Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Game 21: Action Man: The Search for Base X

Oh, where to begin, where to begin?

Well, I guess I should begin with a big HELLO to everyone who is reading this after an unknown period of time without new entries.

I say unknown because I dare not check.

Okay, now that we have that over with, let's just state the obvious here: this title screen is god awful. I mean, the only impression a reasonable person could have is that a giant with awful facial hair had mangled the body of a poor hapless skateboarder. All while a chunk of Tiberium sits idly in the corner, irradiating all who would dare linger.

I guess the corpsified knee-pad fellow there is Action Man (TM) considering how pious he looks despite his awkward neck position. That Udo Kier lookalike must be the villain of the story because, c'mon, those eyebrows combined with the goatee? Obvious chicanery going on here.

Alright well let's get started. I gotta say this music is pretty good - nice use of, uh, chiptunes and whatnot.

Disclaimer: Arm Strength does not necessarily correlate with Video Game Skills

Of course I'm going to pick easy because games are too hard for me. And oh hey check it out there's a world map! That's pretty nifty...even though there are only four locations.

We've got Jungle, Mountains, Sacred Temple, and Minecraft
I choose Jungle, and I'm given the choice of equipment as well, but all I can change is my suit - from camouflage to diving. I stick with camouflage because obviously stealth is important. I keep the EMP Gun and Longbow, since I'll need to shoot some robots AND dinosaurs in this Jungle I'm sure.

I'm having traumatizing flashbacks to the Indiana Jones SNES game.
I like the full screen "cut scenes" before each level. They're slightly animated and look gorgeous for the tiny little GameBoy Color. The river scene above for instance has some color cycling on the water which looks very nice.

But on to the game itself! If you thought this was going to be a platformer with a gun, then you were dead wrong. In fact, Action Man defies expectations by being none other than

Yep it's basically a platformer with a gun. Like Mega Man except slower and less action packed.

"Hold on, isn't he called Action Man? Isn't he action packed like an anchovy can full of anchovy-sized Dolph Lundgrens?" 

Don't judge a book by its cover, that's your lesson for today Straw Man Commenter. Action Man is more about walking slowly through a jungle, carefully planning each shot so as not to take damage because holy crap these levels are really long and tedious. Every hit counts.

Ah yes the famous evil jungle shooty-bees
Two things I'd like to point out about this screenshot. The first is the GIANT BEE shooting glow-in-the-dark donuts at me. However, the fact that I'm carrying an EMP gun makes me think it must be a robot bee. I don't know why evil scientists love to disguise their robots as giant versions of common animals - it's not very practical.

The second thing is that pit. It's really wide - in fact, Action Man can barely make that jump. And it's the first jump in the game. Every jump is like this, straining Action Man to his limit. 

What a convenient hover platform in this jungle
Moving through the jungle slowly but surely, I find myself swinging on vines, shooting knee-high tanks and generally making a fool of myself. I try using the bow for a while but it's utterly useless, seeing as it's a quarter of the speed of the gun and does the same damage and you can't shoot it while crouching. Can't really fathom why it's in the game, actually.

Of course, I lose all my lives before reaching the end of the level. Variously I end up jumping into pits, failing to grab vines, and getting shot to death by bees (thanks video games). There's a little scene with me in jail somewhere and a continue option - maybe somebody will save me?

Nope I just kick my way through 2 inches of steel and concrete - I'm a one-man rescue mission slash army slash robot murderer.

Well, screw the jungle, let's try the ruins.

Wait is he wearing snow gear? This is weird.
The ruins, much like the jungle, are green and brown. The robots are different in that they are different entities but otherwise identical - much like Jedward. There is a slightly taller robot here that you kill by ducking to avoid their shots, unlike the tiny tanks that you kill by ducking to shoot them and then jumping OVER their shots. 

There's also a temple with this mysterious sign:

Ah yes, the ancient Cambodian drill sigil, often found in conjunction with the Tesla coil symbol
So I guess I should have brought my diving suit and ALSO a drill and perhaps a down arrow as well. Super subtle.

Whatever, this game is incredibly boring. I actually reach the end of the temple but the level just ends - splat, no boss, nothing, just a cut scene of Action Man escaping without causing any damage to priceless, ancient ruins.
Hahaha! Just kidding!
Yeah Action Man just blew up EVERYTHING for no reason. I don't even know why I'm there.

Actually, that's a good question: what the hell am I even doing? Let's find the manual.

"ACTION MAN hits the Game Boy Color, bringing with him all of the smash-mouth excitement of the children's computer-animated TV series." 1

Oh wow this changes EVERYTHING! This is the story of Smash Mouth and his quest to destroy the evil Everything-In-The-World. 

Seriously though this was a TV show? Wait there was also a toy series?? From 1966???

Well this all makes a lot more sense now - the outfits, the lack of story, the inclusion of a useless bow, the general boredom this game just exudes. It's all a marketing scheme to sell toys, and if you're familiar with the franchise you already know the story and everything. 

I wish I'd done my research before writing this because I think this would have been a very different entry.

Anyway, Action Man blows everything up, I get a climbing suit (which is just shorts), then I die and turn off the game. 

I don't even have a joke for this. This is ridiculous.
Oh, also it turns out there are 2-3 missions for every stage so you have to repeat them with different outfits to explode various things. It's all very well thought out and not just a re-use of assets at all.

My abs will destroy this robo-scorpion OH GOD NO THEY WON'T SHOOT IT SHOOT IT
I'm done, I hate this game. It's so boring and just...tedious. Ugh.

Well, the good news: that's one more uninspired piece of trash on the garbage heap. Only, like, 150 more games left, right?

Wait, how many games got released on the Game Boy?



  1. Genuinely kind of disapppointed that the Action Man theme song is not to the same tune as the Pepsiman theme song

  2. Holy moly Pepsi Man has a radical theme song