Captain Planet

Time to take a look at yet another TV and film tie-in game. This time though we are going to venture into the realms of the Commodore Amiga series of computers.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an American TV cartoon about a group of teenage eco-warriors. Tasked with protecting the world, in a very family wholesome way, by Gaia. With the aid of some magical rings and a scantily clad, god-like super hero, with a mullet, named Captain Planet.

Now it would be fair to say that the only reason this game got as much coverage as it did was simply because it was a pack-in title, part of the Cartoon Classics bundle, with the Amiga 500 computer. Otherwise this title may have well been shoved to the back of the great hall of gaming history, along with other such gems as Back to the Future and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide for the NES. For all to forget for the rest of eternity.

Which wouldn’t have been all bad because the game does suck the proverbial donkeys wobbly bits a little too hard.

Graphically it does show off the early 16-bit Amiga capabilities. Everything looks nice and colourful. The sprites are well defined and the main characters all look like who they are supposed to be. The frame rate is great and hardly any slowdown occurs within the game. However there are two main niggles with the graphics that I can note. One been the terribly bland title and menu screens. And secondly been the fact that the main eco-villains are all 3 times bigger than your own characters.

Audibly the game fails to show off the Amiga’s capabilities. The sound effect all seem muffled, generic and not fitting to the game. The music, while chirpy and upbeat of sorts and a little memorable, again feels generic and not fitting to the actual game. In fact they seem to have used in-house composed music for every aspect of the game. Even the title screen music is missing the actual cartoons theme music.

Gameplay is where this game truly fails. As it’s possibly not one of the worst games I have ever played. But certainly very close.

The controls, without putting too fine a point on it, suck. Everything feels sticky, stiff and unresponsive. It has that thing where the character, kind of like in Dragons Lair for the SNES but not to the same extreme, seems to take a second before it realises you want it to stop. Jumping has also got this strange fell to it too where any momentum from running is lost the moment your feet leave the ground. Like your jumping through air that is as thick as treacle. Also there is a special action where if your falling you can save yourself by pressing fire. However this seems to work when ever it feels like it. And even works if dropping from a step. Meaning you lose any multiplier bonus from destroying enemies. Creating great amounts of frustration.

This frustration is then compounded further by the fact that this game is as hard as Lonsdaleite. And not from the game having difficult puzzles. It’s just a difficult game in general. After the first, and relatively easy, level the difficulty curve gets so steep you might as well be wearing mountaineering gear. The amount of baddies and traps that occur in later levels is simply astounding. And this game is supposed to be aimed at kids. So you would expect it to be somewhat easier than say a normal every day platformer.

Anyway lets get the final thoughts over with before I kick a badger in the face.

This entire game feels like it was intended to be something else completely. Nothing about it feels like it belongs to the Captain Planet universe other than the the primary characters and vehicles. Everything else is just too out of place, unconnected and hastily added to try and make it seem like this was a fully licensed game. Not even the music is like anything heard in the TV show. Even on the rushed looking title screen, where you would expect the Captain Planet theme to play, you are instead greeted with some tune that doesn’t convey the feel of the show.

A game that was simply re-branded at the last moment. Into some awful mess with bad controls and a punishing difficulty curve.

And what do you get at the end of this game?
An ending animation?
Maybe some fancy credits?
Any kind of satisfaction?

Don’t be daft. If they couldn’t be bothered to do a decent job with the title screen and menus then why would they put any effort into a decent ending. Instead we get a couple of static screens congratulating us for completing the game, saving the planet and reminding us that we have the power to save the world in real life.

Thanks for that inspirational message Mindscape. Thanks for reminding me that we can save this planet if we were all a bit more eco-minded in our daily lives. Maybe by planting a few trees, saving some polar bears in the sky or maybe even repairing the ozone layer from a magical ozone spewing warp pipe looking thing. Actually, come to think of it, I would have saved the planet for another few seconds more if I hadn’t bothered wasting the electricity to play the game in the first place!

Any sense of fun you have with this game seems to disappear the moment you finish the first level. And even then the first level might be pushing the word “fun” a little past its comfortable boundaries. Even the music fails to inspire you to play further.

The entire game feels rushed and intended to wring the last few pennies from both amiga owners and the fans of the show. If this hadn’t come with so many Amiga’s then I can honestly say it would have possibly ended up been just another lousy tie-in and lost to the cold embrace of gaming hell.

It has to be said though that this game is still better than my lowest tie-in benchmark, The Running Man for the C64. But not by much. In fact I was contemplating making this game my lowest benchmark until I was reminded that Running Man is far worse. It still get 1 out of 5 though.

Now I am off to save some precious gas by heating myself with the fires from the burning carcass of this diskette.

Mmmm. Noxious fumes warmth.

Gameplay Video

CritAnime

I grew up in the magical 8-bit era of computers and consoles. I saw the games crash and saw the recovery from it with the NES. I will always have my trusty C64 in my office and when the need arises I will pop a tape in the Datasette and play some classic games.

With a wealth of knowledge, especially on old-school rpg's, I hope to bring it to you. The viewers of Retroist.com

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