Thursday 7 January 2016

Jaws (NES review)

Developer: Westone Bit Entertainment
Publisher: LJN
Released: 1987

Jaws is an action game that's based on the 1975 film of the same name.

Your mission is to collect shells by defeating sea creatures, use them to increase your power and then defeat Jaws. Starting on the top-down map you control a boat and wander from one port to another in order to gain a Receiver which alerts you when Jaws is near. Along your route there are random RPG style battles where you'll suddenly be attacked; the action then shifts to the Side View where you're now donning scuba gear and shoot sea creatures with your weapon. When defeated they drop shells you can pick up and after a minute or so you're kicked back out to the map screen. You then try to reach the furthermost port where you can use your shells to increase your power metre. Extra shells can be gained in the Bonus screen where you drop bombs into the water to hit sea creatures. These three screens make up the majority of the gameplay so it can get repetitive as you're basically doing the same thing. When you've powered up to around Level 4 you can then hunt down Jaws and shoot it to decrease its life metre; when it's empty you reach the final Stab scene. Here you're back on the boat in a first person perspective as Jaws approaches from the distance. Once it's close enough you can fire one of your three strobes to bring it to the surface and then stab it with the front of your boat. The game is short and monotonous but it has the charm of a classic Atari 2600 shooter; the thin mechanic of simply waiting to level-up can seem dull but I found it to be an intense game of survival. It's highly addictive with solid, precise controls and there's a real sense of satisfaction when you finally kill Jaws.
Jaws gets a bit of a bad rap on the Internet but I found it to be a real guilty pleasure that harkens back to classic shooters of the early 1980s. While the gameplay is undoubtedly repetitive the action is enjoyable and overall it's perfect if you're looking for a quick Arcade style game to play.
Random trivia: Westone Bit Entertainment only developed one other 8-bit Nintendo game which was an action RPG called Mashin Hero Wataru (1990, Famicom).

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