Thursday 27 November 2014

Psycho Fox (Master System review)

Developer: Vic Tokai
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1989

Psycho Fox is a side-scrolling platform game and the only title developed for the Sega Master System by Vic Tokai. 

It consists of seven stages with three acts each and your task is to take down the evil Madfox. It's somewhat of a generic platformer but once you collect a Shinto stick (found by cracking open eggs or defeating enemies) you'll be able to switch between four playable characters at any time. These include a fox (who can pick up a bird ally to hit enemies from a distance), a hippopotamus (slow but powerful), a monkey (highest jumper) and a tiger (fastest runner). There are tons of different routes through each stage and points where you'll need a particular character to advance. Each stage is beaming with colour and the level design, enemies and characters are full of personality. At first the controls are tricky to get used to as your progress relies on momentum. If you're standing still and try to jump across a platform you won't get far; that's because you always need a run-up. The key is to take things slowly and not rush; doing so will get you killed quickly as the game doesn't have the precision or in-air adjusting of a Mario title. Enemy placement can be frustrating and there are too many leaps of faith, especially if you prefer to take the higher platform routes. You'll frequently reach the end of a platform and have nowhere to go except down - however, most of the time you'll end up landing in the water or being immediately hit by an enemy. Most of the bosses are easy but highly imaginative and I especially love the giant bug that can only be killed by jumping on the bug spray! The cheery music is perfect and wouldn't sound out of place in a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Psycho Fox is a fun title but unfortunately it's let down by some questionable design choices and lack of variety. The idea of being able to switch between characters on-the-fly is excellent but it's disappointing that the levels don't play more on these mechanics. Still, give it a go if you're looking for a decent platformer on the system.

Random trivia: In 1994, Tectoy re-released the game in Brazil under the title 'Sapo Xulé: Os Invasores do Brejo'. The developers switched all of the characters and replaced them with a frog, a mouse, a pig and a turtle.

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