Remember the iconic 80s movie? I do, but only vaguely, as memory is strange after 20 years. Clearly one has to watch the movie right before playing this game, because no explanation is given whatsoever. You just fall into the game, and go.
The game is a sort of sidescroller exploration game. You can pick up and carry items, but only one at a time. Makes for limited puzzles, but does make you pick up everything that you can get your hands on in an obsessive kind of way. I could have spent a lot of time exploring this game years ago.
The game is somewhat frustrating to figure out at first. You have to collect nickels, but it’s not clear how. If you go too close to one, this guy walks up to you, and asks you for a nickel. Since you don’t have any, you can’t give him any, so he just kills you. Repeat 3 times, game over. Not too fun.
Eventually, you find a punching glove. With it, you can fight back. Sorta. Except it’s all insta-death. Progress is slow and frustrating, with a lot of backtracking
I like the idea of trying to capture the oddness of the movie in the game, but it really requires a lot of patience to figure things out. I hate using guides, but the alternative of spending many hours learning the game is not as appealing as it would have been a decade ago.
The game does at least feature infinite continues. In that manner, lives are sorta unimportant. You continue exactly where you last left off, with the items you had. So, one has to wonder why they bother with “lives” at all. Just push the character back for a few seconds or something and it has the same effect. Games of this era thought they had to meet a formula with “score” and “lives” in order to be taken seriously. The driving scene echoes the usual “must have some sort of auto-side scrolling obstacle course” feel for games of this era. Same deal.
Games don’t all need this to be good.It’s nice that modern games can do this sort of creative thing, while pushing the boundaries of conventional play modes. Overall, it’s a lot more suiting, and satisfying.
Verdict: Cool World was an early experiment at a slightly different game style. Its primary failure is trying to incorporate the “necessary” game components like lives, score, side scrolling crap, to grow up to be a “real game”. It would have been much more interesting if the game had really broken the mold in the SNES era. It could have been as epic as Flashback, and rocked socks everywhere.