maanantai 15. syyskuuta 2014

REVIEW - The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback! | GB | 1991

GENRE(S): Rail shooter
DEVELOPER(S): Beam Software

I guess the NES adaptation of The Punisher was successful enough to drive LJN into publishing another Punisher game for the Game Boy. The Punisher was one of the few rail shooters to be published on the NES, this game called The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback! sure as hell was one of the only to see daylight on the Game Boy. Although many sources claim the game to be a port of the NES game, it virtually has nothing to do with it. How different can it be, though? It's of the same genre, and well, as far as storytelling goes, The Punisher ain't exactly the most multi-dimensional guy around. Like its predecessor, The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback! isn't that bad by LJN's usual "standards" - but it is severely flawed.

Plead insanity

I thought I put a stop to you.
The Punisher's out to punish some fools. Why? Because they're scum. Oh yeah, and Spider-Man makes an appearance. Just to bring the sales up a bit.

Let's get straight to the point: a rail shooter on a Game Boy? Sounds painful, really painful. On the other hand, I was even glad that I got all the rights to shove the old DOS game I originally got lined up on this spot back to the trash bin where it belongs, since I couldn't get it working on my current PC, and was able to skip straight ahead to this game. This couldn't possibly be as bad, and it isn't. It's even got good qualities over the NES version, though its impossible nature overshadows all.

I'll punish you right after I
snap this screenshot.
The graphics are clear enough, you shouldn't have any problems with seeing your enemy in this less detailed environment. However, in this version, Frank doesn't appear in person, so it's impossible to dodge enemy fire - that's the worst problem in the whole game. In turn, the crosshair moves much faster and smoother than in the NES game. It doesn't help you a whole lot once you're surrounded, which you will be, already by the end of the first level.

Not only are there too many enemies for you to handle without any sort of chance to dodge or take cover, there are also civilians all over the place. They take one bullet, they die - and so do you. A dead civilian means dead Frank. Some random enemies seem to kill you a lot faster than others, even if they have the same guns. If they're able to keep a line on you for a full second, your health is drained to zero faster than you're able to even properly take aim at the enemy. In the end of the first level, all of the impoliteness of the game strikes you at once. There are enemies all around with one with his hands on a civilian - this ain't no sharpshooting game, so be careful. If you're able to avoid shooting the civilian, Spider-Man shows up and takes 'em to safety. "Yay, thanks friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"... and the web-slinging fucker forgets all about his "friend" with the machine gun...

I used a cheat code to merely
SEE the second level. Which
is "The Docks". Great.
Anyway, you make it through that mayhem, you've already gotten pretty far. Then, the boss appears; he's practically invincible (his rock of a head literally takes hundreds of machine gun bullets), every third bullet from his revolver is deadly, and once again, you cannot dodge. If you're being honest to yourself, your game will end there. Losing five lives means that the game is over; I'll go out on a limb and say this game is simply impossible to beat without using a cheat code for infinite lives. Hell, the first level alone.

Sure, the game is horrible, and horribly designed - I mean, at least some form of self defense would be nice - but with its two minutes of tolerable gameplay, The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback! already surpasses many LJN games in quality. (Just in case this'll be the last review of an LJN game in a long while, I want to enjoy the moment.)

+ Responsive crosshair
+ Clear-cut, less detailed graphics
+ Luckily there's a cheat code. Because.

- The first level alone is absolutely impossible to beat...
- ...Mostly due to the fact that you cannot defend yourself by any means

< 5.0 >

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