Tuesday, 16 May 2017

SNES Review 119: The Incredable Hulk

I have previously talked about how the names on a box could be the diffrence between you grabbing or not grabbing a game back in the SNES days and there are three names which come in to play with this particular game and I actually want to handle all 3 of them one at a time, I am going to start with Probe because well after all they are the ones who actually programmed this game. 

Probe Software was founded in 1984 by Fergus McGovern and Vakis Paraskeva, later being renamed Probe Entertainment, I suppose really there biggest claim to fame in the console world would be the fact that they were responsible for the MegaDrive ports of Mortal Kombat 1 and 2. Its not like thats all Probe did though they infact made over 50 titles on over 10 diffrent platforms one of the nine SNES games they made was the game I am reviewing right now. So do Probe still exist today? Nope not at all, they were acquired by Acclaim back in october 1995 were rebranded with the name Acclaim Studios London which was latter rebranded to Acclaim Studios Cheltenham and which then died along with Acclaim when it went bankrupt in 2004.


The game was published by US GOLD a company pretty much worthy of a whole post themselves, but here I just want to touch on them briefly. Now recently I have been talking and posting quiet a lot about the Sinclair Spectrum and US GOLD is a name most spectrum owners would have known well. U.S. Gold was founded in Birmingham in 1984 as the publishing division for a software-distribution company called Centresoft. Its primary purpose was to republish popular American computer games in the UK and Europe. The problem with them is that although they published a lot of things there success rate was kind of fifty fifty half good half bad, this name on the box actually did the game a lot more harm in my oppinion than having Probes name would have.

The real name that sold this game at least for me was the Marvel name, now who doesnt know of Marvel Comics creators of Spiderman, the X-Men, DeadPool, DareDevil and of course the Hulk. I am sure I have mentioned this before but I love comics and not just Marvel but also DC and even the lesser well known stuff and most of them are just filled to the brim with stuff that would seem to anyone with any kind of re3asoning factor to be things ripe to put in a game but as most will proberbly know pretty much for every good game featuring a comic book character there has been one featuring a stinker but back when this came out well I was a little eaiser to excite. Ok originally when I purchased this game it was only partially because of the Marvel Comics it was also because this along with other games I have reviewed in the past (Metal Marines and Smash Tennis) were SNES games which some shop or other decided to sell for a low price despite them being new, in this case the price was an outstanding £14.99, as with the other games this meant that not only I got it but pretty much everyone I knew with a SNES got it.

I remember the day I originally purchsed this game, I was in town with a group of friends and we were looking for something to spend our cash on, most of us proberbly had about £15 max and maybe a second hand game or two in our backpacks, pretty much expecting that maybe if we traded both old games and some cash in we could find a deal and get something not to bad. We had been to a couple of diffrent places and then we came to one store all of us ended up going upstairs in the shop (it was either a game or games boutique store my minds a little blank on which it was) and there we were met with a pile of copies of The Incredable Hulk on the shelves brand new in perfect condition with the aformentioned £14.99 label on them. Nowdays this doesnt seem that impressive as decent games end up being cheap a few weeks after release all the time, its £40 one week £30 the next and £20 the week after but I think a lot of that is due to online shops and competition, the market for games was very diffrent back then and when you saw something cheap you didnt really have much time to think about it, so I grabbed it and rushed to the counter as did several of my friends, we had all spent up so we all headed back home and went our seperate ways.

Now they always say that people look at old games through rose specticles, you remember a game as being wonderful as most of its good points stick in the head and you forget the bad bits, well I wrote the following just before playing this game for review. I have very fond memories of quiet a few games but when I stop and try and remember the Indredible Hulk the main thing I remember is crushing dissapointment, I remember the graphics being quiet bright and I remember it being a bit maze like and also that sometimes you became Banner Hulks human form, lots of identical grunt type enemies, I also remember selling it feeling like I had been tricked and that the shop that sold it me knew it was a pile of poo and had thrown the cheap price on to it because they knew that it was the only way they would shift there copies. I remember feeling very bitter about it when in truth looking back now I have no idea why, part and parcel of gaming back then even more so than now was taking a wild stab at whatever games you could get your hands on and after all when Id lucked out getting Smash Tennis and Metal Marines in simmilar deals well you could argue I was due a bad one.

You might be wondering why I decided to buy Hulk again now if my feelings on it were so strongly negative well I was looking for reasonably priced games I didnt own. I had seen the Incredable Hulk in a few indy retro shops for £15 for a loose cart and tottally dismissed it, but when I saw it for £6 online for a loose cart including shipping I began to think about it, I looked up a few reviews and was suprised that it wasnt considerd a stinker, infact when you look at some of the reviews for it well Nintendo Power gave it 3.3 out of 5 and GameSpot gave it 7.7 out of 10, this kind of made me begin to doubt myself. I have always thought that I was a gamer who was willing to give games a fair chance in fact I used to get annoyed with my older brother for dismissing a game if it made him jump too much or there was a maze section or if you had to go a full 5 minutes without killing something, yet here I sat wondering if I had been a little hasty with this game all those years ago, and so with that thought in my mind I decided to buy the game.

 Ok so Now I have played the game a whole bunch I am going to cut to the chase and talk about it, first lets start with the story.  So basically your the Incredible Hulk and your well making your way through five levels each of which ends with you battling a Marvel Comics villain if you for any reason dont want to know who theses are then drop down a few lines now... Ok you face The Abomination (who appears as a sub-boss in every level), the Rhino, Absorbing Man, Tyrannus, and finally the Leader. Ok I admit this is less a story and more a description of what you do, but I dont have the manual or the box and I am assuming that the whole story thing was left down to a small blurb in these. If you leave the game on the title screen you dont get an intro just every so often it goes to a high score table, and when you actually start the game all you are met with is a very brief comic style cut scene of Banner turning in to the hulk, you do get little bits of explanation between stages but they pretty much amount to ''Hulk beat Villian X so he wanderd off some place else but oh no he fell into Villian Y's fiendish trap''. So for all extents and purposes theres no real story, there are some villians to beat but no massive reason behind it that you get told about at least, there are also no major supporting characters, and certainly no plot twists or anything to make you keep playing. Now I know some might think I am being harsh and that games were simply like that and that I am spoiled by the New Marvel Cinematic Universe and the way it throws all manner of heroes togther but not all super hero games were like this back then at all. I am now just quickly going to compare it to a SNES game I dont own and therefore wont be reviewing any time soon just for some perspective and this game I am speaking of is Spiderman Maximum Carnage. You see in Maximum Carnage not only do you get a whole bag full of Villians but you also get a well told story and you even get absolute piles of Marvel cameos with all kinds of heroes showing up some of them being the typical sort everyone will have heard of like Captain America and others being less well known sorts like FireStar and Cloak & Dagger. Hulk was one of the original Avengers and the dude cant even get a quick walk on from a single Avenger?

Ok so on to the graphics well the Hulk looks pretty darn good, he is big and green and of course he is wearing his trademark shorts. He makes the standerd enemies look small and well when he smashes  crates and telephone boxes it all looks pretty convinving. Enemy designs are well the word I would use would be decent, mostly the grunts of this game are well either robots or men in highly armoured sci fi style suits, they look clean and shiny but the probelm is a lack in variety which can make things awfully repetivie feeling, something thats not helped by rather plain and bland backgrounds. As you walk around youll pass piece after piece that basically looks the same so you will end up asking yourself if you have been here before. The bosses all look like they should though

The sound is basically a mixed bag, the music sucks, it basically feels like a short number of very short looping tunes that just feel well like they could be taken from any low budget video game. Now I am darn sure someone will say well what the heck did you expect music wise from something connected to a comic book character Mozart? Well go look up the end credits music from the 1978 Incredible Hulk TV show, I think its called something like "The Lonely Man" it is a very moving  sad solo piece of piano music and it would make an awesome midi tune. As it stands though we are stuck with music of the most turd like. (I am happy though as I got to throw an Incredible Hulk TV show refrence into this review). The sound effects are good though Hulk actually sounds convincing with his noises and then you have the sounds of things smashing and crashing and decent gun related noises its just a shame its partnerd up with rubbish music.

Well lets get on to what really sells a game and makes it worth remembering and that of course is the gameplay. Well its an action platforming game with a decent move set, hulk can jump, punch, grab his enemies, toss them, tombstone them, crush them, he can do that super sonic hulk clap you see in the films and comics, he can stomp and after collecting the right pill he can run smashing through things. Oh yeah thats a little gem isent it Hulk picks up pills to power up and regain health, yes I know even otherwise indestructable characters kind of need life bars and the threat of death in games but seriously this game has health pills what wer ethey thinking? The gameplay at first seems quiet fun after all who hasnt wanted to be a super powerd hero and punch people and have the power of the hulk but the issue is that really you have so little to do with this power. The enemies, AI is virtually non-existent, they all run straight at you and straight to there doom, yeah for a little bit its fun to practice all of the moves on them, but soon well when you have punched, crushed, stamped and super sonic clapped one enemy well youve done it to them all it soon simply becomes dull and repetitive. The platform jumping type stuff is also as easy as pie, oh as for the becoming Banner thing thats something you do when your about to die, I guess I had forgotten that over the years. There is no save feature but its not the longest game in the world but your still not likly to see the end as I am affraid boredom will most likly have set in long before then.

So has my oppinion of this game actually changed? Yes it has, before I thought that it was a bad game however on replaying it and reflecting on it I instead have to say that no it is simply a very average and forgetable game, If I had to give it a score I would once again give it a 5 out of 10, this being the third 5 I have given makes me feel like I am stuck in a nightmare of the average, what I wouldnt give now to play either a gem or to sink my teeth in to something that truly sucks. If you must buy this game then look to pay about the same that I did for a loose cart but I would instead strongly advise you to use this money instead to pick up the first season of the old Incredible Hulk Tv Series which is about £5 on Amazon.  For now I think I am just going to go and listen to that sad walking away music again while I toss this cartridge deep into my games cupboard and walk on by.

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