[EXPRESSO] Congo’s Caper/Joe & Mac 2 SNES | Sun Wukong Upon A Star

Ah, yes, the three inescapable truths of life: death, taxes and SNES caveman platformers that somehow you didn’t play or knew existed, like todays’s Congo’s Caper, just recently rereleased on the NSW Online subscription/retro apps.

This one it’s a bit more recognizable than stuff like Prehistorik Man, as it’s basically a spin-off of the Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja series by Data East, but also the second game in the series, since it was actually sold as Joe & Mac 2 in Japan and PAL regions.

And i kinda get why, as Data East also recycled some characters from the mainline Joe & Mac series, like the devil or the first stage t-rex boss , and the controls are similar, as it retains the high jump, but not the weapons, as you use only a small club to attack.

The more distinctive feature is the player character turning back into a monkey if hit, and regaining your human form with a red crystal (Mario style), with the ability to enter a “super saiyan” invincibility state too, you’re a half-monkey man after all.

Controls are actually pretty smooth, arguably better than the original Joe & Mac, the new protagonist has some new abilities like hanging from vines, so it should be better…. and it arguably is, it’s definitely more polished, has a lot more levels, BUT it’s too easy for its own good, it’s fun, but it lacks challenge, and the level themselves are very short, while also not providing anything you haven’t seen (or heard, as some of the sound effects are pretty much “ripped off” of Super Mario World…. or its sound libraries) done better in terms of level design.

So it’s not a bad game, but a decent one that could have been potentially quite good.

Shame, really.

Kirby Star Allies NSWITCH [REVIEW] | Brainwashing Stars

While we wait for the first 3D Kirby game (affectionately dubbed “The Last Of Kirby” by me of now) to launch next year, let’s talk about the last main installment in the series, 2018’s Kirby Star Allies.

The Kirby series is arguably the most traditional of Nintendo’s portfolio.

Kirby is Kirby, and the developer, Hal Laboratory, believe that Kirby is Kirby because it’s simple, it’s traditional, and it’s accessible, especially regarding the main series and it’s main genre, platformer. We have seen interesting spin on the formula with Kirby Mass Attack, Canvas Curse and it’s Wii U sequel, Kirby even had small rhythm spin-off, an entire spin-off dedicated to fighting, a pinball spin-off, and even a racing game. Each, even a “battle royale”. Kinda.

But Kirby is mostly a series of platforming that are charming as they are incredibly traditional and fairly easy for experienced players, but fun, wholesome and entertaining regardless, in fairly typical Nintendo fashion, so the formula is the same each main installment, but there are new systems layered on top of the basics.

Continua a leggere “Kirby Star Allies NSWITCH [REVIEW] | Brainwashing Stars”

[EXPRESSO] Jelly Boy SNES | Europlatforming Of Old

Figured i’d check in with the SNES and NES online measly offering and see if some obscure back catalogue title dropped while Nintendo forgot to say it or did but we didn’t care.

And Jelly Boy is indeed one of those titles you might have gone your entire life without knowing about as it blends perfectly into the humungous pile of platformers of the 90s, and only came out in Europe, to boot.

So, it’s one of those 16 bit platformers that wanted to jump on the bandwagon, so it has a Sonic style health system, and often very tight time limits for the levels…. which i guess were made to make it feel more like Sonic when it’s otherwise a more linear “europlatformer” of british descent starring a humanoid shaped jelly in baby pink that can morph in various shapes, including a duck… when you duck, so the game has a sense of humour.

The main issue is that you have to find jigsaw pieces hidden in the level to unlock the zone’s boss, bu beating bosses only nets you item needed to finish the game, but to actually enter the next zone/world you have to find out first that there’s a hub area to access each world’s map, and you need to find a key in each zone to access the next one.

The game doesn’t tell you about any of these, most likely on purpose to sell guides and avoid people from easily beating it while renting it in the day, even more because just the first world it’s so obtuse. Once you know what the hell you’re supposed to, the game is actually decent, looks good , has a lot of levels, i’d say it’s worth a play by platformers buffs…. with a walkthrough on hand.

Medievil PS4 [REVIEW] | Re-re-remaking The Past

While not what you would call a system seller, if you ask anyone growing up in the 90s, Medievil will probably come up in the discussion, so ingrained this little, beloved series of action platformers in the Playstation brand and overall legacy, despite remaining a cult/nostalgia sensation.

Though, when i say series, i mean the PS1 original (still available as digital PS1 Classic release on PS3 and Vita), Medievil 2 exists, but it’s mostly forgotten by the internet hivemind/consciousness, and this isn’t even the first remake of Medievil, as there’s a PSP port, Medievil Resurrection, with upgraded graphics that also changes some of the story, adds new features and remove others.

This is more of a remaster than an actual remake, a complete technical re-built but with minimal changes to gameplay and controls, very few modern concessions, all in order to offer a faithful recreation, for best or worst. Because as much as i like Medievil, this remaster/remake also works as an interesting litmus test of where bringing back the 90s, and – expanding the question – appealing to the nostalgia market eventually leads.

At least without going into the unholy effects of meming fuckin Bubsy (and Shaq Fu) unto life again, we’ll visit these forsaken lands of excrement and death, but not today.

Continua a leggere “Medievil PS4 [REVIEW] | Re-re-remaking The Past”

Talking bout that new dang Nintendo Direct

So, as it’s customary and cyclical event by now, a new Nintendo Direct dropped at midnight today, and i have something to blabber on about without planning much.

Continua a leggere “Talking bout that new dang Nintendo Direct”

Do NOT buy the Kao The Kangaroo Trilogy on GOG

Yeah, this article isn’t timely, but i wanted to get around to it eventually, and eventually here we are.

Earlier this year, GOG re-released all the original Kao The Kangaroo games as bundle for 6 bucks, and since i was actually waiting for a re-release of the first and third games, as i’m a platformer buff and these are getting hard to find, i immediatly bought them, especially with a small discount to 5 bucks.

But sadly GOG really dropped the ball on this re-release of a niche and forgotten platformer series from polish developer Tate Interactive, especially as it wasn’t released before in its enterity. Kao 2 is basically the same as the enhanced Steam release, and it was also released on PS2, so there’s really not much to say.

The problems come with the other two games, the ones most people bought the collection to play because they didn’t before. The original Kao The Kangaroo game was released on both Dreamcast and PC at the time, so of course the GOG release ignored the version WITHOUT tank controls, and released the PC one.

Good idea for a 3D platformer game, good idea.

Continua a leggere “Do NOT buy the Kao The Kangaroo Trilogy on GOG”

Putty Squad PS4 [REVIEW] | Blob In Time

Ah, yes, the lost Amiga platformer that wasn’t really lost at all, and even released on Super Nintendo in 1994 (not be confused with the SNES port of the first game, Putty, retitled “Super Putty” because Super Nintendo naming conventions), but was tauted as “reborn” for the PS4.

Yeah, this was a launch title, not that surprising, this is System 3 we’re talking about, i remember distincly them putting Super Fruit Fall on the Wii at launch, at full price, because why not?

Does it merit full MSRP? No. Doesn’t matter, since we’re putting it out when there’s bugger all to even play for the console. System 3 have been one of the cheapest UK publisher around for decades, and they’re still around, even if they mostly put out videogame pinball collections, some “HD” port for modern consoles of their old internal-developed MS DOS titles like Constructor.

And yes, they tried selling this one again on Switch, with the “Super” monicker slapped on, though, if you want a retail copy you might have to import it from the EU region.

Continua a leggere “Putty Squad PS4 [REVIEW] | Blob In Time”

[EXPRESSO] Spanky’s Quest SNES | Darling please

As Nintendo’s own Nintendo Switch Online retrogaming offering continues to baffle and disappoint everyone, i decided to pick from this pathetically tiny new serving of small, back catalogues titles most people don’t really care about… well, Spanky’s Quest, from Natsume.

Don’t be fooled by the cheeky title, because a very Kirby-esque (albeit shitty, as it doesn’t actually explain even the basic premise) cutscene will introduce the titular simian, Spanky, trapped in a tower by a witch and now in a quest has to escape while watching out for enemy fruit homunculi.

It’s the kind of game that if i played back when i was a kid, i would have most likely dropped after the first few levels, not in frustration more as not being that interested. Doesn’t help that there’s no tutorial of sorts, since the way you attack isn’t obvious, nor the game tells you can bounce the bubble you launch to power it up multiple times, and then use the bubble button again to pop it for a bigger, more powerful projectile attack.

Once you figure this out, you realize this is a fairly straighforward puzzle platformer, where in each level you need all the keys (hold by the enemies) to open the door leading to the next stage, albeit made a bit more challenging by the fairly unique method of indirect attack by throwing – and juggling – bubbles like actual spherical objects, and NOT the way Bubble Bobble does it.

To my surprise, it’s actually a decent little title, and while it’s not too long (just 50 short stages, even without the save states and rewind features it’s not that hard or time consuming), it has some charm and depth to it. Just a decent, but cute little puzzle platformer from the era. Nice music, too.

The Disappeareance of Balan Wonderworld’s Demo [HANDS ON]

To be honest, while i knew of this title since it was announced… i also kinda forgot about it, knew was coming out, but i didn’t particularly care, even if did look like Nights Into Dreams platformer, fairly obvious since this was from Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima’s new company, formed specifically to make this new title, the aptly titled Balan Company. It looked a bit cheapish, but whatever, could be fun, though i wondered why we didn’t see reviews already out for it.

Then i saw people in the internet calling it a “dumpster fire”, the press giving it low scores (very low scores), the fact that the demo could accidentally cause seizures due to an unforeseen bug, that Square Enix (who published the title) didn’t actually give out review codes for it, and then this week Square Enix removed the demo with just a couple of days notice before doing it, so people that want to see for themselves if the game it’s as bad as they heard now will have to pay the full 60 bucks. Or pirate it.

Thankfully i downloaded the demo on PS4 (and Switch and PC just for kicks) long before, so i was able to play that… and even from that you can get a grip of many problems pointed out in reviews for the full game.

And i really feel like i should say SOMETHING, because this is kinda tragic.

Continua a leggere “The Disappeareance of Balan Wonderworld’s Demo [HANDS ON]”

[EXPRESSO] Psycho Dream SNES | VR Movie Divers

Played via Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES service.

The other title from the February 2021 poultry batch of titles for the NSO that mildly had my attention. More than Doomsday Warriors (also developed by RIOT), anyway.

Not that i even heard of this one before, i guess because it was released for the Super Famicom only, so it never left Japan in any official manner before now. That means i had to look up the plot on Wikipedia, and thanks to that i know you play as either Ryo or Maria, two special agents called “Debuggers”, as they rescue disaffected young people that lose themselves in virtual worlds known as “D Movies”.

In this case, they have to rescue a 17 yo girl of weak constitution, expected to die in a D Movie in the matter of 24 hours..

Interesting plot, but gameplay wise it’s just your typical action sidescroller from the era: advance from left to right fighting off weird ass enemies, collecting power-ups that change or upgrade your weapon, occasionally doing some platforming, and then fighting a boss at the end of each chapter. Nothing really special by any means, and on the technical side you can tell it’s definitely an early game for the SNES/Super Famicom.

There are no major issues with the controls, no limited continues or unfair bullshit of the time (you have unlimited continues, for once), but while it gets some bonus points for the bizarre enemies and visuals that make the game live up to its title, it loses them due to sketchy performance and level designs that at times makes the stages feel either very stretched out or made a bit more confusing than needed just to pad out the overall longevity. So it ends up just being mediocre, playable but mostly forgettable.