply statues, and are immune to all damage. However, if you turn your back on them they’ll start throwing gems at you.

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Death Count: 12


Deep in the Cave of Wonders, there is another boss battle, but it’s so insultingly easy. Aladdin has to face off against the golden monkey idol as he teleports between the two platforms. Normally, a teleporting enemy is cause for concern, but here, it just gives you time to set yourself up. There are only two platforms and he always teleports from one to the other. Stand by the platform, attack him when he shows up, move to the other and repeat until he’s dead. So disappointing.

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Gotta love Abu the water fountain. he’s doing something funny near the end of most of the levels.


Follow the path after the boss fight, and you’ll soon come across the magic lamp. Grab the lamp and then prepare to run for your life. If you remember from the movie, the Cave of Wonders doesn’t take too kindly to Aladdin trying to steal the lamp, and it will do everything to keep him from getting away with it.

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Death Count: 32


The peaceful blues of the previous level have been replaced with a vengeful red as the cave fills with lava. Paired with the now frantic music and Indiana Jones style giant boulders, this level has such an amazing sense of urgency. In reality, you’re actually free to take as much time as you want and really line up your jumps.

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Death Count: 48


The lack of a ticking clock is something I wish I took advantage of. I died so many times in this level just from being caught up in the moment and making careless mistakes. I’m pretty sure I died at least once to every obstacle presented. Somehow I managed to make it to the end where Aladdin jumps off a cliff and is saved at the last second by the flying carpet.

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We’re not out of the Cave of Wonders just yet. Aladdin still needs to outrun the tidal wave of lava. While flying through the cave, you’ll have to guide Aladdin up and down to avoid hitting rocks. That carpet must be jet powered with how fast it ends up going. Luckily the genie gives you a helping hand with this, literally. Moments before any of the obstacles appear, a genies hand appears showing you which way to go to safety. This combined with the fact that there is no collision detection with the roof or floor makes this area much easier than it should be. You still need to pay attention, and react quickly, but it could have been so much worse.

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Aladdin never does make it out of the cave. Instead he becomes trapped inside the genie’s lamp. This level is probably the most fun level of the game, at least from a design perspective. The genie is everywhere in this level, and everything has so much expression. Bouncing on a spring head gives a comical honk, there are balloon faces that make a shocked expression when you grab them, and then most of the platforms are either his ethereal arm or disembodied hands.

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Death Count: 60


Unfortunately, many of the things that make the level fun also make it annoying. The genie’s arm for example isn’t a solid platform. It acts very similar to quicksand, letting you slowly slide down into it and eventually straight through it unless you keep jumping. The hands also frequently acted as disappearing platforms whose timing seemed slightly random, which is an annoyance in itself for a disappearing platform.

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I wonder if the genie played this game on his genesis…


This level in particular has several annoyances from the general game mechanics themselves. First with the balloons, you can’t tell from the still pictures, but they’re actually steadily moving to the left whereas I’m trying to jump across them to the right. So this section requires fast, very precise jumping. Unfortunately Aladdin’s auto grab mechanic is very demanding, and many times I fell off the balloons when I felt I should have grabbed it. There were also times when the camera simple wasn’t in a good position to see where I was supposed to go next. Late in the level in particular is a jump to a hand which is just off screen without manually manipulating the camera.

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Eventually, Aladdin will run into the genies mouth, and the level will end. Aladdin must not taste very good, because the genie decides to help him escape the Cave of Wonders rather than eating him. Wit