Category: Reviews

Retro Monday – Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!

Home Improvement was a sitcom in the 90s and was rather popular. Of course with its popularity came a game. Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! was released in 1994 and was made by Imagineering and was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

I haven’t played this game, and to be honest I’ve barely heard anything about it. Let’s start with a brief description. HI:PTP is an action-platformer, where you have to collect the tools that had been taken on Tim’s show Home Improvement.

When I put it on I knew it was meant to be bad, but I honestly didn’t think it was that bad – at least for a very short period of time. Tim, the player’s character, controls are very off – like he’s really light and floaty, for want of better words. There’s also the level design, it’s not great and the fact that you have to go around levels looking for power tools that disappeared is just awful. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was fun to play and the level design didn’t suck, but that’s what it does – it sucks.

I will admit that visually it isn’t horrible, it’s pretty decent for a TV show tie-in. Musically, I think it’s pretty bad, it has a remix of the TV show theme, and then it seems to just be that, varying remixes of the show’s theme. All the music I heard has a similar sound and for me, there isn’t much variety.

Verdict: Avoid

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Retro Monday – Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command and Conquer is a real-time strategy (RTS) game series that is split into three different universes. Today we are looking at the Red Alert universe, specifically Command & Conquer: Red Alert. It was released in 1996 for PC and 1997 for PlayStation. It was made by Westwood Studios and the series is still ongoing with Red Alert 3 coming out for PS3 and Xbox 360.

The game starts with a cutscene that shows Albert Einstein going back in time to kill Hitler in 1924 stopping the Nazi’s rise to power. Unfortunately, this causes Russia to become more powerful and instead they start a war.  As said above, Red Alert is an RTS and that entails building various buildings which in turn gives you better buildings, that can give you a map, certain vehicles, special weapons, Tesla coils and so on.

The things you build can also grant you better troops. You start off with rifle men and grenadiers, but later you can get more types, like rocket men, who fire rocket launchers. Each troop type has its benefits over certain things – rocket troops are more effective than rifle men for taking out vehicles, you also have a harvester which gathers your resources with which you use to build. It’s the same with vehicles, some are better for taking out a variety of enemies.

I played this thinking the design would be too archaic to be as enjoyable as newer more modern, better functioning RTS games, but it’s actually still good to play. Although you don’t – at least to my knowledge – get the hotkeys that you get nowadays, and the fog of war is broken, as when you reveal a part of the map it stays revealed, but it plays well enough and is engaging to boot. The acting is bad during the mission briefing cutscenes, but I think it’s pretty fun – the good kind of bad. The gameplay is more simplistic, but it’s smooth and fun, while still making you think about what you are doing, and, from memory it get’s more difficult later on, where unit management and resource gathering is key to success.

Visually it’s pretty decent, everything is recognisable, you can easily tell your troops, vehicles and the terrain apart, and so on. The UI is pretty simple, you just have the a bar on the left with boxes in which the building stuff takes place. Musically there’s some really good stuff there, the sound effects are pretty good, with the gunfire sounding OK, and then people’s death screams sounding well. The actual music itself has some really good guitar riffs and some nice sinister sounding music fitting for war and music styles in between.

I must add that I did have one problem, that was irritating more than anything. It didn’t really affect the game, but the game on my monitor went slightly off the screen. It meant that there was a little missing on each side of the game, so for me where it may say ‘Destroy the enemy’  it would say ‘stroy the enemy’. As I said, not game affecting, just a little annoying. Luckily, the stream was the full game and didn’t have this problem.

Verdict: Recommended

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Retro Monday – Plok

Retro Monday review PlokPlok was is an action platformer made by Software Creations for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  It was published by different companies in different regions and came out in 1993.

Why did I choose Plok as the game for this week? Well, it’s something I played a little of as a kid and had fond memories of the brief time I had with it. The memories were nothing specific, just that I liked it. Now, going back to after 20 odd years and seeing the game still has massive bags of charm with fun gameplay is a joy.

The gameplay itself is pretty groovy, you play as the titular character Plok and have to jump, punch and kick your way through levels. The punch mechanic is similar to Rayman, in that you throw your limb and the enemies to kill them. only in this, you get four attacks as you use each limb as a projectile. One cool thing is certain targets you hit will make your limbs not return to you and instead go to a clothes hanger and you have to get them back. In one level I had to use three of my limbs in this way but didn’t get them back until I found a power-up, which not only gave me a gun but also when it ran out I received all my limbs. Speaking of power-ups, I only had three but they were varied. One was a boxer, that let you punch indefinitely. Another had a sort of blunderbuss that had a shotgun-like spread shot and the last was a flamethrower which came in really handy.

Musically the game has a pretty sweet rock-inspired soundtrack, and it has some nice variety in its styles, like having a different feeling soundtrack when you play as Grandpappy Plok, I was told on the stream that there’s a rumour that when Shigeru Miyamoto heard the intro music he believed it came from a SNES with a custom chip. You then have the visuals which ooze charm, they’re vibrant, well detailed, and all-around well made. The levels are fantastic, the sprites are simply glorious. It has to be one of the best looking SNES games I have seen.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Join Pedz for Retro Monday on GRcade’s Twitch channel every week, and vote on what he plays next on GRcade