Monday, February 23, 2009

J.J. and Jeff

~ J.J. & JEFF ~
Hudson Soft / NEC

This slipshod action-platformer plays quite poorly compared to many similar titles. While one such title, the Turbo's own New Adventure Island, presents you with a variety of weapons that you can toss at your foes, J.J. grants you a short-range, imprecise little kick-attack as well as an unwieldy and mostly useless auxiliary spray can (which was included in lieu of the Japanese version's crass fart-attack). The action falls drastically short of matching NAI's continual fast-paced play and breathless pacing, as it frequently requires that you halt mid-dash to kick stupid things and receive worthless hints. And the stages are boring, uninspired exercises in basic platforming that repeatedly subject you to awful attempts at comedy.

J.J. fans love this sequence, which has the hero leap from bee-back to bee-back in order to avoid a fiery death. It's about as tricky as the game gets with its platforming segments.

J.J. not only plays terribly but also looks awful. The backdrops are flat, simplistic, ugly, redundant, and practically colorless compared to those sported by plenty of other cartoony platformers. Many of the sub-stages look the same as one another, with an occasional dull-color swap employed if you're really lucky. People actually make a huge fuss over some of the sprites being "large," but the only one that shows any creativity on the part of its creators is an odd-looking dragon-dog thing with a really long neck and a tiny body. All of the bosses are basically the same and can be taken down easily if you kick 'em in the head while dodging the rocks they toss at you.

Some folks love the "snazzy" soundtrack, but I don't. It doesn't help that the same couple of tunes get used over and over again. Even if we were talking about tracks that are the caliber of "Last Moment of the Dark" (and we most certainly are not), I wouldn't want to hear them repeatedly over the course of a single relatively brief adventure. The sound effects are also annoying, particularly the sudden-halt screech and the low-energy alert.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the whole terrible affair is the ridiculous "key" system. Each stage is split into four sub-levels, and you need to find a hidden key (basically by kicking anywhere and everywhere) to gain access to each stage-boss's lair. If you reach the fourth sub-stage but missed the key, you have to go back to an earlier area and search for it again and then replay the parts leading up to where you were. It's an awful, awful system, so let me save you some trouble. Here are the general locations where the keys can be found:

As for the game's "saving grace," the "comedy," well, I guess I'm a sour old man, as plummeting poop and "wonk wonk" dialogue do not amuse me (and no, I do not find that the additional fart-based filth in the Japanese version helps matters much). In fact, nothing in this game amuses me. It's one of the worst titles I've ever come across for the Turbo/PCE.

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