Disney’s Snow White Video Game Review #6- A Collect-A-Thon Platformer That’ll Put You to Sleep Faster Than a Poisoned Apple

There once was a teen oh so pretty,
But her looks came to be such a pity.
The queen was quite vain
With a death on her brain
So the girl hung with guys itty-bitty.

Magic mirror on the wall, who thought it would be good idea to make a Snow White video game over 60 years after the Disney movie came out let alone at all? There is a narcissistic queen. She wants to kill a girl that’s prettier than her. The princess hides out in a cottage with seven not-so-tall men. The queen finds her anyway and poisons her, but a prince saves her. The protagonist does nothing but hide, housekeep, sleep, and be carried off. What a riveting road map for an adventure! Well, on the plus side, at least Snow White’s parents’ last name wasn’t Yellow.

Speaking of colors, isn’t it odd that one of the only types of game cartridges that are clear, as in, having no color, are Game Boy Color games? WonderSwan Color games are the same way, oddly. The world gets some consoles with “color” in the title, and with them, we start getting cartridges totally devoid of color. But hey, for bloggers, it’s always better when life doesn’t make sense.

Another great thing about the tale of Snow White is the comfort it must give girls who get mocked for their appearance. After all, the only reason Snow White was targeted for death was for being too pretty. At least unattractive females know their lives are safe from jealous bimbos.

The game starts by mocking Dopey because making fun of seemingly-mentally-challenged people is fun; he’s the icon for easy mode. Players are then greeted by an image of Snow White wearing a face mask and crying. Guess she’s emotionally fed up with Covid-19.

Next, we’re graced by the image of the great stalker prince with a gaze upon his noble brow most derpy. In the movie, he starts singing, and Snow White runs away in fear, and with a face like that, I would too.

Level one is based on the queen’s order to her huntsman to take Snow White out to pick wildflowers and then claim her heart. As you collect the plants, you can even see the guy leaning nearby, a nice visual detail. However, the queen asked him to take her to a secluded glade in the forest, yet the game area takes place at the castle itself. There are wooded areas later in the game, so the work to make such locales was already done, so I cannot comprehend this change.

Between the levels are minigames. Geez, I’ve sure looked at a lot of these types of titles lately, haven’t I? At least they all proceed a bit differently. Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge has nothing but minigames and three difficulties to choose from. JumpStart Dino Adventure Field Trip also had nothing except them but made you play through all three difficulties to see the ending, and Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has two difficulties with minigames sprinkled between platforming levels. Well, as long as this one has no sliding puzzles, we’re cool.

After collecting all the flowers, you have to- COMPLETE A SLIDE PUZZLE!? Okay, this game should get an automatic negative 3.14 because it has one of the worst things ever, and I like pie. We then get a cutscene with the queen starting off her question with “Mirror, mirror” instead of “Magic mirror,” because whoever wrote this clearly just saw the movie once or twice many years ago and tried reciting it from memory. But hey, I hate research too, so we’re kindred spirits.

 

After the huntsman can’t bring himself to kill Snow White and has her flee, we get level two of- collecting butterflies. I mean, yeah, when the animals first show her the seven dwarfs’ house, there’s an extremely brief moment of a couple butterflies scuttering by, but this is really grasping at straws to formulate the basis of a stage. At least the next section is a bit more actiony where she flees through the dark woods avoiding bats.

After that, Snow White goes around the cottage collecting rabbits. Oh hey, now we know what she made that soup with. This is followed by catching the plates the animals wash before they break. And then it’s time for music note collecting because- she likes singing, I guess. She should have grabbed the notes in that castle area at the start since she sang a song there, and that butterfly fetch quest in the woods thereafter should have been for the flowers she gathered in the movie. Then we get a round of Simon Says using the dwarfs with their instruments. In my opinion, the harder difficulty makes this segment go on way too long, especially for kids. My brain was strained trying to repeat a whopping dozen ever-lengthening segments.

The next part just screws things up big time: In the motion picture, Snow White makes a gooseberry pie for her hosts. The evil queen disguises herself as an old hag and tempts Snow White to eat a poisoned apple after saying that an apple pie would be the preferable dish. However, in the game, she collects apples. Okay, well, that messes up the story because she no longer has any reason to accept an apple, but later in the game, we see round, green fruit in a minigame that could pretty much pass as gooseberries, so why wasn’t that used for this objective so the story could unfold in the logical way it was intended to?

Granted, the disguised queen adds further incentive to take the fruit by saying it’s a wishing apple, but in the game’s universe, the events could not have unfolded like they did in the film. Speaking of how things played out, now that I think about it, Snow White probably believed that wishing apple was real her entire life. I mean, her wish was to have her prince, she ate the apple, and the next she knew, her prince was there. Her wish really did come true in her mind as soon as she took that bite.

Welp, now you play as a deer going to get help from the dwarfs. This part, thankfully, really feels more like a game with obstacles, falling debris, and bottomless pits as you auto scroll to the right. You even have to adjust your speed to avoid getting hit and make the jumps. The lightning flashes look nice, but being followed by claps of thunder would have been the icing on the gooseberry cake.

The game cuts to Grumpy as you continue his workload of the day by collecting gems while navigating the mine. Then we come to one of the oddest additions to the game albeit a welcome one for the fun. You know those two vultures that looked happy as the queen made her way to the cottage? They’re a boss battle now. And they’re fought by Dopey who shoots them with beams of light created by reflecting the rays of the sun with a diamond. But the strangeness doesn’t stop there. The birds don’t actually attack you. In fact, they’re just minding their own business and flying around. He ends up just looking like he felt like being cruel to innocent animals.

Yeah, regardless of difficulty level, they don’t swoop down to attack with their claws or drop poop or anything. Even the manual describes this part as Dopey “defending” himself despite them just moving along like any other birds.

Furthermore, Dopey was actually the one dwarf that fired stuff off in the movie, but what he shot was bubbles. If they’re gonna add some random battle sequence with him, it all would have had at least connected to the film somewhat if he was blasting those things out of his mouth instead. Sure, bubbles don’t really hurt anything, but reflected light doesn’t exactly cause damage either. Unless it’s a throw pillow you left near an open window for a month.

Once the scavengers are defeated, you play as Grumpy again because it’s not like there’s seven different dwarfs or anything; the game clearly had no choice but to make you use the same one twice. And he collects- hearts? What is that supposed to symbolize? How he got bashful before he left for the mine after Snow White kissed him? Plus, since the huntsman brought back the heart of a pig to try fooling the queen into thinking he really killed her, acquiring hearts in this game has some very disturbing implications. I mean, they’re friggin’ BEATING! And while hearts can also be symbolic of love, shouldn’t you technically be controlling the prince for that?

Afterwards, it’s Concentration because every single minigame title I play seems to have that as a requirement. Anyway, the prince awakens Snow White with a kiss, and they live happily ever after. Geez, just imagine his abilities as a role-playing game character:

Frightening Song- Scare away one target but grants no experience points or items.

Beguile- Inflicts Charm on target to make them fight for you for three turns.

True Love’s Kiss- Cures Sleep and Poison.

Happy Ever After- Inflicts Happiness on target for remainder of battle which boosts resistance to mental attacks by 25%.

The game’s final challenge is a dumbed down version of Tetris. You see a “The end” on the back of the storybook because, as we all know, the final words of a tome are on the cover and not one of the pages.

The credits play against a background that’s yellow, symbolizing my relief that Snow White’s last name was not. Well, with the story said and done, let’s move on.

The game controls fine, but it’s not like there’s much to do or need of good reflexes. Snow White stops briefly after she lands which messes with the smooth feeling of momentum, but I doubt anyone would fail something here due to how things handle. Entering passages is a breeze too. You don’t need to press a thing; you just stop moving outside a door, and boom, you go in. This simplifies the game, but since it’s already so basic, I think I’d prefer a bit more interaction as the player, especially since this can lead to entering someplace by accident if, say, you have to sneeze right at an entryway.

I’m normally not a fan of the occasional leaps of faith one must take to find some items, but there’s no falling damage or time limit, and this game is way too easy, so I weirdly welcome them here. A bit unhappy though with how picky the game is regarding where you need to stand to collect things; I shouldn’t have to fidget around when I’m literally right on top of something. But I do like how if the pause button is pressed, Sleepy shows up in an unconscious state, a very creative and fitting choice.

The scenery throughout the games gets pretty repetitive, but what we do get looks nice enough. The castle is nice looking, and the scary trees are pretty creepy. Sometimes, animated animals were placed in the background just for more atmosphere, and it’s an appreciated touch. All NPC’s look fantastic too though I’m not sure why the huntsman is dressed like he’s cosplaying a red mage from the Final Fantasy series.

Nor do I get why Snow White isn’t actually looking at the apple she’s holding on the cover. Come on, Miss White. Just lower your gaze a wee bit there.

Grumpy’s dainty jumping animation and Bashful’s stoned expression while accordion playing are just beautiful though.

The music is decent. It works; it fits okay. Things sound pretty chill during relaxed moments and a bit tense during stressful scenes. There’s just nothing memorable about any of it. It’s hard to remember the tunes even right after hearing them. The sound effects are alright too. Fine choice for jumping and picking up items. When it comes to the auditory department of this game, my overall mentality is that I basically just don’t have anything bad to say about it. The noise from whenever you enter a door seems a little dramatic/elongated, but it’s still whatevs.

A compliment I can give it over JumpStart Dino Adventure Field Trip from last time is that it actually has music during the credits, so kudos. However, the same track is played at the beginning of the game though too, so they couldn’t even make something new to grace our ears upon completion.

The story is what you already know about Disney’s Snow White, and they show a good number of scenes. However, there aren’t nearly enough words to accompany the visuals, so it’s all paraphrased to oblivion here. It’s like reading the outline to a fairytale. Plus, it’s not like Snow White is high art in the realm of storytelling in the first place, but it at least has the benefit of being a beloved classic.

This title’s existence is a strange thing since it doesn’t really scream, “Video game,” at all. A Disney film such as The Sword in the Stone seems like a much more logical choice, but this is what we got. If you’re a fan of Snow White and are curious to see how it translates to game form, you might get a little amused with how this goes about it, and it’s a romp that young children can certainly easily grasp. If you’ve got a four- or five-year-old just starting gaming, hey, this works as a nice, cheap entry point. But if the evil queen had sent her huntsman out to bring her the circuit board of this cartridge, I kinda doubt he would have hesitated for that.

Well, I gotta going. My pen and paper RPG group is about to take on Yzma and Kronk, and they need the prince’s kisses to dispel her poison effects. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 3/10
Controls- 8.5/10
Graphics and Sound- 5/10
Story- 4/10
Difficulty Balance- 2.5/10
Verdict- 46%

Pretty foxtastic

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A crossdressing woman with a nickname synonymous to latency kills men that killed men so that men won’t be killed.

JumpStart Dino Adventure Field Trip Video Game Review #5- A Competent Educator That Won’t Get Older Tails Wagging

A dog went and traveled through time.
He at once saw a terrible crime.
Eggs were brought to a lair,
But the moms didn’t care,
So the ending was not so sublime.

Once upon a prehistoric time, CJ the frog and Hopsalot the rabbit decided to test out a potentially-dangerous time machine on their dog companion Frankie as they remained safely back. Clearly, animals after Doc Brown’s own heart.

Also, please stay far away from anyone that uses that bunny’s face as a profile picture.

Frankie steps out in the past and suddenly meets a green pterodactyl that needs his help in recovering her lost eggs. Now, I’m all for turning to strangers for help in emergencies, but what could a dog do that she couldn’t do several times better? She knows the area and the residents. She’s stronger, faster, and can fly. What, was there a prophecy of a bipedal, red-sweater-toting canine appearing to save your children as foretold on ancient cave walls? If she needed something small to get into a tiny crevice she couldn’t fit through or something, I’d understand. This though is like the mighty Samson wanting some random foxes’ help to burn down some Philistine fields. Wait… Bad example, but you get the idea.

Frankie agrees, but while distracted, a blue dinosaur steals the time machine. Rather than giving chase, he just casually wonders how he’ll get home. Yeah, if my car is ever stolen, my reaction’ll be, “Golly, how will I get to work on time now?” He could have asked for the pterodactyl to pay him back for his assistance by helping to retrieve his transportation or- anything- but nope! Despite the genuinely-terrifying prospect of being stuck in ancient times for life, Frankie still decides to help the mom out. His aid comes in the form of four minigames which seemingly have no connection to finding the eggs yet somehow do anyway. Good to know, I guess. Next time I lose my keys, I’ll just play some Tic-Tac-Toe, and I’m sure they’ll show up.

All the minigames have to be beaten three times with increasing challenge. Rather than choosing from a trio of difficulties like in Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge from last time, you seamlessly go through them all from the easiest to reach the ending. Despite being full of animals, this game would have been much meatier and more fun if every game was different instead of rehashing them twice, but at least there are some alterations. Each time you complete them all once, you move onto a new area with a pterodactyl that looks exactly like the previous one who also happened to be the victim of eggnapping. It’s nice to see the different landscapes, but having the NPC you help at least look somewhat different would have been a nice touch. Well, at least Frankie clearly has to pee on the overworld. That totally makes up for the visual redundancy.

As for the minigames, you got Dino Driver for starters which teaches alphabetical order. You ride Barney the dinosaur over his dead brethren and knock the dinosaur over that has the next letter one by one which causes them to explode. At least the footprints appearing as you run looks neat.

Next up is Dino Bop which helps with matching, reflexes, and how to cause a concussion. This is the one game where the controls really stand out, as your hammer is always trying to get centered like there’s some gravitational pull, so you have to hold down the D-pad to hit other areas. This gets especially wonky if trying to whack several dinos in rapid succession. Otherwise, this entire title handles perfectly.

Third is Brain-O-Saur which is meant to help with memory. Just like Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge, it’s Concentration, but the difference here is that you are shown everything at the start and have finite tries rather than a time limit. Before you start, this “educational” game calls Frankie’s paws “hands,” so this experience could be quite devastating to children’s development if they planned to become a veterinarian.

Lastly is Feeding Time which helps with matching, counting, and addition. You throw food at hungry dinos, and for some reason, if the number you’re holding doesn’t match your target’s, they’ll get hit in the face with the projectile instead of eating it. In the end, all four of these are pretty much as easy and forgiving as it gets not counting those from video games rated EC.

After finishing each game, Frankie just magically has the egg and takes it back to the pterodactyl who thanks you and- wants each egg put back on the correct nest? Lady, I just saved your kids for you, you lazy omelet maker! Put them where you want yourself. I’m just glad she didn’t get help from the police.

“I’m sorry, officer. I appreciate you rescuing my kidnapped children and all, but you can’t leave until you physically place them in the correct beds from which they were taken.”

“Uh, ma’am, have you been-“

“Yesh.”

Furthermore, even though there is a system in place for the second and third areas in terms of placing the eggs in the correct spot, the first nesting ground lets you leave them anywhere and has all the bedding look the same. Maybe it was just easier to program the game by having the pterodactyl in each place say the same thing, but boy, was I confused at that initial one! I’m looking at the screen going, “Um. What.”

After all four of the games are completed, you unlock a fifth one involving flying on your pterodactyl client while hitting the matching clouds. Watch out for the evil ones from the Care Bears that got something in their eyes though; they don’t care about getting in your way.

After this process is completed three times, Frankie happens to spot a cave that he happens to think is noteworthy that happens to have the thief inside who happens to be non-violent and friendly. I just happen to need a vacation.

Turns out that the burglar wasn’t stealing the eggs to cause mischief or eat them or anything. He was just lonely. He only took the time machine because he thought it was also an egg. Everyone is totally cool with this, and Frankie tells him that he won’t be lonely again if he just starts being nice.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

Where do I even begin? Okay, so, he took the eggs because he was lonely? How in the name of Zoboomafoo can unhatched babies ease loneliness? Isn’t that the modern-day equivalent of no one replying to you on Facebook so you go out and steal some ultrasounds? Was it just a matter of having something there whether it was sentient or not? If so, why not a rock or maybe the skeletons we saw earlier? Why take something that’s only going to cause him trouble later?

And he confused a time machine for an egg? I understand that it’s ovular; something living came out of it; and dinosaurs here have no concept of electronics, but even if that’s why he thought it was one, that would mean he took what he believed to be an empty egg, a mere egg shell. If that’s good enough to lift his loneliness, he really couldn’t have just taken nothing but egg shells that no one cares about instead of committing a heinous crime? They’re probably littered all over the place!

And I can maybe sorta understand Frankie being all chill since he had no emotional connection to anything here, but why didn’t that mother have any negative reaction to this guy? Seriously, there was no rebuke or anything. What kind of mom has nothing to say, do, or apparently even feel when confronting her children’s kidnapper? And seriously, my dog dude? The final lesson here for kids is that individuals stop being lonely when they’re kind? I guess I’m just a jerk then. Frankie then gives a radioactive thumbs up, and that’s an egg wrap. /Deep breaths Wow. That ending was- I need booze.

Okay, let’s just talk about the game’s features. To help players keep track of what minigames they already did per area, it very nicely shows an egg on the bottom corner if you hover over a completed task. You can even attempt to steal the eggs you’ve recovered, but the moms won’t let you get away with it; at least it shows they’ve upped their protectiveness and become mildly better parents now. Maybe. It also kindly provides the means to turn off the music if you don’t know what the volume knob does on your GBC. And best of all, it shows what Titans Tower would look like after being attacked by a slime monster.

The music is pretty well composed, and the opening track is especially catchy. I was sorely tempted to rap my right foot to the beat since my left leg was folded onto my other knee at the time. Sorta sounded like the thing you’d hear at a private Christian elementary school as the kids are walking up to the podium one by one to collect their achievement awards. The rest is also pleasantly endearing and elaborate enough for a really good effect during gameplay.

Oddly, though, the credits have no sound at all, not even any colorful imagery. Most people already have no interest in watching that part, so thanks for taking away any possible appeal for those that do!

Visually speaking, the game is bright and colorful but gets kinda weird sometimes. Frankie and the repeated pterodactyl model look very different on the cartridge’s cover than in the game. I mean, she’s purple on the front. I know the Gameboy Color is only 8-bit and all, but it’s like they didn’t even try to make them sync up. Speaking of her, she makes one of the oddest expressions when you’re at her nest. It’s like the kind of face you’d see if she hadn’t gotten a reply to the text message that she sent her boyfriend six hours ago, AND she’s trying really hard to hold in her diarrhea after all the chocolates she consumed from emotion eating.

Sometimes, she simply looks like she wants to eat YOU, ironically the face she should have made after meeting her kids’ kidnapper.

Oddest of all is what you see at the start: a message saying that this game was intended for private use only and that public performance is prohibited. Guess I better hurry and find a Get out of Jail Free card.

Ya know, for little little kids, this ain’t a bad choice to help develop a few scholastic skills; I think the intellect of a preschooler would be rather enhanced by this experience, and early development is the most important. The story, while very simple, is creative enough to hold a tyke’s attention I’d imagine. And if you want your children to join the UFC when they grow up, the violent head traumas, face smacking, and explosive pushing are sure to build a strong foundation for a highly-profitable, immensely-violent future. For anyone else, even with nothing better to do, I think people are gonna struggle to get engrossed with this beyond-easy title. If I were a dog, I definitely wouldn’t call this chocolate, but it ain’t exactly much of a treat either.

Well, I gotta get going. I’ve been feeling kind of lonely, so I need to nicely steal some snake eggs and shells. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 4.5/10
Controls- 9.5/10
Graphics and Sound- 8/10
Story- 4.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 4/10
Verdict- 61%

Very foxtastic indeed!

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

When a girl that dwarfed a woman’s beauty is put to sleep on fruit, dwarfs decide to dwarf the woman’s life without needing to sleep on it.

Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge (GB) Video Game Review #4- A Cataclysmic Puzzler That Can’t Quite Rumble with the Competition

There was a mouse dreamer named Mickey.
There’s a girl, but let’s make this a quicky.
With earthquakes that loomed,
A kingdom was doomed,
Yet the quest ain’t exactly that tricky.

Welcome to Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge, the puzzle platformer that can be completed without Mickey ever showing up at all. Yeah, kinda strange to name it that when you can play as Mickey OR Minnie. Other games have handled dual protagonists with names like “Disney’s Magical Quest 3 Starring Mickey & Donald,” but there was no such consideration here. The game’s apparent sexism continues multiple times, but we’ll get to them later. It was produced by Hi Tech Expressions, a company no longer around thanks to Thanos’ snap.

Movement, even during puzzles, is very fluid, and the sprite graphics are really crisp and detailed. Plus, the water in the background is actually animated, a really nice touch that helps make the atmosphere seem more alive. The mouths even move when they talk! Talk about going above and beyond for a Game Boy title. I also appreciate the clever foreshadowing caused by the protagonist actually looking upward whenever an earthquake interrupts gameplay. It was also surprising just how good some of the music tracks are. They were fairly elegant and really fit the medieval setting.

The controls felt just right, but they didn’t always perform in the same way. There was one platform where I would jump straight up to it over and over, and sometimes I’d land on it, sometimes not, and there was no difference in what I was doing with the button. Another weird aspect of the controls is the fact that you can duck. Why is this odd? Because you never once need to do so in the entire game. Furthermore, A is a high jump and B is a low one, but the entire game can be beaten using either one, so just like the ability to crouch, this inclusion was completely unnecessary.

The story is the same regardless of your avatar. Each mouse is reading a book about fairy tales, starts thinking about the world contained within, falls asleep, and dreams about being there. A clichéd transition without a doubt, but the twist ending wouldn’t have worked without it, so I guess it’s at least slightly above average. Upon arrival, you’re informed that this medieval land is doomed because of mysterious earthquakes. You’d expect the townspeople to be working on some solution, panicked, or trying to set their final affairs in order. However, they’re all quite chill about their apocalyptic future. Daisy Duck is actually more concerned that her paintings are dusty. Whatever these folks are on- please keep it away.

The dialogue options are quite plentiful. You have two choices at the start of the minigames which yield different responses, and some words also change depending on whether you picked Mickey or Minnie. The gameplay is nearly always unaffected though; regardless of how you answer, the minigames proceed in the exact same fashion. However, getting used to having no influence on events with your replies is all a buildup to a cruel trap which I’ll get to in a bit. On the flip side, my favorite thing about the speech here is that the weasel guard’s accent is left intact. Righto, gov’na.

You can choose your difficulty, but none are particularly challenging. The game tries to be hip by referring to easy mode as “cake,” but the medium and hard settings are untouched with creativity. They could have gone with something like “cake,” “bananas,” and “nuts,” but now I’m hungry. After the desired required effort for your experience has been chosen, you get a scene showing your character reading a fairy tale book then wondering about what life would be like there. He or she falls asleep, transitioning to the fantasy world, but not before you’re shown some satanic imagery. What devil worshippers won’t do to promote their brand…

You’re dropped off at a tower of a castle that serves as your central hub to reach the various levels. If you had fallen a little to the right, this adventure would have been over with pretty quickly.

Your movement is occasionally interrupted by the seismic activity as you explore the area known as- the Kingdom of Beanwick. This name is displayed with large capital B’s on tapestries that adorn the stone walls. What a brilliant way to save on paint! The state of Indiana should have just had a sign on the outskirts represented by an I.

As far as accessing the levels go, one is cut off until all the others are complete, and one can be unlocked after some progression; the drawbridge minigame with Huey, Dewey, and Louie opens a path to Goofy. However, there’s a secret route to him if you want to do his part early. Just head out to the docks and hold down left on the D-pad until a cutscene triggers which transports you over to who is now the kingdom’s blacksmith.

The game is comprised entirely of minigames hosted by familiar Disney characters, and most of them are just reskins of games you’ve likely played at some point in your life. You have Mastermind, Simon Says, Concentration (the same card game as Super Mario Bros. 3), a sliding puzzle, and two others I can’t generalize as easily. One is about pushing all the vials into a mirror, and if you get one stuck, you have to push B to reset. The other involves jumping back and forth on platforms to touch certain letters in order to spell a word.

The minigames fit into the setting via a small plot point you have to address. For example, the Simon Says game is used as an activation mechanism to start a flow of water to free Huey, Dewy, and Louie from a platform. However, you have to suspend your disbelief as to how the mechanics of some tasks actually accomplish your goal. I mean, who designed the pipe system to respond to a few rounds of Simon Says instead of a simple lever? It’s like rigging your toilet to only flush if you win a round of Monopoly. And they must love spicy food, as the buttons are all pepper shakers.

Not to mention, they’re a bit sexist too, suggesting that Minnie could find a use for the glass slipper just because she’s a female. What, boys couldn’t enjoy them and girls automatically would? You three get no ye olde marbles for two whole moons!

You have an inventory bar, and each completed puzzle awards you an object. Each item is then traded to a different NPC for a magic bean. The character that needs each item is handled very logically. For instance, Horace Horsecollar talks about having poor eyesight, so of course, he gets the spectacles. However, no thought or effort is needed for the swaps. If you just get the items then reenter the areas, the correct trade happens automatically after the conversation initiates.

Furthermore, the game breaks its own immersion with this trading system. Horace asked for your help because his eyesight was bad. So, if you go to his room after acquiring the spectacles for him, it no longer makes sense that you need to do the work for him anymore. Heck, even after you actually hand his glasses over, he still gives you the option of helping organize the books. If his bad vision was really the source of needing your help, this doesn’t make sense. Then there’s Goofy who gives you his blacksmithing tool. Um, how do you plan to carry out your duties without your hammer? It’s not like your life is about to en- ohhh…

Anyway, going back to Mr. Horsecollar’s area, it has the official what-the-heck imagery of the entire game. It’s not the nightmare-fuel level of the GBC Grinch game, but it will make your heart race when walking up basement stairs for a couple of weeks. His puzzle requires jumping on floating books in the correct order, and having tomes moving on their own is creepy enough. However, sometimes they tremble like there’s a lost soul inside trying to claw its way out.

Furthermore, in the center of his room is- a legless, female duck with sad, pupilless eyes rocking a D-cup. I mean, you could argue her eyes are just closed, but it’s more chilling to say otherwise, so I’m saying otherwise.

If you pause the game, the flying book you’re riding vanishes, making it look like you’re possessed.

And what lingers down below? Skulls. Lots of skulls. Gonna guess victims of the bisected duck lady above.

Lastly, all of this takes place amidst music that could fittingly accompany waking up in the middle of the night to chains that you struggle against which bind you to your bed as ghosts with glowing red eyes slowly rise before you and move closer with mouths that never stop opening wider containing uvulas that display images of you succumbing to your most feared way of dying, and every time you let out a scream, the sound of it comes from all the spirits’ mouths instead. Welcome, everyone, to Mickey’s Haunted Hellish Mansion.

After your inventory is filled with beans, the game does not give you any clue what you’re supposed to do next. Thankfully, the way to progress is pretty easy to stumble upon by accident. Once you approach the well, a cutscene triggers where you stupidly decide to throw all the magic beans you earned away without making any effort to figure out a use for them. I mean, Donald is a friggin’ magician. Your character could have simply asked him about them or something, but he or she just tosses them out mindlessly. Fortunately, they just happened to be hurled into the well which results in a giant beanstalk sprouting. Climb up it to confront the final “boss.”

Turns out that a giant was sleeping in the clouds, and his snoring was causing the quakes. You see a picture of an alarm clock that’s been scrambled and a magic wand that can shift the pieces around. If you enjoy sliding puzzles, you’ll have a good time. If you’re in the other 99.99% of the world’s population, you’ll- not- have a good time. It might have just been good fortune, but I managed to clear this on cake and medium rather quickly. On hard, however, I spent far more time on that part alone than the rest of the game combined. I recommend approaching the highest difficulty of this challenge with one of three things: knowledge of the mechanics of how to properly complete a sliding puzzle, a whole lot of luck, or aspirin.

One nifty thing that’s very easy to miss is that the programmers actually allow you to scale the various areas of the giant’s body. If you just walk over, the cutscene with the puzzle automatically triggers, so you have to jump over the wand to reach the climbing fun. Personally, out of grief for making me have to do a sliding puzzle of all things, I used my access to the giant’s face to make him kiss my tushie. Huh. I guess crouching actually was useful.

In the end, the giant rouses from his nap. Wait, waking someone up while you yourself are sleeping? Meta! Anyway, this is the only real part of the game where your dialogue choice actually changes what happens next. He asks if you woke him up, and if you say no, the puzzle actually partially undoes itself. The only time your choice ever gives you some kind of control over how you progress results in losing progress. Anyway, the kingdom is saved, and your character wakes up to reveal it was all a dream. …Or was it? Your character looks down into the book and sees the giant with the silhouette of a mouse. Coincidence, or did your character really travel to another dimension? The game uniquely leaves this open ended.

During the credits, you’ll get silhouettes of both characters, but regardless of who you play as, the final screen will always be of Mickey.

Yep. You can beat Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge without Mickey only for him to show up in the end anyway instead of Minnie. SEEEEEXIIIIIST! And speaking of the title, it really undermines all the other Mickey games, huh? As long as you beat this, any time anyone else ever completes a Mickey game, you can say, “Pfft, that’s nothin’. I beat Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge!” Should have been called “Mickey and Minnie’s Virtually-Nonexistent Challenge Until the Last Part but Only on the Hardest Difficulty.”

I think youngsters today who can appreciate a retro puzzle game will honestly have a very good time with this. Adults probably won’t find too much appeal with the extremely low challenge and lack of innovation or surprises, but I’d say it has enough charm to warrant a quick peak or return for all ages. It’s a pleasant, relaxing distraction that anyone can pick up and play through its very short runtime. I can’t say I recommend actually dropping money for this one, but if you see it lying around, I think I would at the very least- shake up some boredom.

Well, I gotta get going. I need to find my copy of Monopoly: The Walking Dead before my bathroom starts to stink. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 5.5/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 9/10
Story- 5.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 4.5/10
Verdict- 67%

Very foxtastic indeed!

 

Additional credit:

Creative Consultant:
Jill

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A dog embarks on an eggcellent, high-flying adventure just in time to aid the past in finding its future.

The Grinch (GBC) Video Game Review #3- What Who Could See This Stealing the Show?

There once was a mean one, the Grinch.
Stealing presents was easy, a cinch!
So he took his dog Max,
And he quickly made tracks
To rob blind every Who-ridden inch.

If you load this page, put wrapping paper around your screen, and then tear it all off, this review can truly feel as intended: my Christmas gift to each and every one of you. I just know that everyone wanted a review of the Gameboy Color adaption of The Grinch instead of a PS5 or Switch or XBOX Series X/S, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Due to the Grinch’s plan to steal Christmas by robbing the Whos of their presents without getting unnoticed, this is understandably a stealth game. But not just any stealth game. A stealth game from Konami. If you die, I imagine your partner exclaims, “Grinch, what’s wrong? Answer me, please! Grinch? Griiiiiiinch!”

Now, while his scheme remains completely unchanged from all the movie and book adaptions, his execution is completely switched. Rather than taking the gifts in the middle of the night while the Whos sleep, he does it- in broad daylight right in front of their faces. I mean- I mean… I guess there wouldn’t be much to the gameplay if all the enemies were asleep the entire time, but- gosh, the game said he had a terrible plan, and by golly, he did!

Another change is the locations. Rather than just exploring a bunch of different houses, though there are plenty of indoor areas, a lot of the gifts are outside in the snow. Why was that changed? I at least understand the necessity to have foes awake, but why did the Whos decide to store most of their purchases in freezing weather where they’re bound to get soaked? Now they seem dumb.

The silliness continues, though! A cutscene at the start says that the Grinch has a plan to stop Christmas, but it’s not revealed. You control the Grinch as he steals several gifts, and then the Grinch declares that he plans accomplish his goal by taking all the presents. Um, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have shown the details of his idea before the player starts doing it? When he finally shared his plot, it’s like, “No kidding! You mean the thing I literally just watched you doing the last few minutes?”

Gameplay switches between the Grinch and Max, and thankfully, it’s not merely aesthetic. The aggressive Grinch has a bubble melee attack and snowballs to fire at long range while gentle Max goes full-on contactless with his ability to jump over his foes. However, Max can still stop NPC’s by getting two of them to collide, and he has the most OP ability in the game: an instant, unlimited, spammable, full-room stun with his bark. Both can crawl, and you need to do this to move under low ledges at the cost of speed; you can also duck to avoid enemy projectiles. There’s even more variety via kart levels where you drive around unable to fully stop until the level is completed.

You get taken out with one hit (though projectiles just slow you down), but the story behind getting attacked is pretty unique. The manual explains that the Whos wish to spread their goodwill, and if they spot the Grinch, they share their love by touching him. This causes the Grinch to be unable to bring himself to continue his diabolical plan; the damage animation actually shows his heart growing outside of his chest. Um. Ew. The game over screen even shows him holding hands with a smiling Max and Cindy Lou Who. He was literally foiled by the power of love.

Oddly, though, unlike the Metal Gear series, it’s actually beneficial to get seen on purpose. This causes an adrenaline rush allowing you to run and finish collecting gifts much more quickly. Sure, it ups the chance of getting hit, but it’s a risk/reward system that really hinges on the latter. The Whos give up on you pretty quickly, and the instant you change areas, the chase ends as well, so it’s not difficult to escape. If you’re patient, this game is very easy. If you’re impatient- it’s still pretty easy.

Top that off with unlimited continues, a password system, and T coins to increase your time limit, and you have a game that’ll only make you tense if you forget the first half of this sentence. The larger later levels might run out your time limit before you find a good route, but again, infinite tries without needing to start the game over from scratch prevent that from being an issue. Totally bringing some of those coins to my next math test.

Now, I would talk about the music, but I just can’t. I’m going to gush about it. Even if you don’t take the limitations of the GBC into account, it’s still just great. The opening track when you view the dark title screen is both haunting and foreboding. I daresay that, despite some lighter-sounding moments, I can imagine it being played while looking at a tombstone or haunted house or something; it’s more Halloween than Christmas.

The music then shifts into a faster, upbeat tune as the Whos are brought into the picture. It’s just so delightful and could easily make for the background music in a Pokemon city. Getting these two tracks back-to-back like this is perfect, too. You hear creepy, epic music as you stare at the Grinch’s name amidst a pitch-black background and then hear a cheery melody at the mention of the loving townsfolk. This gives a beautiful picture of the stark contrast between the two from the orchestration alone.

The levels themselves have great original music too. When the first stage begins, the sound is like watching the first glistening snowflakes of the season drifting down to find a place to rest on the fresh earth below, dancing faster and faster until the merry blizzard decides to stay for the evening and soak up the Whoville Christmas spirit.

This music variety is sublime; take note, Super Baseball 2020. There’s even a good rendition of “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The game also knew when not to play music, as there’s fitting a silent moment as the Grinch is taking in the Whos’ continued good cheer after he cleaned them out.

Unfortunately, there was one giant missed opportunity in the auditory department: When the Whos are seen singing, rather than the usual rendition of “Welcome Christmas,” we get music that’s- fine, I guess. But the original tune for that scene was so heartwarming and emotional and would have added even more weight to the clever placement of that earlier silence. Their version of “Jingle Bells” and so forth turned out great, so I’m sure that that song would have rocked too. Oh well. As for the sound effects, they’re good as well, and I especially like the Grinch’s laugh.

The controls aren’t bad, but they can get a little weird. In some areas, three directions of the D pad move you in the same direction. Like, you can be moving left through a passageway, and if you press up or down, you’ll keep moving left. One time when I was moving down, I mistakenly thought I could fit between two trees on the side, and when I pressed left, rather than stopping and walking in place leftward, I kept moving downward right into an enemy. Also, if you’re crawling when you move to another screen, you stay that way after the transition. Problem is, there’s never a reason to be crouched at the start of a new place, so it would have been a nice touch if you automatically reverted back to walking whenever you exited an area.

Visually, the creators did a superb job. Despite a lot of the game taking place outside covered in snow, details were added to the areas to keep them looking unique. Snow mounds here, a fence there, footprints trailing off, etcetera. The artwork in the cutscenes look beautiful too. I will say, though, we also get some bizarre and even terrifying imagery.

We start with a Christmas tree that looks like the Jolly Green Giant ate too many cranberries after throwing away his stash of fortune cookies.

Halfway into scene 1-2, however, things get even better. Now we have JGG cranberry runs amidst fortune cookies, AND they’re on Maxi-pads.

When seen by a Who or dog or robot, the Grinch’s and Max’s face gets pretty freaky, even more so during the cutscene where Cindy Lou spots the former in her house.

We also get Snapchat advertisements before it was even released,

fox masks with bull horns next to Sorry! board game tokens,

the angry door from Alice in Wonderland,

rotten krabby patties,

decapitated Who heads,

and most horrific of all: a shirtless, anthropomorphic donkey wearing a black toupee and bra with four empty eye sockets sitting in a chair behind a desk.

I now know what I’m going to see if I ever get infected with the Scarecrow’s fear gas.

The nightmare fuel of the artwork wouldn’t be an issue if it was intentional like a horror game or something, but the goal was clearly a charming aesthetic, not a I’m-about-to-take-a-number-two-in-my-pants one. Even the final scene of the Whos, something meant to be a heartwarming finale, looks like I was transported into the bowels of hell.

   

You finally complete the game only to learn that you failed to stop Christmas. Yep, it’s one of those games that even if you finish, you can’t win. Geez. This should have been called “Mission: Impossible.” (No one else is allowed to use that title; I’m getting it copyrighted immediately.) The game doesn’t try to add any flourish to the story, just majorly summarizes the Jim Carrey adaption, so if you’ve seen that or really any version, you already knew the gist of the scenes. But hey, it’s still a great, much-beloved tale.

It’s a shame that the points are meaningless like in most games, as unlocking something like a password that grants infinite snowballs in your inventory would have made the effort of ending with a high score feel worthwhile. Still, this game is great fun, easy to just pick up and play, remains enjoyable again and again, and there’s added replay value from self-imposed challenges such as never getting seen. Even if you haven’t checked out the other mediums through which How the Grinch Stole Christmas was told, I highly recommend boarding your one-dog open sleigh, sliding down into eBay, and snagging yourself a copy of this fun little mean one.

Well, I gotta get going. There was finally a blizzard out here, so I have Christmas presents to put out.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 9/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 8.5/10
Story- 8.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 5.5/10
Verdict- 81%

Absolutely positively foxtastic!

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A mouse falls into a giant, puzzling mystery dooming a kingdom and refuses to quake amidst its quaky fate.

Super Baseball 2020 (SNES) Video Game Review #2- Futuristic Balls to the Wall Fun

The SBA seemed to have the elites,
Pitting robots against the athletes.
But they cheated hardcore
Now don’t run things no more,
Yet the cycle now sorta repeats.

People will universally agree that 2020 was the greatest year mankind has ever been graced with. And what a fitting time to review the game with a much higher score than my eyesight ever got- Super Baseball 2020. For starters, the opening sequence makes me dizzy, and someone stole Goku’s nimbus cloud.

In the demo, you’re greeted by Samus Aran in her baseball uniform cosplaying as Mega Man.

I will now attempt to relay the story as best as I can understand it: The Super Baseball Association has been pitting their robotic squad against the world’s best humans. However, the SBA modified their artificial players beyond just the normal advantages synthetic beings would have, and this ensured that they would always excel against their opponents. Thus, the association has been making a fortune off of constant victories. However, the general populace eventually discovered the unfair tampering and took action.

You’d think that they’d simply return baseball to its roots. No robots or enhancing gear or anything, just a test of skill between athletes. However, not only did the general populace continue allowing robots to play, but they also permitted upgrades to continue both for the robots and humans. Think sort of a sports team that used steroids, got caught, and then was shut down only for drugs to then be allowed for everyone without regulation. Well, if everyone can freely acquire buffs now and use them to their heart’s content, I have a question: Come ‘ere. Lil closer. Come on now. Just a bit more. ‘Kay:

 

 

 

WHY HAVE THEM AT ALL!?

This setup is such a bizarre thought process of the characters. If there is no rule against equipping more power-ups than the opposing side, things can easily go back to the unbalanced square one, the very scenario that caused the SBA to taken down in the first place. Seriously, what did the people actually change? With enough cash, your team can be maxed out, creating a huge disadvantage for the other team. The game is still about dominating your opponent by purchasing more gear.

Speaking of money, if you perform poorly, you instantly lose funds. I guess the umpire has the manager’s credit card and a mobile reader. If you do well, you earn varying amounts of cash to buy the boosts. Yet, if you’re already owning your opponent, they’re clearly the ones that need an extra edge, so again, the balancing gets all out of hand. Still, ignoring the implications of the world in the game and just taking up a controller as a gamer, the modifications do make for a cool addition to the gameplay.

There are two “races” so to speak. Statistically, robots have an advantage over people. While humans have a variety of gear to choose from, though, the robot players are simply powered up to a stronger one. Humans can even be upgraded to robots. I smell Dr. Wily.

Now, you probably know the basics of baseball, and this game stays pretty true to them. There’s the usual batting, pitching, catching and running, but they added minor differences throughout to keep things unique from real life and other titles in the genre. For examples, balls cannot be caught by the audience, as the viewers are covered by a sheet of glass that the baseball will bounce off of. The foul zone is much smaller to speed up progress, and the game transitions very quickly, making for a smooth, rapid pace. There’s also a “stop zone” where I guess time itself freezes; no matter how much momentum the ball has, if it lands there, it halts instantly. Newton’s first law of motion? What’s that?

On a dour note, there are some limitations and a wonky camera to be wary of. Despite the upgrades, there are no new equipment options for a different gameplay feel and/or aesthetic. No special abilities either. Despite the many pitches in baseball like a knuckleball, your options are kept very basic. When going to catch a ball, it’s not always clear where the character is who you’re controlling which can cause some disorientation; zooming out at these segments would have gone a long way. Even dashing for the ball with your jet pack after everything does come into view can be kinda janky, too.

Games are always played in the same place, the Cyber Egg Stadium, no doubt named by Dr. Ivo Robotnik. At least the baseball diamond isn’t referred to as Green Field Zone Act 1. Both men and women play together, so the game paints a beautiful picture of gender equality. As for the robots, while certainly proficient combatants, they go boom when overused. And when they go boom, all their stats drop to zero, so they gotta be powered up again to be useful. This does not happen to human players though. Pitchers can tire out, but having a relief brought in will perk them right back up. After hitting the ball, you run to the base automatically. It’s a shame you can’t freely move, as the field is clearly a prime area to catch Voltorbs.

After defeating the other teams, you simply- win. That’s it. No interesting cutscene, no other mention of the defunct Super Baseball Association, no unlockables. Replay-wise, with 12 different teams with varying stats and aesthetics, players are given a generous amount of material to go through, and having another person to play against adds another reason to pop the cartridge back in.

In regards to the story, it seems a shame that the SBA was limited to a prologue/backstory then dropped completely. Not that a baseball video game of all things needs some overarching antagonist or plotline or anything, but to set up a villainous group that was dethroned and do nothing interesting with it just seems like a waste. Heck, the SBA isn’t even mentioned in the software itself, only the manual, so there was bare minimum effort.

Imagine some competition where your team and that of the former SBA members were slowly fighting their way back to the top, and you had to put a stop to their plans of reigning supreme for the last time. After each victory on your part, you’d get a short scene of what your rival is up to, pimping their players, maybe creating some new super robot, and whatnot. But nope, the ex-SBA is so inconsequential that if you only bought the cartridge, you wouldn’t even know they existed. And don’t get me wrong. I do find the game’s lead-in to be an interesting, creative one. I just wish it was either fully realized or avoided completely to forgo the squandered potential.

If you like other baseball video games, I believe you’ll appreciate this one, too. The character graphics are gorgeous; the sound and speech are on point; the controls are super responsive; and the A.I. will not hold back from the very start, requiring you to get a handle on the nuances pretty quickly unless you feel like exploiting the option to steal bases without ever getting caught. And while the music is fairly lively and invigorating, there’s only one track, so get used to it; would have been so cool if each opposing team brought its own tune. Ultimately, this here is a pretty fun, beautiful, unique baseball gem that stopped just short of home plate.

Well, I gotta get going. Due to overuse, all the stats just dropped to zero on my toilet, so I need to get it upgraded.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 7/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 7.5/10
Story- 2.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 7/10
Verdict- 66%

Very foxtastic indeed!

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

Two furry boys decide to go to stop, all while getting presents that are a real steal!

Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600/Switch) Video Game Review #1- A High-Caliber Blaster That’s da Bomb

I enjoy my first game from Atari.
I shoot ships and am not even sorry.
I’m a bringer of doom;
Ducks and faces go boom
In this air and sea battle safari.

Like a singing nun once said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Air-Sea Battle for the Atari 2600 was my video game debut on the initial console I played, set up for me by my uncle when I was just three years old. Plus, it was a launch title for the system, so we got a lotta firsts here. It’s easy enough for someone very young to grasp and still enjoyable and challenging for grown-ups. And now that it’s been ported via Atari Flashback Classics, it’s more accessible than ever.

It’s a fixed shooter, so I guess it was broken at some point. Ba dum tss! Gameplay is split between shooting targets upward as a submarine or ship and downward via airplane. There are several different modes of gameplay, such as firing up at targets or being in a boat trying to take down your opponent in a plane above. However, it always boils down to hitting targets without too much variance, so you’ll never enter a stage wondering what you’re supposed to do. No power-ups, techniques, secrets, or anything of that nature- just a basic but well-built shootfest. The background is a beautiful horizon which is fitting because everything moves horizontally. Enemies include the following:

TNT detonators,

Thing from The Addams Family,

face huggers,

and today’s episode is brought to you by the letter A.

Oh, and don’t forget floating ducks, rabbits, and faces, too.

After getting hit once, they all briefly transform into TIE fighters before disintegrating.




Despite having very few, the sound effects are clear, classic, and fitting while providing enough genericism to be applicable to many sources; if mice pooping was an auditory ordeal, I could easily imagine it being reminiscent of this game’s torpedo launches.

Each round of blasting lasts 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Why that amount, you ask? Because 2 minutes and 15 seconds would be too short! Duh. One style of play keeps your shots moving in the same direction while another allows your explosives to be steered post launch. Shots cannot be fired nearly as fast as you can tap the button, and it’s easy to point the cannon in the wrong direction before you get used to it, but it all works pretty well. For a greater challenge, your missiles can be reduced to ¼ their original size.

The challenge is well balanced. It’s generally not hard to hit targets, but it’ll definitely take good practice to avoid a bunch of misses. Winning is all about getting a high score, and destructible obstacles block your shots that give nothing. You can play against the game itself or a friend, but the latter amplifies the fun factor greatly. Young or old, newcomers would probably be on par with each other, so it’s a great source of competition for most any player duo. The computer can easily pull ahead if you get lax, but your fecal matter can pull ahead if you get Ex-Lax, so choose carefully. Don’t expect too much complexity from the A.I., though; it just keeps firing away and doesn’t really utilize the guided missile control.

There’s no plot, not even in the manual, but I imagine it would be something like, “One day, some trained pilots lost their minds and decided to compete in blowing stuff up.” Bottom line, though, with a plethora of mode variations, multiple difficulty settings, crisp sound and graphics (even if you can’t tell what some objects are), multiplayer capabilities, and rather functional gameplay that still manages to be fairly fun today make this an impressive beast, especially for its time. The fifth element summed this title up best when she said, “Big bada boom.”

Well, I gotta get going. I just heard some mice launch a few “torpedoes,” so I’ve got a little cleaning to do. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

 

Score:
Fun/Replayability- 6/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 7/10
Story- N/A
Difficulty Balance- 9.5/10
Verdict- 79%

Very foxtastic indeed!

 

 

 

Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A baseball association struck out after fans caught them stealing victories, so they pitched a solution totally out of left field.