Who’d want to rescue the neanderthal equivalent of Kate Capshaw from “Temple of Doom” anyway?
The graphics have a certain Bonk flavor to them, but Joe and Mac doesn’t even begin to approach the depth of Bonk.
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
PUBLISHER: Data East
DEVELOPER: Elite Systems
RELEASE DATE: December 1992
I’ve already expressed my hearty disinterest in having cavemen be the main characters in video games. Could they be more one note? Mario in the original Super Mario Bros. carried with him more personality in his carefully constructed pixels than Joe, Mac, Chuck Rock, or any of the wizards over in Caveman Games. Indeed, Joe & Mac doesn’t make a good case for neanderthals as a building block for a solid video game. When I wasn’t ho-humming my way through the swarms of enemies in each level, I was getting frustrated that every time Joe received an “upgrade” for his weapon, it actually made the weapon weaker. In Level 2, I obtained something that looked like a sharp feather. How is this better than the large, sturdy wheel I was throwing, I asked myself? After trying in vain to kill a plant that shot fireballs (original, I know) with said feather, I had my answer: why the butt did the game take away my wheel?! Never have I encountered a game where one’s upgrades are actually downgrades. Certainly in Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden, you can obtain weapons that vary in their degrees of inflicted damage, but… at least they still damage. Oog-poor weaponry aside, the levels have absolutely nothing of interest within them besides the enemies, and even those are derivative. If I’m going to play as the least-enjoyable archetype known to man, I want the environments to look cool and the gameplay to be fun, even if it’s a simplistic hop-and-bopper. Adventure Island, certainly a cousin to Joe & Mac‘s ethos, may not have been the most original game, but at least it had a wide variety of jungle environments to keep cool. Joe & Mac is like breaking a mirror because you think, beyond the mirror lies a unique, enrapturing world. In reality, your hand is bleeding and you need a new mirror.
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