Available on: SNES
Developer(s): Data East
Publisher(s): Data East
Joe & Mac’s SNES port was received well, and the eventual production of a sequel was quite obvious. However, the developers didn’t quite follow up on the “obvious” part and put the franchise on hold for a few years, which was very uncommon back in the golden era of quick sequels. Data East finally began working on a game exclusive to the SNES; this gave the developers certain freedom to steer the franchise further from its arcade roots, add in elements from adventure games, and improve the level design. The end result is a decent platformer – however, what it’s spiced up with is more like a bundle of different prototypes of features than a solid part of the game, and the whole thing’s longevity really isn’t from the highest end.
It’s certainly lost somewhere
An evil caveman named Gork steals a special crown from the village of Kali, and the elder dispatches Joe and Mac into action. They need eight Rainbow Stones to build themselves a rainbow bridge across the river to Gork’s keep.
A cheerful-looking game with plenty of colourful, interactive backgrounds and wacky sprites. The bosses are a little more fleshed out than in the first game, and they’re made relatively realistic in contrast to the human characters, who are more like out of a comic book. The music draws way too much attention and it’s annoying to boot. The jungle rhythms start to pound on an endless loop in one’s brain already about ten minutes into the game.
I’ll start by saying that Data East apparently started out trying real hard to make the game an unique platforming experience, but I’ll bet they lost interest two or three days later. Joe & Mac 2 is certainly not a bad game, the fact that it’s incomplete just becomes apparent real quick. The level design has changed quite a bit. There are unique stages in which you need to move to all directions, there are different gauntlet stipulations from time to time, such as a huge molten blob of lava on your tail, or an incoming T-Rex foot which you have to dodge for a set amount of times while crossing a piece of land to do battle with the big ‘saur himself. Also, the game is totally non-linear from the beginning to the end. You can do the stages in any order you want. That’s probably why the difficulty doesn’t change at all during the game – the game is extremely easy. Seriously.
|Don't mess with my club.|
Gameplay has changed a bit. You can no longer do the vault jump, but the other abilities are still intact although secondary weapons are now based on what you eat. For example, if you eat a large hunk of meat, you can spit out bones for a while. Red peppers become fireballs, fruit becomes seed etc.. All of the food, of course, replenishes your health at the same time. Added to the collectables are these large stone nuts which you can use as currency at the store – IF you can find something truly useful there, which I doubt greatly. Sometimes, animals show up to help in certain areas and you can ride them a lá Donkey Kong Country, but once they’re hit, they’re stunned and unable to recover. Usually they’re so big in size that they’re bound to hit something very soon. Some enemies have a really annoying tendency to block your hits, which is something you are not able to do and you sometimes need to bash their heads in for about 30 seconds before landing one single hit, there’s no proper way to break that annoying block. In these cases, you are usually being harrassed by something else at the same time, since enemies respawn like crazy, and the going can get really hectic because of these particular chickenshits. Again, not difficult, just frustrating – after all, the game is quite generous with health items, at least in comparison to the previous one.
The game might feel hard at first, but it quickly turns out easy as hell once you’ve learned the basic moves, which isn’t too hard since there’s not a lot to go around. The non-linearity makes every stage a breeze, and even though the final stage was meant to be difficult, it isn’t. This really shouldn’t take long from anyone who’s played platformers before, and those in fear of some added semi-elements have absolutely nothing to be terrified about. Not only don’t they make any sense, but they don’t add to the challenge one bit, either.
IF done correctly, this game would’ve had a chance to beat the first one in every sense. Sure, I’m glad that the certain stiffness and unforgiving nature, and simplicity of the arcade is gone. The thing is that all the new features, which could’ve been fine, depth-increasing elements, are nothing but useless artificial quirks. All that’s worth something here is the basic platformer formula, and in that sense, the game is even more simple and basic than the first one. The level design is a bit more complex, but even that element of the game isn’t polished enough to fit a full-priced installment.
Graphics : 8.4
Sound : 6.1
Playability : 7.1
Challenge : 5.5
Overall : 6.9