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
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,
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...