Sunday, September 11, 2016

Game 28: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

I like Rocky and Bullwinkle. I really do. I have fond memories of it growing up, it was the sort of cartoon that a 10 year old could get behind. Bad puns, funny accents, talking animals, rabbits being pulled out of hats. It was pretty alright!

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, however, is another story.

Let's examine the title screen first. Bullwinkle (he's the moose) is buried halfway into the ground. Rocky is...shorter than I remember.

Also, there's a bee just floating around aimlessly. What does this have to do with anything? Does its random walk give us any information about the game at hand? Or is it just a warning to not lead an aimless life, to find something truly worth pursuing and use all of our energy to grasp at it?

And Bullwinkle looks so tired. He's so tired, and he's seen something that haunts him. Look at his eyes. Bullwinkle is ready to get on with the game because, if nothing else, it will distract him from the terrors of reality.

Bullwinkle has some messed up nightmares is what I'm saying.

I like the narrator in this game actually
I don't blame Rocky for wanting to get on with it, because the song on the title screen is really annoying, and it plays during the whole intro as well.

Oh, yes, story: Rocky and Bullwinkle are opening a museum dedicated to themselves. Boris Badenov, who happens to be named after a 16th century Russian Tsar, and Natasha Fatale, steal a bunch of priceless things from the museum. Three priceless things, actually. Bullwinkle descends into the filth of the city to root out the source of the crime, and retrieve the rare trinkets.

So right, let's get into the game, so I don't have to hear this annoying 12 second loop anymore:

Oh god this is the level music too??? This...this can't be right.

(I encourage you to play the song above while you read this whole thing, for the full experience.)

Okay so we're going to play this same song the entire time. That's fine, I'm strong-willed. What kind of game is this, then? A platformer, eh? Okay. I expected that, to be honest. What's the jump like?

Oh nice and tight, alright
Okay so we're gonna play this floaty-ass platformer with a 12 second song playing over and over again. I guess this is what I asked for when I started this blog.

Look, I'm not pulling any punches on this game. It is one of the worst games I've ever played. We're talking Bubsy levels of bad here. Trashcan-rolling bomb-throwing blind-jumping awful.

Frostbite Falls consists mostly of clones of Boris Badenov throwing bombs from rooftops far above, vicious poodles, clones of Natasha Fatale throwing knives, and bottomless pits. This would certainly explain the haggard look Bullwinkle has going on.

Bullwinkle's tools for dealing with this morass of garbage are two-fold: jumping up and down, and doing a really short-range headbutt that only seems to affect Boris Badenov and nothing else. Luckily, the city is built in such a way that the windows are valid platforms...

Oh, it's that kind of game are the door frames...

Yes, this is normal
...and even the electric poles...
I buy this, actually
...but none of that helps because bombs are constantly raining down from the sky, and my patience is quickly wearing thin.

After about 10 deaths and 300 loops of the single song that plays, I make it to the next section. And by next section, I mean a sewer. A sewer that has the exact same music as above ground. 

It's like a dream come true
The sewer is no more forgiving than the city. Everything hurts Bullwinkle: rats, water drops, lamps. Everything. The world is a hostile and unforgiving place, apparently, and not even the platforms will save Bullwinkle (because they are inconsistent and really easy to miss and fall into an endless abyss of death)

Even better, if Bullwinkle loses all his lives, GAME OVER! Start from the beginning, sucker. And listen to the same song 423590 more times.

But Bullwinkle and I are strong! We push through and get through the sewers! There we get a cut-scene and find that Rocky is being dangled over the city streets, and we have to climb a building to save him. It's really important stuff! 

But first, a baffling minigame.

This is a perfect encapsulation of my weirdest dreams
Yes, that's a football field, and yes Rocky is the football, and yes I am trying to catch him but these other bastards are getting in my way. Does this torturous life never end???

Anyway, I fail to catch Rocky (splat) and finally (finally (FINALLY)) get to the next level, which, thankfully, is playing exactly the same music.

Wait, what?!

Does this game legitimately only have one song??

What even is that falling thing
Well, I lose both my lives by accidentally walking into the pit and THAT IS IT I AM DONE WITH THIS GAME

A little background: apparently this is a remake of an NES game, and apparently it DOES have other songs. They are just buried in the 2nd and 3rd levels, which are impossible to get to without completely losing hope in the rest of your life. 

Oh, and here's an interesting tid-bit from Wikipedia:

"The Game Boy version's level design is the same as The Ren & Stimpy Show: Space Cadet Adventures (also developed by Imagineering)."

Sometimes when I play these games, I like to imagine that there was one kid out there whose only game was whatever I am playing. 

It's their birthday, and their first game for the Game Boy was The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. To a 10 year old, quality isn't so important: this is their game. And they will play it and like it and eventually finish it.

In this case, I like to imagine some poor kid whose SECOND game was The Ren & Stimpy Show: Space Cadet Adventures. The car ride home is almost unbearable: the box is on the floor, discarded; the manual smells fresh; the cartridge is gray and weighty. The car door is open, run up to grab the Game Boy, plug in the cartridge. Rocky and Bullwinkle was so good, maybe this will be even better!!

Oh wait no it's the same exact game with different graphics. It's no wonder they look as haggard as Bullwinkle. Ever seen a haggard 10 year old?

But there's always a good side to things. Some kid, some lucky kid, got both of these games in a row and decided that there were many better hobbies than video games. 


Next week: The penultimate "Adventure" game! Exciting!!

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