Demolition Man

Demolition Man
Demolition Man

Ah, nostalgia. It’s interesting reviewing games that were released to support a movie back in the 90s and analyze them not only from the perspective of a movie-induced game, but from a nostalgic perspective that recognizes that a decade and a half has passed since.

On the scale of movie games, Demolition Man does a surprisingly decent job for its era. It takes the approach of trying to pull the player through the movie in Stalone’s shoes. What amused me the most was its ability to generate a small adrenaline burst, even when you’re just looking at a bunch of pixelated masses.

Your standard side-scrolling neo-apocalypse scenario.  Nothing special.  Move along.
Your standard side-scrolling neo-apocalypse scenario. Nothing special. Move along.

It features two game modes. The first is largely a Flashback-style side scroller, where you just shoot anything that moves and proceed to the right as efficiently as possible. Its main weakness is that the controls are somewhat awkward, and that there are the usual screen-edge repopping of bad guys. The rest is pretty well balanced. It’s somewhat fun to barrel through these stages in a sonic-like manner, and just shoot incessantly.

That brings me to my second praise: the game recognizes that having infinite ammo can actually be a tonne of fun. You basically never stop shooting in the game. Not only does that make the game more fun, but it also lets you get the Stalone Rambo thing going, and have extra fun channeling him. It’s stupid, but in this era, that was something, and it’s still somewhat entertaining. It amused me enough to make me bother to deal with the awkward controls and complete a few stages.

I can see baddies around walls! I'm that awesome!
I can see baddies around walls! I'm that awesome!

The second game mode is an Ikari Warriors-like top view working through labs. They make it work reasonably well. The controls are unfortunately a bit unresponsive, and enemy repopping is a perpetual pain. If the controls responded better to flick reflexes, it would be fine. As is, the frustration comes from the game not responding to your movements quickly enough. I’m reminded of the lag while playing the original NES Turtles, with the accompanying screen-refresh choppiness. It’s somewhat forgivable. Somewhat.

In your face! No, in YOUR face!  Booya, brutha!
In your face! No, in YOUR face! Booya, brutha!

The game features some traditional trash talking between Stalone and Snipes. And the music gives you a bit of a beat. It’s entertaining if you’ve just seen the movie, reliving some of the post-apocalyptic visions of the 90s.

And your punishment is to BURN, while I take over the world! *Insert Wesley Snipes insane/evil laughter*
And your punishment is to BURN, while I take over the world! *Insert Wesley Snipes insane/evil laughter*

Verdict: Demolition Man managed to not wholly suck. That’s saying a lot for games that came out to support movies and were released in the 90s. You could pick it up and play for a few stages and have a good time. It won’t sustain you for more than that, but for a couple of bucks at a garage sale, picking it up could be worth the nostalgia.

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Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

The game lets you pick the number of lives you want to start with. Srsly. Do I need to continue this review? The developers are shouting loud and clear: We fucked up. Our bad. Sorry. Here, pick the number of lives you want. Don’t even need to bother with a Game Genie.

All tough guys wear short sleaved shirts in sub-freezing, mountain temperatures.  WAT!
All tough guys wear short sleaved shirts in sub-freezing, mountain temperatures. WAT!

The classic design of a bad side scroller: Pits that insta kill you that are exactly one millimeter smaller than your maximum jump range, repetitive music, stupid AI that likes to walk into knives, repeatedly. Oh, and of course, the infamous super move that somehow drains your health. Apparently Stalone’s muscles were so tense that every time he did a tripping kick motion, he ripped 3 more tendons, so you take more damage than you could ever conceivably take from the enemy you kill. Better yet, the amazingly costed super move is interruptible by any bad guy who decides to poke you in the middle, and you still take the full damage. Yay. And then there’s the avalanche scene, also know as the how-to-spend-all-7-of-your-lives-in-approximately-21-seconds scene.

Oh noes! An avalanche! Try number 324.  Fuck it.  Just lie down and die.  It's easier and it's the same outcome anyways. Gotta wonder what's under those moggles.
Oh noes! An avalanche! Try number 324. Fuck it. Just lie down and die. It's easier and it's the same outcome anyways. Gotta wonder what's under those moggles.

This game is not fun for more than 48.7 seconds. Sure, games don’t HAVE to be fun, if they have some artistic merit, or the tiniest of redeeming factor. This game has neither. That leaves only the fun factor. There must be fun to be had somewhere?!?! The most fun I had playing this game was putting down the controller, and watching one of the cookie cutter bad guys who was wearing the exact same outfit as the 57 other guys – no seriously, what do they all shop together, buy in bulk or something? – punch the living shit out of Stalone, over and over and over. Apparently if you stand still, and don’t block, they just sucker punch you, repeatedly. No kicking, nothing. Just whap, whap, whap, whap, whap, whap, punching, the, crap, out, of, his, stupid, face.

Here it comes!
Here it comes!
BAFF!  In your FACE!
BAFF! In your FACE!
You want some more of this? HUH!?! PUNK!?!
You want some more of this? HUH!?! PUNK!?!
BIFF!  Take that! You like that, huh?  You naughty boy.  Dirty boy.  You like that!
BIFF! Take that! You like that, huh? You naughty boy. Dirty boy. You like that!
GAZZOOK!  I got lots more of where this came from! And you still have infinite continues!
GAZZOOK! I got lots more of where this came from! And you still have 6 more lives!

Verdict: This game doesn’t even deserve the title of franchise rape because the Cliffhanger franchise really didn’t have that much prestige to it to begin with. If you have the urge to play a difficult side scroller, play something with character instead, like Double Dragon II.