Wednesday 17 June 2020

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (NES review)

Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
Released: 1990

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is an action-platformer that's based on the 1990 movie of the same name.

Playing as Gizmo, your objective is to stop the evil creatures from taking control of the Clamp Centre. Your method of attack is a projectile, and downed opponents drop Crystal Balls that you can collect; these allow you to power up your weapon in the shop, or to buy other items such as health / lives. Right off the bat, the game shines in its presentation which includes the customary bass-heavy music from Sunsoft and some impressive movie-inspired cut-scenes that are superbly animated. Gameplay wise, everything moves at a brisk pace, but learning to use the environment in order to flank enemies and get a better angle results in a fun game of cat and mouse. The difficulty does ramp up fairly significantly as early as Stage 2-2 (a long level with tough platforming), but thankfully unlimited continues are available. Alongside this, the ability to buy items during each stage is a great touch and upgrading your weapon or obtaining an extra life can often get you out of an otherwise tricky situation. Unfortunately, the action does begin to tire after a few stages, mainly due to the lack of any meaningful gameplay additions, set-pieces or surprises. In many ways, it's reminiscent of Sunsoft's Fester's Quest (1989, NES) in that the entire adventure is basically rinse-and-repeat, with nothing to keep the player invested. Even the stage design is lackluster with bland, oft-repeated hazards and a notable absence of memorable moments. While the controls are decent (and I like that you can correct your path in mid-air), the collision detection is spotty, leading to maddening issues with spatial distancing.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch features above-average gameplay and some remarkable cut-scenes and music, but the rest of its offerings are rather insipid. The forgettable stage design is perhaps the worst offender and when coupled with the poor collision detection you're left with a game that's quite a chore to slog through.

Random trivia: A prototype ROM is available online that features various stage design and musical differences.

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