Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SNES game review 96: Cool Spot

So if I was to say 7UP to you then I imagine most people would quickly think of the soft drink, it might not be as famous as Coca Cola but it did manage to have not one but two mascots. In Europe we got a little guy called Fido Dido while America got Cool Spot. Cool Spot was essentially just a little red dot with arms, legs, a mouth, and sunglasses. British video games developer Virgin Interactive's American studio produced a platform game starring the mascot known as Cool Spot in 1993 for the Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis (it was also ported by other teams to the Sega Master System, the Sega Game Gear, the Game Boy, the Amiga and DOS in 1994). This was the same studio who would go on to do Disney’s The Lion king and the Earth worm Jim games and some of their DNA can clearly be seen in this game.

If the idea of a Soft drink mascot fronting his own game sounds weird to you then you only need to remember that during this sort of time frame it wasn't all that unusual to have a products mascot appear in a game Colin Quaver, Ronald MacDonald, Chester Cheetah all of them managed to have a game, some of them had multiple games in fact. The funny thing really though was that we still got Cool Spots game despite him not being our mascot over here and with not many European’s having a clue who he was, in fact the European version of the game had most of the references to 7UP removed so we ended up with a game fronted by a Mascot we didn’t know, not really trying to sell a product to us which is sort of weird.

Cool Spot is a single-player platformer where you control Cool Spot, he can jump, and he can attack by throwing soda bubbles, he can also cling to and climb various things. So what is the plot, what is his mission? Well you have to rescue the other spots who happen to look just like you, they have been caught and trapped in cages, cages you will find at the end of every level, in order to free them though you have to collect a certain amount of spot icons which are littered through the levels. You only have so long to do this and of course you have enemies trying to stop you, but there are also plenty of things to help you, for one you can take several hits, your health is monitored by an onscreen image of Cool Spots face that gradually bends forward and eventually falls from its position indicating how close to death you are. The game has check points which are flags which will save your progress through a level if you happen to die but in the old fashioned style of a lot of games there is no save function so you need to set aside some time to do this bad boy in one go. If you collect enough spots though you will enter bonus stages in which you can collect letters to give you continues.

As far as the games graphics go well you’d think that spot wouldn’t be much cop in some ways what with him just being a dot an all, but they must have worried that this would be the case as they have really gone the extra mile trying to put personality in to the little fella. He moves smoothly, he has waiting animations, pain animations, he is quite literally never completely still at least part of him is always in motion, this might just be him snapping his fingers or puling a face but it works wonders. If you like 16 bit games then you will most likely like this. There are lots of varied levels and enemies they clearly put a lot of thought and care in to this far more than you would have maybe originally thought with it being a game based on a soft drink icon.

The sound is also an area this game excels in with a sort of jazzy score, yes it can be a little repetitive if you happen to pause the game but if you’re playing and into the action then it fits the game well
The game is not massive but it is enjoyable, Spot controls quite well. He is responsive,and can be guided to where he has to go with relative ease most of the time. His ability to shoot bubbles is awesome as its not just a fire left or right thing, you can infact fire in absolutely every direction you can push on the pad. The controls aren't totally perfect however though. Instead of being allocated a button to run spot just starts running after a few steps if you keep holding the direction down. Now this is no sonic the hedgehog, you can’t just run through everything, if you try that you’re going to die and you’re going to die fast. So you have to keep being mindful to stop and slow yourself down so that you can use the awesome multi-directional shooting mechanic to take out the enemies before they get you. The jumping can also be a little bit painful at times, it’s just well for example it wants you to jump from balloon string to balloon string but if you’re not lined up pixel perfect then spots not grabbing it for you. This is not that big of an issue it just makes a few jumping sections feel a little more painful than they need to.

Overall I would give Spot a big 7 out of 10, fitting really with him being the mascot of 7up. If you really want to try this game then you’re looking at around £6 to £8 for a cartridge which is more than fair for what it is. There was also a sequel on the megadrive but it never came to the SNES. I could have spent more time comparing this and the megadrive version but they are both very similar games if I was to weigh them both up and recommend one version to you over another then I would say get the Megadrive version in a rare case it has slightly better music and it also plays a little better (I’d give it an 8) but if you don’t have a Megadrive the SNES one is still a good game.

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