Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Joe and Mac

Fightin' in the Fig Leaves

Cut to a few days ago
"Hey mom, remember the old Super Nintendo game Joe and Mac," I asked her while paying a visit.  There was a long pause.  Not of uncertainty of what I was asking, but of a suddenly recalled memory that was likely not an overly fond one.

"Yes, I remember it," she said flatly.

"Am I remembering this right?  Did we end up having to buy that game because we discovered it under the couch weeks after it was supposed to have been returned?"

"Yes.  It was cheaper to pay a replacement fee than all the rental costs.  Your dad was not happy at all."

So much for casually trying to see if you memory of an event was what you thought.

ANYWHO--- while not exactly what you would call "happy" memory of getting a game that was fun to play, I do have the game Joe and Mac for Super Nintendo, and while it is fun, it was also a total fluke that I ended up with this game in the first place.

I remember this was one of the go-to games my family would rent on weekends from time to time because it was a pretty solid platformer.  One time, about a two or three weeks after we had rented it and presumably returned it, it was found under the couch.  Wow!  There was a bit of trouble because of that.  Rentals were not cheap when NES games came out and they only went up when the SNES came out and I believe there was trouble because of this and it may have resulted in a temporary ban on game rentals since we had to get our money's worth out of this  I guess it's time to talk about this awesome little port of the arcade game Cave Man Ninja.


As I mentioned before, I think part of the reason that we ended up renting this on a regular basis was because of how easy it was to pick.  Generally I was the one playing games in the house at this point in the Console Wars cycle and I was the one who had bought the SNES.  But there were some games that my mom, my dad, and siblings enjoyed playing.  The only issue with the control was it would occasionally feel as if you should have nailed a jump or been able to collect a power up, but the character is just shy.  It has a mid-level on what I would call the "I swear I hit the jump button on time" factor.  Despite that, it still feels fairly solid.  You get hit, you know it was your own darn fault.

Better move outta my way hero!

Gameplay and Graphics 

You race along battling small dinosaurs and loin cloth wearing cavemen using your standard issue club and various projectile weapons like bones, boomerangs, and stone wheels in effort to save cavewomen who were kidnapped by Bowser--I mean, rival tribes.  So yeah, your standard "rescue the princess" fare, but by golly it was a formula that worked back then and it was good enough for whatever setting you wanted to use.  It has a nice two player co-op mode and it's fun to see who can rack up the most points and beat the most enemies.  It has an interesting map system between levels so you can sort of pick the path you will take to beat the game, it reminds me a lot of Super Mario Bros. 3 in terms of layout.  However, the direction you take is pretty straightforward, and there isn't much in terms of alternate routes

The graphics are pretty standard for an average game of the time, and they do mimic those found in the arcade version fairly well.  You get a little bit of parallax scrolling here and there as you do the typical moving from left to right thing that heroes find themselves doing in these rescue the princess platformers. There are some nice background and foreground animations that help add a little something to the game, but again, not too much.  The colors are nice and bright and help keep the tone light and this suits the overall cartoonishness style of the game.  The goofy expressions that the enemy cavemen make when hit are particularly funny and will keep you smiling as you play.  That said, there's not much in terms of fluid movement.  In fact, compared to the stuff that you do in Super Mario World, some of the sprite animation can seem a little on choppy side and parts of it remind me of those anime cartoons that average between 7-10 frames a minute (or at least that's what it feels like.  Lookin' at you Pokemon!)

Music and Sound

More drums I said!  This is a jungle dang it!

Why do you always get a tribal sounding drum in these games?  Again, not that this is a complaint really; it's just I kinda wish that composers would have thought outside the box a little.  If you see an island, it's almost a given you'll hear those drums.

 It's like there were meetings about this, "Oh hey guys, you have the music for the game written yet?"
""Sure do boss!  Those drums are in the background, just like you asked for."

"Good, don't want gamers forgetting that they're playing as tribal type people."

Not complaining.  I actually think the jungle-beat rhythyms work fairly well here and actually do add the right tone to the music.  Also, I like the little jungle-style funeral march that plays after you loose a life and turn all angel-ee.  Most of the music plays well, and doesn't get old, but like many games, it doesn't stick with you long after the game ends.

As far as the sound effects go, they can be absolutely hilarious at times.  The goofy hiccup noise made by dinos as you hit them is worth a chuckle, the "a-WOK" sound made by evil cavemen will illicit a chuckle, and I admit the high-pitched "Owww" you make as you get hit can get me laughing.  The charming sound design probably plays a huge factor in why I still like the game to this day.

Overall Impression

Great! You have done it!  Now dinosaurs are extinct jackass!

From the silly sounds to the cartoonish world, I still have to say Joe and Mac ranks up in my top twenty Super Nintendo games.  Even if the animation gets a little clunky, it still looks like you are playing the best the system can do in terms of rendering a cartoon in real time.  The power-ups are interesting, the boss battles while not hard are fun, and sometime you just need to rescue a princess that isn't Peach. 

If you come across Joe and Mac in your game hunting or at game store and don't already have it, it's worth snagging for some quick fun.  The whole game can be beaten in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered, but it's a fun diversion and you could have a blast just trying to speed run the thing.

I would not recommend borrowing this and immediately losing it under the couch though.  

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