Monday, December 24, 2012

NES Replay: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Developer: Imagineering
Publisher: THQ
Released: 1992
Portal to Hell: Marked with Rocky's
deformed and pixellated face
In NES Replay, we go through each NES game from A-Z to see if they're any good. Today: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

I must be in hell. That's really the only rational explanation.

Either I'm in hell, or I voluntarily offered to play every single NES game. Since I can't be that crazy, this must be hell.

I'm not sure how I ended up here. I mean, I've done some bad things in my life, that's for sure. When I was in second grade, I took the Lord's name in vain before I played a baseball game. I saw a picture of a naked lady once, so maybe that did it.

However, my hell appears to be different than a Catholic hell of eternal flame. Mine appears to be more of an existential one, where what I love is horribly subverted.

Either way, somehow I'm in a place where something I like, namely video games, has been twisted horribly to provide me with nothing but pain and anguish. Nowhere is this more apparent that in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
The key is RIGHT THERE, Bullwinkle.
I like the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. I like video games. You would think that the combination would somehow make me happy. It doesn't. It's hard to say where this game goes wrong. Maybe it's because it's not funny. Maybe because it controls poorly. Maybe it's because it's boring.

I'll say this much, they got the graphics right for the main characters. I mean, Boris Badenov looks almost exactly like his cartoon counterpart. Everything else looks like garbage, but hey, at least they got one thing right out of the several hundred that they missed. Still, it's hard to be impressed by the scenery in hell while flames are devouring your flesh. At best, you can be momentarily distracted from the horrific pain sundering your soul in twain while you curse every vile thing you ever did. At worst, you don't even notice them while the hellhounds tear you from limb-to-limb, put you back together haphazardly and force you to crawl through shards of hot glass.

No, not there, THERE.
Rocky & Bullwinkle fails on several fundamental levels. For example, Bullwinkle needs to bend over to pick up keys from time to time. He'll reach down and completely not grab the key. Now, this isn't because I'm standing in the wrong place. I can be standing right on top of the key and Bullwinkle misses it. I can be standing to the left of the key and he misses it. I can be standing to the right and he misses it. I have to make Bullwinkle lean over repeatedly to try and get it, and then and only then will he pick up the key.

The controls are spongy and inexact. You can think you landed on the right platform, only to clip through it and plummet to your death. You'll think you avoided that bomb coming at you, only to get hit square in the nose.

The worst sin of Rocky & Bullwinkle, though, is that it's utterly, utterly bland. Bullwinkle cartoons are known for their anarchic and unpredictable sense of humor. This game, though, is series after series of slightly different locales where you're doing the same thing. A new area! Now jump through these obstacles with awful controls! Another new area! Now jump through these obstacles with awful controls! And so on.

Plus, the animation style of the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, appears to have emboldened the developers to make everything butt-ugly. Look at these screenshots. LOOK AT THEM. You tell me if a lot of work went in to making those graphics. Sure, it looks kind of like the cartoons, but come on.

I'm not exactly sure where this all went wrong. It seems like the developers may have been aiming for a fun, goofy romp through Rocky & Bullwinkle's world, and just... whiffed. Maybe they've forgotten about this game, but I have been forced to live through it in order to bring my punishment to fruition.

I shall now sit quietly in a darkened corner, a lone tear falling from my eye, as I nurse a glass of whiskey. One word shall escape my lips, and only one: "Why?"

Final Rating:

Next Week: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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