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Primal Rage

Game Boy

Atari Games 1995





Back in the mid 90's it was all about fighting games. The arcades were ruled by Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and various SNK games. Back then the big thing was digitized graphics, so Atari games got the idea to release a fighting game based around stop motion dinosaurs. The effect was like in those old Harryhausen movies like 7th Voyage of Sinbad or 20 Million Miles to Earth.

The arcade game managed to get quite a loyal following due to the wowness of extremely smooth and detailed monster sprites (not so much for the gameplay.) However the taking a graphics/animation intensive arcade game and scaling it down to the Game Boy's pathetic green and white screen takes a lot out of it. Graphics are faithful to the arcade, although small and lacking detail. Their idle animations are good but the character sprites move very choppily when actually fighting. Back grounds have been reduced to utter simplicity, plus Vertigo the giant hypnotic snake monster is missing, which blows, because that was the only character I ever bothered to learn.

Unfortunately the reduction in graphics also subtracts a lot from the game play (which really wasn't there in the first place.) The problem is with games that have too much animation is that they tend to move a little sluggishly. On the Game Boy that translates into super choppy what-the-hell-just-happened-how-did-I-die-you-bastard-ness. I've never been a fan of Primal Rage's control scheme (hold a button, do a joystick movement, then release) but it was something different than the usual quarter circle forward, dragon punch motion-thing that all other fighting games from this period use. It must have been hard to translate this four button scheme to the Game Boy's two button layout as for the most part special moves are nearly impossible to get off with any degree of success. The computer however seems to have no problem pulling them off (and kicking your ass in the process.)

Sound is of the "Bleep-Bleep" variety. There's some kind of "Squaak!" when you punch and a sound vaguely resembling "Bglump!" when you die.

While Primal Rage isn't the best fighting game ever made, it does have some coolness factor to it. Hidden mini games in the arcade and console versions added to replayability, plus any game where giant monsters get to eat people already has a leg up. Sadly the game is just too big to be done on the original Game Boy with any decency.

Graphics: Choppy, hard to see at times.

Sound: Squaak! Bglump!

Gameplay: Yeah, it is a game. I suppose.


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