REVIEW: Mickey Mania (1994, Genesis)

Greetings, retr0pians. Well, we’ve made it. After a long, long March, we’ve finally made it to the final installment of Disney-Thon. And what better way would there be to celebrate this last hurrah by reviewing a game starring none other than Mickey Mouse himself?

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Developed by Traveller’s Tales (Who some of you might recognize) and published and distributed by Sony Imagesoft and Disney (Which is also kind of funny now that you think about it), this semi-cult classic follows the world-famous mouse as he travels throughout his cartoons of the past. How does this game fare almost 22 years after its’ release? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – One of this game’s main selling points is that rather than just going through the typical platformer level cliches, Mickey is actually going through stages based off some of his most well-regarded cartoons, such as Steamboat Willie, Lonesome Ghosts, The Band Concert, just to name a few. But the question remains; are these cartoons implemented well into the stages in terms of visuals? Yes, they very much are. Aside from the occasional cheap-looking 3D that pops up from time to time, the graphics, character sprites and animations are really, REALLY good, being detailed, creative, and very fluid. Sure, compared to some of their other games the graphics aren’t really anything mind-blowing, but they still get the job done by the end of the day.

THE SOUND – Something that’s worth pointing out about the music is that it’s composed by Matt Furniss, one of the guys who did the music in one of my all-time favorite games Puggsy, another TT-developed game that I reviewed a while ago. And considering how good the music in this game is, I can definetely see that. The music in general is greatly composed, with all of the level tunes and tracks being incredibly catchy and memorable in their own right, fitting the right mood for whatever past adventure Mickey will find himself revisiting. Heck, you can even hear sound effects from Puggsy if you listen close enough!

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“Sonic Generations? What is this Sonic Generations you speak of?”

THE GAMEPLAY – As if this game didn’t have enough in common with TT’s past works, the game’s engine is pretty much a modified version of the one they used for Puggsy, just with a lot less focus on physics and puzzle-solving and more on platforming. But even if they’ve mostly took out the puzzle solving, the gameplay is still wildly addictive. Starting off with Mickey’s controls, they’re very responsive despite the occasional floaty moment or two. In terms of attacks, you can just jump on your enemies in a typical Mario-esque fashion, or you can throw what I guess are supposed to be some kind of magic beans. But then there’s the game’s most prominent major flaw, at least in my eyes; the difficulty. While it’s nowhere near as unforgiving as The Lion King’s difficulty, it can still get pretty frustrating in some places. Fortunately, this is balanced out somewhat by the fairly well-designed levels.

THE BOTTOM LINE – Although its’ difficulty can be a hassle, Mickey Mania still manages to exceed on what it wants to be: a celebration of the most famous mouse in the world, and some of his greatest adventures. I would definetely recommend this to any Disney fan.

8/10

And with that my friends, we finally close the book on Disney-Thon. Make sure to leave comments and feedback as always, and I’ll see you all next time when I review Turrican!

 

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REVIEW: QuackShot (1991, Genesis)

Greetings, retr0pians, and welcome back once again to Disney-Thon. As we’re currently nearing the conclusion of this little saga, there was one game other than DuckTales that I just knew I couldn’t leave out, that game in question being the action-platform game, QuackShot.

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Developed by Sega themselves and released for the Sega Genesis in 1991, the game revolves around Donald Duck and his nephews as they embark on an Indiana Jones-esque quest to find a legendary treasure while being pursured by Pete and his gang. Is this game really worth quacking up over, or will it just make us lose our temper like Donald does all the time? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – Out of all the games I’ve reviewed this month, I would say that this one has the most ‘cartoonish’ look to it. Starting off with the character sprites themselves, they’re pretty decently made, with most of them taking cues from Carl Barks’ comics in their overall design. In terms of backgrounds, they’re also very nice, with quite a lot of them being based off locations in the real word not unlike DuckTales, some of which can really give the game a sense of atmosphere, and adventure. Then again, considering that this game was released rather early in the Genesis’ lifespan, it’s no suprise that the games really had to give us something to appreciate in the visuals.

THE SOUND – One thing that has appeared to be a recurring theme throughout Disney-Thon is good music. This game however…yeah, unfortunately there isn’t really anything special in the audio department. While not exactly bad by any means, most of the level themes tend to be pretty forgettable at best, and slightly irritating at worst. Also, the sound effect when you hit your enemies with your plungers are pretty ignorable for the first few times…but after the 400th time, you might as well be wishing you NEVER heard it in the first place.

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Race cars, lasers, aeropla-oh wait, wrong Disney duck…

THE GAMEPLAY – At this point, I’ve pretty much reviewed more licensed games that I really should’ve considering that I’ve been doing this gig for a mere 3 months now, with many of them either falling into being just good, just forgettable, or just plain horrible. In this game’s case, it mostly tends to fall into the former. But first, let’s just get the problems out of the way. Starting off with Donald’s controls, the best word I can describe them with is ‘floaty’. Once again, while they aren’t bad by any means, they can still be kind of a hassle to get a hang of. Now with said, let’s get into the positives! In comparison to all the other platformers at the time, QuackShot, along with Sonic, probably stick out the best. While the levels themselves are mostly linear, there are times when you might run into a roadblock, some of which you can just go into your backpack to get an item so you can get past, or backtrack to another level to get said item. However, unlike most games, this can actually be quite enjoyable due to the levels actually being quite clever in their design. You can also refill your health or temper meters by eating food that can be gained by shooting your enemies with the yellow plunger gun, the red plunger gun, the popcorn gun, or the bubble gun, which can also be used to solve the many puzzles that you’ll encounter throughout the game and even be upgraded. While definetely not without it’s flaws, the gameplay is still very convival.

THE BOTTOM LINE – QuackShot is by no means a masterpiece, with it’s odd control scheme and forgettable music, but it manages to make up for it with levels and gameplay that will provide you with plenty of entertainment.

7/10

I’m On Twitter!

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Yes, my fellow retr0pians, your eyes do not deceive you – I have indeed joined the blue bird bandwagon!

Here, I’ll be talking about news and topics going around the digital entertainment world and beyond, as well as several other stuff. So for those who do have a Twitter account, be sure to follow me!

REVIEW: Aladdin (1992, SNES)

Greetings, retr0pians, and welcome back to Disney-Thon. Considering that the last time we looked at a Disney movie-based game didn’t go so well, I decided to look into Capcom’s expansive library of licensed games once again, with one in particular managing to catch my eye: a Super Nintendo game based off of one of my favorite animated films, Aladdin.

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Can this game manage to rid the bad taste in my mouth left by last time, or was DuckTales really nothing more than a fluke? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – One thing that’s noteworthy about this game is the fact that not all of the versions are the exact same. For example, the Genesis/Amiga/DOS/Game Boy/NES versions are all Earthworm Jim-esque platform games, while this one is more Mario/Mega Man X-esque. Oh yeah, and I forgot about the Game Gear/Master System ones…

…needless to say, they’re pretty awful.

But getting back to the topic of hand, the reason I’m saying this is because when compared to all of the other versions, the SNES version trumps them all COMPLETELY. Never have I reviewed a 16-bit game that looks THIS good since Puggsy! But first, let’s start off with the character sprites and animations. While they do look good and flow very naturally in their animations, they do lack in detail and are a bit stiff when they’re compared to the Genesis ones, though that may be because the Genesis sprites and animations were done by Disney themselves. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the backgrounds. Not only do they do an excellent job in adapting the look and feel of the movie, but they are simply top-notch in every way. Every single stage, from the sandy streets of Agrabah, to the treacherous Cave of Wonders, to the wacky and imaginative world inside of Genie’s lamp, really take you in and make you truly appreciate the detail put into them. You know, I really got to hand it to the artists at Capcom; for a movie tie-in game, this looks WAY better than it should.

THE SOUND – Not unlike the Lion King game we reviewed last time, the soundtrack utilizes various songs from the movie itself, as seen by the rather catchy 16-bit rendition of “Never Had a Friend Like Me”. However, one major difference that this game has from last time is  that there are more original tracks than there are remixes. And to be honest, that ain’t a bad thing at all, because the music to each and every one of the levels is FANTASTIC. They all really give you a sense of the action, danger, and world around you, making it all the more exhilarating to go through them all. Of course, like I said in my DuckTales review, you can’t be surprised by the music being great considering that it IS a Disney game.

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Aladdin in the Genie’s lamp.

THE GAMEPLAY – Just when you think the game has already pulled every possible great thing out of its sleeve, the gameplay comes in to top it all of with a excellently-designed and polished experience. Starting off with Aladdin’s controls, they are very smooth and easy to get a hang of, making the already exciting levels more fun to get through. As for the levels themselves, like I said earlier, they are excellently-designed. They all really feel like you’re playing scenes from the movie itself, like when you’re riding on the carpet throughout the lava-engulfed Cave of Wonders, to when you’re fighting Jafar in his snake form. As for attacks, you can either jump on your enemies like any other regular platformer, or you can throw apples at them. You can also collect golden scarabs hidden in each level, which can grant you a bonus round at the end of the level. You can even interact with the environment as well, making each stage feel much more alive. Of course, I could go on and on about how much the gameplay gets pretty much almost everything right, but I don’t want this review to be too long.

THE BOTTOM LINE – Aladdin proves that if they’re put in the right hands, movie tie-in games and tie-in games in general can be something truly amazing, providing top-notch graphics, fun and engaging gameplay, and admirable level design, making it just as great, or dare I say it – even better than DuckTales. I’d definetely recommend this game to platformer fans and Disney fans alike.

9/10

 

 

REVIEW: The Lion King (1994, SNES)

Greetings, retr0pians. Keeping in line with this month’s theme, we’ll be taking a look at a game based off of what many consider to be one of the greatest animated films ever made. That’s right, get ready for a safari in the Pride Lands, ’cause today we’re gonna take a look at The Lion King.

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Can this game manage to hold out after the many years of its release, or does it just belong with all of the other soulless, licensed pieces of crap that I’ve reviewed? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – One interesting thing to note about this game is the fact that the graphics were actually done by the Mouse House themselves. This in turn would explain the VERY detailed backgrounds and art design, as well as the fluid and natural animations of the character sprites. The backgrounds also do a great job of adapting many different scenes and sequences from the film, great examples being the Stampede level, the I Just Can’t Wait to be King level, and so forth. Sure, it might not be THE best, especially when you compare it to something like Killer Instinct or the three Donkey Kong Country games, but the graphics are still very impressive for what they are.

THE SOUND –Something that a lot of Disney games appear to have in common is a great soundtrack. This game is no exception. Being a tie-in of a musical, it would make perfect sense that most of the level themes are based around the songs. But the one problem is that pretty much every Disney fan and their mother knows about the songs and how good they are, so I can’t really say anything much here, unfortunately.

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Simba making his way across group of smug giraffes.

THE GAMEPLAY – With all of the good things I’ve said so far, you’d think that I would have a lot of positives to ramble about with the gameplay, right? WRONG. I can’t even begin to describe how much of a mess this game is on a technical and design level, but I’ll try. Starting off with Simba’s controls, it’s actually kind of difficult to say wether they’re loose, or just stiff. As you could guess, this makes platforming WAY more annoying than it should be. As for the levels themselves, not only are they extremely generic in terms of design, but there are times when they decide to just ramp up the difficulty to absolutely ABSURD levels, the worst offenders of this being the Hakuna Matata level, and the I Just Can’t Wait to be King level. As for attacks, you can either jump on your enemies in a Mario-like fashion, or you can roar at them. Unfortunately, the roar doesn’t really do much most of the time. There are also four mini games with Timon and Pumbaa where you have to catch falling bugs and other stuff, but they don’t last that long and are just not worth talking about. This alone shows that having good graphics isn’t an automatic “Get out of Bad Game Jail Free” card.

THE BOTTOM LINE – The Lion King may talk the visual and auditorial talk, but it simply can’t walk the walk in any other areas. Sure, there are definitely worse games out there, but there’s really no reason to settle for this when you could just watch the movie instead.

4/10

REVIEW: DuckTales (1989, NES)

Greetings, retr0pians. With Zootopia (Zootropolis for any of my British readers out there) being released to critical acclaim as of late, I thought it would be a good idea to devote the entirety of March to licensed games based off various Disney properties. And what would be a better way to start off this little Disney-thon of mine than to take a look at what is considered by many to be one of the very few good games based off an already existing property, the 1989 platform game DuckTales?

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Based off of the beloved cartoon series and developed by Capcom, the game’s story revolves around the greedy but well-meaning Scrooge McDuck as he travels throughout the world with his nephews and his sidekick Launchpad, as they attempt to outwit Scrooge’s rival Flintheart and increase Scrooge’s fortune. But is there truly more than there is to this game, or is it just another unfortunate case of nostalgia-covered glasses? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – Being based off of a Disney show, it can’t be denied that the game’s visuals look pretty decently done. Each level, wether it be the amazon, Translyvania, or even outer space, have a colorful asthetic and are all varied. But the problem is, because it’s an NES game, it really doesn’t give me alot to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are still good, but compared to the consoles that have came afterwards, the NES’ graphics are rather simplistic and don’t really require alot of detail. Of course, it’s probably just an acquired taste.

THE SOUND – With a show fondly remembered by show many just by its theme song alone, the game definitely has some big shoes to fill in the audio department. And my god, does it fill those shoes well. Composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, every single bit of music, from the 8-bit remix of the show’s theme to ALL of the stage themes are simply unforgettable. They all really bring you into the enviroments, making them feel alive and very treacherous. Then again, I can’t say that I’m suprised by the music being great – it is Disney, after all.

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Ducks! Yes, ducks in outer space…

THE GAMEPLAY – One noteworthy thing about this game is the fact that it, along with many other Capcom-developed Disney Afternoon games, runs on the NES Mega Man engine. And with how the gameplay itself fares in mind, I can definetely see that. In a normal licensed game, the designers would normally just slap together things with no cohesion and no direction, resulting in something not very enjoyable to play. For a good example of this, check out my reviews of TTA: Buster’s Hidden Treasure or The Flintstones. Thankfully, like Turtles in Time, that is not the case here. Not unlike Puggsy which I reviewed previously, the game allows you to explore the enviroment around you despite the (rather reasonable), time limit, and rewards you with extra lives, health, and treasure. You can also defeat your enemies and solve puzzles with your cane, which can be used as a pogo stick or to knock over blocks and other items.  There are also three possible endings you can gain depending on how you played the game: a normal one for just finishing the game, a good one for finding all of the treasures and $10,000,000, and a bad ending for finishing the game with $0. The levels themselves are also designed very well, requiring you to really use your platforming skills and wits. Unfortunately, just like the music, I don’t really have much to say here.

THE BOTTOM LINE – DuckTales offers a great soundtrack along with well-programmed gameplay, but is too simplistic for its own good. Those who love the show and are classic video game historians will most likely enjoy it.

7/10