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Sunsoft 1988



A very well done sci-fi themed platform adventure game by the same company who made Batman and Super Spy Hunter. The plot centers around a kid named Jason who cases his pet frog down a hole. The frog lands on some toxic waste and gets all crazy mutated, then runs away. Jason falls on a futuristic tank called the "Sophia III Nora MA-01," and so decides to go searching through the underworld for his frog.

Ridiculous story aside, the game itself is a milestone. You as Jason drive the supertank in a side scrolling open world (as with many action/RPGs at the time like Castlevania II or Zelda II.) The tank can jump, shoot sideways and upwards, "duck" and with powerups gains the ability to swim, fire rockets, guided missiles, hover for short distances, etc. I wouldn't mind having one of these in real life actually. Jason is also able to jump out of the tank and take on enemies on foot, although it's pretty much instant death if you try to do so.

Eventually you come to several small doors that you must leave the tank to enter on foot, whereupon the game switches to an overhead Zelda-type perspective. However this is just about all it shares with the aforementioned game as the point of these dungeons is usually to find and kill some kind of boss creature. The mazes aren't too hard, actually somewhat plain, no keys to collect, no switches to hit. Just walk from room to room and blast stuff. Jason is rendered in Super Deformed style with Big head and little limbs, and the bad guys here look a little less threatening. Boss creatures are very large and detailed however. Running around in the tank and exploring the highly detailed underground caverns is by far more interesting than these lackluster overhead portions of the game. For the most part the game is pretty evenly balanced time-wise between the two. It does feel satisfying to finally get that piece of equipment that lets you reach that platform or blow open that wall you've been stuck at.

The game gets a lot of flack for being too hard, well it is hard, if you're a wimp. Yeah there is no save feature and no password, but the game isn't so long that you can't complete it in less that two hours. This was back in the 80s, when a good videogame demanded commitment. Not like today where you can save anytime you want and come back two weeks later like nothing happened, nuh-uh. You had to sit your ass down and play like it meant something, because it did, because you only had one chance to get it right and if you screwed up then game over, you lose. Besides it gives you unlimited continues anyway, so shut up.

A highly imaginative (although flawed) title which is actually deserving of it's cult status.

Graphics: Sunsoft is known for some of the best 8-bit graphics ever, and this game does not disappoint. The tank animates smoothly and the underworld looks great. The top down portions look a little more generic but are passable. Enemies in both sections are pretty lame, just there to get in your way for the most part, but the bosses are very detailed and animate well.

Sound: Clear sound effects and a fast, upbeat 8-bit rock soundtrack. Some of the sound effects sound very similar to other Sunsoft games.

Gameplay: I'm 50/50 on this one, the tank portions rock and the overhead parts aren't half bad. I think what's going on is the tank parts are so much better that it makes them look bad by comparison. Difficulty is up there but not by much, any decent player should be able to complete the game with a bit of effort.

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