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|A.P.I Review:||JERSEY DEVIL|
|Developer:||Mega Toon Studios||OPTIONS:||
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||3D Platform||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||June 1998||Analog Pad|
Setting the Scene
Have you pounded Pandemonium, crushed Crash and finished Final Fantasy? Are you looking for a new challenge? Then look no further than Jersey Devil, the new 3D platform game from Mega Toon Studios and distributed by Ocean. Over 250 years ago in New Jersey, a certain pumpkin mutant named Dennis came across an unusual looking creature while walking in the woods one day. He promptly snared the beast and returned to his masters laboratory where the mad scientist, Dr Knarf, was conducting his warped experiments. The doctor had never seen a creature like this before. It was purple in color and had two pointed horns, a spearing tail and a small set of wings attached to it's back. In fact it looked very much like an infant devil. Dr Knarf left his laboratory on a short journey to collect some fresh scalpels to dissect this unusual creature but on his return the Jersey Devil had completely destroyed his work place and made an escape into the city. For hundreds of years incidents were reported that the mythical creature had been sighted within New Jersey and the surrounding area. In total there have been some 2,000 witnesses who have laid claim to sighting the beast, including Bonaparte, the past king of Spain.
Jersey Devil is a platform game that has hundreds of playing areas divided into eight enormous levels. The player must guide the mischievous creature across a selection of 3D worlds which are packed with an abundance of obstacles and enemies. Jersey Devil is a versatile character as he can jump, tail flip, pick up, crouch down, climb, punch and push. A sort of purple Lara Croft with horns.
The legend of the Jersey Devil is explained via a short introductory movie. No polygons, no live footage - just pure animation of the highest quality. In fact the opening 'toon' would nestle comfortably alongside the likes of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner in a Saturday morning Cartoon show. The first thing that I noticed was the speedy loading times. This was all the more remarkable when you feast your eyes on the highly detailed levels. The game opens up with the likable character patiently awaiting your arrival on the streets of a small town which are deserted apart from the occasional butterfly that flutters by. His small pointy 'devil horns' from the intro have been replaced by long floppy rabbit ears that wiggle with every head movement while his lengthy pointed tail swishes back and forth, failing to stay still for a single second. He is dressed in a tight fitting purple waistcoat with 'super hero' red boots and gloves with a set of matching wings. JD is forever fidgeting, scratching his bum and suspiciously glancing back over his shoulder while his entire body expands and contracts as he draws air into his lungs. When he moves forward he appears to stoop forward to counter balance this action which is smooth and fluid. This guy is alive, I tell you. The standard of the graphics for the scenery are of the highest quality. The entire polygon environment is bright, colorful and pleasing to the eye. Detailed vehicles are parked along the streets and can be climbed upon to then leap onto nearby canopies. Lamp posts and mail boxes are positioned on the sidewalk, a funnel of water sprouts into the air from the centre of the town fountain and each building has their own unique design. Jersey Devil can wander anywhere within the confines of these vast 3D environments and he is always closely followed by an intelligent camera that captures the immediate area. He is viewed from above and behind but the right and left shoulder buttons can be used to adjust the viewing angle which is helpful when negotiating a tricky platform leap or fending off the many enemies he must confront.
Sounds and Effects
The sound track that accompanies the game matches the mood of the playing area. One minute it's haunting and increases the tension, the next it is relaxing and soothing. Whichever, it adds to the atmosphere of the game. The effects are also straight out of the top drawer. Whizz, bangs and crashes create that loony tunes mood while every leap is accompanied by a slapstick whistle and on landing you are treated to a dusty thud. In fact for a cartoon style game the sound effects are perfect in every department.
So how does it play? Well let's get this straight before we go too far down the line. Sometimes you will be amazed by the characters agilities and actions while other times you will be tearing your hair out in frustration. The platform leaps are tricky to put it mildly, but they are not impassible, and the enemies can be disposed of with a little brute force. However when meeting a foe on an intricate platform system the combination of the two will cost many lives. The opening area acts like a type of playground. There are no enemies around so you can take a little time out to get use to the control system. JD performs a timely leap, a helpful crouch and a handy left hook. Combine a leap with a punch and he will pirouette through the air destroying anything in the vicinity with a vicious tail whip. A leap into the air can also be combined with the fly button to spread open his wings and fly through the air gradually descending. The first real level is set in the grounds of a spooky mansion. Pumpkin enemies will pop out of the ground and proceed to throw bombs in your general direction. A couple of punches is all that is needed to quickly knock their lights out and allow you to get on with the task in hand. Crates are scattered all around the levels. Some contain bouncing pumpkins which offer an extra life when 100 are collected, occasionally they hold an bonus life while others hold letters of the alphabet which eventually spell the word KNARF. This word provides the key to open the next area. Larger crates can be pushed around the level to access higher areas, doors can be punched down to reveal a hidden cashe of goodies and walls may be vaulted to enter fenced in areas below. Trees and flag posts can also be climbed to reveal bonus pumpkins or extra lives. Now this may be beginning to sound like a standard platform game but each area is so different from the last and the obstacles are wide and varied. Boulders chase you across narrow walkways, swinging platforms allow you to cross treacherous terrain, switches must be discovered to open locked doors and to defeat the bosses you must use every move that JD can muster, in fact I would say that we have a true rival for Crash 2 on our hands here. If their is one flaw with Jersey Devil then it must be the length of time before you reach a saving point. Get this, you must pass through ELEVEN challenging areas before you can clock in a save. I honestly thought there was a bug in the game believing some idiot has forgot to include the save points. Luckily there are ample lives to collect and quite a few restart points meaning you need not go all the way back to the start each time you die.
Value for Money
Drop dead gorgeous graphics and sound to match are just the icing on the cake as the gameplay is challenging, varied and has that 'I must take a peek at the next level' factor which will keep you coming back for more. 3D platforms are taking off on the Playstation and so far Jersey Devil is the cream of the crop.
|GRAPHICS:||18/20||This is one tough cookie, in fact I have never experienced a game where so many levels had to be overcome before a save facility was offered. Had the game not been up to scratch I would have given up after restarting the first level several times but it was and I didn't. Having played Jersey Devil for several weeks I am barely one third through the game therefore lastability is not in question. There are a few irritations as some of the platform leaps suffer from the 3D environment and are extremely difficult to judge your distance but persistence will prevail. If you purchase this game then do not give up on it as Jersey Devil gets better and better as you progress.|