#162 The NewZealand Story

Posted: 29th December 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

205th played so far

Genre: Platform
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1988
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito

There are times that we (okay mostly me in this case at least) see a game in this book which intrigues us to the point that we really want to play. Nothing interesting there right? Well this game has been on and off our “to play” list for well over a year.

The reason it kept being taken off of the lists is because we would then end up with a pile of games from a friend of ours (thanks Kat and Chris!) so it would go on the back-burner, be forgotten and then be re-discovered during a random flick through the book. Was it worth it?

Our Thoughts

Taito. They are better known for producing a rather cute green dinosaur that features in games such as Bubble Bobble and Puzzle Bobble. This game, The NewZealand Story, is not a particularly well known but we need to cover it anyway. (Don’t worry, it’s not that much of a chore. Not this time.)

This platformer follows the very common story of making your way through a variety of levels in order to rescue your brethren. In the case of this your friends (a large group of kiwi birds) have been carried off by a seal and it is your task to save them.

Graphically this game is absolutely adorable. The central character is equipped with little blue sneakers and can be equipped with scuba gear, a flying duck and even a mage’s staff that spits fire. Aside from the fact that one of the kiwis is seen smoking in the beginning sequence (that’s how they did it in the eighties I guess) the whole thing is disarmingly cute.

This even extends to the levels and layout. They’re brightly coloured (the kiwis are bright yellow, rather than their more usual brown) and feature a lot of variety in designs. The levels have some darker parts, but they are subtle – the restaurants selling kiwi meat are a nice touch you won’t notice straight off. The enemies themselves, too, are nice. They’re funny and over the top, but work in a game like this – one that isn’t too serious.

I say ‘disarmingly’ because this game is hard. Really hard. We talked about the difficulty in Kid Icarus and this game can really match it. The enemies spawn randomly and have a tendency to swarm you if you are unable to take them out. A lot of the platforming sections require near pinpoint accuracy to prevent you plummeting to your death made more difficult by the platofrms often being less than half your width. Also, there are sections where you need to hijack an enemies aircraft (all well and good, your character looks ridiculously cute in a hot air balloon) and you may find yourself trapped if you kill the enemies in the wrong way.

Honestly, there are times where this game is exceedingly frustrating. I am all for a game that is difficult but a lot of the trappings in The NewZealand Story due to the game’s design. It’s not as bad on a home console but I can only imagine the utter annoyance this caused when it was in an arcade cabinet.

Part platformer, part shooter, part game that involves you fighting your way out of the stomach of a boss and all slightly nuts. It’s a good game but not one for the impatient.

Final Thoughts

While this game has ended up on a few compilations, it never gained much more traction. It’s probably because we had plenty of platforming heroes around the time this was released, while the game’s difficulty wouldn’t have helped much either – Super Mario Bros. is still more accessible. However, with its colours and design, it’s fun to play, with plenty of challenges. Thankfully, the learning curve is shallow – learning a few tricks gets you far, and a few deaths in it becomes a lot easier.

Still, not for the faint of heart, this is a game from a time where they pulled no punches. And that, in a way, makes it brilliant.

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