Wednesday 3 August 2016

Tempo Jr. (Game Gear review)

Developer: Red, Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1995

Tempo Jr. is a platformer and the sequel to the Sega 32X game called Tempo (1995).

You play as a grasshopper and your mission is to save Rhythmia by defeating King Dirge. There's five worlds (with two stages each) and the objective in each stage is to reach the exit. Along the way you'll defeat enemies by kicking, stomping, or shooting musical notes to stun them; collecting CDs also fills up your energy metre and when activated (with both face buttons) it wipes out all foes on screen. Tempo can use his wings to flutter in the air but it's not really needed as his normal jump is very floaty. The control issues continue to his movement, which is either too slow (normal speed) or way too fast (when running). There's nothing interesting about the level design and most stages feel very similar to each other in terms of construction. They're totally devoid of memorable moments and follow a boring, pre-determined path with little room to explore. Speaking of which, unlike the 32X original you can't even choose the order in which to tackle the stages so it's a purely linear affair. Replayability is low as enemies pose such little threat that it's easy to see the credits without losing a life. The bosses are odd as you enter battle without any warning; they're not difficult or even remotely interesting and the basic premise is usually to wait until they stop moving and then attack. The second boss is a giant frog that can be defeated by simply standing on the opposite side and spamming away at the attack button! There's also a Sound Trace mini-game (which is basically Simon Says but with musical notes) but it's an utterly boring addition. At least the game's art style is awesome and the animation is stunning.
Tempo Jr. is a great idea but it's poorly executed with little flair and cringeworthy level design. Even the 32X version wasn't the best platformer but at least it had a degree of challenge and presentation, things that are sorely lacking in this 8-bit version.

Random trivia: This is the only Tempo game to be released in Europe.

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