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Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse NA Version (JP & EU use the same photo)

      Mickey, Goofy, & Donald are playing catch with Pluto, when Pluto chases a ball into the forest. Goofy goes to look for him, and when he doesn’t return, Mickey goes after both of them. I guess Donald (shown only in silhouette) was happy to let you all die. He’s written out of the script except for that cameo in the beginning cinematic.

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      Taking control of Mickey, you learn the controls before running into a Wizard’s house who tells you he saw Pluto taken away by Emperor Pete’s forces. He tells you to give up looking for your dog, but when you refuse, he decides to help you by spreading helpful boxes across the land. He will also give you some powerful costumes later.

      Control wise, you can jump on enemies and make then dizzy. While dazed, you can pick them up and chuck them like a Koopa shell to take out more enemies, and you don’t have to worry about it hurting you if it bounces back. You can also pick up blocks and toss them the same way, but you must be facing the right or left of the block to grab it; it won’t work if you are above or below it. You can’t hold enemies or blocks out in front of you to prevent damage, either; all enemies and projectiles go through it and hit you, so you have to throw them. You also need to pay attention to which blocks you need to jump on so you don’t accidentally remove a platform you need, otherwise you have to walk about 3 screens back then return to get the block to reappear. You can pluck fruit seeds from the background and throw them, then they suddenly develop wings and fly up. You have a brief window to jump up and hold onto them before they take off. Once you grab hold, it flies diagonally upward in the direction you are facing.

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Mickey flies through the air, waiting for the flying chickens to run into him.

      Coins can be used to buy items at the item shop. The shop has hearts to refill your life, an extra life, energy for your costumes, items that cut the costume meter in half, and a heart container that allows you to get hit one more time for the rest of the game. You can also collect some items for a score, but the score does nothing in the game since you have unlimited continues.

      As the 2nd level begins, you are given a magic turban. Select the Turban icon with the L or R button (the game doesn’t pause) and then change into it with A. Mickey goes behind a curtain, then comes out changed and ready to do battle. Your turban allows you to swim underwater easier and faster, and also fires energy shots, but you have a meter for it that makes it’s use limited. You can also charge the shot for up to 4 different blasts. You can eventually buy an item at the shop to be able to use it twice as much, but it’s so expensive it will be a while before you can afford it.

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At the beginning of the 3rd level, you get the Firefighter costume. This allows you to shoot water from your hose. In addition to hitting enemies, it can also put out fires (which only happens in level 3) and move blocks (even blocks in the air) to get into holes or jump to other platforms.

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In the 4th level, you get the Climber’s Outfit. This is a grappling hook that allows you to swing along the ceiling and even pull yourself up onto any platform above you. It has no meter and can be used indefinitely. You can pull enemies and blocks to you, also. When you die, your meter for all your costumes goes back to full.

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      Mickey’s Magical Quest is a very easy game, but that’s understandable since it stars Mickey Mouse, a character for younger children. Also, it doesn’t penalize you for anything, which is good. You have unlimited continues to start at each sub-level, your meter goes back to full after every life, and you don’t lose any of your coins when you die.

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Mickey Vs Emperor Pete

      The bosses are pretty large and also very fun. The most annoying battle was a giant bird, as you had to sense when it would fly at the screen, then quickly dodge the enemies on the ground and jump up and hold onto a ring. If you failed, it was an instant death. The toughest part of the main game came in Level 1-2, where you must run on top of a falling ball to prevent yourself from falling into spikes. However the ball changes in speed constantly, so sometimes you’re trying to keep up with it, only to run off it as it slows and you fall into the chasm below. Easily the most annoying part of the game, but luckily it only happens once.

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You have to grab one of the two floating blocks by quickly switching into your Climber’s Gear,
or else it’s instant death for you.

      After each boss, a ghost of Pete flies away, indicating he was controlling them. Finally, you face Emperor Pete, who is extremely large. You don’t want to touch him at all, or use the Firefighter Outfit, as Pete responds by using an attack that is harder to dodge. In just about 2-3 hours, my first adventure with Mickey was already over. There were a few parts here and there where you die a few times before just using trial and error to solve it, but with unlimited continues, it’s hard to complain of any difficulty.

      One of the most wasteful opportunities are the enemies. A few of them only show up 3-4 times on one screen total, and then never again. Why bother making an entirely new enemy just to only have it appear for a few seconds? They should have used them more or created a few more levels for more of them?

      That’s all there is to the game. There isn’t much else to describe.

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      Challenge: 9 out of 10
This was made to be simple, but there are a few times that the design made it obvious they forgot to dial it back, such as the ball run and instant death boss above. They also have a hidden heart container you can only get to with the Climber’s Gear, but it requires precision on something that’s hard to use swinging across a ceiling with no floor (so lot’s of instant death).

      Story: 3 out of 10
Sorry, but the Super Nintendo had been out for a bit now, and the story is very bare and just an excuse to play the game. They all least have the Wizard talking helpful exposition at the beginning of the game, but otherwise, he shows up to give you a costume, Goofy shows up to give you the Climber’s gear, and then you get an ending.

      Fun: 20 out of 20
Despite being easy in most parts, it’s still enjoyable to play. The use of throwing blocks and using the costumes makes for some variety to make it stand out from most other platforming games.

      Control: 9 out of 10
The game is really easy to learn. The only thing that is difficult to learn the controls for is the Climber’s Gear.

      Music: 7 out of 10
The music is very cheery and engaging, but only slightly below the quality that would want me to listen to it’s soundtrack on my own.

      Graphics: 10 out of 10
Everything looks bright and colorful. Every boss is very large and detailed. The backgrounds are well done and all enemies have many animation sets.

      Replay Value: 5 out of 10
The game is quick to play through. Because it’s over so quickly, you’ll most likely forget most of it and play it again some time later. Since the game doesn’t force you to play through it to the point of repetition and boredom, I can see it being picked up again and again.

      Extras: 2 out of 10
There is a cheat code to get every coin, heart, and costume at the very beginning, plus 990 seconds on the timer for every level.

Total Points: 65 out of 90

This is the shortest and easiest review I’ve written because there isn’t much to describe. Ultimately, Mickey’s Magical Quest is a game for younger kids, but also for those who just want a quick, one-night game that provides some fun and relaxation.

For the entire year, I stored all my video games I bought in one corner, then did a quick video 6 months later, and another at the end of the year. I was actually surprised to see I had bought so much stuff. Randomly buying I also came to realize that I buy a game more if it has Time Travel or Dinosaurs in it. Hopefully seeing everything for one year will help me buy less the next year.

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Granstream Saga – North American Cover

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Japanese Version (the Euro version just has more logos blocking the art)

      Grandstream Saga is an exciting action/adventure game with some RPG elements.

      In the world of Grandstream, there was a war between the Imperial Wizardry (evil) and Allied Spirit Army (good). The Imperial Wizardry used a weapon both sides had agreed not to use, but weapon was miscalculated, and it shifted the axis of the world, causing the ice caps to be on the equator, melt, and flood the world. Before the world was destroyed, 4 Wise Men created 4 gems and created 4 flying continents. Every few decades, these gems must be recharged or the continents slowly sink toward the water below.

      It is now 100 years later, and the wise men’s descendants are missing. Your home continent of Shilf is slowing descending toward the water. Your father is cutting off parts of the flying island to slow its decent. However, Eon (you) spots a bird’s nest on the falling piece of land and risks his life to save it.

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I was busy risking my life to save baby birds so the player knows I’m pure of heart.

      What later starts out as a search for a missing boy leads you to discover your powers to recreate items from scraps with a magic bracelet you’ve had since you were born. It never displayed any magic until now. From there, you learn the Imperial Wizardry never truly died. They have kidnapped the wise man’s descendant, Arcia. You smuggle yourself about a pirate ship that’s going to trade with them to try and rescue her. It is there you meet Laramee and her spirit bird Korby. Laramee helps you board the Imperial ship, as she is inspired by your heroism to save someone you’ve never even met. It is on this mission the stakes are raised, as you learn you must seek out a magic verse for Arcia to sing at each continent to recharge the magic of the continents to keep them afloat before all of humanity is extinguished forever.

      But first, in the middle of that story, something rare happen (for American video games of this time). You are smuggled into a treasure chest placed in Laramee’s room, and you open it up to see this:

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There is no nipple, so it’s not nudity.

      I don’t know how this was approved during translation. But, the game is really G rated, with only some serious themes popping up at the very end, but they made sure you knew this scene was there; it’s even on the back of the game box.

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      The characters have fun interactions together. Kobry the spirit has a fun antagonist relationship with Laramee, and he has many comedic conversations with Eon (especially if you try to search through a bonfire for secret items). The tone is very good at mixing a light-hearted feel between the characters with serious disastrous events going on (the storyline about the religious cult on the 2nd island being my favorite story). The last dungeon quickly gets very serious, and not every character walks away from this game alive.

      You have an overhead map screen. You can rotate the map in any of the 8 compass directions. I usually just keep it pointing straight North. Your character actually walks relatively fast, so I already like that I don’t have to take forever to get anywhere.

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      You can wander around towns and talk to people, and sometimes you need to talk to a particular person to progress the plot. In addition, there are items shops which you can use to buy herbs to heal your Life Points, and Magic to increase your Magic Points (both are always slightly random, but you learn to figure out the average the more you use them). You heal and save games in churches, and healing yourself is free. There are weapon shops, but for some reason, something always prevents you from buying items at them in each town. The reason for this is because you have to find all the weapons in the game yourself, so they pretty much just exist to screw with you and your RPG expectations.

      The is an action game. When you run into an enemy on screen, you quickly go into a battle screen (it is only 1 second by the way—-no long loading times). The screen expands for battle, but it adds some black barriers to prevent you from going too far away (you can never run away from battles; one of you has to die). You hit Circle to block, and you can block attacks and take no damage. However, if an enemy’s weapon starts to glow purple, they can break through your block; you need to dodge or attack them quickly to interrupt them.

      Another fun and helpful ability is that when you block, your character automatically faces the villain no matter where he goes on the screen. If you aren’t blocking, the enemy can move left and you will still be staring at a wall unless you turn around.

      Your movements are slower now in battle compared to when you were walking. Luckily, you can tap the control stick in any direction to make a fast dash out of the way. Sometimes you can dash a few times to get behind an enemy who is blocking to attack them where they are unprotected.

      You hit Square to cast magic and X to attack with your weapon. You can chose between a dagger (low damage, fast speed), a sword (average damage, average speed), and an axe (high damage, slow speed). Along the way, each weapon will obtain 3 different secret buttom move combinations that must be input with 3 button input on the control stick followed by the attack button (but enemies can still block it). It makes your sword glow purple followed by a 2 or 3 prong attack. It is really useful to use these to save time when fighting enemies with really large heath bars, as each enemy (and you) have multiple EP bars, which each represent a full Life Bar. When one life bar is gone, you lose one EP and another full Life Bar appears. Luckily, if you only have 5 hit points left in your life bar, and are dealt 100 hit points of damage, you will only lose 5 Hit Points; the damage doesn’t carry over to the next EP bar. The only exception to this when you attack the enemy with YOUR super move (so, a trade-off for them being able to block your super-moves).

      Some enemies have a shield like you do, preventing all damage with a block (they even block your super moves, which you can’t do). Luckily, after a few swings, you can knock an enemies’ shield off, but you have to be quick to stand between them and the shield. If the enemy is near the border of the screen, the shield will just fall right under them and they will pick it up immediately, so it’s best to lure them near the center of the battlefield.

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You really start to hate all enemies with shields (yes, I know he doesn’t have one).

      You have to learn each enemies’ weakness. For instance, in the first dungeon, the metal guards should be attacked with the dagger, because you can kill them without getting hit because you’re too fast for them. But with later guards in that level, you should never use an axe because they are too fast to ever land in a hit.

      You can also run…at the enemy. If you run directly at the enemy, you can temporarily stun him, even if they have their shields up. However, you have to back up quite a bit, which will prompt them to use their long range attack. You have to study their movements and wait for the right opportunity to use this. This is the most useful skill in the game in my opinion.

      The game is very challenging, too. I was always low on healing herbs and magic replenishment. It felt tense not knowing when the end was, and if you had enough energy or herbs for the enemy battles. Each battle is a risk, especially when you don’t know their movements and weaknesses for the weapons or how big the dungeon is. Money is also scarce, so you can’t go battling creatures for money because money is rare (which makes you struggle with what to buy at the shops)

      However, one thing I hated was a dungeon you teleport to that you can never go back into. I forgot a sword there that I can never get again. I actually reset the game and replayed the first 3 hours to get it because it gave me 3 attacks at once instead of 2, and I didn’t feel like playing through the game on a harder difficulty.

      My most hated enemy (in the first dungeon, by the way) was the turtle-like creatures with blades for hands. Not only are they faster than you and anyone else in the game, they have twice the range, charge at you with spinning blades, and jump over you when you’re about to attack. They take a long time and are very annoying. Luckily, I can shoot them with fire three to kill them (when I actually have some magic power).

      You will get magic throughout the game, but you have to actively seek it out, and some are purchased at a shop by buying a mysterious stone. You have spells for outside battle such as teleporting back to the front of the dungeon, healing, and freezing an enemy so you can move by them. You also have battle magic, which is the normal fire, ice, and lighting type attacks, but you also get spells to temporarily increase your defense and attack power. However, some enemies later in the game block spells as easily as regular attacks, but luckily the early enemies can’t so well.

      Another odd departure from traditional RPGs is that you don’t level up after a certain number of battle victories, but at certain parts of the game. There is no need to fight everything in sight. The game can be much shorter if you do this.

      Interestingly, no one has faces. Their character models have really detailed clothes, but they have no facial features, those are left to the anime portraits that appear when some of them talk. This game was apparently one of the first video game to use fully polygonal backgrounds (instead of 2D backgrounds) Also, anime cutscenes are shown at many parts of the game. I really enjoyed these.

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Notice how no one has a face on their character models.

      The game rewards exploration. You must look everywhere to find better weapons. Usually, you’ll be fighting tough enemies, and finally, 75% of the way through the dungeon, you’ll find a fire sword that makes fighting the ice enemies in that dungeon much easier. Getting to defeat them in less time after taking a long time to defeat them previously feels very satisfying.

      Music: 10 out of 10

The music from the first level stuck in my head after the game. As I played further, I realized I actually wanted the soundtrack to this game. The music changes to match the tone of each level (for the towns and the dungeons).

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

It’s a medium challenging action adventure, and feels that way pretty much from beginning to end. It never really spikes to too easy or hard.

      Fun: 20 out of 20

I was pretty addicted to this game. The battles were fun and challenging, making every single enemies a challenge rather than a ‘Tap A To Attack And Win’ fight.

      Control: 10 out of 10

The controls are simple, and being able to use your dash in any direction really helps in battles. The three weapon types all have their own feel to them, as does each magic spell. I never had any problem with the controls interfere with my enjoyment.

      Graphics: 8 out of 10

The graphics are really bright and everything stands out very well. Everything is

      Extras: 0 out of 10

There are 2 secrets. One is finding the hidden shopkeeper who will only sell you things in Bronze, Silver, or Gold (items you get from treasure chests throughout the game), but he can give you better weapons when you need them. The 2nd secret is one I hated. You see, I forgot one important part of the game that I skipped in the actual game. When you defeat an enemy without getting hit and without using magic, you get a Specter Force. If you open it, it’s a weak item. But, if you chose to copy it, you then can try and defeat the next enemy without getting hit. Hidden this way are 6 Spirit Cards

I gave up on this after an hour or so of frustration. You have to do this 8 times to get the last card. However, getting any of the other 5 cards is random. If you unlock the 5th Scepter Force, for instance, you get one of 5 items, only one of which COULD contain the card for the 5th time. Most enemies are impossible to fight without getting hit at least once or twice, even with better weapons and armor. Luckily, you can skip this, and it does nothing to hinder you in the game.

      Replay Value: 2 out of 10

Unfortunately, this is where the game struggles. After you’ve beaten the game, you’ve played all there is and there are no real side quests. Granted, it’s about 30 – 35 hours, but this is one of those games you play once, and then maybe you’ll play it again in 5 years once you’ve forgotten how cool it was.

      Bonus:

      +10 Anime Cut Scenes

I really liked the anime cutscenes. They brought more life into the characters and showed them with more emotions than the text could. Not to mention adding energy to some high-intensity scenes.

Total Score: 70 out of 90

      One thing I have to mention, though, is it’s focus on story. There is a lot of dialogue in the game. So much so that I felt that I only participated in battles about 50% of the game. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. The characters are interesting, but their interactions with each other are what is actually the fun part of the game. I thought the story was different than most RPG’s I had played before, and in the end, the game even takes a dramatic twist that you didn’t see coming (but it makes sense in retrospect given some of the plot and character backgrounds that have been spliced into the story up to that point). I was satisfied with both endings (but liked one better) once I finally defeated the boss and overall enjoyed the game enough that I would recommend it. It wasn’t very popular over here upon release, so it is very cheap (under $10.00) when you can find it.


Slayzer: The Stupid Brother Of Laramee

      I hate Slayzer. He is an idiot. He destroys 3 of the 4 orbs needed to power the flying islands because he thinks I’m going to use the power for control, even though he OVERHEARD OUR ENTIRE CONVERSATION about the continents falling into the sea and that the orbs are needed to kep them (and all humans everywhere) afloat. You find much later he wanted them destroyed so that the balance of the world could return to normal, but, seriously, there is no normal and it couldn’t be again; all 4 islands would go under the sea, everyone would die, and there would be no humanity or land. This is where I would put curse words if I could.

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      Sometimes a game jumps out on the shelf and into your eyes saying, “Look at me, don’t I look awesome?” This game was not one of them. However, this games’ cover was amusing. I mean, just look at it!

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North American Cover

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The disc, since I have no foreign cover to show you.

      So, despite by better judgment with the poor proportions and NO pictures of what the game even looked like, I bought it for $1.00 because…why not.

      Get Medieval is a PC Game from 1998 from Monolith. I put it in, not really expecting much of anything, and get a bad menu screen. The design isn’t bad, it’s just that whenever you leave a menu, the music from the previous menu is still playing even though it loads a new theme, resulting in 2 songs playing at once.

      Next, I watched the opening movie/cutscene. This wasn’t like any cutscene I’d seen before. Based on the video, a dragon burns a village , four heroes pose, then they go together into the dragon’s castle to stop him. However, if you listen to the audio, people are cracking jokes at what they see. At first (since the menu had problems) I thought that the game messed up and played a different audio track, or a gag reel. Then, it cuts to the four warriors, and one voice mentions what they are doing in that scene It was then I realized that the voices were trying to be regular people role-playing their characters in an RPG or video game. Maybe they thought the opening was too generic? The game tries for comedy, and in-game it works, but in the opening scene it does not. The actors constantly talk over each other on occasion, but it sounds like they were all recorded together, but they never actually talk to each other, so maybe the editor made it look like they were all playing together. Also, it sounds like it was all done in one take. It is really odd. See for yourself.

      I check the menu link to find that the link still works, and the company that made this game later created FEAR, the only game I’ve heard of, but never played. At the end of the game, when the credits role by, the screenplay for the opening and closing cutscenes role by in it’s entirely. That is pretty interesting.

      Ok, time to stop the anticipation and actually play the game, not knowing at all what I’m getting into. I start by choosing a warrior. There is a muscle-bound warrior with a helmet that talks like Arnold, a sexy mage, an elven archer, and a female knight. Each of them has little sound bites when you click on them, telling you why you should pick them. I chose the sexy mage to play as the magician.

      Then, the game starts on an overhead dungeon perspective. I am near monsters, treasure chests, gold on the ground, monster generators, and my health of 999 starts ticking down. I then realize I am playing an updated version of Gauntlet.

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Can you figure out what everything on the screen is just based on my review?

      I walk around and collect gold and attack some spiders. You can fire in any of the 8 directions, along with 2 types of barriers; those you can shoot through, and those you cannot (the same goes for the enemy). You also have a spell which turns every enemy into a rat which runs away (but you can still kill them). Spells are powered by scrolls, but these are rare. There is also a disc you can activate under your character, but it appears to do nothing.

      There are also weapon and shield upgrades. And you will need them. When I first got to the boss (bosses appear every 5 levels in the level itself) I was so underpowered I couldn’t win, but when I came back, I could beat him in 15 seconds with rapid fire. You must seek out the Shield icon to increase your defense, and a double Sword icon to increase your weapons power. However, they don’t work automatically; collecting 5 silver of each icon before your Defense and Strength levels up, but collect the gold icons to go to the next level instantly. You can only have a max of Level 5 for both Shield & Strength, but it will always be taken away from you at some point. There is a very fast thief hidden in various parts of different levels and in treasure chests. When he touches you, you revert back to level 1 for both Strength & Shield. You then have only a few seconds to kill the thief and get it all back or else he teleports away, never to return. In a way, this sucks because it punishes you for exploring, but it does keep the game balanced. I wonder why they just didn’t reset your power after every level, or have less of the power-ups around, for you keep all your massive power and defense from level to level, resulting in you finding many worthless power-ups.

      Also, you have to be careful where you aim. If you shoot and hit a power-up, health, key (yes, trapping yourself in the level), and treasure chest, it will flicker in and out for 2-3 seconds before disappearing. You can still get the items or open the chest if you run over to it quick enough. If you fail to get it, a voice will tell you “Destroyed” or your character will say, “That was a stupid thing to do.” The only thing you can’t accidentally destroy is the gold.

      There is gold everywhere in this game. You don’t buy anything with it. Instead, it’s your score that also plays into your actual Level (independent of the Strength and Shield levels). I don’t actually know what leveling up does, though, as the Shield & Sword have such a huge, noticeable impact on the game already, so at first I thought it might just be an arbitrary score level. The manual never mentions this, but the score does give you extra lives when you go beyond a certain amount, so that is the only reason to level up and get gold.

      You can also get many Cursed items. One makes pressing up move you down, and left move you right. There is a Mask of Evil item (the most common special item), in which all the enemies run away from you so you can kill them without worry. Invisibility make you unseen to enemies, but they can still hurt you if they touch you. Odder curses are “Player now moves like the Bishop / Pawn.” This means you can only move diagonally / vertical & horizontally. The game is really hard to play like this for the 2 minutes you have to endure it. There is also the obvious invincibility item late in the game where nothing that touches you can hurt you, but you still have to fire at the enemy to kill them. The worst curse, however, is the Timer Curse: if you don’t find a health powerup in 30 seconds, you die instantly.

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Flee, evil creatures, from my MASK OF EVIL!

      There are bronze, silver, & gold keys; with Gold keys opening most doors and treasure chests, and silver being reserved for more searchable keys and doors. There is also the Skeleton Key. The Skeleton key counts down from 45 seconds, and you must reach the door with the Skeleton lock before time runs out. However, in that time, you can also open every single treasure chest and door without using the keys you already have. The worst placement of these keys is after a boss. You have to collect it to walk through the passage after you kill the boss, and must navigate a maze to find where to use the key. If you don’t make it in time, you can see all the treasure and powers you could have had to start the next level (but you can still beat the level). You must also avoid traps; there are electric tiles that turn on and off you have to avoid, and most are usually everywhere in a boss fight to make it harder. Slime exists to slow you down to half speed.

      The hit detection is exact, meaning it can be bad when your weapon is small. It’s annoying when it flies right by them, only for them to get in range of you and throw their weapons. You can only ever move fast enough to dodge when they throw it from ¾ of the screen away or more. You had better not collect all the health and leave some for later, as items never disappear (unless you shoot them).

      The worst way to die is being overwhelmed. If you are touched by an enemy for about 3 seconds, you are dead. Each touch drains your health considerably. You and the enemy don’t move, flash, or bounce; you walk through each other and take damage. It’s getting away quickly that can be the problem. Also, touching a boss is an instant death. After playing an entire level, you fight the boss right after. If you die, you still have 2 lives left, and 4 continues (In a four player game, everyone has 3 lives and 1 continue—it’s the same number of lives and continues for each number of players).

      The enemies are challenging, too. I’ve had to play through many of the floors again. The enemies that throw things will hit you all the time unless you hide around corners, but good luck since as you wait, more come out of their generators. The last 5 levels have the fastest enemy generators (flying dragons), and you need to be quick to get through these final levels. The bosses are hard unless you have leveled up your Shield & Sword, so you normally have to go through the entire level not collecting them, then going back once you’ve cleared the whole floor so you can be sure no thief will steal your stats on the way to the boss, or just learn where they are and hope you kill them before they reach you. Don’t worry; you will die and have to repeat the level a lot, so I’m sure you will remember where the thieves are.

There are also terrain traps. There are electrical squares that hurt you when charged for 3 seconds, but they also have 3 seconds of deactivation where you can pass through them. However, it’s hard to maneuver through them sometimes when enemies are chasing after you, and they put these tiles everywhere on boss battles. There is also black sludge’s that slows your walking down, and red fire blobs; they are the only enemy that cannot be killed because they aren’t technically enemies (they don’t move), but each time you hit them, you lose 300 Hit Points.

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One of the early bosses. Run and only fire once before running again if you want to survive.

      You can also trap yourself in the level if you try to explore, as your health will lower as you do. There are no hidden walls, but there are hidden portals that are disguised as a regular floor in various places. You can also trap yourself from ever exiting the level if you go crazy with your keys and use them to open every single treasure chest without using them on doors (gold are used for doors and Treasure chests).

      You can save, but only at the beginning of each level. I had to replay a few levels trying not to die often since you only have a limited number of lives to beat the 40 levels of the game, as saving saves all your lives AND continues. So you will have to replay some levels to get better at them if you ever want to reach the end.

      One thing that is amusing is your character. They make comments on everything, and luckily they say a lot of different things so it doesn’t get repetitive and boring. My sorcerer complains if I go too long without killing something, and often gets exciting when killing multiple enemies at once in different ways. Also, it’s fun to get the enemies to kill each other. If you walk along a door without unlocking it, if they are ranged enemies, they will throw their weapon at you, killing the enemy next to them. You can do this until only 1 remains.

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Every blood splat here are all bodies killed by the enemy while I simply move up and down

      The game include Local & Online Co-op. I doubt there is anyone online playing it at all (as the game couldn’t connect to anything). You can play the game with two people in your living room, with each person using a different side of the keyboard. In addition, you can play a random, computer-made dungeon anytime you wish. The game says there is a Dungeon Creator, but I could never find it to make my own levels, and I tried searching through the entire CD’s files. I could not, oddly, find the options to create fan-made levels in the menu.

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      Story: 3 out of 10

Did Gauntlet have a story? This one doesn’t either. However, it does have a CG opening and intro, so there is that. Also, the dialogue it funny in the game, so I will give it a little bump.

      Controls: 10 out of 10

Everything is very simple. Press arrow buttons to move in any of the 8 directions. Press 1 button to shot forward. Press 1 button to ignite your magic bomb. Press a 3rd button to attack close range (but you will never use this).

      Graphics: 7 out of 10

After every 5 levels, the dungeon design changes (all doors, walls, and enemies get a new design, even though they mostly act the same way. The old enemies come back mixed with them, but it looks different and avoids looking at the same thing over and over again. All the bosses are gigantic, too. You can tell effort was put into this game.

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The blue circles are monster (blob) generators, whereas the golden circles are teleport pads.

      Fun: 13 out of 20

Despite the fact that the programmers are being a dick to you on many occasions, such as the skeleton maze key after a boss and placing multiple pathways where going the wrong way wastes the item you just got, I had fun playing it, but got frustrated a lot, enough so that I would quit the game and not come back for another month or so. It can also get repetitive if you try to play through the entire game in a few weeks.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

The game is tough. You will die multiple times trying to figure out the design of each level, and having to learn where to backtrack so you won’t die instantly in a giant enemy rush.

      Music: 6 out of 10

The music is fun to listen to. It’s not memorable, but it does work with the game.

      Replay: 10 out of 10
I would play this game again with someone else, as it would be fun to try and tackle the game that way, though we would probably need to use some cheats to avoid getting agitated playing the same level over and over again.

      Extras: 10 out of 10

Included on the disc is a demo of Claw, a 2D platformer that looks like a cartoon. You are a pirate cat and it looks like your goal is to collect every single item in the level, for at the end, it tells you all the items you found out of how many. The sprites are very big in this game. There is also a trailer for Get Medieval, Claw, Rage of Mages, & Shogo (a mech game). However, the main bonus is the random dungeon generator and the level creator. You can play a new level all the time, and create your own, as well.

      Bonus Points:

+5 Design-Your-Own-Levels

Though I couldn’t find it, that fact that you can design your own levels and upload them anywhere for anyone to play through the main game itself is a really awesome idea, and very rare for a game made in 1998.

Total Points: 75 out of 90

Overall, an easy time waster. Plus, since the game saves at the beginning of each level, and there is nothing complicated to remember, you can easily play this game at your own pace by coming back to play it when it suits you. A fun diversion, and worth the $1.00 I spent on it.

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Oh no! Bats, Spiders, & Rat Creature! What will I do?

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Turn them all into rats!

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And watch your enemies flee in terror.

Donkey Kong Land

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US Cover (the Japan & European covers all use this image, but with different text).

      Donkey Kong County was a huge hit on the Super Nintendo. It utilized impressive graphics that made it appear 3 dimensional in its 2D world. With the success of that game, not only did sequels follow, but also a Game Boy spinoff.

      The Game Boy game, Donkey Kong Land, is an entirely new game built for the system. However, there isn’t really anything new in it. Everything from the previous game is here; all the backgrounds and enemies are taken from the Super Nintendo game. But, you will be impressed at the graphics, as it looks like they somehow got the 3D look for the characters on the game boy (well, 3D white, black, & green, but still 3D!).

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Super Nintendo on the left, the Game Boy (Super Game Boy version) on the right.

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Game Boy Color version (released after Land), and the Game Boy again (No Super Game Boy).

      You can play as Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong. When you die, the other character comes out to replace you (as both characters can’t be on the screen at once). Both characters can jump on enemies, run by holding the A button, and spin when pushing the B button. Luckily, like the Super Nintendo game, you can still roll off the ledge and then magically jump in mid-air to reach places further away. Donkey Kong doesn’t have his slapping-the-ground move, but it wasn’t really helpful in the regular game anyway.

      Each level is a 2D sidescrolling and platforming level where you must get to the Exit on the other end of the screen. You will find a few Checkpoints along the way. All the enemies from the previous game are here, such as running, jumping, and stationary lizards, dangerous bees, and chomping lizards that you can’t roll into. New enemies for this game include flying pigs that travel in horizontal lines, and a sea creature that moves vertically very quickly. The enemies that are most annoying are the rolling barrels that turn into stationary snake generators, as they can never be destroyed and caused me lots of deaths when trying to jump over them or jump across a platform. Once you destroy an enemy, they are gone for good (unless you die, of course) and no amount of running 4-5 screens over and back will resurrect them; you will just have to forget bouncing off of them to travel along the trees for now.

      The enemies aren’t the only thing that returns; all the backgrounds from the previous game– pyramids, jungle, factory, ships, caves, and more–return also, as if they were ported to the Game Boy and just had the color removed. Even many of the songs appears in Game Boy form and are still fun to listen to. There are some original songs, but they aren’t as engaging.

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Seen here is familiar territory–snow levels and underwater chase levels.

      Other things that return are barrel blasting levels, swimming away from a sea creature that’s chasing you, and rope levels where you magically go up or down quickly while holding onto them. There is no mine cart level, but it wouldn’t work here: the screen is very small, and you are a little large, so sometimes it can be hard to see that an enemy just entered on screen until it is too late when you are running. If you are walking, you will be fine. The new level type is a moving platform that moves a different direction ever time you jump on it. This level is the most annoying, as anytime you try to land, the thing has already moved, and you’re trying to calibrate your landing on the small platform to compensate for it’s movement, you sometimes walk off into death pits instead. Plus, if you try to jump on enemies that block your path, you will propel yourself upward so quickly, the screen quickly jerks with you, meaning you just lost where the platform went, as well as the entire screen you were just on. And then you fall back down and hope you know where the platform is.

      You start out on a map screen, and select the level you want to play. Once you beat the level, you return to the map to select the next one. Every level must be completed expect for 2-3 of them. At certain places you will get an explosive barrel at the end of the stage, and you can use it on 1 of 2 rocks, each leading to a different level.

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You can use an explosive at the end of a certain level to chose a path. Also, here’s Rambi.

      You will want to collect the letters K, O, N, & G that are in each level. Whereas in the original game, they were only an extra life, here you need to collect them to save your game after each level.

      You can also collect bananas, with every 100 giving you an extra life. There are also 1-up balloons. The new addition is Donkey Kong coins. Every so often, you will enter a secret room with a barrel in the sky moving left to right, and a button on the ground. You have to jump in the air and land on the button, which makes the barrel shoot out a coin in one of 5 directions. You have to collect it quickly before it goes through he walls or floor, and if you do, you get an extra life. Rambi the rhino returns for you to ride to charge into enemies. Espresso the ostrich returns to help you glide, but he is only available in bonus stages.

      There are 1 to 2 secrets in each level (though none in underwater stages). You will know if you entered every secret area when an exclamation mark appears near the stage on the map screen. Secrets are found by looking for secret barrels to jump into and jumping on holes in the ground to summon magic ropes. Oddly, there is only one secret where you destroy a wall like in the Super Nintendo game (in the first level).

      As with any game, there are 4 bosses that must be beaten, and all of them are original. The first is a flying manna ray that moves faster with each hit. The second is a clam that shoots pearls at you underwater, and you have to make sure he hits you where the reflecting item is. The third is a mole that comes out of 1 of 3 holes who throws his hat; simply jump over it and land on his head. Finally, King K. Rool returns, and you have to hit him 12 times. He throws his hat just like in the first game, but after 6 hits, he will start randomly throwing, running faster, and start bell-flopping, with rolling under him being the only safe options.

      After you beat the game, you only get the credits. There was no story in the beginning, so I wasn’t expecting anything, but I also got 100% of the game completed, and there was no reward for that either.

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The Super Game Boy version looks great, unfortunately,
the rest of the game doesn’t look like this and is only monochrome.

      Story: 3 out of 10

The story exists only in the manual. The game itself has nothing, not even after you beat the game. The game happens because Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong bet Cranky Kong they could still have a fun adventure without amazing graphics and sound. The story in a little amusing in the book.

      Sound: 10 out of 10

The Game Boy is playing the Super Nintendo music through it’s speakers. The songs are still addicting here.

      Graphics: 10 out of 10
The graphics all match the Super Nintendo, only they are black and white. Even with a black-and-white pseudo 3D look, you can normally see where you are going (unless you run at full speed), and nothing blends into the background

      Controls: 10 out of 10
I mentioned every control above. The controls are simple to use and never interfere with you enjoying the game.

      Challenge: 10 out of 10

The game is moderately challenging, but what makes it harder is having to collect the KONG letters in every level just so you can save. This forces you to try out areas that might be secrets (or death) and do more challenging things than you normally would. Luckily, every loaded game starts you out at 6 lives.

      Fun: 15 out of 20

This game was fun, as it was pretty much Donkey Kong Country on Game Boy; you can’t really go wrong here. I just had some problems with the quickly popping-up enemies and the annoying screen cut that happens when you jump off someone into the sky.

      Replay: 5 out of 10

The replay happens while you are playing the game. See, if you don’t collect all the KONG letters, you can’t save. And it’s usually easier to go into the level you know than to start an entirely new level where you don’t know what to expect. In addition, you will replay levels to find all the secret entrances. As such, you won’t want to replay it again, as you will already have done so.

      Extras: 2 out of 10

There are no extra features or special things in Donkey Kong. The only extra I count is the bonus game and the coins you collect for it to earn extra lives. The other is because it’s Super Game Boy compatible. The title screen is impressive, showing yellow, red, and brown all at once, but once you start playing, you can only play in monochrome. Annoying, every time you enter a special room, the color resets to the defaults, but luckily you can just hit X to turn it back to your preference.

      Bonus Points:

None

Total Points: 65 out of 90

This is definitely worth a play on your Game Boy. It’s a simple sidescroller where you just jump on people, jump over platforms, and occasionally do some more variety than just jump on enemies heads. That, combined with the fact you can save on every level (if you find the KONG letters) means you can pick it up and play anytime without having to defeat entire worlds before you can save.

Review Also At:
      VideoGameGeek / RetroWareTV / GameFAQS

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*This review won 3rd Place on VidoeGameGeek’s Monthly review Contest for March 2013. The theme was Licensed Games.*

VIP (with Pamela Anderson)

VIPUSCover
VIP US Cover

VIPCover1
VIP European Cover

      VIP warrants a different type of review; I am going to show you the game from beginning to end, describing the odd mechanics, the bad story, the boss battles, and the mini-games as I progress. There might or might not be comedy.

      VIP stars Pamela Anderson. It’s based on the TV show, but I could care less about it. In normal reviews, this is where you see the history of the show, it’s reception, and the game’s similarities to the show—there’s going to be none of that. If you want to learn about the show, search Wikipedia or buy the TV series on DVD through Amazon.

      The game starts with you getting a call from a doctor who says people are after him. You are bodyguards for hire. He says people are at his house, but then later says he’s in the middle of a surgery. Your Receptionist asks him if his practice and his home or the same thing, leading to a very, very poor opening attempt at a joke. Apparently the TV show was tongue-in-cheek (with Pamela Anderson as a bodyguard, I can’t imagine it ever being serious).

      Anyway, you drive to his house and see men in suits and shades (I’ll call them Thugs, since the manual calls them that). It looks like the thugs just sat around on the doctor’s lawn waiting for you to arrive. It should have taken you some time to drive through a major metropolitan city to get there, at which they should have at least gone into the doctor’s house and started looking for him.

Game Mechanic #1 – Fighting: Easy Mode

      This game can best be described as an ON RAILS ACTION GAME. What does that mean? Well, you have no control over where your character moves or walks. Once they get to a location, they stand still and enemies run toward them. You are then given a sequence of 2 buttons to press on-screen (they can be any of the 8 buttons [4 directional, Circle, Square, Triangle, & X). The manual states “you need rhythm,” to master this game, but all you need to do is hit the symbols in order, and within 2 seconds.

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Can you press buttons? Then this game might be for you!

      Combos come into play here in an unusual way. By hitting the 2 buttons, you attack the thug, but then you rack up Combos, which increase your points by 50 points with every hit. This means that by the 10th consecutive hit, you go from getting 100 points her punch to 600 points per punch. However, as soon as you mess up, your Combo is lost, and you must start over.

      The weirdest part is how the buttons you push don’t correlate to how many combos you perform. I selected 2 buttons for Pam to punch the thug once, just once. Then, another time I selected 2 buttons, and she hit them three times with her bag for the same response. You have no control over this and it’s completely random how many times they will hit the thugs.

      And yes, you read 2 things right from above; there is a score, and you attack people with your handbag. This is as stupid as it sounds, and looks even more ridiculous in action. Did Pam fill her bag with cement then let it dry?

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This purse is able to knock out over 100 people over the course of the game.

      Lastly, is Counters. If you hit the last button in the sequence at the same time, (or slightly before) the time ends, you get a Counter, which gives you a x2 to every attack you make to that enemy from the button press (which can be 1 – 4 based on what you read earlier). Trying to get them on purpose is not worth it, as you could very well miss a Combo line which is worth more points to continue than failing and resetting your score to 100.

Game Mechanic #2 – Shooting Mode

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      You start learning how to shoot with Red Sports Bra Woman. How? Your character stands in one spot while you control the green circle on the screen. You shoot at enemies with a handgun in the same way as an early 90’s light gun arcade game; only you don’t have a plastic gun and its now 2001 (when the game was made). Combos work the same way here, but you can miss and not screw up the combo. The Combo is based on inaction here. If you shoot down all 3 thugs, you must kill another thug within 2 seconds or your combo is lost. Basically, you will never extend your combo beyond 6-8 in these rounds.

      As for damage, you cannot move your character. If you fail to shoot someone in the short time frame (though most thugs stand with their guns pointing at you far too long) you are hit, then your character ducks behind somewhere while the other thugs shoot, and you won’t move back out until it’s safe.

      You get health (green balls) and score multiplies (yellow balls) here and in the fighting stages, and they magically fly to you no matter where they are. This is nice, since you can’t actually move your characters to collect them.

      You then switch between fighting as Pam & Red Sports Bra Woman until you get into the mansion. Then, I am not joking, you Tap X to push the door open and push the thug resisting it back. Pam then puts her hand in the air and shouts, “Yes,” as if this is the most important thing she has ever done.

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Press X repeatedly, forever

Level End Status Screen

      The first level ends and you get a status screen. It tracks your Accuracy, Max Combo, Counters, & Total Points. It then grades you. It counts up my point total from 0 upwards, which is crazy to watch because every 5 seconds is only 10,000 points going by. I then realized that my score was over 200,000, so it took over a minute for the score to tally. Then, I am given Rank: B. Surely I should play again to get a better score. Pam’s face is in the lower left corner. If you get an A ranking, she will hold her hands up in a pose right after your ranking is determined. I feel so rewarded.

Bonus Features

      It is here you can save your game, but you can also buy photos and movies with your score. Your score IS currency. For instance, the photo costs 10,000 points. However, if you give up your score, how can you ever get a truly high score if you are always spending it? Though I don’t see myself saying to a friend that I got an insanely high score on a video game with Pamela Anderson in it, then asking him what his highest score was. For one, he won’t have the game, and two, he will wonder why I played this game in the first place (as I’m sure the readers of this article are doing right now)

      There are 40 photos and 24 movies to unlock. However, the pictures actually spoil the game by showing scenes that happen in the future. In addition to computer shots, there are also model shots from the 4 women and 2 men of the TV show (though most pictures are of Pam [surprise!]). I then buy my first move, and guess what it is. If you guessed that the opening cut scene must be paid for, you guessed correctly. Seriously, f___ you, VIP. Every video game lets you watch these for free after you watch them in-game the first time.

Game Mechanic #1 – Fighting: Normal

      No, I didn’t play the game again on Normal Mode as I’m not a masochist and there are no difficulty settings for this game. The game gets harder (ha!) starting with Level 2. Now, for every thug you must press 3 buttons, and you will have to hit 4 if you are surrounded by a 2nd thug. You must still press this within the 2 second time frame. It just got real.

      This is also where the rails segment become apparent in the fighting. All the thugs have predetermined times they will enter the screen. If you fail to hit the thug, he stays there as his friend comes toward you, and a 3rd thug could appear in the room because he was supposed to at that time–meaning your reward for failure is a harder game, as now you have to make 4 button presses in the same 2 second time frame, and maybe even 5 if you really suck.

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If you defeat this guy, you only have to worry about the guy behind you, but fail: and you
have to fight them both, with 1 extra button (now 3) to press within the same 2 second time limit.

      However, the game is good as helping you along. If you fail 3 times, you will get a simple Triangle button to help you. Halfway through the game, however, this becomes useless because 2-3 hits kill you before this option can appear. Also, it makes you learn the game as you progress by starting the game with 2 buttons, then progressing to 3 by the 2nd level, and 4 buttons at the last level. These are two compliments of the game, but will they be the last?

      You finally get to the Doctor’s operating room. Pam says, “Are we too fashionably late?” Groan.
I see that only 3 photos and 1 movie have unlocked for me to purchase, and then it dawned on me that I have much longer to play than I anticipated.

1st Fake Boss: Dodge The Sniper

      The first Boss is a sniper on the roof that you run away from. You view Pam and Red Sports Bra Woman running, and you must hit either left or right when the icon appears on screen. Do the VIP characters have spider-sense or see the future? They run so slowly as if their lives aren’t important, then simply walk the direction you push to avoid a sniper bullet. Also, the Doctor appears to have teleported away because he only exists in cut scenes. You never see him in-game even though he should clearly be there.

      I just realized the doctor you saved left someone to die on the operating table. Once you find the doctor, you escape, leaving the person on the operating table from the opening cut scene to die from poor surgical practices. It’s doubtful he spent time fixing him and told him to hide, as the doctor probably went right to hiding in his closet.

      Two new characters, Black Man & Ponytail Woman appear. Their Receptionist; who you find out is really a computer hacker, says she will flood the cell phones with 4,000 oms (or noms) to block their communications. First off, how does she do this? Is she blocking every phone in the city? That’s not possible because the other characters communicate to each other later. How did they find out who the bad guys were? And how did she know which phones to ‘hack’ since they don’t know who the bad guys are yet? Did I mention this was 2001? Arghh!!!!

      Anyway, Pigtail Woman is a stealth level (and I have no idea how she knew where to go; is this a business?) where you only press 1 button to move around. Hilariously, most guards can’t see you even though they are staring directly at you; it’s when you’re moving (and by moving, I mean pushed the button to see what your character does) that you have to worry.

1st Mini-Game: Cell Phone Hacking

      You start out with a wavelength that alternates between up and down. You control a small white dot in the center of the wavelength. With your white dot, you press either up or down to move the white dot where the wavelength’s top or bottom is. The only problem is you have 1 ½ seconds to do this, as the screen doesn’t scroll, it performs a jump cut to the next wavelength that was next to it (before eventually cycling back repeatedly), so that while you are selecting up, you will now press the new center white dot you are controlling up when you wanted to move it down. This is just aggravating and just feels like a game with no skill made to waste 3 minutes of your life (more if you fail).
      Next, Black Man magically appears driving a car for the thugs to chase him. How did he find them? GPS was not invented yet, and he found a moving car that was somewhere in the city—oh, he is talking on his cell phone while driving really fast, so maybe Pam told him where they were every few seconds. And how was he able to convince them to stop following Pam’s car when they have the Doctor they want? And how does he arrive back at the VIP’s safe house without having someone follow him there? This…if this is how the TV series is written, I’m glad I’ve never watched it.

      You find that the Doctor did some facial reconstruction for the mob boss DeCarlo, and you hilariously see that the Doctor’s badge is actually just clothing texture so it looks like part of his body. The faces of all the characters in the cut scenes are good, look sort of realistic, and are able to convey some emotions. And here I am giving another compliment to this game.

      Anyway, you then control Black Man as he goes out to a punching bag tied to a palm tree and starts hitting it. I’m not making this up. Pam stands by you and cheers you on the more you hit it (you hit it the same way you would a thug, but you don’t get combos). The boxing scene is ridiculous. Did the game developers have a strict rule that the game must be at least 4 hours long if someone is able to play the game perfectly? This just fills like filler. Then, once you are done, Black Man takes one last kick to the tree and a thug falls from it. What? How? Red Sports Bra Woman is on the balcony and sees this, but the top of the tree is visible DIRECTLY IN HER LINE OF SITE and it’s obvious that there is no way he could have been hiding up there, unless Red Bra Woman wanted her friends to die. I give this scene a double face palm. See what I did there?

      “How did they find us?” “How many blond bodyguards do you know?” Writing 101 ladies and gentlemen; the forced explanation to cover the plot hole. It would have been easier to say that Black Man didn’t actually lose them.

Real Boss #1: Regular Shooting Thug + More Health

      You start out in shooting mode and have to shoot out the tires to the limo, even though it’s sitting perfectly still. Once that’s done, the boss appears, ducking out from the limo to shoot at you. He’s no different than a regular enemy with an extended life bar and really easy.

     The worst thing is that my health with the girl I’m playing has the same health from when I played her 20 minutes ago, even though I controlled Black Man in-between her segments; not one of the 5 characters you control heals between any level; you can only heal by not getting hit and collecting health energy. This is the worst aspect of the game, as later I started at a boss with only 1 failure meaning my death. Pressing continue doesn’t help, because you start with the same level of health you had when you started that segment.

      At least, when you continue, you don’t go back to the beginning of the level. If the level is divided into 3 character segments/areas, Continue starts you at the beginning of the new area (argh, another compliment—at least this makes up for the horrible health saving).

Boss #2: Regular Fighting Thug + More Health

      Anyway, this is the first time I felt the game got difficult, as the enemies start becoming 4-5 button combinations more often with just the simplest of failures. You then play as the Asian Man beating up Boss #2, who is just a regular 3 button press thug you have to fight for 5 minutes. Pam then follows him to a dock, and I think he’s going to get away by boat, but then, he runs on the boat, the screen loads, and he then runs across 7 boats forming a line to the beach. How can these boats be used if they are on the beach? What’s the purpose of the dock if no one uses it? And the boats aren’t logically spaced; how is anyone going to get to them without getting wet or walking across a boat someone else owns? Then, Pam somehow beats him to near death. Black Man catches up to him and says, “Tell DeCarlo how much that floor tastes.” First off, it’s not a floor, it’s sand. And second, he can’t tell DeCarlo because you kidnap and interrogate him. Learn how to properly threaten people!

      So, you learn from Boss #2 that Doctor has blackmailed DeCarlo, but Doctor says he charged him a bill he didn’t agree with. You find that DeCarlo has a microchip company and learn that DeCarlo has a computer expo opening the next day, so Ponytail Woman goes to the convention/headquarters holding a gun while walking up to the entrance of this all glass building. Even once you’re inside people could see you from outside; I thought you were the stealth expert?

Boss #3: Sniper

The Sniper is a blue trench-coat wearing man who runs from location to location trying to snipe you. This is ridiculously easy as you can see where he runs to, so you can plan ahead. The difficulty for regular fighting increases after this battle, as the price for failure is a mass of enemies; fail 3-4 buttons presses, and you will most surely die. You eventually find the computer and tell Hacker Girl that since the computer isn’t on any network, you need her here. “Oh, an away game.” When asked if she can do it, she says, “I’m the Shaquille O’Neil of computers.” … Moving on.

2nd Mini-Game: Sliding Puzzle

To hack the mini-game, you have to play the most annoying game you played as a kid. You remember those sliding puzzles? These!

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Yes, this picture is from the same game.

      And you must do 3 of these in 5 minutes. Are you trying to recreate his eye for a retina scan? Anyway, I discovered the math and pattern to beating these easily (sorry, I want to feel special) and then you ‘hack’ the system by ‘guessing’ the password. This is not hacking! No TV show knows what hacking is.

      Black Man comes to save Pam, but she is busy painting her nails and doesn’t listen. He asked where the doctor is, but I’m wondering if they killed Boss #2, as he never shows up again. They’ve killed tons of thugs, so I assume they executed him. Thugs approach Pam, and you have to ‘Tap X’ to prevent them from getting in the door 3 times. The 3rd time is impossibly hard. I don’t know how anyone is supposed to get through this without a turbo controller (or pausing when your hand gets tired), and I’ve done mini-games like this since I was born. Then, the thugs enter (what was the point), and Pam throws beer bottles at them, because she doesn’t believe in using guns (didn’t you read the manual yet?). It’s still a shooting stage, through using beer bottles instead of bullets. Eventually, a Gatling Gun man forces you outside, and you fight…

Boss #4: Punching Again

      Just more button combos. He’s really strong, so you can only take a few hits. Even when you win, you lose, with you and Black Man on your knees and being held at gunpoint. The scene cuts and it feels like they were executed on the spot. I only know they are kidnapped because THE MANUAL TOLD ME. Yeah, the manual spoiled it’s own story. Ironically, the manual has back stories for each of the main characters, and even the bosses, which is odd, since the villains have no character (or even dialogue) in the game itself.

      You eventually play as Ponytail Woman again in a shooting stage and have to protect your friends creeping around, but it feels like they have unlimited health so it’s actually an easy protect mission. You then escape with your computer disc before the cops arrive. Oh, and once this level started, you see the raw power of the graphics; a 2nd and final enemy type. No longer is everyone wearing suits and sunglasses. Now, you can fight people with green shirts and cameo pants. Is there a secret militia hidden in the microchip building? Or did the develops accidentally confuse militia with mafia? Hacker Girl goes to the office, and everyone else goes to the safe house to find Pam & Black Man kidnapped, but find an ominous message. They race to the office and find a bomb.

3rd Mini-Game: Bomb Defuse

      In this mini-game, you have 3 buttons you can press, each under a liquid. Every time you press that button, the liquid raises. If you don’t press the button, the liquid will continue to drain. If even 1 liquid lowers completely, you lose. You can only press 1 button every second, so you have to know when to press to eventually fill all 3 liquids. It’s very simple. Think of the hostage mini-game in Chrono Trigger and that’s what it is. After you defuse the bomb, it still goes off (Do you ever succeed?). You toss it behind your desk and everyone takes cover behind a couch. Surprisingly, the mafia couldn’t get enough explosives to blow up the building as you all miraculously survive; the bomb only takes out a desk.

 photo VIPBomb.jpg
Despite disarming the bomb, it still goes off.

Determined to save your friends, you all go straight to DeCarlo’s home/castle/stronghold. Seriously, it’s a parking garage, then it immediately looks like a castle when you enter the 2nd floor.

      While kidnapped, Pam says Cliche Line #12, “You’ll never get away with this,” in what sounds like a child trying to lie to their parents. After Pam & Black Man are alone in their storage room, Pam pulls out her make-up which is actually a secret phone. She contacts her friends, but this cutscene and development is not useful; they were going to come and rescue her anyway.

Game Mechanic #1: Fighting – Hard

      Though the shooting gun game never gets harder, upon reaching DeCarlo’s home, the game turns into hard mode. Now, you must input 4 buttons within 2 seconds for each thug; meaning you must hit 5 or 6 if surrounded by 2 or 3 thugs respectively. It is harder than it sounds. You have to train yourself to block out all background distractions; don’t scratch that itch or you will die.

      I just realized you can try to cheat the game by pressing pause, and the button combinations are visible on the screen. You would think this would cause cheating, but the minute you hit Start, the game has a 1 ½ second delay before starting again (and you can’t press a button while the characters are still frozen between unpausing and the game starting again). It’s actually harder if you try this and is not recommended.

      You start in the parking lot, switching between all the characters. Every sequence takes place in only one screen; it’s like playing an old arcade game. Complete the screen, then move on.

      Then, I kid you not, DeCarlo says to use Pam & Black Man as hostages, but he sends in his thugs that you have previously defeated in hand-to-hand combat one at a time into your storage room. You easily escape and magically appear with the rest of the gang in the parking lot. You then find an elevator that takes you up into an extravagant ballroom; the elevator is hidden in a pillar in that room that only 1 person at a time can go through apparently (based on the scale of your character to the elevator).

Boss #5: Gatling Gun Man

      This boss has 2 forms. First, he walks in the open and shoots his Gatling gun. Then, he hides behind a statue and tosses grenades you must shoot. If you are quick at shooting and re-loading, you can take half his health while he walks back behind the statue. His 2nd form is on another stage. He slowly walks from pillar to pillar and is completely invincible while doing this. You can only attack him when he appears from the pillar to fire, and only a maximum of two times. He still tosses grenades.

      Mini-Game Fake-Out. This is not a real mini-game. You have to blow up 4 doors, but to do so, you must hit the button in order. It’s just a slower version of fighting a thug.

Boss #6: Sniper Again

      The helicopter is about to take off, and you have to ‘hit the engine’. However, the wording is wrong, as you want to fire at the blades. Anyway, you can’t do this immediately, as the blue sniper is back, and he’s glitchy as hell. When he pops out from behind the left pillar, you can only hit him on the right side of his body, but you can hit him anywhere when he pops out of the right pillar. The timing here must be precise or else he will shoot you and kill you in 3 hits.

Boss #7: DeCarlo’s Muscle

      DeCarlo’s bodyguard comes to fight, and this battle seriously takes 10 minutes. But, the annoying thing is he is now 6 BUTTON PRESSES! you can’t take more than 3 hits from him or you will die (less if you aren’t fully healed; which you won’t be); there is really no room for error. This takes mastering and some people won’t be able to do it.

Fake Boss #2: DeCabra

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Pam taken hostage (this picture is from the PS2 version)

      This isn’t really a boss. DeCabra takes Pam hostage and threatens her with a gun. You tap X a lot to beat him up and win the game. All 4 women and the 2 men talk about the Doctor opening a new practice (I don’t know how that’s possible since he left someone to die at his house), and then there is a joke about someone implying getting breast implants when they were talking about something else. Everyone laughs and the credits role. It’s here you see the entire Chinese cast. I had no idea that Chinese video game developers were a thing.

      Now that the game is over, you have to play it again. Yes, the final movie is 1 million points. I had to play the game another hour to get that and unlock the additional pictures and movies. One thing that is annoying is that in the Picture menu, if appears there are 8 pictures you can unlock because they have Question marks, but that’s not true. I wish they had designed the menu better so people wouldn’t think they were missing something.

      Why did I spend another hour to get the last movie and some random pictures of Pam posing with a gun as if she knows how to use it?

VIPBack
Action Never Looked So Fake

Score Breakdown

Story: 2 out of 10

Sigh. The writing is terrible. All the jokes, while trying to be tongue in check, are not funny at all. The story is very basic, and there are loopholes and general reality flaws all over the place.

Sound: 1 out of 10

There are ONLY 2 TRACKS OF MUSIC IN THE ENTIRE GAME. It’s so repetitive and ear bleeding. The only positive thing I can say is that there is more than 1 song.

Graphics: 6 out of 10

They are slightly above average because the backgrounds are made to look realistic and come out a little average, but are all identifiable, and the cut scene models are actually pretty good for Playstation 1 technology.

Controls: 10 out of 10

All you do is push the button that comes on the screen in a certain time limit or move a cursor over a body and press a button to shoot it. Though very simple, there is nothing flawed about any of these controls except for the Sniper glitch mentioned earlier.

Fun: 5 out of 20

Eh. It’s not really engaging. It was worth a small time waster, and I enjoyed playing something different and laughing at all the horrible story elements, just enjoying the ludicrousness of it all, but….

Replay Value: 0 out of 10

I won’t play it again…ever. There would be nothing different, but yet I will still keep it because I have to show someone just how bad this game is and prove a travesty like this exists.

Extras: 1 out of 10

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Bonuses include CG cutscenes stills and real-life pictures of the 5 actors modeling

It gets 1 point for the pictures, but it fails at extra content for movies, since the movies are just the cutscenes you already watched.

Bonus Points:

+3 For Rising Difficulty

The game is good at starting you out in what looks like a simple game, then increase the number of buttons you have to push twice throughout the game so you actually have to improve.

Total Points: 28 out of 90

      VIP is not a very bad game, it’s just mediocre; but the awful story just adds to the guilty pleasure of it all. It’s worth a play, but afterward you’ll probably just want to pass it allow to someone else so they, too, can enjoy the insanity.

      It’s not over; VIP was also released for the Playstation 2! Apparently, it plays the same, but has much, much more dialogue and story (plus completely different graphics). There is also a version for Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance. I would totally pick these up at a flea market if I found them, and would then set out to waste what little time I have left in this world reviewing them.

Additions: I just realized the Pamela’s character on the show doesn’t believe in guns (this is why she only attacks people with a purse and beer bottles) yet the pictures and promos for the TV show (and this game) show her with a gun. That’s like having Batman pose with a gun for his first movie poster, only to see the movie and have it tell you he doesn’t use guns while also showing you why he doesn’t.

This review is also on:
      VideoGameGeek / RetrowareTV / GameFAQS

Here are two videos of all the old videos and video games I purchased for 2012. They are split into 2 different videos.

DVD/Blu-Ray

BlipTV / YouTube / Vimeo / Facebook

Video Games

BlipTV /YouTube / Vimeo / Facebook

The first video game review on Murphy’s Media Memories. This game is Megarace. You remember it more for it’s host who is just bizarre and makes bad jokes than you do for the actual game itself (which is still fun).

BlipTV / YouTube / Vimeo / RetroWareTV

MMM – MegaRace (CD Game) from Shawn Padraic Murphy on Vimeo.

Interview with the creator of Zombies!, Todd Breitenstein.

http://www.twilightproductionsinc.com

BlipTV / YouTube / MySpace / Facebook


Interview with Jim Dietz, President of Jolly Roger Games.

Home

BlipTV / YouTube / MySpace / Facebook