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by Bobinator - August 26, 2013


Spinmaster / Miracle Adventure (ミラクルアドベンチャー) - Neo Geo, Wii Virtual Console, Zeeboo (1993)

European Arcade Flyer

While they never reached the top tier of names like Konami or Capcom, you could generally count on Data East to bring out quality arcade games. This one's no exception, and although it's not quite as weird or unique as something like Nitro Ball, it's still a ton of fun. It's actually more like a spiritual successor to Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja, which isn't really a bad thing at all.

There's not much of a plot involved with Spinmaster, not this sort of game really needs one. You play as Johnny and Tom, two treasure hunters differentiated by their hat, or lack thereof. They're both out looking for pieces of a treasure map, as treasure hunters tend to do. Complicating matters is their enemy, the mad doctor that Data East swears isn't cyborg Dr. Wily. Also, there's a kidnapped girlfriend involved. No surprises there. The game itself is split into five stages set in different parts of the world, split into two or three "scenes" each, so you can expect to see your standards like the China level, Rome/Greece level, and Amazon levels. Sure, it's about as clich'as you can get for a game like this, but it doesn't make it any less fun.

Your default weapon is a short range yo-yo, and you can pick up other weapons inside treasure chests. There's also a slide maneuver you can kill enemies with, and the game has no issue with you just jumping on enemies Mario style. The weapons vary in usefulness, and some are worth holding onto much more than the others. Bombs are thrown in a small arc, for example, which makes it easier to hit things below you. The boxing gloves, on the other hand, send enemies flying across the screen, where they can hit other enemies in their path.

Every weapon also has a special attack, done by holding down the A button until you can see fire surrounding your character. Using it with the yo-yo will make it spin around your character, while the shuriken will summon a shadow clone that follows your movements for a few seconds. You can also pick up and use smart bombs, the effect of which changes depending on the weapon you're using, with the bomb's, er, bomb probably being the most useful of all.

For the most part, you'll be using all these moves on the mad doctor's hooded henchmen, along with the stray vulture. You can take out most enemies in one to three hits, so the challenge comes from the sheer number of enemies on the screen at once. Some enemies, like the really muscular henchmen, take more hits to kill, while others throw bombs and knives from a distance. And of course, there's the boss at the end of every stage, usually preceded by the mad doctor dressed in an outfit based on your current location. The bosses generally aren't too hard to deal with, although they can drain a few lives from you if you can't figure out your pattern.

There's also a brief bit of platforming to deal with, which can actually be trickier at times than actually fighting the enemies. When you've got a very cramped screen with enemies roaming around, along with jets of flame shooting out of the floor to avoid, that's when the game starts to get tricky. Not especially so, of course, but just enough you have to start taking your time instead of running forward and mashing the attack button. It adds a nice bit of variety to things. And of course, there's a mine cart section, because it's a '90s platformer. It's the law.

At the end of the fifth stage, you'll fight the final boss, a giant statue with five whole phases, the last of which involves Dr. Not-Wily's UFO attaching itself to the statue. Much like Joe & Mac, the game gives you the choice of which ending you want, done by picking where you think the hidden treasure is. One option will actually give you the treasure, one will have the treasure explode in Johnny and Tom's faces, and one is actually a horrible monster. Your choice of ending doesn't affect anything besides a total of one picture, but the option's nice.

TThe difficulty's generally pretty mild over all, especially if you're good with action platformers like Ghouls 'N Ghosts. You get a guaranteed three hits per life, and while health pickups are pretty rare, it's more health than you'll get in a lot of games of this genre. It honestly feels pretty fair, and while there's a few points where things get kind of cheap, it's generally a breeze to clear. That's hardly a mark against the game, however, it just makes it less of a chore to play compared to a lot of other arcade platformers.

The characters look great, and they're all done in a bright, cartoony style, with big, expressive eyes. Every level has its own unique enemies, like mummies in the Egypt level, and bronze statues in the Rome level. Sadly, the levels don't have the same effort put into them, and they all look fairly generic. The music is fairly standard, faux-orchestral "adventure" stuff which doesn't sound bad, but isn't really anything you'll remember after the game.

Overall, Spinmaster isn't especially challenging, but that doesn't make it any less fun. It's short enough that it's fun to play even after you beat it once, which a lot of more challenging arcade games don't really offer. It doesn't do anything particularly new, but it does what it does well enough that's it's worth seeking out if you're a fan of the genre. Data East must have really liked these characters, too, because they'd go on to star in a second, entirely different game. Sadly, the co-op buddy relationship between Johnny and Tom would not last.

Quick Info:

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Publisher:

Director:

  • Naoki Hoshizaki

Genre:

Theme:


Spinmaster (Neo Geo)

Spinmaster (Neo Geo)

Spinmaster (Neo Geo)

Spinmaster (Neo Geo)



Dashin' Desperadoes - Sega Genesis (1993)

Sega Genesis Cover

The same year, Data East would release another game using the Spinmaster characters. It's kind of strange they didn't just try to port Spinmaster to the Genesis, given that the hardware could have probably handled it with some cuts. What we got instead was something entirely different, although it's still worth playing if you've got a good friend around to play it with. Much like Mario Kart, this is a game where the AI is best avoided as much as possible.

It's not entirely clear if Dashin' Desperadoes is supposed to be a prequel, sequel, or something removed from Spinmaster entirely. They both share the same main characters, although Totally Not Dr. Wily doesn't make a second appearance. Johnny and Tom are now known as Will and Rick, while their girlfriend now goes by the name of Jenny. Will and Rick are both trying to win the affection of Jenny, who seems perfectly happy to exploit their rivalry for her own personal gain. It's a tragic, almost Shakesperian tale of a lost friendship and the woman who destroyed it, and the depths two men will sink themselves to for a woman's love. Or something.

Dashin' Desperadoes is basically best described as a cross between a platformer and a racing game. At the beginning of most stages, Jenny will beckon Will and Rick over to her, and the first person to reach her wins. If you reach her first, you'll move on to the next stage, but if Rick gets to her, you'll have to spend a credit to try again. It's an interesting concept, although it's one that isn't really as fun when you're playing against an AI opponent. It doesn't help that the game is set up as a split screen even in the one player mode, so while you can see what Rick's doing, it doesn't really help you to see what you're doing, at times.

All the levels are generally pretty short and linear, which makes sense for a game about racing. Every world generally has its own obstacles, like doors that open up to hit you in the face, quicksand, and spikes. There's also random wildlife like dogs and sharks, which can't be killed, but can be jumped on to send them off in a random direction. The game does a pretty good job of giving a lot of alternate paths, so there are plenty of shortcuts you can take if you know what you're doing. Much like Sonic, the upper path is generally clearer, while the bottom path tends to have more obstacles. The higher paths also generally have more powerups, so you'll find more stuff like speed boosts and invincibility. One bad jump can send you right to the lower path, though, so watch where you jump.

Some levels also have some unique features you can use to your advantage, if you're good enough. One of the beach stages, for example, has a boat you can ride on, at the risk of being a sitting duck for seagulls, not to mention the other player. If you can stay on, however, it'll let you move a lot quicker than it would through the water below, which cuts into your movement speed pretty hard. There's also things like skateboards and surfboards you can jump on for a boost of speed, although if you're not careful, you'll ride right into something and get knocked over, giving your opponent the perfect opportunity to steal it and ride off. This is the sort of game where victory is best achieved by screwing over the other guy as much as possible.

Given the arc you throw weapons at, and the size of the screen, it's not always easy to actually hit your opponent with the weapons. Not that the AI seems to have any trouble at it. You can also hold down the A button to roll, which gives you a speed boost and can trip your opponent if you hit them with it. You can only roll for so long, though, shown by your energy meter. Energy slowly recharges when you aren't rolling, or you can pick up chicken for a full boost. You can also sweep kick by pressing down, which is also good for tripping your opponent.

Unlike Spinmaster, Dashin' Desperadoes is a genuinely hard game, mostly due to the AI. While it's not quite as cheap or as omnipotent as your average Mario Kart game, it still feels like the AI's playing on a level far beyond you. It still makes mistakes from time to time, but it'll usually capitalize on any hits you take to roll right past you. Either that or it'll land enough lucky hits on you once it falls behind that it catches up anyway. You're generally only allowed a few mistakes before the AI gets too far ahead to catch up, short of an amazing comeback from your end. Given that you only get three continues to start, and don't earn that many afterwards, you can see how this might be an issue. There aren't any passwords, either, so you're expected to clear all six worlds, which totals up to about 18 levels, in one run.

The first two stages of each world are races, both of which involve getting to Jenny before Rick does. In the third stage of each world, Rick decides to just forget about the racing thing entirely and just kidnap Jenny, because Rick is kind of an asshole. All the bosses involve Rick moving forward in a vehicle of some sort, with you having to blow it up before he reaches the end of the course. These aren't ever generally as hard as the races, since Rick is a little more predictable in his attacks. There's also only three different bosses, with the first three repeating once you reach the fourth world. Oddly enough, despite the fact that Jenny gets kidnapped by Rick no less than six times, she still seems perfectly to see him if he wins a race. Maybe the whole race thing is some kind of BDSM thing.

OThe game is really meant to be played in two player mode, given how much content there is you won't see in the one player game at all. You get the same six worlds that you play through in the one player game, but they all have new levels. One is a race to the end of the stage borrowed from the one player mode. Each world also has a second, longer race where you have to get an item at the end of the stage, and THEN bring it back to Jenny, who's waiting at the beginning of the stage. Instead of a boss stage, which wouldn't work as well with two players, every world has a challenge involving stomping on ten enemies before the other player can.

There are also a couple of secret minigames, accessed by putting in passwords at the main menu. One involves jumping across clouds for as long as you can until you fall, while the other is about dodging rocks and other things that fall from the sky. Neither of them are very fun, and they're both too hard to really play for long, but they're a nice extra feature.

Dashin' Desperadoes has the same bright, toony art style that Spinmaster has, although it doesn't look quite as good on the Genesis's more muted color pallete. There are quite a few animations for getting hit, like getting burned, squashed, frozen, shocked, or just knocked over, so that's a nice bit of extra detail. The music is generally pretty good, although there aren't many tracks that really stand out. There's also quite a bit of digitized speech, most of it being Jenny's constant demands for you to bring her things. Bit of a gold digger, that one.

Dashin' Desperadoes is a game that's best played with a friend, because that's where the game shines most of all. If you have a friend to play with, that's where Dashin' Desperadoes really shines. The game would end up forgotten, and the 'on-foot racing' genre would eventually move on with games like Sonic R and Runnin' Wild, neither of which really endeared themselves to the gaming public, either. Still, if you're looking for a good co-emptive game on the Genesis that isn't Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, it's worth looking into.

The game never got a release outside of the US, although Data East must have seriously been considering it. If you switch an emulator to a Japanese region console and load the prototype of Dashin' Desperadoes, the game's name will change to Rumble Kids. Who knows why it didn't get a release over there. Maybe they figured the game was too Western for Japanese audiences.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Theme:


Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)

Dashin' Desperadoes (Sega Genesis)



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