Color Dreams: Those Who
Dared to Dream (in COLOR)
some respects, the Color Dreams crew deserve respect for their place
in the annals of gaming. They were one of the first companies to make
unlicensed NES cartridges (in robin's-egg blue plastic no less.) They
also made the last NES cartridge that saw US release, and are also the
only company that continues to sell horrible 8-bit games with a $40
tag. You might call them the bad boys of unlicensed third/fourth party
game publishing, if not for their metamorphosis into the Christian children's
game making company Color Dreams shortly into their career. I've also
seen them collaborate with Joy Van (a subsidiary or another unlicensed
company?) on the execrable Metal Fighter (nu?).
the old version of Third Half, I made fun of a handful of their old
games. They were all pretty short and sweet, since CD/WT games are not
only incredibly annoying and badly-made, but because they're for the
most part badly emulated. (disclaimer: I erased the hell
out of these roms within 24 hours of grabbing them. It was really fun.)
So, kick back and relax, and join me on the Color Dreams Pain Train,
as I've gathered all of the old reviews into one feature, as well as
a couple of new ones.
Chu and the Drunkard Hu
rollicking adventure set in the Far East, of martial arts master Chu
and his lovably alcoholic assistant Hu. Is not a good description for
this horrible Legend of Kage clone squeezed out of Color Dreams' code
chute. Master Chu dresses like a conservative Mai Shiranui and uses
a fan and a miscellaneous projectile weapon to combat a forest full
of bugs that hate him. When his health meter reaches zero, he curls
up in the fetal position and cries. I haven't seen that sort of action
since cub scouts. The soundtrack consists of an endlessly looping synth
lick that's supposed to sound Oriental but is more evocative of a mosquito
in the ear; and the screen flashes every so often thanks to faulty scrolling
(emulation error?). I haven't found Drunkard Hu yet, but I have my suspicions
that he was involved in this game's programming and production.
all fairness, this isn't as bad as some of their offal. It's got characters
who aren't transparent knockoffs, and stair-climbing that works better
than Castlevania. Unfortunately the hunt x-number of bugs down in a
house theme gets tiresome halfway through the first level, as do the
bizarre quirks of physics at work here- hitting a bug that takes more
than one swat to kill makes them ricochet wildly off the walls and ceiling
then resume crawling/flying as if nothing happened. There's also a spot
in Level One under the beehive where you can't jump as high as normal.
all the characters I've seen in Color Dreams games the Pesterminator
is far the most interesting to look at. He's drawn like he's out of
an old black and white cartoon and that makes him stick out from the
garishly colorful backgrounds. He's constantly hunched over with one
finger up in either a 'come here' or 'up yours' gesture; and behind
his back is a giant toon mallet.
mentioned before the 'story' blurb at the start has copyright information
a paragraph below the monologue, in the exact same font and size. For
a minute I though the game was about Rocky the Super Rat trying to bootleg
hard to believe a company that produced such great Christian-themed
video games as Bible Adventures and Sunday Funday was producing demonic-themed
games of the same high caliber. Oh, Color Dreams- how we mourn your
unique interpretation of what a video game should be.
game isn't screwing around when it comes to the insanity department.
The title screen itself consists of enemy sprites wandering around,
looking too confused to be threatening. We're also introduced to the
Robodemons Bold Condensed font, which, when placed on a gray slab, renders
text unreadable. It's also worth noting that 99 percent of the game's
graphics are black and white, which is kind of weird for a company called
case you can't make out the monologue onscreen, allow me to transcribe
for the sake of eyestrain.
"IN DARKER TIMES THE DEMON KULL, KING OF THE NETHER WORLD
OF HADES, CREATED A MACHINE TO TRANSPLANT THE SOULS OF DEMONS INTO
THE BODY OF ROBOTS. WITH THIS ARMY OF ROBODEMONS KULL BECAME THE UNCHALLENGED
MASTER OF THE EARTH. ONE DAY A MOST GREAT WARRIOR DECIDED TO DESCEND
INTO THE SEVEN GATES OF HADES AND DESTROY KULL FOREVER..."
may be a simple grammatical error, but Kull apparently only had one
robot body for all the souls. That's why all your enemies are skeletons
and crap. You will be playing as some guy in a white and red jumpsuit
who fights with a boomerang.
first mission is simple enough: Kill Death. Why, you have a
jumpsuit and a microscopic boomerang! It should be a piece of cake.
is actually that bird-looking thing in the middle of the title screen.
He shows up halfway through the intro level which has you inexplicably
flying around. Kind of like Gradius or Parodius, except you can't dodge
things, you can't hit things, and you have to wait for your ammo to
return between shots. The most common enemy of all, sadly, is a skull-and-crossbones
that shoots little red balls out of its mouth. Your best bet is to go
kamikaze on Death and just hammer him at point blank.
next level becomes a side-scrolling platformer deal. There is only one
genre of game that has produced more failures than side-scrolling action:
Helicopter simulation. You want Hell, try your hand at Infiltrator.
I got killed by that first skeleton. At this point I gave up on Robodemons.
The P'Radikus Conflict
year was 1990. Asteroids was sweeping the nation. Well, so Asteroids
crashed into pizza parlors and arcades a few years before that. But,
striking while the iron was relatively hot, a team of fresh youngish
face stepped into the gaming arena to do battle against the galarphamous
(note: made up but important sounding word) companies like Nintendo.
And Atari, I guess. They had big dreams. Color Dreams.
course, that all fell through and they wound up producing third/fourth/umpteenth-rate
knock offs of popular arcade games and Z-grade monstrosities. And after
that fell through to the sub-basement, they renamed themselves Wisdom
Tree and began producing Bible-themed knock offs of their original third/fourth/umpteenth-rate
knock offs of popular arcade games and Z-grade monstrosities. And, much
as the tree they named themselves after was implicated in one of biblical
Man's greatest bloopers, their company is now only a fuzzy memory whose
existence is all but forgotten, if not for ROM dumps and the odd garage
P'Radikus Conflict was a shooter based on the Asteroids engine. In retrospect,
that's like creating a Tetris game around the Quake III engine. I'm
not entirely sure what the point of the game is, presumably to seek
and destroy numerous spacey targets. You start out in a totally black
space, where you spin and fire until you realize it's not a graphical
error but simply a very lazily rendered space. Pressing Up on the control
pad moves your ship forward. Not that I encourage anyone to actually
try and play this game.
basic flow of the game goes as follows: Fly, see saucer, chase saucer,
shoot saucer, watch arrow at bottom of screen point in the opposite
direction of wherever the enemy is. Shoot saucer, chase, watch arrow.
Arrow chase shoot saucer arrow watch shoot ram crash shoot drink. Shoot
spin chase arrow kill drink shoot drink die. After about five minutes
of... whatever, the ship explodes and the game treats you to a very
chic all-text game over screen that teases you with notions of 'bases'
and 'missions.' Unlike their magnum opus, Robodemons, P'radikus deprives
you of a much needed opening monologue sequence. I guess the lack of
exposition was half the fun of the old games though. To this day I'm
still not sure what Billy and Jimmy Contra were doing on Contra Island.
And Ghosts and Goblins (Ghouls and Ghosts, whatever) just showed you
a sequence of a man picnicking in his skivvies and you were able to
deduce, by the suit of armor he hops into, that he's a knight about
to save the princess from the random devil. And in P'Radikus, we join
the action in media res, which helps add the element of confusion to
an already piss poor game.
Wisdom Tree: Makers of Holy
Dreams' games didn't sell so well. So when the execs were praying for
a fire to envelop their offices so they could collect the insurance
money and maybe break even, it came to them what they needed to sell
those Bad Boys of the 8-bit World kept their impeccable level of quality
in spite of their new marketing angle enlightenment. In fact, many Wisdom
Tree games were just old Color Dreams titles re-released with new graphics
and random text displays. For instance, Menace Beach; the story of a
skateboarding street punk saving his rapidly-denuding girlfriend from
Satan became Sunday Funday; which was about a little boy skateboarding
his way to Sunday School to get chided by his decidedly less hot teacher.
Satan was oddly removed from this game and replaced with a dancing bear.
Buffet isn't too bad at first. In fact I was even a little impressed
by the quality of the voice samples they used, considering it was NES.
But that quickly gave way to despair, annoyance, and finally tedium.
You spin the spinner, you move a random number of spaces until you reach
the end of the board. With graphics so crude they make A Boy and His
Blob look like Final Fantasy X, the action levels on every non-free/quiz
square are the real pain the game brings.
example; in Fast Food Land, there's a stage where you're confined to
a twisting sidewalk surrounded by grass and DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS
signs. I mean, crap! Don't walk on the grass signs are keeping the little
Mr. Bill guy from jumping off the path to dodge the incredibly speedy
whatchimacallits? Does this guy have a brain stem?
wannabe puzzler also has a handful of gimmicks to spice things up, ranging
from the effectively worthless TNT drums you pick up by the dozen but
can't use to destroy anything that needs killing to the Fast Food levels
where you shove giant coins into the cashier's hand to make food come
out to fight you. But by far the most entertaining concept of the game
is its wholehearted endorsement of the sin of gluttony, compounded by
the fact there's no bible-sanctioned foods like communion wafers or
fish (besides anchovies.)
I mention the trivia questions are printed in the manual, and if you
don't have that there's no way past the pop quizzes without blind guessing?
It's nifty, isn't it? Super keen.
is a hack of Crystal Caves (or Mines or whatever), another CD game.
In this, Moses ambles about a pitch black room full of squares that
look like varying degrees of television snow, but actually represent
everything from "The Murmurings of the Israelites" to burning
bushes. He's pursued by Huns/ pirates/ biker superheroes but fortunately
can shoot little W's to kill anything that bothers him. The W-ray is
either the Word of God or possibly him declaring his allegiance to Dr.
is another example of bizarre Wisdom Tree physics. You can walk freely
about the level, but shooting rocks out from under items or other rocks
can create a landslide. It also works to an extent horizontally, as
deadly rocks like to fall when a gap opens on their side regardless
of how firm the ground they're on is. To clear a level, Moses has to
collect all the milk jars/ manna and find the time warp out of there
to the next dungeon or stretch of desert or whatever. Failure to do
so makes Moses cover his eyes like a total puss.
are also trivia breaks and half-assed cinema scenes between levels depicting
Moses' life and exploits.
Super 3-D Noah's Ark
rare treat indeed- the only unliscensed SNES cart released in the states,
as well as Wisdom Tree's only 16-bit venture. It's basically a hack
of Wolfenstein 3-D, only with farm animals instead of Nazis, and Noah's
Moses-lookalike face plastered over BJ Blazkowicz. In fact, this game
even uses the same level maps as Wolf3D for the SNES.
the idea is that the animals aboard Noah's ark are getting cranky and
hungry and burst from their pens. So, Noah takes up a slingshot and
some apples to force-feed the creatures into hibernation. It's odd that
instead of 2 of every animal, you mostly face goats and the like.
to TSR, there's a rumor that id software gave the game engine to Wisdom
Tree as payback for all the edits they had to make to make a game about
messily shooting Nazis SNES-friendly.