Joe & Mac
Platform:  Super Nintendo
Players:  1-2

    One could argue that platform games hit their golden stride in the 16 bit era.  While the Sega Genesis was primarily known for excellent sports titles and the Super Nintendo for a wide variety of role playing games, both consoles had many quality offerings in the platformer genre.  If a game appeared on both consoles they would usually have slight reworks between versions and sometimes would be totally different games.  Such is the case with Joe & Mac, while Genesis owners got a port of the arcade game Caveman Ninja, Super Nintendo owners were given a platformer in the vein of the arcade game.

Description:  Ahh, the Stone Age.  Blue sky, dinosaurs roaming the planet, and plenty of cave babes.  Life is good - or it was before all the cave babes were kidnapped and it's up to Joe & Mac to rescue them.  Joe & Mac is a side scrolling platform game that plays like a mix of Super Mario Bros., Hudson's Adventure Island, and a little bit of Contra.  While this is far different from the arcade game of which it's based upon, I actually like this more than any other game in the series.  There are healthy amounts of Adventure Island in this title.  Basically you progress from left to right, picking up different weapons, defeating enemies, jumping from platform to platform, and at the end of each stage defeat a boss to rescue a cave babe.  Weapons are caveman themed with things like bones and stone wheels and the game puts up a good challenge for even the most experienced player.

Graphics:  One of the aspects that the Super Nintendo hardware really could do well was color and that is nowhere more apparent than in games like Joe & Mac.  Everything is bright, vibrant and detailed.  While everything has a distinct cartoon touch it doesn't mean that the detail levels are any less well done.  Imagine a super enhanced version of some of the better Bonk's Adventure graphics, but with a tinge more realism.  All the sprites are well animated, especially the huge boss enemies.  The enemies, player characters, backgrounds, all of it, carry a very unique comic book style.

Sound:  There's nothing really incredible here but high production values throughout.  For the most part the background music is comprised of tropical sounding tunes that are right at home given the setting of the game.  Boss encounters have their own theme and sound effects are more than passable.  Over all the sound doesn't add to the game very much but it doesn't detract from the experience either so it's a happy medium.

Play Control:  Throughout most of the game the control is fine.  Things are a little mushy and slightly delayed but that is adapted to rather quickly.  The problems come from some of the boss battles where collision detection gets a little touchy.  Those who know me know that the number one thing I hate in video games is bad collision detection - there's simply no excuse for it.  For some of the boss battles where this is an issue it's mainly due to a very small area where damage can be afflicted.  These boss battles in particular are also where the mushiness of the controls comes back to hurt you.  The final boss in the game is relentless and there will be cheap deaths a-plenty as you wrestle with the controls to get in your shots.

Replay:  After the game is completed there really isn't much else to do.  The two player option provides a welcome opportunity to get in some classic platforming action with a friend.  Ian (of the InsaneTeam) and myself used to play this for hours during its release in our younger days and it was always a popular rental.  While there isn't a ton of replay value the challenge is moderately high and the game has enough stages and variety to make it worth a runthrough every now and then.  One wouldn't expect this game to be bursting with replay value as it's supposed to be an action arcade platformer - not a long and drawn out adventure title.  With that in mind there's more than enough game here to keep most occupied.

Final Verdict:  If you enjoy platform games with a bit more action than the norm then Joe & Mac will be a worthwhile purchase.  Strangely enough this game seems hard to come by now days, especially boxed and complete.  I will admit that it has some of my least favorite box art (right up there with the Tengen port of Rolling Thunder on the NES) but the game contained within is a solid action platformer.  If you see a copy of this, grab it, if anything it'll be a fun little diversion for a couple hours.  This is one of those series that has a strong cult following and with production values as high as they are and a style all its own, it's easy to see why.

Written on 04-21-06 by David,

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