I'll forgive you if you haven't heard of this one before, as the game's so obscure that even the developers were apparently unaware it'd ever been released. Well okay VGJunk's heard of it, but his site's practically a shrine to the esoteric, so if anything that just proves my point. (Like I can talk...)
The game came out on the Genesis/Mega Drive, Mega CD, SNES and Game Gear, and I'll be playing the Mega Drive version, which I'm guessing came first.
Here's an interesting fact: 'Marko' is only one letter away from 'Mario', which is what I keep accidentally typing instead.
I wonder if setting up a toy factory was actually part of his diabolical plan, or if he started out as a decent guy and was eventually driven bitter and twisted by years of making obscene amounts of cash and bringing joy to children.
What is this devious master plan laid out on his desk anyway?
Yeah, that's right rabbit, you know what you've done.
So wait, the mastermind's entire brilliant plan is to use a mutagenic agent to take over a small town by methods unclear and for reasons left entirely unexplained? Fair enough then.
(To be pointlessly honest, I had to tweak this bunny animation a bit to make it loop.)
Wait, is he going to pick that thing up like that? It's covered in stuff that turns bunnies into bunny goop.
And that's it for the intro on the cartridge version of the game, but the Sega Mega CD release had an extra animation at the start:
The CD version also has Red Book audio instead of the original FM synth soundtrack, so it's not a total waste of a CD drive. Though to be honest the music is pretty decent as it is.
|Soccer Kid (Amiga)|
But how does Marko compare? In fact, does it even play the same at all?
Is that a policeman on a pedal bike with a light on his head? Actually I've got a better question, why is a policeman on a bike out to kill Marko? What happened to the sludge monsters? Soccer Kid had this same problem, with normal pedestrians being the main enemy for absolutely no reason.
Fortunately a single tap of the kick button teleported the ball to Marko's feet, and another sent it flying into the copper's face, knocking him crashing to the ground, dead. And then his bike exploded in a fireball. We're one step closer to saving the town, yay!
Perhaps those mysterious floating Pepsi cans are my true enemy, scheming to suddenly swarm at me. They don't seem to have any particular reason to exist, almost like they're the remnants of a product placement deal that never materialised.
I decided to go for the rat, not that it mattered. He was too fast for me, and I lost another hitpoint. Fortunately it was mutual destruction and he didn't have the health to survive the collision, so it's just the woman and the bird left now.
Hey look there's the toy factory in the background, looking really low res. I mean damn, I can't remember ever seeing a Mega Drive game look that pixellated before.
|Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis/Mega Drive)|
|Marko's Magic Football (SNES)|
Like Soccer Kid, Marko does have a decent selection of kicks available to him, I just need to figure out how to access them all.
Took a while, but it was so damn satisfying to pull off.
|Soccer Kid (Amiga)||Marko's Magic Football (Gen/MD)|
Fortunately I could just walk around him and teleport the ball back to my foot, so the crisis has been resolved. But damn, I hope he's not around if I ever have to fight a boss.
I've actually had a bit of trouble here because of the way Marko moves on screen. He's a bit floaty when he jumps, with a tendency to crack his head against the low ceilings, and I haven't quite got the hang of landing on the lift platforms instead of the spikes below.
MEANWHILE, ON THE SUPER NINTENDO.
|Marko's Magic Football (SNES)|
LATER, ON LEVEL THREE.
I found this machine at the end of the level and assumed I was supposed to blow it, to put a stop to the spread of the evil emerald goop. But apparently just walking past it is considered a win. Well, fair enough then, I'm not going to complain.
Oh hang on, I've figured it out. It's not Pepsiman, it's Global Gladiators! I'm collecting empty cans to recycle them in the machine, no doubt to teach kids an important lesson about recycling, or whatever. Though this has no relevance to the story at all and has never once been mentioned in text.
So I guess kids are supposed to be emulating the behaviour of this video game hero... who spends most of the game kicking footballs at police officers and cats.
AND THEN WE WENT TO THE SEWERS.
Weirdly that isn't actually a complaint. I gotta admit, I'm enjoying trying to figure this out. There's no time limit so I'm free to keep trying a move until I pull it off. To be honest I'm finding the game in general to be pretty likeable. It's definitely not a top tier platformer, but it's better than I was expecting. Comfortably in the 'gold star' range of my bullshit misleading rating system I would say.
No worries though, I wasn't actually that far from the start of the level, so I can just select continue and... oh right, the game has no continues. At all.
Well that's not actually big catastrophe, as the game does have passwords. I'll just enter the one for this level and I'll be back in the action.
Also look, I managed to find a sensible place to use my sludge pit ball trampoline trick this time. I've actually been using this a lot out of the slime to reach high platforms. It's surprising just how sensible the football is as a weapon and not actually a dumb gimmick at all really. Plus like in Soccer Kid, I have never never once found it a hassle to bring around with me either. It's just a shame that the awkward controls make it a struggle to consistently pull off the correct attacks.
LEVEL 6 - THE SEWERS. FOR THE THIRD LEVEL IN A ROW.
I think the first thing I need to do (besides kicking the ball at that barrel a few times) is to take care of the slime monster on the top right. Fortunately I've figured out a way to do it now. Holding up and pressing kick starts him bouncing the ball bouncing on his foot, but doing it again gets him to bounce it on his head. There's no headbutt move (annoyingly), but if I get directly underneath the monster and jump, the ball should fly upwards and the effects should be much the same.
BUT THEN, AT THE END OF THE NEXT LEVEL.
Huh, the can icon in the top right has been swapped with a sludge barrel icon. Oh no... no no no. NO. Don't tell me I have go back and search every damn corner of this level for the 6 barrels I missed. I went all over this level already! It involves a lot of jumping on window ledges on some pretty tall buildings. There's a lot of ground to cover is what I'm saying.
I don't get why games keep throwing in these bullshit item hunts. Well okay I understand that it's to pad the level out, but this level didn't need padding! It was fine as it was!
Man, can you imagine if the Mario games had pulled this shit?
|Super Mario All-Stars (kind of).|
Uh, what was I doing again? Oh right, yeah, looking for six barrels. Joy.
FOUR BARRELS AND NINE LIVES LATER.
But hey, at least I've collected some magic football boots which have given me a temporary machine gun! (I dunno, maybe they fell in sludge or something.) You'd think an assault rifle would be a big step up from a football, but look at where my bullets are going. I can't hit shit with this thing! I can only fire horizontally or straight up, no diagonals, and I can't fire while jumping. And I can't even bounce on it to get extra height!
Basically, it's made me appreciate what I had with the football.
Also holy shit, what happened to this place while I was gone? It's become utterly infested with armed criminals and demon rodents. It takes me time to recover my football you know, I simply don't have the balls per second to take this many enemies on at once. Also I can't help but notice that no one I'm fighting right now has anything at all to do with Colonel Brown's evil scheme. Even the hedgehogs and rats are just regular wildlife, not slime mutants. When I am I gonna fight some hired goons or something?
This is actually the first boss in the game so far, took him eight levels to turn up. Not that I'm happy to see him. I'd be very grateful in fact if he wouldd piss off to the end of the game and wait for me there. Or you know, disappear entirely.
Also I've learned how to do a straightforward high arcing kick now, so I can hit the turret. I was always trying to press up and kick, which only makes him bounce the ball. Instead I have to hold kick, and then press up a fraction of a second later. Simple! And with a big of practice I might be able to pull it off almost a third of the time!
I mean I'm fine with snakes shooting glowing blue bullets across the screen. Not a typical method of attack for a snake perhaps, but hey I can appreciate the benefits of variety. But being able to fire at me from off screen is a bit too much. Also it'd be nice if there was a bit of a delay between when they appear on screen and when they start firing at me, so I can have half a second to register their existence and dodge out of the way. Otherwise...
Also you know I said before that I wasn't so sure about the collision detection? Well, I'm pretty sure that ain't the water I'm colliding with right now. And yet he drowns once more.
Can I go back to the sewers yet? This level's making me suddenly miss the sewers. At least down there all of Marko's deaths were caused by my ineptitude rather than bullshit.
BUT EVENTUALLY EVEN THE FOREST LEVEL FOUND IT WAS NO MATCH FOR MY PERSEVERANCE AND EXTREME FOOTBALL PLATFORMING SKILL.
Aw fuck it, my patience for the game has just ran out. At least for now.
I wasn't that interested in Marko's Magic Football at first, but then it started to grow on me after a level or two. It was still flawed for sure, but not enough to put me off. Though as the next few levels dragged on, it really managed to wear me down. Too many blind jumps, bullets flying in from off screen and other bullshit, and not enough (or any) continues. It seems pretty short too, seeing as I'm already on the preantepenultimate stage and I doubt the final three after this will be much longer.
But hey, the game's reasonably slick, reasonably well made, the animation is fantastic for the time and at least I can't accuse it of being a total cakewalk. I wouldn't necessarily call it a good game, but it can be enjoyable.