Startropics 2: Zoda's Revenge
Box Shot
Startropics 2: Zoda's Revenge
Platform: NES
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Nintendo
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1994
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

The original Startropics has got to be one of the biggest dissappointments in my own mind. Such a great idea, such a wonderful concept...almost ruined by awful controls and frustration. But wait? What if they actually fixed all of that in the sequel? What if the designers actually improved what was wrong with the original rather than simply making new levels and graphics! Pshaw, you say! Nintendo designers would never do that!

Wrong. Startropics 2: Zoda's Revenge fixed every quibble I had with the original, and makes this game the incredibly fun title the first should've been.

Our hero, Mike, is back on the mainland after rescuing his uncle from evil space aliens and saving a bunch of space childrem from an evil bad guy type alien named Zoda. The only thing left unsolved is a bizarre cypher found on the side of the alien escape pod. The answer is revealed to Mike...unfortunately, this sends him hurtling through time and space. At first, the mission is simply to find your way back home, but soon you realize that there is a reason for you to be traveling back and forth through time. There are several tetrads (yes, ripped from good ol' Tetris) that unlock some mystery and you've gotta find 'em, of course.

The game first starts off in the ice age, but soon you enter Ancient Egypt (and must deliver pizza to Cleopatra, from Caesar's nonetheless. Ha ha.) You'll also head to England to meet Sherlock Holmes, head to the Wild West, meet Leonardo DaVinci is Renassaince Italy, search through Count Dracula's mansion, and find King Arthur in the time of medieval Britain. Along the way, you'll have to go through plenty of action scenes to find the tetrads, along with three Zoda clones out for your blood.

Like the original, the game consists of actions scenes (the meat of the game) and overhead scenes. Unlike the original, the overhead traveling scenes aren't nearly as repetetive as before. Those annoyed with piloting your sub, looking for secret passages will fret no more. The only annoying parts are a bamboo maze in Egypt and two sections in the game that will randomly drop you into an action scene (there's one of these areas right at the start of the game.) There is also a puzzle to be solved in the Wild West, but the solution never made sense so I just tried the ol' Trial and Error routine to get past it.

On to the main portion of the game...the action scenes. These are just so much better, I don't think there's a suitable word in the English language to describe it. Mike can move diaganolly, jump in any direction, and doesn't move with any of the jerkiness of the original (but still allowing you to turn without moving.) Now you can actually fight the enemies without being needlessly frustrated by lack of movement! You no longer need to jump on each and every individual tile...you can simply walk over them and trigger tiles will simply blink and make a little noise, denoting that you should probably jump on them. You have a main weapon that stays constant no matter what your life meter is (and it gets upgraded twice too) but you also have a psychic blast, whose power depends on the amount of life on the your life meter. Another plus...you now start with five hearts instead of three.

There are also smaller things. Although you still get sent back aways when you die, you probably won't get killed very often or gratuitously, so it doesn't really matter. You no longer get many of the neat special weapons like the original though...no baseball bats, laser guns, or mirrors. I kinda miss the puzzle element of finding the correct ways to use these weapons (like the double-shuriken of the original) but it's not nearly a vital part of the game. Medicine bottles are abundant and you'll find plenty more hearts than before.

At first look, the graphics seem worse than the first...they aren't very colorful, and Mike looks kinda stupid with his new black hair and dorky blue jacket. However, there's a much wider variety of graphics than the first game, ranging from ice caves, western mines, English sewers and even a recreation of the first level of the original Startropics. Mike is better animated than he was before, but many of the enemies look rather sub-par. The overheard sequences look marvelous though...very colorful and well-detailed. There are several different action scene tunes, some of which are excellent, some of which are annoying. The rest is simply average.

This is actually a pretty fun game. The action scenes are very cool, and still require a bit of brainwork. And while it isn't extremely easy, it isn't so hard that you will get frustrated. It lasted me a good few weeks before I beat it, and I never got pissed off at it once. I had a complete blast. This was one of the last cartridges Nintendo released before dropping the NES entirely, and not many people have it. Grab a copy and see what you're missing...