3/2 The Little Game Company That Could Kinda

Cool World

     I wonder how many of these type of games, total, LJN and Acclaim subjected us to throughout the NES's life cycle. There were at least three NES games based on the Simpsons, each based around the concept that if Bart Simpson was the one hopping clumsily through poorly laid-out levels and duking it out with housepets and furniture instead of some generic cartoon animal, it would be more fun. OK, I exaggerate. I fully believe that Acclaim knowingly released terrible platformers based on movies and TV shows of dubious quality solely for profit, and they would probably also sell toxic waste to elementary school cafeterias. I mean, they have to be getting that medical waste from somewhere, right? However, this game wasn't made by Acclaim. SHOCK AND AWE. It was actually made by Ocean, the people who brought you the Robocop series of games. I just thought the de rigueur bashing of Acclaim would be a good attention getter for this review.

     Cool World was a crappy movie. For starters, it was a gimmick movie- animated characters side by side with real actors! WOW! Just like Roger Rabbit, only suckier. All the characters look like the sort of mascot you'd see adorning bootleg cereal at K-Mart. Except for maybe the lead animated lady, Holli Would (uh, zing! I think?) who is probably more gainfully employed as the official spokesperson for XXX TOONS 110% FREE NO AVS today. If you missed it, as you probably should have, a lonesome cartoonist named Harris somehow created a bridge between the real world and his 'Cool World', home of the 'Doodles.' Doodles are like the Toons from Roger Rabbit, only they call them something else. Something screws up, and Harris's wank fodder comes to life and climbs the Empire state building trying to merge realities. Or something like that. It's been about a year since the last time I caught it on Sci-Fi, and I don't plan on re-watching it to be more accurate to the director's and developer's 'vision.' For now I'll just assume they wanted two hours of Holli squirming about in that skintight white dress.

     Anyway, much as the movie Cool World was a whole class below Roger Rabbit, the NES adaptation can only grovel in the dirt left behind by the less-than stellar Roger Rabbit game. Harris hops around town sucking up hapless Doodles with his giant ink pen and depositing them in ink wells for a life refill. Eventually he fights bosses in horrible, unintuitive matches. He can also toss erasers at people, and instead of leaving a cloud of mostly inedible rubbings, turn them into delicious candy canes. Why candy canes? Beats me. Each level also has a weird stage-specific weapon that needs to be used to solve some retarded puzzle, like the carrots you feed to the rabbits in Sweet Meadow, or the cherry bombs in the big city. You also throw pies at adorable little bobbies in one level. The bobbies really have it in for Harris, since the police car makes an appearance in almost every other level to make a series of hit and run attempts.

     And that isn't even factoring in the strange damage system. In the city level (of the four stages selectable in the start), you can take direct hits from guns, thugs, and neon signs about four times before half a heart goes away. Oddly enough, in the happy happy meadow, the bunny rabbits do about a tick and a half of damage. The only consistent thing is that being hit by a car always kills Harris. The respawn rate is pretty frustrating as well. Say you use your ink pen to suck up one of the cheerful mass murderers coming out of one of the many "CLUB" franchisees. As soon as the 'sucking' animation ends, the door flies open and out steps another enemy. The enemies re-appear literally as soon as one bites it- which really bites (or maybe sucks) when your ink pen is full and you can't suck any more. You then must find an ink well to empty your pen into which regains your life. Maybe he uses the well to redraw damaged parts of his cartoon self, or maybe it symbolizes erotic release. In any case, sucking is a recurring theme in Cool World.

     And, just because Ocean HATES me specifically, there's a damned AUTO SCROLLING level. On skateboards, to rub salt in the wound. The end result is kind of like playing a version of T&C Surf Design where Thrilla has been replaced by a painfully-tanned man in a white leisure suit. Yeah, that oozes class, doesn't it?

     The graphics are actually sort of suitable for the game, a far cry from the jolly NUKE-collecting tin man Robocop was presented as in the NES games. They look like shitty cartoons, much like the characters they were based on. Despite that comment, they don't look like the precise crappy characters they are supposed to represent. Take a look at the NES rendition of Holli at right top. She looks like a noseless Mario Paint rendition of Pamela Anderson. The pissed-off bear tending bar at Slash's Club (where the cover charge is blowing the lid off a garbage can) really looks about the closest to a person or thing from the movie. The levels are of course, as badly laid out as any generic platformer, mainly consisting of a long, flat road, with occasional buildings and outcroppings to hop on, assuming you can tell the difference between a foothold and a piece of non-interactive background tile. A daunting task indeed. An odd quirk about jumping to and from platforms in this game; Harris takes falling damage any time he comes down from a platform back to the street, even if said platform is roughly as high off the ground as his hip, a fact made even more annoying by the fact he catches some real air when he jumps, yet suffers no ill effect upon landing. Maybe he suffers from some toon equivalent of osteoporosis, or maybe they picked some code that didn't make it into Robocop 3 to paste into this wreck.

     If this is the Cool World, please, please direct me to whatever planet Star Trek nerds play chess on while polishing their eight-sided dice.



Holli Would if she... were drawn better.

Note the obsessive-compulsive way Harris MUST have all his paper clips and writing utensils perpendicular to the edge of the desk.

Look out, Harris! Someone from Zoo Logic is pissed and flinging beer bottles! At left; horrible wiring.

Nothing says attitude like an adorable bunny throwing ice cream cones.

Check out the companion article on the movie itself@C-CN!