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Spot
Spot: The Cool Adventure
Cool Spot

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Spot Goes to Hollywood (Genesis)
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by Bobinator - August 26, 2013

Throughout the early '90s, gaming was dominated by mascots of all shapes and sizes. Maybe you preferred the good old-fashioned platforming of Mario, or maybe you liked the sheer speed of Sonic. Or maybe you had an interest of one of the many, many mascots in between. Spot was one of these mascots, but unlike most gaming mascots, he didn't start off in video games, himself. He was actually the mascot of a soft drink called 7-Up, a citrusy, clear beverage that's best compared to Sprite. Spot's been gone and forgotten for more than a decade, now. Before Spot's eventual spiral into obscurity, however, he left behind a few games across all the major systems of the time. None of them are particularly amazing, but they are very much products of their time.

Honestly, all the Spot games are pretty generic. Only one of the games actually has any mention of 7-Up at all. If you weren't aware of the soda, then you'd probably think Spot was an incredibly lazy attempt at a mascot, since he's just a red circle with sneakers and shades. (Of course, you might think that even if you know what 7-Up is.) That's not to say that you couldn't get any enjoyment from any of the Spot games, it's just that so many games do the same thing so much better, even when you factor licensed games into the equation.


Spot / Spot: The Video Game - Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Game Boy, NES, C64 (1990)

NES Cover

Have you ever played Reversi, Othello, or Hexxagon? If so, you instantly know more or less everything about this game. Basically, Spot is a simple board game for two to four players. And why would you prefer to play this version over one of the many other variants of Reversi out there? Well, because it has Spot! And he does funny animations! And... well, that's kind of it, really.

If you've never played Reversi of any sort, how it works is that you have a square board, with each player putting a piece of their color on a corner of the board. A piece can either move one space in any direction, in which case it "copies" itself to the new space, or move two spaces, which means it'll move, but won't copy itself. Whenever a piece of your color moves next to any of the opponent's pieces, it'll change to your color, and become one of your pieces. This means, with the right moves, you could move one of your pieces just once and end up taking about six or so of your opponent's pieces. The game ends when only one player remains on the board, or when the board is entirely full, in which case, whoever has the most pieces wins.

It's honestly pretty fun once you've figured out how to play, not that it takes all that long. It can almost reach something resembling excitement if you have a good player, given how many turnarounds and comebacks you can get yourself into. You might think you've made a good move when you've captured about three of your opponent's pieces, when it turns out that he can move right into your opening you made and nab about eight of them. It's obviously not going to replace something like Gunstar Heroes for a high-octane thrill ride, but it's decent enough for what it is.

You're given a decent enough number of options for this sort of game, considering there isn't a whole lot you can do to change the rules. You can set how many players you want to be controlled by the AI, and how well the AI will play. You can also set a move timer, if you'd prefer to have to make your moves quickly. And if you're feeling really wild, you can set the board so that there are "blank" spots in it where the pieces can't go. None of these options are going to change the game all that much, of course, but it's nice that they're there.

So you might be wondering how Spot figures into a game like this. Basically, every time you make a move, Spot will pop up out of the piece and do a little animation, depending on which direction and how many spaces you move. These range from things like pole vaulting, breakdancing, cartwheeling, and about a dozen or so other animations. That's really pretty much all the involvement he actually has, aside from popping out of the screen and giving you a raspberry whenever a game finishes. The animations are pretty nice to look at, even if they tend to repeat, and they do add a little personality to what would otherwise be an incredibly generic board game.

And that's basically it. It's a very simple board game, one that doesn't have anything remotely to do with the character. And there's a funny story for that, actually. The Atari ST and Amiga versions of this game started out as a budget title called Infection, which didn't have any kind of license attached to it. When Virgin got the license, they slapped Spot onto the board game they had laying around, hiked up the price, and sold it on shelves. The original programmer released the original version for play, too, if you know how to work an Amiga emulator. It's pretty much the exact same game, only you don't get to watch Spot animate whenever you make a move. So, it's basically even MORE boring than what we got.

The Game Boy version is pretty cut down compared to the other versions. You can only have two players, which is understandable, given that you have to tell who the players are by what shade of grey they are. They've also removed nearly all the Spot animation, so whenever you move a piece, it just kind of "goops" over to where you place it. The only place Spot actually shows up is on the title screen and whenever it's your turn, where he does a flip. On the bright side, there's a really cool song that plays when the game waits for you to make a move, one exclusive to this version. The song goes on for quite a while, and it has a very Follins-esque sound to it. Problem is it stops every time you actually make a move, so the best part of the game is actually not playing it at all.

The NES version is pretty close to the computer versions, and comes with all the extra options. There's also a nice touch on the options screen where there's a TV that loops different animations, and you can "click" on the knob to change the channel. They've also replaced the scene when the game ends to Spot sticking his tongue at you to a stadium with fireworks. Maybe Nintendo thought it would make children be disrespectful to their parents or something?

The arcade version actually runs off of Amiga hardware, so it looks and sounds more or less identical to that version. The only major difference is that you have to feed coins into the machine to add to the game timer. Compared to the DOS version, the sound on the Amiga version is a little better than what you'd get from the Adlib, although not by much.

The rules of this game originally sprang from a game called Infection, released in 1988 and developed by Dave Crummack and Craig Galley. Here, the chips were meant to be cells. The original publisher was Wise Owl Software, who sold the rights to Virgin Mastertronic UK. They then sold the rights to The Leland Corporation, who created an arcade version called Ataxx. This version is more gory and features an assortment of monsters, as well as a timer. At the same time, the US branch of Virgin got the rights to the game, and that's how Spot came to be. Spot was overseen by Graeme Norton, who also went on to be one of the minds behind The 7th Guest. When programming the game, he reimplemented the ruleset and turned it into the Microscope puzzle. Like its original iteration, the chips are now cells. It's regarded as the most infamous puzzle in the game because of its overt difficulty. The iOS port of The 7th Guest is missing this puzzle, but instead was redone and released separately as an iPad-only game, under the name The 7th Guest: Infection.

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Spot (IBM PC)

Spot (IBM PC)

Spot (IBM PC)

Spot (IBM PC)

Spot (IBM PC)


Comparison Screenshot


Infection / Ataxx / The 7th Guest Screenshots


Spot: The Cool Adventure (スポットクールアドベンチャー) / McDonaldland - Game Boy (1992)

Spot: The Cool Adventure Cover

McDonaldland Cover

After tackling the exciting world of, er, board games, Virgin decided to do what they should have done in the first place and make a platformer. Well, "make" is probably a bit strong of a word. What they actually did was take McDonaldland, a cut-down version of M.C Kids for the Game Boy, change some graphics, and boom, new game! Besides some different sprites, about the ONLY difference between McDonaldland and Spot is that you can't switch between characters at all in Spot. Was a sudden loss of the McDonald's license what brough this game out, or were Virgin trying to sell the same game twice? You decide. They also removed the intro cutscene from Spot, which means that you'll never have any idea what Spot is doing, or why. Not that a game about a soda mascot really NEEDS to have that much of a plot, but they could have at least put in some sort of effort. A statement which sadly, applies to the game as a whole.

Both versions of the game were based off of M.C Kids, so even though a lot of it was gutted out for this version, playing one means you'll have some idea on how the other plays. Your main method of attack is chucking one of the many boxes scattered across the level you'll come across. Spot can't defend himself at all without carrying a box, so you'll want to make sure you have one on hand in case any enemies pop up. You can also do a high jump by holding down and hitting the A button, although actually using this to reach higher places can be tricky, since Spot can only change direction during this jump during the descent. The enemies never pose much of a challenge, generally moving back and forth until you chuck a box at them. The most excitement the game ever throws at you are moving platforms.

And to be perfectly honest, that's pretty much it. You get the occasional bonus stage, and the platforming gets tougher as you go on, but nothing really changes. Every level is just some sort of variation on the same platforms and enemies, and even if the scenery changes from world to world, the game itself doesn't. None of the things that made M.C Kids interesting shows up here, like the hidden cards you could collect, or the boats you can ride. What little there is to play through is made even more frustrating due to the controls. Spot has very little horizontal momentum when he jumps, which means time and time again you'll find yourself falling into a pit instead of the spring you were aiming for. The controls are really the only thing that gives this game any challenge, given how common health pickups are, along with how little of a fight the enemies put up.

It's an incredibly unremarkable platformer on a handheld that was chock full of them, really. Nobody probably really expected all that much from a licensed game, but given how good M.C Kids ended up being on the NES, they could have done so much more. As Virgin proved, you could slap anything into this game and it would turn out to be exactly the same game. This game does nothing to separate it from the dozens of high quality platformers out there for the Game Boy, and either version of the game is best left avoided.

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Spot: The Cool Adventure (Game Boy)

Spot: The Cool Adventure (Game Boy)

Spot: The Cool Adventure (Game Boy)

Spot: The Cool Adventure (Game Boy)


Cool Spot - SNES, Game Boy, Genesis, Game Gear, Master System, Amiga, DOS (1993)

SNES Cover

Genesis Cover

Mega Drive Cover

Virgin would give a Spot platformer another shot for the 16-bit systems of the era, and although the result is far from amazing, Cool Spot is a damn sight better than The Cool Adventure. It's also pretty much the only game in the Spot series that people actually remember, probably for all the systems it came out on for its release. While it shares more than a few similiarites in gameplay with another McDonald's game, Global Gladiators, it's still unique enough it's worth playing. That is, if you're the sort of person who seeks out mascot platformers and you've sucked all enjoyment out of Yo! Noid. The nearly non-existant plot to this game is that somebody has captured a bunch of Spot's identical clones and locked them in cages. Who did this? What's their plan? Hey, when you're as cool as Spot, things like "story" and "motivation" are squaresville, man.

The goal of each stage is to collect "cool points" which are the little red circles scattered all over the level. The levels aren't strictly left to right affairs, since you're generally supposed to search all over to grab all the hidden cool points. You're generally sort of gently guided to the cage by a bunch of pointing fingers scattered over the level, and there's usually only one path to the exit. Don't dally for too long, however, because you're on a time limit. Try not to run out of time, because the warning sound the game makes is incredibly annoying. So annoying, in fact, that Spot will smash the alarm clock it's apparently coming from into bits if you run out of time, which is a nice touch.

If you're playing on the standard difficulty, you'll need 60 of the hundred cool points scattered across the stage. Once you do that, you'll be able to shoot open the cage at the level, which contains one of your captured identical clones. If you manage to find 85 of the cool points, you'll go to a bonus stage. These put you inside a 7-Up bottle, where you use the bubbles inside to grab extra cool points for a shot at an extra life. There's also a letter somewhere inside the bottle, one of which that spells the word "UNCOLA". You know, 7-Up. Each letter is also a continue, so they're worth seeking out.

Your main way of dispatching enemies is by shooting energy blasts at them, of which you get an unlimited supply. Actually, it's not clear if they're energy blasts or something like carbonation, but the back of the box mentions that Spot gives enemies "the deep freeze" so maybe he's shooting ice? Enemies are also a lot more dangerous this time around, since they can do things like throwing projectiles, dropping down from the ceiling, and blocking your shots. It helps, however, that Spot's blasts can be aimed in any direction, even while he's moving. The problem is that on quite a few versions of the game, you absolutely can't shoot in place. This means that if you're fighting an enemy at an angle to you, you have to wander back and forth to keep your shots at that angle, and doing this will often mean you'll walk right into an enemy or a hazard.

Enemy hits can pile up on you quickly, mostly because you don't get much invincibility time between hits. Your health is represented by Spot's face, which slowly peels off of the screen as you take damage until it falls off entirely. It's an interesting visual touch, but it also means it's a little hard to gauge exactly how much health you have, and thus, how paranoid you should be about what's coming up. Part of this is that the camera is zoomed in farther than it should be, which can mean that enemies can sneak up on you more than you'd like. The game also likes to bunch a bunch of enemies near each other, too, so while you're trying to take out an enemy on the ground, you'll often have another enemy flying around ramming into you. The game is nice enough to make sure that enemies you kill will stay dead, even when you die, so it all boils down to attrition.

The controls are kind of touchy, which doesn't help with the difficulty all that much. For one thing, Spot tends to move pretty slowly, and he'll only pick up speed if you move in one direction for a few seconds. This isn't so bad when you're going through unexplored territory, but when you're trying to backtrack, it just makes the movement feel sluggish. Another issue is if you want Spot to have any real horizontal momentum to his jumps, Spot has to be moving. The problem here is that there are a lot of platforms that are just too small for Spot to get enough momentum for a big jump. And a lot of these platforms tend to be over bottomless pits or water.

Without figuring the enemy count into things, most of the level designs are decent, except for a couple of stages in particular. These stages are set around what appears to be some kind of swimming pool in a store of some sort, and if Spot hits water, he dies instantly. The problem is that a good portion of this level involves blind leaps across the lilypads and toys floating across the water, with each platform just off screen. A good chunk of the level takes place with a bunch of toys above the pool, but even then, if you end up falling off, you'll more than likely fall right into the water, anyway. And with the controls the way they are, that's far more likely than it should be.

When the levels aren't overly difficult, however, they're just kind of boring. The levels themselves look pretty great. Spot is apparently really tiny, so when you're on the beach, things like volleyball nets tower above you, while enemies like hermit crabs are actually bigger than Spot. The stages set in somebody's attic are interesting, too, since you can use mousetraps to catapult yourself forward, and climb across wires. The level designs are pretty all right, since they're nice to look at, but none of them are ever as interesting or as exciting as your average Sonic the Hedgehog game. Aside from the occasional new element, every level just involves wandering around and collecting stuff. And there still aren't any boss fights for any variety. Even worse, by the time you reach the halfway point of the game, the level types start to repeat themselves, so the game ends on the same beach you started it on. Probably the most interesting stage in the game is Radical Rails, a level made entirely of slopes and vaccum tubes. Since this stage doesn't have any enemies, most of it is spent watching Spot roll all over the level, which is fun to watch, if not especially engaging.

On the more positive side of things, the game looks pretty great for the time. He might not be up to the standards of say, Aladdin, but Spot has a lot of animations to him. He's got the required level of attitude all decent mascots have, like snapping his fingers to nothing in particular while you're standing still. He actually has quite a bit of personality to him, a lot more than other mascots like Ardy Lightfoot. The levels themselves look good, too, and they've got lots of little details if you take the time to look around. The pier stages have knots in the ropes you climb across, old cans laying across the ground, and holes forming in the woodwork, for example. The music doesn't really stand out, aside from the music used in the bonus stages, which is a cool techno/rave theme. Spot also makes a lot of squeaky vocalizations, but since he doesn't really speak, he's generally never annoying to listen to.

Overall, Cool Spot is a decent game, but it's nothing really amazing. It's a very pretty game, but the trade off is that it tends to be wear on your patience pretty quickly. It also doesn't do a lot to stand out, which means that most other platformers stacked next to it are going to look a lot better in comparison. It is, however, a much better game than Cool Adventure. It's also a lot better than its sister Virgin advergame, Global Gladiators, in that it doesn't make you play through what's basically the same level five times in a row. Plus, it doesn't have that whole "enviromental" thing going on, which makes Cool Spot slightly less, ah, dated. The lead programmer, David Perry, would go on to make the Earthworm Jim games, which kept the high-quality animation of Cool Spot, while making the game itself much, much more fun.

The Super Nintendo version came out some time after the Genesis version, so it's had a few improvements. While none of these changes vastly improve the game, they do make it a little more enjoyable to actually play. The biggest change is that by holding down the R button, you can now actually stand in place and fire your shots, which means you don't have to walk around to aim diagonally any more. This does make the game a lot easier, although a lot of the issues of the game still remain. A lot of the graphics have also been redrawn to look nicer, and some of the levels have extra graphics in them. In a spot on the beach level where there previously wasn't anything, for example, there's now a "Walkspot" tape player.

The Game Boy version is more or less a cut-down version of the Genesis version. The problem with this version is that it plays much more slowly than the other versions, which means it takes much more time to cover the same distance. A lot of the animation frames and background details are missing, as well, and most of the music didn't make the transition pretty well. It's better than Cool Adventure, although there are still much better platformers.

The Game Gear and Master System versions are mostly identical, aside from the MS version having the edge on screen size. Gameplay wise, they both feel like colorized versions of the Game Boy version. They aren't quite as slow as the Game Boy version, but there's still a lack of speed compared to the console versions. They do sound a little closer to the console version, though, except for the sound Spot makes when he jumps, which sounds like it was ripped directly from an Atari 2600. Considering how often you'll be jumping, this will get very annoying, very quickly.

The DOS version looks and plays pretty much identically to the Genesis version, except that the music isn't quite as good, due to it being played through an Adlib.

The Amiga version is probably one of the worst versions, if only just above the Game Boy version. It doesn't play as quickly as the Genesis version, and it's almost as slow as the Game Boy version. It's not quite as colorful as the Genesis version either, since the Amiga model this runs on has a smaller color pallete. The worst thing of all, though, is that it only uses one button for shooting. This means that not only can you not shoot in place, you can't even fire upwards without jumping. So if you want to hit anything above you, have fun ramming your face into it while you're trying to hit it. Some of the soundtracks sound great with the Amiga's sound hardware, like the title theme. A lot of the other tracks, sadly, sound completely off-tune.

One thing that all the PAL versions of this game share is that they all have nothing to do with 7-Up. In Europe, 7-Up's mascot was an entirely different character named Fido Dido, who came very close to getting a game of his own. Even though Spot never had any commercials over there, Virgin released the game in the PAL territories anyway. Every mention of 7-Up has been removed from the game entirely in these versions. So the bottle Spot rides on in the title screen is now blank, the health pickups are bottles of mysterious clear liquid with Virgin's logo on them, and you spell out "VIRGIN" instead of "UNCOLA" to get continues.

Quick Info:

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  • David Perry

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Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)

Cool Spot (Genesis)


View all "Cool Spot" items on eBay

Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshot


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