lauantai 1. tammikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Genre(s): Action
Released: 1990
Available on: NES
Developer(s): Sunsoft
Publisher(s): Sunsoft
Players: 1

After impressing critics and gamers alike with their Batman game, Sunsoft took on the heavy duty of licensing a sequel to one of the best horror comedies in history, that had already been torn to pieces by critics. Misinterpreting sons of bitches, if you ask me. Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the game, was received with quite open arms, and it has actually received more praise from game critics than the movie ever did from movie critics. It actually is a quite good action game - one of the better licensed games to come out in the early 90's.

Gizmo, caca!

The "fake Gizmo" is my favourite Gremlin of all.
Props for this brief screen time.
After the death of his owner Mr. Wing, Gizmo the mogwai is captured by scientists and taken into the Clamp Enterprises laboratories for research. Rescued by his old friend Billy Peltzer who happens to work for Clamp Enterprises, Gizmo accidentally gets wet and spawns a whole new army of mischeavous Gremlins, who go on a rampage all over the huge building. Gizmo makes his way towards the building's control center to follow up on Billy and Daniel Clamp's plan to kill all the Gremlins at once.

Like I said, in my mind the movie was misinterpreted and totally unappreciated. Everyone liked the game. I rented the game several times from a local video store, but I think I never got past Stage 2. It was a hard game, not a bad one though, and the music was great. There was just a certain flow and aura about Gremlins 2 that made the game cool. 20 years later, it's still cool. Sunsoft nailed another one.

I've never liked pineapples.
The graphics are quite good and clear. Actually the cutscenes look much better than, say, those in the SNES version of Home Alone 2. An 8-bit movie license outdoes a 16-bit license that came out later, go figure. The bosses look awesome, dynamic and big - and what's best, all of them guys actually were in the movie. The music's classic stuff. Not quite of the Batman quality, but great work from the small team of sound programmers. The Gremlins theme song is missing, though, and that's a big letdown.

You control Gizmo from a top-down perspective, over the course of five stages with three levels each. Gizmo starts off throwing tomatoes at enemies, but after each stage, you gain a new weapon with more power and range. Although he's dead, Mr. Wing keeps a usually hidden store from which you can buy different power-ups with your crystal balls - which, in turn, are rewarded for killing enemies. Each stage ends with a boss fight, except for the first one, since the Gremlins haven't been spawned yet. The fact that Gremlins don't even appear as regular enemies before the second stage shows some fine attention to detail.

Mr. Wing's looking surprisingly healthy,
considering his bad case of death.
The cutscenes look good, but they're weird. There's no text and the animations are very, very cryptic. If you haven't seen the movie, you're probably not going to understand what the hell's going on in the game. At times, it feels like Billy was originally written to star in the game - I did some research and actually he DOES star in crappy home computer games based on Gremlins 2, using similar weapons as Gizmo in this game. Frightening. Well, luckily we have Gizmo, and a quality game on our hands as well, but there are a few downsides to it.

The controls are a bit stiff and oversensitive at the same time. Jumping across multiple conveyor belts placed over a chasm or a river of lava (wow, the Clamp Center has huge holes in the floor, and rivers of lava) is pure hell. Sometimes the A button will just not co-operate and you'll fall - technically, it's all about timing, but the truth from a player's perspective is something else. Gizmo can move in eight different directions, and given the unified structure of the digital pad on the NES controller, it's a bit too easy to jump in the wrong direction, usually to your death, or keep humping a wall while trying to escape from a boss. Also, there's a graphical error which makes spotting the difference between shadows and chasms quite hard.

Ain't he the cutest abomination in movie history.
You have unlimited continues. If you die in a boss, you're forced to do the previous level all over again, unless you have bought a 1-Up from Wing - it enables an immediate respawning. The game is hard, aside from being simply frustrating at times, but it's very short and takes less than an hour to beat - which is probably why the developers came up with this ridiculous, retarded way to prolong the experience.

Despite its few errors, Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a nice, quick game with a moderately real Gremlins atmosphere, even if the theme song's missing. After finally beating the game after all these years, I think I'll scoop up the movies on DVD and watch them both. It's been a long time since I've watched either one of them and this game made me realize that. So, it's a real enough Gremlins experience.

Graphics : 8.2
Sound : 8.9
Playability : 7.9
Challenge : 8.3
Overall : 8.1


Although the Game Boy game Gremlins 2: The New Batch was also developed and published by Sunsoft, it's a whole different game - a side-scrolling platformer.

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