Sunday, August 16, 2020

Prehistorik Man (Super NES, 1995)

Time for a BLAST FROM THE PAST. They made Game Boy and SNES versions of this game, but it's safe to say the SNES version is the one to play. While the Game Boy version has five levels, this one has 23. In other words, this is Prehistorik Man: Definitive Edition.

Been wanting to check it out for a while, so let's get a look at it.




Luchasaurus: "Okay, first of all. They couldn't even get the title right. It's spelled 'PREHISTORIC' with a C."

Whoa! Wrestling sensation Luchasaurus, ladies and gentlemen!

Here's the box art, which looks pretty zany. Time to see what a third-party SNES game from 1996 looks like.

Luchasaurus: "This is just unbelievable. Is he wearing sunglasses? Talk about anachronistic. Sunglasses DIDN'T EXIST during the prehistoric era. I may be a dinosaur, but I have a master's degree and I don't need this shit!"

Whoa whoa! Calm down! Alright, let's hope the game gets a little more historically accurate from this point on. Or would that be... PRE-historically accurate, nyuck nyuck.

.....right.

 We start with a bunch of menacing...lizards? Stealing all of the village's food. It's like the story of Donkey Kong Country.

The village elder recruits Sam, our hero, to recover all the food. If he succeeds, he can marry his girlfriend?, the chief's daughter. I'm shocked that he doesn't have to rescue her, and even more shocked that she's coming, given the era.

 ...Oh God. This game has an Alia.

 He explains how to run...like a dog. Is this like when Vince made Trish Stratus bark?

 Yeah, I'll just hold down the Y button. Why even have Up be a run button? Talk about awkward.

 "I'm coming! I'm coming right now!"

She divulges Sam's ultimate goal: The Dinosaur Graveyard, aka the Bone Zone. It's where all the food has been taken, plus it's a great place to make out. The problem is, that's level 23.

 Our hero braves spiders and pits in stage two. Yep, this is STAGE TWO. It's like they're throwing the player to the wolves here! While you mainly swing a club to fight, it's also possible to defeat most foes by jumping off of their heads Mario-style.

 At the end of this level you fight a bunch of lions, culminating with a spotted lion which I guess counts as a boss. The shout meter on the right fills up as you collect powerups, and it can basically one-shot everything when full, including the spotted lion boss.

 With the spotted lion's pelt, this Proto-Chadley guy builds me a glider. It's a little like Mario's cape in that you have to sorta bounce it in the air to maintain flying height. It's a bit more awkward to control because you're pressing down and up, and it took some getting used to, but...

 ...it's a lot of fun to control. Starting to see why this game has gotten some high acclaim by retro game enthusiasts even in recent years.

 Not-Higgins is stopped by The Police. [Requisite social commentary no one feels like reading here]

After bribing the police with 15 diamonds (strewn around the level), Sam arrives in a nearby cavern, where an old man tells him to find a trio of stones.

"I got two a' ya stones RIGHT 'ERE 'EYYYY!"

This game has shops in some of the levels. You can buy extra lives and stuff. Everything is so expensive relative to the meager currency you get, though, that I just didn't buy anything. One thing I can see myself getting later on though: There's a level skip item, if worse comes to worse.

Get the 3 stones and place them in this discount Thwomp, and we're off to the races.

 Between stages, all of the food you've collected goes into the coffers of the "village". I think the elder is just hoarding all of it.

This game looks pretty good at times, though a little bit underwhelming for something that came out at the very end of 1995. The animation on the other hand is great and looks about right for the era. Lot of memory went into this one.

Oh my God. Is that an active volcano? GET OUTTA THERE, SAM! This is a video game level, so Ziggy says there's a 94% chance it's going to erupt while you're there.

Elder: "Naw, we got nothing to worry about, here's my anecdotal proof"

Wait, is that...

BY CHRIST

The key is to grab these hard-to-see vines that I didn't even realize were there at first. This is one of the tougher levels because the fire can one-shot you. It feels like a Mega Man X6 level.

The boss is a massive Queen Metroid type beast. I thought I'd be fighting brontosauruses and such in this game, not freakish demon-dragon things.

The boss theme is surprisingly good, and sounds like something out of Super Mario RPG.

This seemed tough at first. The key is to just keep jumping up, wailing on it, and falling away.

FIRE BREATH.

"Look, I can't believe I have to say this. Fire breath was NOT an inherent trait in any species of dinosaur. Just to clear that rumor up right now. Is fact-checking just not a thing anymore??"

After that we get another Mega Man X6 style level with insta-death fire walls chasing you.

This stage looks pretty cool, but it's also a PITA. You have to climb a lot of trees to get through it, then at the end there's an apparent dead-end that you can actually hack through with your club. That had me confused for a few minutes.

This Souls-style blacksmith gives our hero a new weapon: A throwing spear. This is awesome because it creates a springboard when embedded in walls, letting you climb them. Don't see that mechanic in too many games. A couple of Mega Men have had it, and I think Super Return of the Jedi let you do that with ewok arrows.

The next stage must be a different forest. This one ISN'T burned down which is nice.

Like most stages in this game, you get to the end and find out you have to go back into the level to get something for someone. In this case, you need to get two keys from two particular enemies earlier in the level. Luckily they aren't too far from the end. On a replay the game moves much faster since you know what the objectives are beforehand.

In the next stage, this guy gives us a pogo! Now, pogos can be hit-or-miss in games. Sometimes they're cool, like in Mega Man. This, however, is a lot more like Plok, and the pogo makes things way tougher than they need to be. You only need it to get through this one level, at least.

The police pull over our hero! "Son, do you know how fast you were pogoing?" they say.

The next stage is dark and hard to see. Again you have to go back to find a side-objective before it'll let you continue with the stage. In this case it's a firefly at the very treetops.

Speaking of dark and hard to see, the next stage is a real chore because you CAN'T SEE ANYTHING. Luckily the entire stage is top-to-bottom so I just ran down, falling from platform to platform, as quick as I could to make it to the end before I ran out of health from bumping into obstacles I couldn't see. You could also do it as intended and gingerly hop your way down.

BOSS FIGHT! This thing is as freakish as the last dragon. I was really expecting Joe and Mac style bosses in this game, not...whatever these things are. It's another tricky fight, and then...

...the game cuts to credits! Wha! Yep, it turns out that if you play on "Easy" the game ends early. I thought something like this might be the case when I first fired it up. Almost called it a day here because I think I've seen most of what Prehistorik Man has to offer, but actually... I'm gonna go ahead and start over on Normal. Let's do it.

That's right, I played all the way back through and gave the police all of their shitty bribe money! What is this, Chicago?

Defeated this boss again (I really, really don't like these creepy dragon bosses...where the dinosaurs at) to arrive at...

...the last few stages. It's worth noting that the game is barely any more difficult on normal than on easy, so I probably should have just played it on that from the get-go.

Oh boy, time to hunt down more random junk for the local bridge trolls.

I can see why this game has a decent cult following. It's got good visuals, good sound, and a distinctive look. However it reminds me way too much of Plok in terms of how it plays, and it has some frustrating moments that mean I'm not going to miss it once it's done. The collect-a-thon levels might have been better off just being simple platformers, but I suppose we have Joe and Mac or Adventure Island if I want that. This is almost a predecessor to games like Banjo-Kazooie where your entire purpose in the game is to collect things to proceed.

At least the shops have a save game function so we don't have to do all of this again.

The bonus rooms are pretty awesome, and let you run through collecting hella points Mario-style.

The hell did I do? Yes, it turns out that collecting all of the random turds and pellets that these guys demanded resulted in the villagers turning on me, and now they're coming after me. It's 2020, so an angry mob pretty much just amounts to doxxing our hero and then screaming outside his house until other neighborhood residents shoo them away.

Oh God. Another vehicle? And this one is the worst yet.

"HELP MEEEEEE"

After a terrible level that I don't want to talk about, we rescue the fair Chief's Daughter. Our hero doesn't understand a word she's saying.

The next level is a raft ride across a river filled with pirahnas that leap out and attack.

Falling into water is an instant loss in this game, as I begin to wonder what I'm doing with my life.

Note: You can have more than 9 lives but the counter stops there. I actually have around 15 lives by this point. And now, the next level puts us face-to-face with the murderer of The Titanic: Iceberg. No relation to Goldberg...that we know of.

Another super creepy boss awaits. This is easily the hardest fight in the game because the platform tips back and forth the entire time while also being made of ice.

Closing in on the end now, as we reach the frozen wastes! Wonder how many people even got to see this after that ridiculous iceberg level.

Weirdly enough, these last couple of levels aren't that difficult. They're just straightforward runs to the end. Here's Luchasaurus' great-aunt, RIP.

How'd this old guy get out here? It was a deadly trek.

"This is just getting insane. Dinosaur spirits?? The dinosaurs became OIL. Dinosaur spirits, ridiculous."

THE FINAL STAGE. Soon this ordeal will be mercifully over.

The final boss has a massive life meter. Who will it be? A T-Rex? An alien blob like in E.V.O.? Jimmy Lee?

GOOD LORD

This thing fires eye lasers and is generally brutal until you realize that you can bounce on its cranium, getting some solid whacks in with impunity.

He's voicing my own frustration with the game at this point as he screeches the boss into oblivion.

WE DID IT EVERYBODY.

The credits are pretty cool, with these textbook species names for everything.

"Once again they have got it wrong! Penguins are NOT a member of the Mibutoff species!"

You know what? I'm with Luchasaurus on this. Why are dinosaurs "Vilanus Badiis"? Talk about stereotyping an entire race. I'm done with this bigoted credits sequence. And Flamius Grillus? Why reduce them like this? There's a hell of a lot more to being a fire-breathing dinosaur than just their fire breath. They've got hopes and dreams!

Oh now they've just gone too far. Calling lions stupid? You know what, f**** you, devs.

Our hero is reunited with his girlfriend. Her being twice his size is weird, reminds me of Adventure Island. This is probably a trope. Or as Android 18 would put it...

"Just the right height! Now eat it! EAT IT!"

So yeah, this game is all done. I wish I could say I loved playing it, since it has such a cult following. It was tough to like, though. In a game like this I like to play to the end of a stage and be done with that stage, not have to turn around and hoof it back into the stage to collect more doodads. In that sense, maybe it was just ahead of its time.






1 comment:

  1. The Bone Zone?!

    Ziggy's been wrong before... but not this time.

    Ooh, this tune is neat.

    It's the Super Arrow!

    I wonder how much a pogo license cost back then.

    ...sports wheel?

    Bowties on penguins, no less. What an oddity.

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