HyperZone

Normal or reverse.  Best game modes evah.
Normal or reverse. Best game modes evah.

For every generation of console, there is a game that comes out that is more of a technology demo than a game.  HyperZone is that game,  only it fails as a technology demo as well.  It attempts to show off the “3D” capabilities of the SNES,  but does so in such a pathetic manner that it’s just laughable.

Could you have more colours?  No, srsly.  You don't need to demonstrate the /whole/ pallet on screen at the same time.  Really.
Could you have more colours? No, srsly. You don't need to demonstrate the /whole/ pallet on screen at the same time. Really.

The game is more suitable as an epilepsy inducer.  Maybe it could be deployed at testing clinics when they need someone to go into a seizure so that they can measure the brain waves.  Give them this game for five minutes and you’re set.

Oh noes! Invasion of the yellow squares!
Oh noes! Invasion of the yellow squares!

The game consists of coloured shapes flying at you.  Oh, and some of them shoot other coloured shapes at you.  And, uhm, you can shoot coloured shapes at them.  And if you draw–errr, I mean fly–out of the lines, that’s Bad™.  And the horribly bad worse-than-8-bit soundtrack somewhat audibly changes when a boss coloured shape shows up to shoot boss coloured shapes, so that you know that this shape is Scary™.

The game is laughably bad.  Obviously more time was put into the physics engine than the gameplay design.  It is filled with unforgettable things like having only two buttons: shoot and brake. WTF?  Brake but no acceleration?  Oh, cause it’s like auto high-speed.  Hardcorzzz.  And if you die because you draw–I mean fly–out of the lines, you repop outside of the lines and immediately start taking damage again.  Laughable.

Stage 2! The Red Stage™
Stage 2! The Red Stage™

F-Zero was a release title that used a similar design, only it didn’t suck.  Later games like Starfox and Stunt Race FX did a much better job of the simulated 3D, and they were interesting.

Verdict:  HyperZone should be forgotten and ignored.  The game is laughably bad, and not in a good way.  The most interesting screen is the Game Over screen.

Finally!  This game needs a suicide button to make the end come faster.
Finally! This game needs a suicide button to make the end come faster.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

ffmystic_savetheworld

ffmystic_yesyoufederlin

ffmystic_sure!

“Dude!  Had the weirdest day today.  This old dude came up to me flying on a cloud and he told me something.  Said that I was the Legendary Hero foretold in the Prophecy!”

“No way!”

“Yeah way, and I said to him, “look man, I really appreciate you floating all the way over here to tell me and all, but I think you got the wrong guy.  I’m only ten years old and I really should be getting back to school.  My teacher’s gonna be PISSED.“”

“No way!”

“Yeah and then the dude kept following me through the forest, yabbering on about this Great Disaster that was coming, and how I had to collect these arbitrary MacGuffins scattered across the known world to stop it.”

“No way!”

“Yeah so I told him I’d do it just so he’d shut up and he gave me this sword before he flew away.  So I started killing toads and balls of slime, and when they died, they gave me money and EXP.”

“No way!”

“Yeah and when I got enough EXP my level went up, and all of a sudden I knew all these magic tricks.  I didn’t have to take any lessons or read any books; it’s like I just knew.”

“No WAY!”

“Yeah man, so I took turns killing all these things, leveling up, learning magic, and I kept finding all these chests lying around with stuff in them.  So I took the stuff.  It was so sweet!”

“NO WAY!

“Yeah I know, so flippin’ sweet.  Eventually I got all the mystical pieces of crap that the old dude told me to get, and then nothing happened.  Turns out the old bastard forgot to tell me a few minute details about the Prophecy.  Apparently there’s this One Evil Dark Guy behind EVERYTHING.  I was pretty pissed off by this stage, so I found the guy in his castle.  And I killed him.

“NO.  WAY!”

“Uh, yeah way–Why the hell do you keep saying “no way” all the time, anyway?  Did you get brain damage on the way here or something?”

“Nah, man.”

“Then what?!”

“The exact same thing happened to me today!”

“No kidding.”

AND it happened to Chaz across the street.  Every kid on the block is all “Legendary Hero this”, “The Prophecy bla bla bla” and bangin’ on about how they “saved the world from the “Dark Lord”.””

“Well, there goes that then…Wanna get something to eat?”

“Nah, I’m good.  Drank some Potion just before.”

“Me too.  Let’s get outta here.”

Old bastard must’ve been doin’ the rounds…

ESPN Speedworld

ESPN’s Speedworld is a strange world, where fishbowl lenses rule and perspective has no rules; where insignificant specks in the distance become large blobs then cars in the blink of an eye.  It is a world where cars are sardine tins with wheels, clanging together at 179 miles per hour.

WARNING: Objects on screen may be closer than they appear.
WARNING: Objects on screen may be closer than they appear.

Can you see that speck in the distance?  No joke, that car is like 5 metres away from me.

I'm not even kidding, all of these cars are within 4 seconds of each other.
I'm not even kidding, all of these cars are within 4 seconds of each other.

But this makes the game sound more surreal than bad, and that’s not what I’m aiming for.  That’s not Responsible Journalism(TM). Speedworld is no Salvador Dali, replete with melting clocks and flaming giraffes; it’s just a NASCAR racing sim that’s not particularly good.

In fact, Speedworld could benefit from more than a few flaming giraffes, because it’s just so goddamn plain.  This is not some journey through the European countryside with your hot blonde babe in tow, this is ten to fifty laps of the same oval course with nothing to see but Sony stadium, a smaller ESPN grandstand, and a whole lot of grass.  And I don’t mean grass of the reality-bending, flaming-giraffe-inducing kind.  Just plain grass.

To be honest, I think a majority of Sony Imagesoft’s development time was expended capturing voice and video samples of the commentator, Jerry Punch (apparently I’m supposed to recognise this man).  The video seems impressive for its time – unless reviewing for this illustrious publication has drastically lowered my expectations of the 16-bit generation of games – but it ultimately adds nothing to the game itself.  In fact, it has ultimately taken away from the game, because this time would have been better spent, I don’t know, adding in a few more frames, putting something on the grass, or say, redo-ing the entire game.

The best part of the game is also non-playable.
The best part of the game is also non-playable.

If you had shown me this game back in 1993, then proceeded to tell me that not only would Sony – the creators of this game – release a videogame console the following year, but would become industry leaders for the next two hardware generations; not only would I have laughed in your face, I probably would have bludgeoned you to death in my disgust.

The instrument of your destruction?  A copy of Yu Suzuki’s lovingly crafted Outrun.

Demon’s Crest

Undead dragon? Fine by me!
Undead dragon? Fine by me!

Since I started writing for Every Game Ever, I’ve played a lot of SNES games that I was unaware existed back when I was young enough* to play SNES games. For the most part, I don’t feel as though I missed anything, but Demon’s Crest is a bit of an exception. Much like Disney’s Aladdin, I like this game. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also a Capcom game. I like Capcom. I don’t love them like I love dice, drugs or clever improvisational wordplay, but as I mentioned back in my Aladdin review, they usually manage to create a product that’s at least decent.

Good work Capcom! When the final judgment arrives, I will ensure all of your deaths are relatively quick—such is the mercy of my great beneficence. Praise be to the DARK STAIN OF ABADDON AS IT SPREADS UNCHECKED THROUGH THE MORTAL REALM! CRUSH THE COPTICS AND RUN THE STREETS RED WITH THE BLOOD OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIS FRACTIOUS LOCUSTS! ABADDON! ABADDON!

I like the fact that you can fly around in this game. Tap the ‘A’ button once to jump, and hit it a second time to hover in the air! It almost makes the game a little easy since you can sail over the heads of your unwitting foes. You can also spit fire and smash statues—not all of the statues, mind you—both of which are quite enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing to the eye, and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the main character is modeled after one of the villains from Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, so that’s neat.

Supposedly there’s also an RPG element to this game, but I didn’t play far enough to reach it since my duties keep me otherwise occupied in the NETHER ZONE**. As the flesh sloughs from the twisted faces of the poor wretches caught in the maelstrom of the unholy furnace, I will look and them and laugh and remember fondly the controls, graphics and perhaps even the music of Demon’s Crest!

But most of all, I’ll remember you, reader of Every Game Ever. You almost taught me what love was—if only it hadn’t been too late. Too late for the world you know: too late for your mothers and fathers and sisters and daughters and brothers and sons. Remark now the sky as it is blotted out with Abaddon’s minions and remark now the earth and its crawling darkness.

* I am too old for this shit. I’m about to retire. Gonna sail around the world on my boat, the “Not Get Killed in a Hilariously Stereotypical Fashion Just Before Retirement in a Way That Inspires My Younger and More Action-Oriented Partner to Seek Revenge Against Multiple Opponents Who are Significantly Less Capable Than Him.” The name of my boat seems to annoy the people at the marina for some reason.

** This can mean basically whatever you want it to mean. Go crazy.

Cool Spot

I’m the guy who gets all the anthropomorphic mascot platformers now, aren’t I?  The corporate anthropomorphic mascot platformers?

That’s alright, because I consider myself a bit of a Cool Spot aficionado. Despite this, I couldn’t rightly tell you the difference between a ‘spot’ and a ‘dot’.

I knew Cool Spot first as a videogame character, and second as a spokesperson for lemonade.  See, my 7UP representative in Australia was Fido Dido, who was pretty much just a cartoon dude with spiky hair. Thank God I don’t have to review his videogame.

Seriously, he's just a dude.
Seriously, he’s just a dude.  With spiky hair.

Don’t ask me why, maybe we were just not cool enough to handle a red dot with sunglasses.  So the first time I saw this circumferential wonder was on the cover of my second Megazone magazine (July 1993), a magazine that I was subscribed to as a member of the uber-hip Sega Club; a multiplatform magazine so openly slack in its coverage of non-Sega platforms, that it dropped all pretense and became Sega Megazone only months later.  Flipping through the pages of my tattered July ’93 issue, I am amused by the superlative praise lavished upon our circular hero.

I have mysteriously come into ownership of two copies of this magazine.  No, I do not want to marry Cool Spot.
I have mysteriously come into ownership of two copies of this magazine. No, I do not want to marry Cool Spot.

“Meet the coolest spot in the world!”  The front cover declares.  Well, nobody’s denying that – how could you conceivably make a spot any cooler beyond painting it red, giving it sunglasses, a mouth, legs and arms, and naming it “Cool Spot”? I humour them, and read on.

‘COOLER THAN SONIC?’ The paragraph header reads.

WOAH! Woah, there!!  Easy, boy!

COOLER THAN SONIC?!!

I drop the magazine to the floor and boot up the ROM.  I prepare myself to play The Jesus of Videogames, though I know in my heart of hearts that nothing can prepare me for this moment.

Hey, this ain’t too bad!  In fact, this is quite good! Precise controls, juicy little secrets. Nice, big jumps – somersaults even.  Quality animation for once!  Crisp, detailed images; chirpy calypso music.

Cooler than Sonic, though?

I check the magazine again, because surely I must have missed something:

‘Even standing still, Cool Spot is way cool.  If you thought Sonic’s foot-tapping/watch-checking routine was good, get a load of Cool Spot’s moves: he clicks his fingers and taps his foot in time to the music, he cleans his sunglasses until they’re spotless, gets out his yo-yo and does a few tricks (he can even walk the dog), dusts himself off after a fall and when he’s really bored, he’ll let out a huge, spot stretching yawn.’

Of course!  I always thought Sonic was at his coolest when he was not moving.  I mean, his foot-tapping was unparalleled!  But then Cool Spot came along with his yo-yo tricks, AND THEN HE JUST YAWNED AND BLEW HIM AWAY!  PWND!

OMFG!!!!!!!!11111111111
OMFG!!!!!!!!11111111111 Take that, Sonic!

Was ‘coolness’ the Holy Grail for every post-Sonic platformer?  It’s funny, because I don’t think there’s been a single anthropomorphic mascot platformer reviewed on this website that hasn’t been a) compared to Sonic the Hedgehog (and lost), or b) forgotten in the sands of time. The only other mascot we remember is the one who didn’t participate in this Fool’s Gold Rush at all – a pudgy plumber from Italy.

The moral of the story is:

SONIC IS COOLER THAN YOU. STOP TRYING SO HARD.

Claymates

Does anyone else remember the ‘clay’ craze that took place circa 1993?  It seemed like every game and his dog wanted to be made out of clay, when in reality it was probably just Interplay.  Maybe the whole thing was a symptom of those ‘photorealistic’ FMV games on the Mega CD, or Mortal Kombat.  Then again, who really cares? Claymates is the second ‘clay’ themed franchise from Interplay, ClayFighter having just been released six months beforehand.

Claymates is built around a bizarre premise: your name is Clayton (get it?), and your nutty professor father has developed a formula to turn humans into animals(!) and is presumably about to show you/experiment on you(!), when out of nowhere an evil shaman teleports himself inside the laboratory, transforming you into a ball of clay with his stick before spiriting your father away!

THIS IS BLASPHEMY!  THIS IS MADNESS!!

This is Claymates.

"NO!!  FATHER, PLEASE!!!"
“NO!! FATHER, PLEASE!!!”

So now you’re this blue ball of clay rolling around a garish level that exists solely within the confines of your backyard sandpit.  You’d be surprised what you can fit in a sandpit!  It’s funny, because Claymates invented ‘sandbox’ gaming before GTA did [except not really, because that was a joke, and if we were to take it that literally the first child that ever took up a bucket and spade invented sandbox gaming].  Anyway, you pick up a coloured ball of clay pretty soon and transform into a slow-as-buggery cat or a mouse-with-his-ass-on-fire most of the time, but occasionally you might transform into something interesting like a bird that pecks and flies really badly or a squirrel that throws acorns or a fish that shoots bubbles.  I don’t know what goldmine they thought they were sitting on here, but I noticed before the title screen that Interplay had trademarked all these animals, giving them names like “Muckster™ the Cat” and “Globmeister™ the Gopher” (apparently not a squirrel anymore), which is interesting considering the animals pretty much look like generic depictions of what they are (the mouse looks like a mouse, the cat looks like a cat, etc.).

Timeless Classics(TM).
Timeless Classics™.

Thing is, I thought you were still ‘you’ (Clayton) when you picked up the clay and transformed into an animal.  After all, is that not what Prof. Dad’s formula was all about?  Perhaps this means that you’re imbued with the evil shaman’s animistic powers and can channel the spirits of these kooky characters, which begs the question, why, then, would the shaman even need the formula if he already had the power to channel animal spirits?! This game raises far more questions than it seeks to answer.

After you’ve pondered the logistics of animism and weird science, you run and jump from left to right kleptomanaically collecting gems, items, power-ups, and uncovering secret mini-levels.  The collect-a-thon is, however, spoiled by dubious checkpoint placement and the fact that you lose all gems, items, and animality upon dying (even if you’ve reached a checkpoint).  The harshness of it all really discouraged me, and was seemingly at odds with the game’s initial invitation to experiment and explore.  That said, Claymates is still inviting, and packed full of things to do.  Upon finishing the level, two robots are unleashed upon your backyard (overworld) and help you break into your neighbours’ backyards(!) and consequently, their sandpits (levels).  Curiouser and curiouser.

The action button doubles as the run button, which is a bit awkward, seeing as slow-as-buggery Muckety-Mucky-Muckster™ can’t run and slash at the same time.  Oozy™ the Mouse is impressively fast – possibly even faster than a certain blue hedgehog – and must make use of the ‘blaze-processing’ boasted about on some virtual box art I found the other day.  Problem is these fellas run about as smooth as an oil slick, but let’s chalk that one up to personal preference, hey?  The level design is Spartan, but clever – the various power-ups and level devices themselves are crude, ugly, and reminiscent of Apogee shareware.

Deliciously Ugly.
Deliciously Ugly.

The sprites look okay, and I suspect the clay effect would have knocked the socks off of kids on their CRT televisions back in the day, but now they look a little out of place juxtaposed with the decidedly un-clay levels.  The character animation is terrible once again – I’m starting to see a trend here in most non-Mario/Sonic platformers – to the point that I’m wondering whether it was animation, and chiefly animation, that separated those two giants of industry from the rest of the competition during that era.

It may not be Mario and it may not be Sonic, but Claymates is definitely one of the more interesting platformers out there.  I suspect the lack of polish is inversely proportional to the overabundance of ideas crammed into these sandpits.  My advice: climb into the sandpit wide-eyed like a child and you’ll be in a state of constant surprise.

Just don’t come crying to me if you get sand in your eyes.