Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Box Shot
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Platform: NES
Publisher: Sunsoft
Designer: Sunsoft
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Movie translations seldom turn out to be very good games. Many of them try to follow the plot of a movie too closely and end up making idiotic sequences and levels. Worse yet, they usually have awful graphics and horrible gameplay, seemingly rushed to the market to coincide with the release of the movie. It comes to my surprise that Gremlins 2 is actually a decent game (Sunsoft also did a decent job with Batman.)

In fact, the beginning of the game deviates slightly from the movie. Gizmo is let out of his cage by his owner for some reason or another, but trouble brews up in the second level when (of course) water drops on our hero. Anyone familiar with the story knows that this will make Gizmo spout out several eggs, this time filled with many nasty Gremlins. As they start to take over the gigantic skyscraper/TV studio, poor Gizmo is thrown into the air ducts. Now, you must travel through several more levels in order to rid the place of all Gremlins, save all humanity, blah blah blah. Never mind that Gizmo only saved the people from that giant spider Gremlin in the movie, it's all his work in the game.

The game takes place in an overheard view. Despite this perspective (usually 2D, with characters that are not allowed to jump), you'll have to do plenty of leaping across pits and jumping on moving platforms. Gizmo's weapon at the start of the wimpy group of tomatoes. (side note: some of the enemies in this level are gigantic bouncing tomatoes. I am not making this up.) Each level rewards him with new weapons, like matches, paper clips, arrows, and flaming arrows. You throw/shoot these weapons, and you have an unlimited amount of them. Additionally, each enemy you kill yields crystal balls, which can be used to buy various objects from the old Chinese guy that Billy bought Gizmo from (also never mind the fact that this man died within the first twenty minutes of the movie.) These range from balloons (saves you from falling into pits), extra lives, power bottles (upgrade your weapon) or extra hearts to lengthen your life meter. Unfortunately, you can only buy one item, then you are kicked out and the shop dissappears. This can be very annoying, as you can get tons and tons of crystal balls but can't spend it on much of anything. There's also only one doorway to the shop in each level, and sometimes they tend to be in out of the way places.

Additionally, the game is rather hard. You can only take six hits before you die, and you get (gasp) no extra lives! Sure, you can buy them, but what happens if you lose all of them and have to start the level over? You lose all of your power-ups, some of which seem necessary to get past the overwhelming menagerie over enemies and tricky jumps. There is also a password system, but as just mentioned in the previous sentence, it seems useless without the power-ups. This seems to be a one shot deal...start the game at the beginning, build up Gizmo's lives and power, and if you lose, tough luck. You probably won't be well equipped enough for the later levels. Still, it is possible...I'm able to get to Level 5-1 (the last stage) without dying, but once you kick the bucket, it's hopeless.

Graphically, the game is very colorful. All of the enemies are very well animated and Gizmo, while rather small, still looks nice and detailed. The backgrounds also look excellent, especially those in the TV Studio (level 3-2, I think.) The sound is also excellent...there's a neat variety of sound effects, and the music is outstanding. None of it is taken from the movie (I do have the soundtrack for the movie, it's one of my faves) but they all seem to fit the Gremlins theme anyway. However, the control isn't as nice as I'd like it. You can shoot your weapons diagnolly, but you must be moving while you do so. In other words, you can only attack in the four primary direction while standing still. Thus hitting bad guys can be a tad more difficult than necessary. Plus it takes awhile to get used to the jumping system, especially when judging distance. Another small gripe is that if you fire you weapon in mid-air, you drop to the floor.

Obviously, the main problem is difficulty. There are many tough jumps in the game requiring that you not only make a far leap, but also dodge a rotating spike-on-a-stake and watch out for that Gremlin that spits fire. They may seem impossible but with plenty of practice and fast reflexes, you can complete them without getting hit. However, I could've lived with the amount of enemies in the game and the tough jumps...it's just the little thing that makes it so hair bending! Couldn't you start off with at least one life? Or let you buy more than one thing from the Chinese guy? Or even a mid-way start point to come back when you die? It's hell to get through the last level, only to end up at the very difficult last boss ill-equipped to fight.

I may have made fun of the game for not following the movie, but in the end, it's a very good thing. It doesn't try to stick to the plot and instead takes its own, much more enjoyable direction. My advice is to try it out...it's a very fun game, despite the nagging flaws that makes the game difficult.