Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NEW SEGMENT: Classic Catch Up

Here I go busting out another new segment. With Classic Catch Up, I plan to take a look back at old classic video games that have made a comeback by way of Wii’s Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade or PSN. It won’t really deal with new downloadable software (including remakes of classic games), just games from yesteryear to see how they hold up after time has passed and our childhood rose tinted glasses no longer fit anymore. As always, I’m sure the other guys will throw in on this from time to time, as between the three of us, we’ve got quite a few retro entries to talk about.

Kicking off this first edition is Toe Jam & Earl, originally appearing on the Sega Genesis. After seeing my friends play through the first game on Virtual Console last night, Maureen and I were appalled: mainly because the game seems to have no appeal and looks horrible—not fun in the least.

The story is basically that two aliens, the three legged Toe Jam and the rotund Earl, crash their space ship and then must search several levels to find the parts for it. The levels are randomly generated, making it a new experience each time, and two players can play co-op with the game diverging into split screen when the two move apart from each other. To top it all off is funky 90’s style with Ninja Turtle like catch phrases and hip hop overtones. But is it fun? No.

Toe Jam & Earl’s biggest problem seems to be that unlike Sega’s mascot, Sonic, Toe Jam & Earl take things at a slower pace—a much slower pace. They basically mosey their way through the game, occasionally getting presents with random items which you hope are rocket boots or wings that make moving around tolerable, but these are few and far between. There’s also no attack button (although you can throw tomatoes at some enemies) and since you move so slow, it’s easy to become victim to one of each level’s many dangers. You can fall off the levels safely, which moves you down the vertical planet, but since the levels are randomly generated, the game slows down immensely as it must render the rest of the level on the fly as you fall.

The worst part? Players back in the day were expected to play this bore-fest in one sitting and there are no continues, no saves, and once you’re out of lives, it’s over (though players can give up a life to their partner, Contra style). Basically, the game is evil. However, playing it on Virtual Console at least you can utilize the save state. The game hit Virtual Console on Christmas Day, 2006. Merry Christmas kids! Nintendo hates you!

I'd warn against spending $8 on it on VC unless you do drugs, or enjoy torturing yourself (or both!). Last night, watching the game being played, Maureen and I saw no redeeming qualities, but don’t take my word for it. Take a look and see for yourself:


No comments: