Most of my gaming has been of the retro variety recently, revisiting some of the classics from the 80’s and 90’s, and some not so classics. Some of these games I had encountered before, and others I stumbled across by chance. Here are a few short reviews of games I’ve been playing.
Tom and Jerry – SNES
Tom and Jerry on the SNES was released in 1992 as a platformer where you make your way through four different themed worlds. Bad. This game is bad. Technically, it’s playable, but it just isn’t enjoyable. Since when did Jerry fight insects by throwing olives? Well, what I assume are olives – it’s not even worth researching this game to find out what they really are (Apparently they’re not olives, but marbles. Why?). You can’t even duck to throw projectiles at a lower level – you have to work out the trajectory each shot is going to take. Don’t even think about spamming the fire button as Jerry has a limited amount of ammunition, and jumping on enemies doesn’t always kill them.
I played a couple of stages and that was enough for me. Some parts are simply broken. At one point I had to jump up from one conveyor belt to another and there were some boxes provided. Jumping from box to box and on to the upper level seemed the logical choice, except that it wasn’t. Instead, I had to run and jump at the belt above multiple times, hoping that it would somehow let me land there. And it did, even though my jump wasn’t high enough to get up there. There’s not much else to say about this one, except that it’s better off left in the past.
Timon & Pumbaa’s Jungle Games – SNES
Based on the popular supporting characters from the Disney Lion King movies, Timon & Pumbaa’s Jungle Games was a video game developed for SNES and Microsoft Windows. Calling it a video game is a bit much – it’s a collection of jungle-themed mini-games. Even calling it a collection is generous. There are only four games, and they are almost instantly forgettable. It opens up with a game selection screen and a cursor. Yes, a cursor. Apparently the developers couldn’t be bothered to disguise the fact it was a bad PC port. Timon and Pumbaa race to whichever game you choose, and the “fun” begins.
The first game, Jungle Pinball, is self-explanatory. Except that it didn’t work in my copy, for whatever reason. I could do everything apart from operating the pinball flippers, making the game utterly unplayable. Onto the next one: Burper. It’s a shooter where you play Pumbaa belching at falling objects, and gets old very quickly. Next up is Hippo Hop, a less good version of frogger. You hop between logs collecting bugs till you get bored. That’s it. The last “game” is Slingshooter, a slingshot game where you have to hit hyenas as they pop up and avoid other characters. There isn’t much to say about it, apart from being dull. Dullness is the theme of the game, really. If I had paid full price for this back in 1997, I would’ve been pretty pissed.
Toy Story – SNES
In the words of JonTron, “I have seen game. This is not game”. Toy Story on the SNES is awful, and I don’t use the word lightly. Sarah and I gave this one a good go, but the terrible platforming, woeful hit detection, and general lack of anything positive made it a chore. You play as Woody, trying to achieve different objectives in a range of locations. I haven’t made it out of Andy’s bedroom yet, but I’m sure there are many more exciting levels.
The visuals were impressive for 1995, but the sound design and music bore no resemblance to the movie. All Woody can do is jump and use his pull string like a whip. And to be perfectly honest, he isn’t very good at it. During the second level, Woody has to free some of his fellow toys and pack them away before Andy gets back to his room, but it isn’t easy. Every time you have to break a barrel or hit an enemy, you can never quite be sure if your hit will land. Even if you can see the hit land, and repeatedly jump around trying again and again, it doesn’t mean it will work. Scattered around the map are balloons with question marks on them. Power-ups? Something of importance? Nope, just full of marbles that kill you. Why? Why would that be a thing? Thankfully you can take three hits before losing a life, but it’s still tough because you can’t destroy any enemies, only temporarily disable them. A strange choice, and one that only serves to make this game more annoying. For a kid’s game, the stage time limits are frustrating as hell.
After each level you’re treated to Woody doing the most messed up dance I have ever seen. The picture doesn’t convey how disturbing it was. It seems as though they chopped together some animation and played it forward and back to achieve their horrifying goal. I didn’t enjoy playing this, and would say it’s one you can safely steer clear of.
Rambo III – Mega Drive
This one is worth a more in-depth review when I get more time to play the game. It was challenging when I was first playing it many years ago, and though it’s still tougher than many modern-day games, I think it will be beatable with some perseverance. We didn’t own the cartridge at that time – I think we swapped it for another game from one of my brother’s friends. It was how we worked things as we only owned about three ourselves.
First released in 1989, Rambo III is based on the film of the same name, and follows the titular character as he is called in to rescue his former commander in Soviet controlled Afghanistan. Not that you would know that from the scenery, but we’ll forgive them considering it was released 26 years ago. This game is older than me, and despite that, still very playable. Rambo III is a top down shooter where you have to complete a series of objectives before finding the exit of the level. You are thrown straight into the action, with a machine gun as your primary weapon and three other items at your disposal: a knife for close quarters, a longbow, and bombs. Using the knife scores you bonus points and the potential for an item drop, but puts you at greater risk of being hit by an enemy bullet. Three hits and you’re out. Thankfully the continue system is well implemented. Boss fights take place between some missions where Rambo has to shoot helicopters and tanks with his longbow, with the perspective changing to behind Rambo. The sound effects are fantastic, though they sound nothing like the real thing. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but the sound of the longbow being drawn is one of the single greatest noises in any game. As I say, I’ve only been playing it for a short while, so I will be able to write a more in-depth review later. This is one I would definitely recommend to any retro gamers out there, or Sega Mega Drive enthusiasts. You can play it at SSEGA (http://www.ssega.com/rambo-iii), a website I’ll be writing more about later. Don’t worry about the other games in this article. They’re not worth even considering.