tiistai 23. lokakuuta 2012

REVIEW - Beetlejuice | NES | 1991

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: May 1991

In 1988, former Disney animator Tim Burton directed his second full-length live action film, which would go on to serve as the standard for all his work, be considered his finest film almost 25 years later, and solidify his status as one of the most unique film makers of our time: Beetlejuice. This classic, morbid comedy is one of my personal favourites in the genre, as well as one of my favourites in Burton's wide array of outstanding works, right there alongside Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, and of course, Batman. Like just about every even the most non-applicable blockbuster film of the 80's and early 90's, Beetlejuice got a game made out of it. Like in the case of just about every even the most non-applicable license of the 80's and early 90's, LJN was involved. If only Beetlejuice would just go away if you uttered its name three times... which I already did and the game's still there, so I might as well dig into this pile of trash.

Daylight come and me wan' go home

Adam and Barbara Maitland die in a tragic car accident and return to their house as ghosts, only to find it's been bought by the obnoxious Deetz family. Since they have no clue about how to convincingly haunt people, the Maitlands enlist the aid of Betelgeuse, an eccentric expert of all things morbid, who's working towards his own causes.

Promotion for the Jaws game comes four years
late, just as that game was about 12 years late.
Ah, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetl... erhm, what a great movie. It's not Burton at his absolute prime, but it is a movie I would advise someone who's never heard of Tim Burton to see first, to get an idea of what the fuss is all about, and how he stands out as a film maker. I've seen the movie more times than Betelgeuse has seen The Exorcist; as a Batman fan, I've found it really cool to see Michael Keaton in a completely different role, and the one that actually paved the way for this great COMEDIAN to star as the brooding Dark Knight in Tim Burton's duo of Batman movies - the only two movies that actually mattered in the original Batman quadrilogy. Too bad Batman went on to haunt Keaton for the rest of his career, it would've been great to see more collaborations between him and Burton - the way they worked both Beetlejuice and Batman were incredible in their completely separate ways. Enough about the movie - Burton never gave his consent for a video game, and one would think that the game's based on the animated series that followed the movie. Rare and LJN collaborated on a Game Boy game that was based on that cartoon, but unfortunately, Beetlejuice on the NES is, surprise, surprise, a run-of-the-mill platformer, and it follows the movie's plot (very loosely, to once again explain all the nonsense traditional to LJN's licensed games), and Keaton's likeness is stolen for Betelgeuse's portrait. A very loose likeness, that is.

The graphics are simply dreadful, and that's not a compliment. The game looks rough, totally incomplete and the screen flickers all the time. The music isn't the worst pile of stock jingles I've ever heard, but it certainly isn't what I'd expect from Beetlejuice or any other game made out of a Burton movie, at that - except for Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Thank Lord we never had to bear something like that except in our twisted imaginations... the movie was quite enough.

So it's a platformer, and it's not a good one. The controls suck, that's not much of a surprise, and it doesn't cause much of a stir inside my head to fall off an edge while standing perfectly still on it or walking straight into an instakill of glitched timing - it's totally expected. What truly bothers me is the environment - they didn't even fucking try to make this look anything like Beetlejuice. Walking on clouds? A high school quarterback for a boss? The need to buy all your scares from the bulky guy with the shrunken head? The presentation stinks. Just forget the name of the game and play it. Or wait, don't.

What's happening is that my jaw magically
fell off and someone took a shit on Otho.
You can't kill any standard enemies with your standard habitus; you can only stomp on small beetles. "Beetlejuice", get it? Ha-fuckin'-ha. You'd think you can jump on enemies just like in any other platformer - well, that's true in some cases, but you won't know if you don't try it for yourself. To do some damage, you indeed need to buy scares, which include a skeleton form and a medusa head, just to name a couple. Even most of these scares only work on specific enemies, and once again, you won't know which ones until you try them out - in other words, waste 'em. The only way you're able to get vouchers to buy more scares is to stomp on a shitload of more beetles and keep returning to the shop over and over. The worst thing about all this is that to beat bosses, you need a specific amount of one certain scare in your inventory, and if you run out - in other words, fail to hit with just one out of each and every projectile you have in store - it's too bad. You usually respawn right where you died in until you run out of continues, with the exact amount of scares you had in store when you died, while the boss regains all his health. It's time to reset the game and think long and hard whether to even look at this forward march of poop again.

It's funny that after all these years, I'm willing to give games like Beetlejuice the benefit of the doubt. No expectations, not at all, but there's always the slight hope of finding SOMETHING good in it. Beetlejuice has absolutely nothing. Comparing it to some of LJN's greatest mistakes like Friday the 13th and some of their "contributions" to the Terminator franchise makes me think we have something a bit more playable on our hands here. And we do. But not by much. Beetlejuice is horrible.

+ I'm aching to watch Beetlejuice again

- Horrid graphics and sound
- Not so loveable glitches, all around
- Oversensitive controls
- The game doesn't even look like Beetlejuice at all
- The least they could do is give us some default weapon
- Stocking up on scares is boring beyond belief

< 3.8 >

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