Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Gremlin Graphics / NEC

I wouldn't call it the best part, as best parts of video games should never leave you with a splitting headache, but the most interesting part of Impossamole is its "cinematic" opening. A succession of slides details the dilemma of Monty Mole, lazy lounger turned superhero.

The images are somewhat amusing, I suppose, but the tune that accompanies them is what makes the sequence so memorable. Never before had I heard a HuCard number so incredibly long and so remarkably strange. You'll be shocked at the bizarre, eardrum-annihilating sounds your console is capable of cranking out. And as the seemingly never-ending racket proceeds, you'll hear brief stretches of rhythmic and melodic genius. It's an up-and-down epic of a track, an utter disaster that's utterly compelling until it finally sputters out as pure noise towards the end of the image run.

The in-game audio also features its fair share of strange bleeps and bloops but ultimately fails to make much of an impression. In fact, once you look past its opening festivities, Impossamole reveals itself to be a complete dud. It does give you large levels to explore (as you attempt to locate stolen scrolls), but its collision detection is horribly off, and with your main kick-attack very limited in range, you're sure to take one cheap hit after another. Making the affair even more frustrating is the fact that you must proceed very slowly and carefully. Crap constantly rains down upon you, so if you rush forward recklessly (or even just move along at a pace typically suitable for a platformer), you'll have your head thumped repeatedly. The visuals don't help matters: you'd expect the graphics in an effort of this sort to be bright and colorful, but Impossamole's are rather drab and austere--quite awful overall.

Appearance-wise, the stages do offer some variety as you advance from one to the next; but the creatures inhabiting the different realms all basically act the same--you'll encounter old bums in new costumes over and over again. The only true variety on offer gameplay-wise comes in the forms of occasional uninteresting swimming sequences...

...and end-of-level boss battles. The bosses are a fairly lame lot; the last one is so laughably oversized and under-equipped for battle that you can't help but pummel him before he does any significant damage.

If, for some reason, you wake up one day and decide you absolutely must have a cartoony TurboGrafx platformer with awful collision detection, go for Tiger Road, as that one somehow manages to overcome its flaws and end up enjoyable. Impossamole, on the other hand, is not at all fun to play and ranks with the likes of J.J. & Jeff, Bravoman, and Talespin as a despicable disgrace within the Turbo platformer subset.

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