Friday, 11 May 2012

Cool Spot (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Today I'm playing Cool Spot, by the people who brought you the environmentalist McDonald's platformer Global Gladiators. Though you'll have to take my word for it because the Sega version doesn't have a title screen. Well, unless you count the tiny line of text at the start that calls it "Spot and the Quest for Cool".

The game came out on the Genesis/Mega Drive, SNES, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System, Amiga and PC, and every version starts with an anthropomorphic red circle (with attitude) surfing on a bottle to the tune 'Wipe Out'.

SNES
They really went the extra mile with the SNES version though, he's actually riding an animated wave this time. The Amiga kicks its ass when it comes to the music though.

In the US version, Cool Spot is the actual spot on the 7up bottle come to life, who makes his entrance by jumping off the label. But in the Europe every reference to 7up has been edited out (maybe because Fido Dido was 7up's European mascot and they didn't want to confuse things), so he appears riding on someone's S.O.S. message in a bottle instead.

SNES
Oh, also the SNES version lets you do this with the developer's logo. Just because they could.

Right, rescue clones, collect everything circular. Got it.

This is the European version of the instructions screen. In the US version that 'V' disc is actually a 7up logo. Which looks exactly like the 1up, except it only gives you 10 of those little red discs.

Not sure why they thought that was a good idea.


LEVEL ONE - "SHELL SHOCK".


Hey, that's the bottle I was riding. It's nice to have some actual link between things instead of each stage being entirely isolated.

Find 60 cool points in six minutes? Yeah, this is definitely by the same people who made Global Gladiators.

Instinctively I jump up from the bottle and find a row of balloons suspended in the air! Actually I've played this game before so I already knew they were there. Bet I can't remember where all of these bloody spots are scattered though.

Cool Spot has two different types of jump depending on what direction I'm pressing when I hit the button, and sometimes I'll manage to do the wrong one somehow and not get enough distance to make it to the next balloon.

Amiga
So then I end up plummeting from the sky, and having to do all the balloon jumps again from the start. It wouldn't be so bad if the screen would scroll fast enough to show me where I'm landing.

The Amiga version of the game looks a bit crap really, and it doesn't even sound that great because each time a sound effect plays it cuts out one of the instruments in the music. I don't know why some games do this, there's no point to filling all the sound channels with music if one of the channels cuts out whenever I do pretty much anything. At least it supports joypads so I don't have to press up to jump.

This beach is swarming with mutant fire breathing insects and evil crabs in boxer shorts. What the hell have they been pumping into this water? It can't be 7up, I'm playing the European version.

Fortunately they only take a few hits to kill with my rapid-fire fizz. I can aim my shots, but Cool Spot doesn't hold still while he's firing, so he tends to walk straight into the thing he's trying to kill. Plus it's kinda hard to hit enemies on a 30 degree slope when I can only aim in 8 directions.

SNES
The SNES version looks fantastic, and even adds some extra details like this beautifully pixelled Walkman. Otherwise it seems to be basically the exact same game as the Genesis/Mega Drive version.

I love Cool Spot's animations, they're all really fluid and the little guy's got a lot of character for a red circle without eyes. Seems a bit cruel of them to add so many idle animations to a game with a time limit though.

DOS
The PC version looks almost as good as the SNES version, and is just as slick as any of them. Shame about the music though.

Master System
The Master System port on the other hand... doesn't look bad at all, actually. Except for all the miniature enemies. They're not so imposing when Cool Spot towers over them all.

Plus for once the 8-bit version actually seems to be the same game, with the same levels and everything. I was expecting it to have similar art and gameplay, but with entirely new levels designed to suit the lower spec system.

Game GearGame Boy
The Game Gear and Game Boy versions... are apparently exactly the same again. The poor Game Boy is struggling to keep up though.

It seems that no matter what system you play Cool Spot on, you'll be getting more or less the same game. Which is good, because I hate it when people use the same title for two different games. It makes things confusing.


A COUPLE OF MINUTES AND SEVERAL SPOTS LATER.


Awesome, I've found my caged clone! I'm missing 4% of the cool spots, but I've got enough to open the cage and get the bonus stage so I'm good. Now... how the fuck do I get this floating cage open? Shooting it didn't seem to work. Then I tried jumping at it and ended up right back down on the beach again.

It took me three minutes to get back up and figure it out in the end. Fortunately the enemies stayed dead so I didn't have to kill them all off again. Turns out that my aim was just off, and I'm supposed to shoot the lock. The instruction sheet actually pointed this out though, so it's my own dumb fault for not paying attention.

The bonus stage apparently takes place in a giant bottle of 7up. Or if you're playing the European version, a bottle of 'POp'. They just edited the '7' and closed off the top of the 'o'.

I guess I'm supposed to bounce around the level on these bubbles and grab as many cool points as I can before the timer runs out. And I'm doing a terrible job of it, though I'm going to put some of the blame on the camera for not bothering to keep up with me when I'm falling.


LEVEL TWO - "PIER PRESSURE".


I like how he pulls the map out, looks at it for a while, then turns around and goes the other way. So I suppose the next level isn't Pier Pressure then, it's actually whatever's in the exact opposite direction.

This level is a bloody maze of ropes and wooden beams. But I can live with that, because at least it's a change. Global Gladiators was also a slick collect 'em up with a time limit, but it got tedious for me because of how repetitive it was. This seems like it's going to have some actual variety to it.

The arrow says go back up, but I can't head to the exit without searching every corner for cool points first.

Uh... I guess that was a bottomless pit then? It just looked like every other hole in the floor to me. I suppose not having a rope was the big giveaway.

This would be much less of a pain if Cool Spot would just stand still when he's firing. I have to climb back up the rope every couple of shots to avoid getting his ass pincered.

Amiga
Weirdly on the Amiga version he does freeze while firing down a rope. But he doesn't fire straight down the middle anymore, so enemies crawling up the other side of the rope are left unharmed.

Also, damn... what happened to that background? I guess that's why Amiga games often have a colourful gradient back there instead.

Oh right, so that's why all the arrows were pointing up here. I've been going in circles because I assumed this wall was another dead end. But it turns out this bit of wood has a passage behind it I can just walk through. They didn't go out of their way to make that one very obvious.

So holes in the ground without ropes are instant death, and some solid walls are actually in the foreground and I can walk behind them. Got it.

SNES
They like to play around with the pick ups though. Like these three, all lined up to send me straight down into a spike hiding just off-screen.

It's hard to tell, but I think the SNES version of this level may have a slightly different layout as I haven't come across a single bottomless pit yet. Actually for all know it might have an entirely different layout, it's all just ropes and ledges to me.

Now that is a freaky abomination of nature. There's no hole there, that's just half a fish stuck to the floor. Fortunately it can't spit water at me while I'm standing here, so I'm safe to fizz the poor creature out of its misery.

Cool Spot is actually a fairly resilient character so I can take a few hits before going down, but enemies don't drop health pickups often so I still have to be careful.

Cool Spot game over screen
I, uh, forgot that holes in the ground without ropes are instant death.

Wait, that's it, that's actually game over? Three lives and I'm done? No passwords, or continues, or anything? A bit harsh isn't it?


AND SO I START AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING.


Okay I started again from the beginning, and this time I found a 'V' hiding right at the top of the fizzy bonus level, which apparently gives me a continue. Not quite as good as passwords or save games, but it's better than nothing.

In the US version the letters spell out 'UNCOLA', which apparently is what 7up is.


LEVEL THREE - "OFF THE WALL".


Uh, did we skip a stage? I went from the ocean, to the beach, to the docks, but now I'm somehow inside the walls of a house? Maybe it's a house boat.

These mice are no trouble at all, as I can shoot their cheese right out of the air before it hits me. There's spiders around, but they mostly mind their own business and leave me alone. It seems the biggest enemy I have on this level, is the level itself. It's another damn maze of ropes and wooden beams, except even mazier. Wow, apparently that's a real word.

SNES
The SNES version is still trying to show off, this time by adding a lighting effect with an overlay. I think it it looks great, though it's little harder to find my little red Cool Spot now against all the red bricks.

Amiga
Well I can't get up there yet, but I can clear it out now and make my job easier later. Also the backgrounds still look like ass.

Master System
Master System check. Is it still the same game? Yeah actually, it is. Though it's entirely redundant if you've got any of the 16-bit versions.

Oh right, so that's why I haven't been finding that many spots on this level. They've been putting them behind the bloody pipes!

Well that's one way to make a collect 'em up even more fun; hide the things I'm supposed to be collecting. Sure I could probably get the exit open by just grabbing the ones I can see, but this still doesn't seem much like sensible game design to me. Plus I need to grab every continue I can from the bonus stages to stand a chance.


LEVEL FOUR - "WADING AROUND".


Well... fuck. Cool Spot likes to surf, but he's not that great at swimming. In fact if he touches any of this water he'll instantly die, which is a bit of a problem as all I can see is water.

Actually wait, I see a spot hovering over on the right. Perhaps it's a sign I'll be safe if I jump over that way. Or maybe it's just luring me to my death like those other spots I saw earlier.


26 SECONDS LATER.


Well it turns out that there was a platform over there, and I was eventually able to jump up to these balloons. So it's a bit like the first level, except this time if I miss a jump it ain't sand down there I'll be landing on.


2 SECONDS LATER.


Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu oh wait, I made it onto the pad! I'm safe! Damn, there's no way I am ever going to be that lucky again.

Right, now I have to jump all the way back over to the balloons again, and try not to fall down this time.


43 SECONDS OF JUMPING LATER.


Shit! After leaping left across the entire level on a row of blimps, I jumped up to find another row of blimps above leading right, with more blind jumps between them. And I just screwed this jump up.

Though if these threads are holding the airships up, all I have to do is follow them down and I should land safely.

Son of a bitch...

At least there's a checkpoint up there so I don't have to jump the whole way back up again, for once.


LEVEL FIVE - "TOYING AROUND".
(Two levels in a row ending in 'around'?)


That's cool, they've stuck a fire truck in my way so I can't see a damn thing. Well, okay I can see their feet.

I guess the game designers ran out of ideas at this point, and pulled 'toy world' out of the 'stock video game levels' cupboard. Maybe we can go down to the dining room next and jump on some floating cakes.

Anyone there? I think I see a robot hiding over on the middle right. Oh shit, there's one right there in the open on the left!

I'm being attacked from all sides by Lost in Space action figures. Whoever owns this place must be a collector as there's a thousand of them in this room. Lots of that dog thing on the shelves in the background too.


LEVEL SIX - "RADICAL RAILS".


I've found a cunning disguise.

I don't even know where this is supposed to be anymore. There's cogs, and test tubes, and vacuum tubes, and I think I saw a watch lying around too. It's the dimension of random platform game items.

This place is like an anti-Sonic the Hedgehog level, with slopes I have to slowly climb up to grab the cool points at the top, and it's so quiet here it feels like a bonus stage instead of part of the main game.


LEVEL SEVEN - "WOUND UP".


Oh come on, I already did toy world! I think this is the point where I turn the game off now.


It's definitely not without flaws, but I can't help but like the game anyway. It's slick, the graphics are good, it's got a solid soundtrack by Tommy Tallarico, and it's always nice to take out of a screen of enemies in a frenzy of deadly fizz. Also no boss fights! A definitely plus for me, though perhaps not for everyone. So yeah, the two 16-bit console versions both earn my coveted 'gold star for not being unbearable' award. Congratulations 16-bit console versions!

6 comments:

  1. I played a bit of it last year, can't say I'm a fan

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  2. THIS GAME IS SHIT

    ITS A CRAP

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  3. Such a shame. This game could have been awesome, but it failed at the last hurdle. It got the gold star for not being crap, but failed to achieve the elusive gold star for not being a crap. Sorry cool spot :(

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  4. I think 'Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood' on Megadrive was the first game I ever beat. As far as I remember it's quite good (then again I was about 10). It's sort of the same but with an isometric view, you could try it.

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    1. I don't think I've even heard of it, but it sounds like it's worth a look. I had no idea Cool Spot had so many games, seems that he was a busy little mascot in the 90s.

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  5. I fucking loved this game as a kid and I was born in 1984! Prime SNES age right here! Don't know what all the spaz-oids above me are even talking about!! Cool as hell game!

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