Category Archives: Genesis Games

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.

Cool Spot (Genesis) - 01

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

Gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death Count: 1

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

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Death Count: 4

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

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Death Count: 5

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

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

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Death Count: 7

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

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Death Count: 9

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

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Death Count: 12

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

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Death Count: 17

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

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Death Count: 18

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

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Death Count: 20

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

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Death Count: 23

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

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

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

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Death Count: 25

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

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Death Count: 27

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

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

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Death Count: 28

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

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Death Count: 29

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

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Death Count: 30

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

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Death Count: 31

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

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Death Count: 35

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

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Death Count: 40

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

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Death Count: 41

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

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Death Count: 42

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

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

Verdict

Gameplay – 6 / 10

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

Graphics – 7 / 10

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

Audio – 6 / 10

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

Story – 0 / 10

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

Total Playtime – 1h 43m

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

Total Deaths – 42 Deaths

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

Overall Score – 5 / 10

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

Cool Spot (Genesis) - 64

That’s the only trophy this game is getting…

 

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

 

Taz-Mania (Genesis)

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

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

Gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

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Death Count: 1

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

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Death Count: 3

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

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Death Count: 6

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

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Death Count: 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death Count: 9

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

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

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Death Count: 10

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

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

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

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Death Count: 14

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

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

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

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

 

 

Death Count: 20

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

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Death Count: 27

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

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Death Count: 42

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

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Death Count: 49

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

 

 

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

Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 55 Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 56

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 79 Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 80

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 81 Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 82

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Verdict

Gameplay – 1 / 10

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

Graphics – 8 / 10

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

Audio – 7 / 10

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

Story – 5 / 10

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

Total Playtime – 1h 45m

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

Total Deaths – 81 Deaths

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

Overall Score – 3 / 10

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

Taz-Mania (Genesis) - 83

Congratulations Taz! You’re a responsible mother now!

 

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I hope you enjoyed Taz-Mania (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.

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 01 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Gameplay

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

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 05 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 07 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 09 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 15 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 17 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 19 Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Verdict

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.

Mick and Mack Global Gladiators (Genesis) - 49

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

 

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I hope you enjoyed Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators. 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.

 

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!

Altered Beast (Genesis) - 01

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?

Gameplay

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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.

 

Verdict

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.

Altered Beast (Genesis) - 40

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.

Disney's Aladdin Genesis - 01

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.

Gameplay

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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. With the genies help, Aladdin returns to Agrabah and heads straight for The Sultan’s Palace and to Princess Jasmine.

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Death Count: 64

 

As would be expected of the Sultan’s Palace, the place is crawling with guards. Less typical is the mystery pool of water. It’s deep enough for fish to live, but shallow enough for flamingos to stand in. Not just stand in, but support Aladdin’s weight. Yet if Aladdin were to fall into the water, he instantly sinks to the bottom and drowns. Maybe it’s not actually water and is actually some kind of acid. Curious.

The magic carpet is also back to lend a hand, or tassel I guess. He does seem a bit drunk though, if a carpet is even capable of being drunk. You can’t control him while you ride on him, and it is the most zig zaging ride you will ever take. Really, it seems to put you in more danger than actually helping you.

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Eventually you’ll find Iago in the basement running on… something. Was this in the movie? I don’t remember this part from the movie. Whatever he’s doing, it’s causing electrical discharges and summoning ghosts. I didn’t notice it with the other boss battles, but apparently you can only damage them with one of the two attacks, depending on the particular boss. In this case, Iago is only damaged by the apples, despite the fact that he is clearly within sword swinging distance. This was particularly annoying as my apple supply was low at the time. The game does supply you with apples if you run out. But only AFTER you run out, at which point they magically appear on the opposite side of the room, off camera, in a place that was previously empty.

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If I’m to believe the story prompts, at some point while I was throwing apples at Iago and causing his death, he managed to steal the lamp from me and give it to Jafar. With his new found power, Jafar transforms the palace to his liking, which is to say he painted everything red and put some giant gold snakes around. I guess he’s just been mad this whole time because no one would listen to his interior decorating ideas.

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Death Count: 70

 

Everyone was right not to listen to him, this is not very good decorating at all. I don’t know who told him that giant swinging balls on chains over spike pits was in this season, but they lied. He also seems to have liked the Shiva statues from the cave of wonders. Curiously they seem to be made of silver instead of gold like the originals. I guess he used all the gold in the world already on the giant snakes.

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Someone has to talk some sense into Jafar, and I guess Aladdin is the man to do it. The fight with Jafar honestly feels like he painted himself into a corner, and is just mad you’re stepping on the new paint. In his human form, Jafar never actually attacks you, he just uses his magic staff to draw you close to him, causing touch damage. Much like the fight with Iago, sword attacks curiously do no damage at all and you’ll have to rely only on your supply of apples. I just don’t get this. the fight with Iago you could argue that while on the wheel he was out of reach of the sword, whether it looked like it or not. But Jafar is just standing there ready to be cut down. It makes no sense.

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After enough damage, Jafar will eventually transform into a giant snake. “Giant” being a very relative term in this case. He doesn’t really become much bigger than he already was. This part of the fight was rather difficult simply because of bad mechanics. For starters, he still can only be hurt by apples, which still makes no sense. If I saw a giant snake and I had a sword, and an apple, I’m going to attack it with the sword. Also, you are no longer allowed to stand on the platforms or a pillar of fire will shoot up and hurt you. This forces you to keep some distance at all times since he stays nestled between the two center platforms. That wouldn’t be so bad, but the platforms block the trajectory of the apples, smashing them to pieces long before reaching Jafar. Your timing has to be perfectly and the highest point of the jump for the apples to clear the platforms and actually hit Jafar.

Or, you can do what I did. Stand right next to him and just throw the apples as fast as you can. The damage from the apples interrupts his attack, so my close range rapid fire attack caused him to only get two attacks in before I killed him. That shouldn’t be possible. You should never be able to spam attack the final boss to death.

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Now bludgeoned to death by a barrage of apples, Jafar has been defeated, the kingdom is saved, and Aladdin wins the heart of the princess. The end. Cut, print, roll the credits, moving on, go home now. Seriously, there’s no wrap up or anything. If anywhere in the game needed a quick story cut scene, this is it. I know from the movie that we saved jasmine, but that’s not really shown in the game. Last time we saw her in the game, she was casually talking to the guards telling them not to arrest Aladdin. It was never shown or even implied that she needed saving. The game just needs SOMETHING to wrap it up better.

Verdict

Gameplay – 7 / 10

The controls are mostly great, with only the “jump and grab” mechanic being temperamental in my opinion. The level designs and layouts were also mostly good. Nothing particularly innovative, but still very fun to play. Unfortunately, the lack luster boss battles really soured an otherwise great experience.

Graphics – 10 / 10

Having actual Disney animators on hand really made this game shine. Everything was so beautiful and detailed. Then all the Disney easter eggs just made everything that much more fun. Finding the random Mickey Mouse ears, or seeing Sebastian hanging in the dungeon, even a nod to the genesis itself in the genie’s lamp. This attention to detail only helped to improve what was already very impressive graphics and just the type of thing you would expect Disney animators to sneak in.

Audio – 8 / 10

Most of the game’s music is made up of slightly remixed versions of the movie’s already award winning soundtrack. Every song fits so well and really makes you feel like you’re playing the movie.

Story – 5 / 10

While the movie had a great story, the game suffers from a bit of choppiness. It’s understandable why this happened. The game only really shows the action sequences, which means it left out most of the character development and exposition. Without having actually seen the movie, it’d say you’d have a pretty hard time actually following the story as presented in the game.

Total Playtime – 2h 11m

This is a pretty average game length for a platformer. Though I could have probably shaved at least a half hour off if I hadn’t died so many times trying to escape the Cave of Wonders.

Total Deaths – 78 Deaths

Nearly half of my deaths were from trying to escape the Cave of Wonders. I got too caught up in the moment and made stupid mistakes to the extent of running straight into the lava without jumping. The game as a whole however was not too difficult.

Overall Score – 7 / 10

First off, I really liked this game. The graphics were great, the sound was great, even the level design was great. But somehow the game as a whole just felt so average. Honestly, I can only think to blame this on the boss battles. There just isn’t any sense of accomplishment with any of them. Without any exciting boss battles to really get the blood flowing, the rest of the game is just kind of going through the motions. The most exciting part of the game was probably escaping the Cave of Wonders on the flying carpet, and even that held your hand with the genie telling you exactly what to do. It’s still a fun game, it’s just that it leaves you wanting something more.

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It’s over, you can rest now Aladdin

 

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I hope you enjoyed Disney’s Aladdin. 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.

 

Beavis and Butt-Head

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

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

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

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

Gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death Count: 1

 

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

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

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

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

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death count: 2

 

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

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

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death count: 5

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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death count: 9

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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death count: 18

 

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

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death count: 35

 

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

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

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

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death count: 36

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict

Gameplay – 6 / 10

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

Graphics – 7 / 10

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

Audio – 7 / 10

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

Story – 6 / 10

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

Total Deaths – 36 Deaths

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

Total Playtime – 2h 42m

A lot happened in that relatively short amount of time.

Overall Score – 7 / 10

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

Beavis and Butt-Head Genesis (87)

 

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

 

Toxic Crusaders

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Gameplay

Tromaville

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

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Death count: 5

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

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

Troma Park

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Death count: 9

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

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Death count: 13

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

Space Ship

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

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Death count: 15

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

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

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Death count: 18

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

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Death count: 22

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

Airport

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Death count: 28

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

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Death count: 31

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

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Death count: 34

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

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Death count: 37

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

Channel

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Death count: 42

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

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Death count: 45

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

Smogula City

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Death count: 48

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

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Death count: 53

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

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Death count: 65

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

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Death count: 98

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

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Death count: 111

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

Fortress

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Death count: 123

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

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

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

Verdict

Gameplay – 4 / 10

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

Graphics – 4 / 10

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

Audio – 3 / 10

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

Story – 3 / 10

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

Total Deaths – 127

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

Total Playtime – 1h 15m

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

Overall Score – 3 / 10

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

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

ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron

The gaming community can be a harsh mistress sometimes, especial in regards to sequels. A sequel has to be exactly like the original, that’s why we loved it. But it has to be brand new and innovative, because we’ve already played the original. It’s a delicate balance that borders on the impossible for game developers.

Some franchises manage to pull it off. The Mario series for example is still going strong after all these years. Many franchises however aren’t so lucky, as is the case for Toejam & Earl. Released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis, Toejam & Earl is a surrealist roguelike game following two alien rappers trying to rebuild their space ship after a crash landing on earth. Each level has you controlling one of the aliens as they wander around trying to find a piece to their ship and the elevator to the next level, all while avoiding the hostile inhabitants of earth. It’s an odd but very comical game which very often ranks among the greatest the genesis had to offer. At their height, Toejam & Earl even held secondary mascot status for the genesis alongside Sonic the Hedgehog. Personally, it was, and remains, one of my favorite games for the genesis.

Toejam And Earl 2 (1)When the sequel came out two years later, it was a drastic departure from the first game. Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron ditched the roguelike gameplay in favor of a traditional side scrolling platformer, choosing to focus on the action rather than the exploration. This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely a turn off for many of the original game’s fanbase, myself included. I remember seeing screenshots and magazine previews of it when it first came out, and I remember simply not being interested in the sequel at all. As such, I never played it until just now for this review. It’s going to be tough, since I already have quite a negative first impression of this game, but I will try to be impartial and unbiased as I play and review this game.

Gameplay

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The story starts where the first left off. Toejam & Earl have returned to their home planet of Funkotron only to find out they had some stowaways on their ship. A news report informs our heroes that the planet Funkotron has been invaded by earthlings, and they know it was Toejam & Earl who brought them there.

Toejam And Earl 2 (4) Toejam And Earl 2 (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toejam quickly comes up with the plan to find the earthlings and capture them inside trap-o-matic jars. Once they’re all captured, they can be thrown into a rocket, and sent back to earth where they belong. After the intro, you get to choose which of the characters you get to play as. They play nearly identically, but I’ve always played as Earl in the original, so I’ll continue to play as him in the sequel.

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No deaths were caused by children

 

Considering how small their ship was, they managed to bring quite a large group of people back with them. There’s the little girl who kicks you and the baseball kid who throws tomatoes at you. They’re both very basic enemies and not much threat on their own.

Toejam And Earl 2 (8)No deaths were caused by flying children either

 

Then flying through the sky with balloons is Nasty Williams. He doesn’t show up very often, and isn’t much trouble when he does.

Toejam And Earl 2 (9)Poorly planned construction accounted for 2 deaths today

 

There’s the construction worker with his jackhammer. He is a little bit tricky. If you are standing on the ground, you will be vibrated and take damage, so you need to attack him from the air.

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Flash photography claimed the life of 26 Funkotronians

 

Now we get into the annoying enemies, starting with the Man and Woman tourists. These two are extremely annoying because the flash from their camera can damage you from anywhere on screen. The only away to avoid being blinded by the flash is to cover your eyes, during which time you can’t move or attack. They are easily the most annoying of the enemies.

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19 Funkotronians were mauled to death by poodles

 

Also on the list of annoying enemies are the poodles and the rich lady. The rich lady herself is no threat at all, but the poodles can be quite annoying. They take the fewest jars to capture, needed only 2 jars each, but the fact that they show up in packs and move pretty fast makes them difficult to manage.

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Rampaging naked men claimed 7 lives

 

Moving on we come to some rather strange enemies, like the naked man in a box. He will stand around singing until you attack him, at which point he will usually hide back in his box and run away. He’s not much of a threat, but he is invincible while inside his box, which can make him rather frustrating.

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Hit and Run by flying carpet killed 10 fat aliens

 

Enemies don’t get much stranger than these next two, the insane fairy and the duck. The insane fairy isn’t a threat, more an annoyance as she flies around dropping bags of laughing dust on you. As the name implies, it will cause you to become temporarily immobile with laughter. The duck on the other hand can be quite annoying. It zooms around on its flying carpet and dive bombs you. If you don’t dive for cover, you’ll take quite a bit of damage from its hit and runs. The only thing you can do against it is to throw jars randomly into the air in hopes some hit it before you dive for cover again.

Toejam And Earl 2 (18) Toejam And Earl 2 (19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 lives were lost to the unseen assailants

 

Finally, we have the highly annoying invisible enemies, the boogie men and the cow ghosts. The boogie men are very common enemies, which is frustrating, because you will regularly walk right into them and not know it until they reveal themselves for the attack. If you know they’re around, the best you can do is blindly throw jars in their general direction and hope you hit something. The Cow ghost is even more frustrating. It will invisibly fly towards you, revealing itself only just before possessing your body. This gives you very little time to react, and is almost guaranteed damage. On the plus side, they can be captured very quickly after your possession.

Toejam And Earl 2 (20)The actual gameplay has you searching for earthlings and throwing jars at them until they are captured. Thanks to the arrow at the bottom of the screen, it’s not so much “searching” for the earthlings as it is “going” to the earthlings and capturing them.

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Now, here is where I would normally start a full synopsis of the game. That’s the style I decided on when I started this site, kind of half way between a review and a let’s play. But I don’t know how I could possibly do that for this game. Most games have themes behind the different levels, each with different enemies and hazards and layouts based on that theme. In this game, the theme is “you’re on an alien planet” and that theme doesn’t change much during any of the 17 levels. This was a problem the first game faced as well, but the first game was significantly shorter. I could beat the first game in around an hour, whereas this game took somewhere in the area of 6 hours to beat.

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On rare occasion there will be a snowy area, because everyone knows slippery ice physics make games better. But even this played much the same as a normal level.

Toejam And Earl 2 (25) Toejam And Earl 2 (26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

On even rarer occasion you will be in a cave with fire. These are so rare and so similar to the normal play that they barely deserve notice. In either case, the whole level was never themed after either of these. Rather a small section of the level was, leaving the rest of the level to be the usual Funkotron world.

Toejam And Earl 2 (27) Toejam And Earl 2 (28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earl does not have a swimmer’s body, and drowned 7 times.

 

The only other section worth note is the occasionally underwater sections. Such a great choice by the designers. The only thing people like better than slippery ice physics is underwater physics combined with limited air supply. These sections are present in most of the levels, but few actually required you to enter them. While this is the only actual variation to the gameplay, it is an unwelcome change. Despite the vast variety of underwater life, they serve little more than background as you are unable to interact with them in any way. The only one you can interact with is the unfortunate little purple puffer fish whom you can suck the air out of to restore your own. The layout of these areas is also usually very maze like, designed to trap you underwater until your air runs out. The few times you are forced to experience these areas is after you have already captured all the earthlings, presenting themselves as one last annoyance before you can claim having finished the level.

Toejam And Earl 2 (29) Toejam And Earl 2 (30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What this game does have is a huge amount of secret content, both good and bad. First the good, you are free to shake every tree and bush you see to reveal presents and food, as well as earthlings.

Toejam And Earl 2 (31) Toejam And Earl 2 (32)

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s also a huge amount of buttons and parking meters scattered around that do anything from revealing hidden items, to teleporting you across the map, or even enter you in a fungus trampoline competition.

Toejam And Earl 2 (33) Toejam And Earl 2 (34)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occasional you’ll uncover one of the hidden hyper funk zone entrances. This is a short bonus round where you can collect presents and points. You don’t actually have much control in this area. Your character is forced to run and the only thing you can do is make him intangible so he can pass though walls so they don’t slow you down.

Toejam And Earl 2 (35) Toejam And Earl 2 (36)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Improper garbage disposal killed 3 Funkotronians

 

Now for the bad. While you can search every tree and bush, more often than not, they’ll be hiding something that will damage you, such as a bowling ball or a trash can. This is such a high occurrence that there is very little incentive for you to search them.

Toejam And Earl 2 (37)So… where do I go next?

 

As for the level design itself, it is plagued with leaps of faith and invisible platforms. This makes any actual planning nearly impossible. So often I would be totally confused as to how to get to where I needed to be, only to find out through random jumping that an invisible platform was there the whole time. That is just horrible level design. The occasional hidden platform to a special reward is a welcome treat, but to make them a key part of the level design is frustrating to say the least. To make matters worse, the level design features far too many instances of falling from high places and needing to backtrack quite a distance. Combined with all the leaps of faith, this makes for very frustrating level design at some points.

Toejam And Earl 2 (38)Then there is the difficulty that comes from combining the enemies. Each of the enemies has their own technique required to capture them. When certain combinations are on screen at the same time, there’s virtually nothing you can do but be killed by them. One such example is the construction worker and the tourist. These two frequently shared the screen and their combination is controller throwing impossible. As mentioned before, the tourist requires you to cover your eyes, a maneuver achieved by holding down on the d-pad while on the ground. The construction worker on the other hand requires you to stay in the air to avoid his ground shaking attack. Having both of them on screen becomes a lose-lose no matter what you do. Stay on the ground, and you’ll be shaken to death by the construction worker. Jump into the air and you’ll be flashed to death by the tourist. The only thing that made this even tolerable was a combination of my game genie infinite lives and the fact that they don’t recover health between my deaths.

Toejam And Earl 2 (39) Toejam And Earl 2 (40)

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I finally finished the game, there was no sense of accomplishment. There was hardly even a sense of closure. The game started with a fairly long intro for a genesis game, which properly set up the story without having to refer to the game manual. The ending on the other hand boils down to “Thanks, now let’s dance”. I know I technically got the “bad ending”, but getting the good ending is work for a completionist, not the average player like me. Had I taken the time to complete the optional quest to find all of “Lamont’s favorite things” hidden around the levels, I would have been treated to a longer ending sequence, but the levels were already too repetitive and tedious for me to even consider adding a scavenger hunt into the mix. I’m not a completionist, and this wasn’t the game to convert me.

Verdict

The concept is original, and the characters are charming, but ultimately what this game lacks is balance. Without the aid of varying themes or an involved storyline, the only signs of progress throughout the game were the increased number of earthlings on screen at once. While this was acceptable for the first few levels, it eventually led to poor combinations that created impossible frustration rather than an enjoyable challenge. Had the game been shorter, the initial charm may have carried it through to the end, but as it is, I lost interest about half way through and simply wanted it to end.

I wanted to like it, and I tried to like it, but in the end there simply wasn’t enough substance to keep me entertained. Sure, there were secret and hidden items everywhere, as well as a whole side quest to find “Lamont’s favorite things” hidden throughout the levels. But for me, these offered little incentive. I’m sad to say it, but this game just didn’t live up to what I wanted from this franchise or even just a platforming game in general.

Score – 5 / 10

Total Deaths – 89