Greetings, retr0pians. Let’s take a brief moment to talk about one of the most iconic video game developers of the UK…
…I already talked about those guys a while back.
Wha-no, I already did one of their games in my previous review!!
Ah yes, there we go. Established in 1989 by Jon Burton and Jonathan Smith, Traveller’s Tales has made dozens upon dozens of games throughout their 27-year lifespan, their most well-known ones being the more recent and critically acclaimed Lego games. Although they have a roughly rocky past, with many of their games back then being EXTREMELY spontaneous in quality, there were certain exceptions when they managed to pull through and offer a game that showcased their true abilities. And today, I’ll be taking a look at one of their more lesser-known games, the 1993 puzzle-platform game Puggsy.
Based off of the 1989 Amiga demo Puggs in Space and originally developed for the Amiga by Dionysus, the game’s story revolves around the titular character, a clumsy but good-hearted alien named Puggsy as he attempts to recover his stolen ship from a tribe of native raccoons. And before you ask, no, I don’t know what sort of drugs they were on either. Is this one of the games that TT put all of their effort into, or is it just another one of their long line of misses? Let’s find out, shall we?
THE LOOKS – Whenever I see someone say that the Genesis’ technical and visual capabilties were inferior to the Super Nintendo, I can only imagine the look on their face when they see this game. Not only are the graphics and backgrounds lushisly detailed and varied, but this is simply GORGEOUS. Many of the worlds have a distinct, striking, and almost fantastical feel to them, making them fun to explore and platform throughout. It actually kind of gives off the feeling of a Jim Henson production – The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Fraggle Rock in particular. Heck, many of the characters, including Puggsy himself, look like they could fit in with Kermit and the gang with no problem! You know what, I’ll go even further: this might be the BEST looking game on the Genesis that I’ve come across yet!
THE SOUND – If you think that I’m already praising the living H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of this game…oh man, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Where the graphics offer a visual splendor of a world, the music offers many catchy and varied tunes that go along with each level perfectly. For example, the theme for the Beach level above has a tropical, upbeat feel to it, while other levels such as Darkblade Forest have a more tense, bass-esque feel. One thing that all of these tracks have in common is the fact that they are memorable, INCREDIBLY well-composed, and push the Genesis’ sound chip to its limits.
Life’s a real beach.
THE GAMEPLAY – Just when you think that you’ve already seen the best that this game could offer, the gameplay comes in to make sure that you’ll end up having a one-of-a-kind experience. Starting off with the controls, Puggsy feels very natural and solid in his movements, and although he isn’t “slow”, he isn’t as fast as Mario or Sonic, fitting his chubby apperance quite nicely. As for the level design and gameplay itself, it is nothing short of outstanding. What really makes it stand out from all the other platformers at the time is that it isn’t just your typical A to B stuff – this allows you to explore the levels, and rewards you for doing so. And then there’s the game’s main selling point: the physics. Similiar to Super Mario Bros. 2 (the USA version), you can pick up items and throw them at your enemies. However, unlike Mario 2, Puggsy fully uses the concept to its advantage, and does it amazingly. Each item has its own unique form of usage, and can even help you solve the many puzzles and obstacles that you’ll encounter throughout the adventure. Of course, there is ONE problem that I have with the gameplay: somewhat cheap deaths. What I mean by this is that although the enemies are fairly placed, there are times when it feels like the game wants to just randomly throw something unexpected with you, which kind of prevents the gameplay from being flawless. You can however get hit points by collecting shades and sneakers, which can also make you move faster, but they don’t really show up that often. But even with that in mind, when the rest of the game is so dang good, it isn’t even really that huge of a problem.
THE BOTTOM LINE – Magnificent graphics, a stunning soundtrack, and addictive gameplay make Puggsy one of the most under-appreciated and greatest video games of the 16-bit era. Platformer fans and maybe even non-platformer will adore it, for there is plenty of fun to be had.
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