Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Gremlins 2: The New Batch

You know, for kids!

So much rain, so much water this month.  Why has the sun gone soft on us?  Wait!  Sun?  Soft?  Sunsoft games!  I'll do a batch of Sunsoft games for the rest of June!  And what better way to start off this batch than with a new batch--of gremlins that is!  Ho yah!  How's that for a transition!   Anywho, let me tell you a bit about my memory from renting this game, and a lesson I learned long before I ever watched a single episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd. 

LJN made terrible games.  Awful games!  I think the reason the AVGN strikes such a personal chord with me is I lost so much weekend time to those things they called "games."  Their games were so terrible in fact that not only did I learn to shy away from their games in general when I saw their mark of the beast rainbow, but they almost forever effected my view of movie based video games.  I just assumed movie based games were all garbage.  And with previous rental experiences that included Back to the Future, The Karate Kid, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit just for starters, I was more than a little jaded when it came to crossovers.  Then Gremlins 2 happened...  

When I rented Gremlins 2: The New Batch one weekend, I picked it up thanks in large part to the name Sunsoft on the label but maybe more so thanks to my love of the Gremlins.  I had borrowed the awesome Blaster Master (which will likely end up in this review cycle) from my cousin recently and Fester's Quest I got as Christmas present the previous year.   I learned that Sunsoft put out quality material, I liked their unique sound effects and loved their music; not to mention the visuals were usually pretty solid.  So how did my experience with this movie tie in go?

It convinced me to pick up the game in later life and relive those memories of renting the game.  Even the really, really frustrating ones.  Let's dive in, shall we?


I can get you diseases, you'd like that, wouldn't you?.  Your jumps will morph into little hops sending you into pits...
If only I could shoot at an angle without dying!
The control seems fairly fluid and responsive.  In fact, at times it was a little too fluid, downright slippery even.  Most of the time you can compensate for this and it just adds to the pace of the game.  However, there are some parts in the game, such as the one pictured above, where you need to jump on the diagonal and dodge gremlin attacks.  Other times you need to jump over a hazard like an electrical wire, not jump too far so you don't fall into a pit, all while avoiding enemies trying to attack you.  Sections like this add to the game's difficulty in ways that bring us back to the old saying "Nintendo Hard."  Yes, it's doable and I have done it but...Why not just a little slack guys?  Like maybe, just maybe another platform or less attacking?  Or maybe a longer jump for Gizmo?  I know the little guy has stubby legs, but can't we cut him a little slack and have him do a power jump or something?  A balloon is all I get, and only one, and only if if I fall into a pit first?

Fine.  I'll grow, I'll adapt.  But criminy.

Gameplay and Graphics

Sunsoft always seemed to have it together when it came to gameplay, and Gremlins 2 is no exception.  The levels aren't overly long, the music in the background helps you keep an even pace as you explore and look for the level exit or end boss depending on stage.  You have 3 hearts, and 1 life to start, and infinite continues.  Should you need to leave the game for a while, there's a helpful password system in place.  And believe me, you will need to leave this game from time to time.  Not just out of frustration, but because there are sections that feel very trial and error and you could get weary of it quickly.  There's a certain genre of games that I've noticed on the Wii U where a selling point seems to be the fact that even though you are likely to die quickly, you get to restart right away.  Well, Gremlins 2 beat those games to the punch by over 20 years.  Yes restarts are easily done, and yes, you have plenty of opportunity to beat the game; but don't have disillusions of mastering the game first go, or even 20th go.  It will take time to learn the right pattern of jumps and methods of attack.

On graphics...well..cripes!
This still gives me the heebie jeebies...

There are some solidly animated graphics, cut-scenes, and boss fights in the game.  Most of the time you will fight an assortment of rats, bats, spiders, and giant, bouncing tomatoes (yes tomatoes.)  When the gremlins do appear though, they look great.  Whether patterned after the cigar chomping gremlin, the bat-gremlin, electro-gremlin, or even the spider gremlin; they will remind you of the movie.  Gizmo is cute and adorable as always, Billy Peltzer makes an appearance in cut-scenes, and even Mr. Wing appears to help sell you power ups in your quest to stop the gremlin invasion of Clamp Tower.  You'd think gremlin invasion would be enough to prompt Mr. Wing to give you the stuff for free, but then I guess it's best not to question the motives of a man who appears via magical door.  (Yes, a magic door.)

Hurry!  You must save everyone...if you can afford to pay up that is.

Music and Sound

It's Sunsoft.  That should be all you need to know.

Okay, a quick word on it.  I remember the first time I realized a game company had sounds recycled from other games was with Konami, but I'll get more into them when I talk about Contra.  That said.  Gremlins 2 has what you come to expect in terms of sound quality and music.  I think that they did a few 8-bit riffs from the soundtrack and for the most part they reminded me of the film.  When they weren't doing interpretations of the soundtrack, they really captured the feel of the film with quirky beats and a decent rhythm.

I find it funny how you can recognize classic Sunsoft sounds like that of your character taking a hit, delivering a hit, jumping, enemy death explosions, and more.  Not that I knock them for reusing assets, in fact, I feel like hearing familiar sounds from a company makes me want to play the game more.  Sort of like a comforting blanket of sound...Even if the difficulty is frustrating at times... 

Overall Impression

My love of the Gremlins movies drew me to try this game, and I was happily surprised at how well it played.  Yes, at times it was frustrating and teeth-grindingly difficult, but at no point did I feel it was outright impossible.  It was just a matter of me getting better at the game and learning the trick on how to get further.  Unlike LJN games, I felt like I was playing the movie.  It was fun navigating Gizmo around air ducts, ventilation shafts, and office cubicles.  (Side note, I had no idea office jobs were so dangerous.  What kind of boss just strew spikes everywhere from vents to office floors? )
Last quarter's numbers were down, so were installing more pits and deathtraps in the men's room as a motivator.

I still think the graphics hold up, and the energy of the soundtrack keeps you engaged in the action.  If you don't already own this, I would say pick it up at a Flea Market or on Ebay before the prices jump beyond the average $10 it is right now.

*As a side note, one of my favorite character actors Sir Christopher Lee passed away recently, and it's hard not to think of this game and the film without his self-lampooning in the movie.  From carrying around a giant pod-person pod in his lab, to casting a look that says "why does that feel so familiar?" at a gremlin transforming into a bat-like creature while sinister-vampire music plays; the man was fantastic in this part.  Or for that matter, any role he played.  Please enjoy the clip below:

No comments:

Post a Comment