|Developer:||AIM|||||Release Date:||1993|||||Systems:||Super Nintendo|
This week on Super Adventures I'm finally taking a look at this Inspector Gadget game like I was asked to.
It's obviously based on that famous 80s cartoon about the inspector who has gadgets. You know, the one where his dog and niece do all the work while he stumbles through danger like a cyborg version of Inspector Clouseau... I think. To be honest I haven't seen the series since I was in its target age demographic so I'm way fuzzy on the details, but I can at least remember that the girl's called Penny and his dog's Brian. Or is that 'Family Guy' I'm thinking of?
'Inspector Gadget' was actually the very first animated series to be presented in stereo and... oh hang on I'm looking at the cartoon's Wikipedia page here, just give me a second.
Okay here's some video game trivia for you: this is the third Inspector Gadget game released, it only came out on the SNES, and it doesn't start with the proper cartoon theme tune! Plus it was apparently developed by a company called AIM and published by Hudson Soft. AIM aren't very well known (to me anyway, I'm sure Iron Man's fought them a few times), but they've already had a couple of their games onto my site: SWAT Kats, which was based on another cartoon, and Fausseté Amour, which probably wasn't.
Penny makes it sound like she wants the dog to run off and get help while she tries to stay one step ahead of Dr. Claw, but... she's got a henchman's arm around her and Dr. Claw's sitting right there, so I'm thinking she's pretty much caught at this point.
... still going huh?
Nice kitchen he's got here by the way, plenty of space. The place is tall enough that he could install a floor halfway up and turn the top half into an extra bedroom or something. Though he'd have to replace those giant sized kitchen appliances first. If Gadget walked off into the background he'd actually barely be tall enough to see the top of that cooker. He'd need to stand on a chair just to grab his toast... or use a gadget I guess.
Wait, has this finished now, am I actually done with it? Awesome let's see the game then.
Wait wait wait! I just realised something.
STAGE 1-1 (LIKE IT JUST SAID ABOVE THE CAR).
I'm currently standing in the purple rain in a cemetery outside of a haunted English castle. I have one plunger, 20 hats, 3 players and 299 time. Well, less now. I'll just go collect those 'glove on a stick' tokens and leap the tiny chasm then.
Hmm. I thought for sure I'd be able to latch onto those rings in the background but it doesn't seem like my boxing glove has a grab feature.
Well I'm entirely stuck here, might as well turn the game off and go play something out of my Steam library instead. Or maybe my GOG library! Or Uplay, Origin... only joking about the Uplay.
The game's gone pulled a Super Ghouls'n Ghosts on me, using my clothing layers as hitpoints; though now that I think about it Fausseté Amour did the same thing as well. AIM were all about nude player characters in 1993 I guess.
Turns out my daring leaps weren't really that death defying after all as I was able to safely drop beneath the broken bridge and reach the spinny thing through a cave.
clown zone. Don’t remember that ever happening in the cartoon. But then again I couldn’t even remember the dog’s name so I’m not exactly an authority on the subject.
By the way check out that weird-ass inconsistent scrolling. I have to get right up to the edge of the screen to start the camera moving, but once it's in motion it slides across to give me enough space to see what's coming. Not sure what I'm going to do with these 34 extra hats, but a new coat's always appreciated and one of the hats was an 1UP in disguise.
Before I fell I also learned that pulling down makes secret blocks flash, like this! Punch them once and they become visible, open them up and you get a hat (or something better). So basically it's a lot like Team Fortress 2.
I eventually smashed them all to pieces and grabbed the tokens hiding within (everything in this graveyard is haunted by collectables), but the bonus room turned out to be more or less the same as the last one. Still, more hats are always good... probably. In real life collecting a hundred hats means a future filled with storage problems and long nights on eBay, but in a video game it means that you're a god! Or maybe it'll give me an extra life, I don't actually know.
What's really weird though, is that it doesn't seem to be making the number at the top go down when I use the gadget. It'd be nice if I really did have infinite uses of every power, but that's not typically how these things work, especially when there's numbers all over the screen.
In Fausseté Amour getting hit once leaves the player in their underwear, getting hit twice leaves them naked and dead. In this though I've been spared seeing Gadget's naked ass; instead he floats down the screen with an 'I don't know why this is happening either' expression.
The place is so Castlevania looking I feel like I should be using a whip, but I'm stuck with my spring-loaded punches. Actually I'm not! I just remembered that I can switch to arrows and attack henchmen from a distance! It's great to have options, but this is starting to remind me of Chaos in the Windy City and how bored I got with cycling weapons in that game. It'd be so much faster if I could hold down X and press up to select rotors, right to select arrows, down to select bombs etc. Damn now I suddenly feel like playing Super Smash Bros. for some reason.
Hang on, what just happened to my hat counter? It flickers between 91 and 88 in that GIF, but I'm not doing anything but... oh, it's the ammo supply for my skills isn't it? Throwing a bomb costs 3 hats, so I've got 29 shots left. That's a little less than infinite.
I think I knew in my heart that something bad was going to happen when I stepped on that thing, I just assumed the game would give me a second to react. You don't instantly punish a player for not knowing how your level works, you give them a moment to get out of the mess they've gotten themselves in!
STAGE 1 BOSS.
No no, you just take however long as you need to light those candles, I'm sure there isn't anything more interesting I could be doing right now.
It may sound like I'm whining about nothing here, but that's because I've just had a premonition of the future, involving me losing this fight and having to sit through this every time I want to retry.
Okay that is actually a cool effect and henchmen falling out of the walls is a nice touch (except for when they land on me). The room keeps doing this for the whole fight, but actual fighting part seems pretty straightforward. I just have to dodge the flames and falling goons and hit the chandelier a few times. I should use my head though and try firing off arrows instead of... my head.
It took me a couple of tries but I eventually knocked its lights out and that apparently solved the ghost problem. It didn't solve the Penny problem though as she isn't even here! We came all the way to England for nothing!
I can live with the princess being in another clock tower, but not another one of these briefing interludes! All he does is s-l-o-w-l-y read a note, then throw it in his boss's face just before it explodes. For fuck's sake Chief, just tell him the mission with your mouth, save your eyebrows and save us all some time!
Just noticed he's got windows on three sides of his kitchen, that's pretty unusual.
Huh, look at the size of the pins holding the message up. A typical pin is around 9mm long, so that must mean the paper is approximately A2 poster sized and... man what am I even talking about? Next I'll be nitpicking about that teapot being too small to fit the Chief inside. Look what this game's driven me to!
You might wonder why I'm showing this bit of the level instead of the wall, but look over on the left. That bit of ice doesn't have a shadow under it, meaning that it's my way out of here! I wish I could say I figured this out myself, but truth is I triggered it accidentally after 40 seconds of bombing scenery.
They've resisted the urge to make the snowy platforms slidey but it's still not a sure thing I'm going to end up going where I want to in this blizzard. I keep falling short or overshooting ledges, and that's a bit awkward as I'm climbing up on this level and if I slip...
At least there's no falling damage. Plus it seems that the hat hook doesn't use my limited hat supply so I can keep doing this over and over until I get it right or go mad trying. Though I am using up my limited time supply.
TWO LIVES LATER.
So you can add 'multiple paths through the levels' to the list of features.
I was actually doomed to begin with really, as it seems that the timer isn't reset between levels! I would've never made it to the top in 111 seconds, but getting killed has given me my full five minutes back.
This is another level with the exit at the top, so falling isn't instant death, but it does mean a long climb back up. Over and over again.
I tried using my grappling hand on those hooks on the left but that was a dead end. There's just no getting around this. UNLESS... I grapple back up there and hover across with the helicopter hat!
Oh shit, I just realised I've wasted a minute on this so far and there's only 50 seconds left. Go Gadget, go!
42 SECONDS LATER.
Fortunately the next stage is a boss fight so it'll reset the timer for me. Wait, no, I don't want another boss fight! I hate boss fights!
STAGE 2 BOSS.
Turns out that there's a trick to beating him though: run to the far left, get as high up as you can, and shoot him with arrows until he drops the chain. Then shoot him with arrows until he's dead. I had to switch sides a couple of times, dodging the pendulum without falling into the pit, but I got him in the end.
STAGE 3-2, A WHILE LATER.
What's going on with that flying fish anyway? It looks like it's charging its attack then shooting something out of its mouth.
Super Mario Bros. 3 it turns out that this is all just a play acted out by the characters! Maybe.
It's be cool if the continues restarted me at the beginning of the level I failed at, but that's what lives do, so I've sent way back to the start of stage 3-1 instead. Great.
STAGE 3 BOSS, SOME TIME LATER.
Another problem is that I have to pull off tricky jumps to get around while I'm fighting the guy, and they're not Gadget's strong point. Half the time I ended up cornered on a lower branch. I was having a bit of luck with my red assault rotor blades, but no ammo means no more special attacks, so... I'm struggling.
And there goes my final life again. Do I want to replay the last two levels all over again with even less lives to give the boss another shot? I'm thinking... no.
Inspector Gadget looks and sounds like your average platformer, but after playing it for an hour it's become clear to me that it really is an average platformer. It's fairly well made, fairly generic and most of the time it's been fair so far, but I'm not feeling any desire to stick with it. Part of the reason for that is the continue system; a game has to be a lot more addictive than this to get me to replay two or three levels every time I wipe out in a boss fight.
The game's not a tedious collect 'em up at least and the levels are the opposite of maze-like while still giving some room to explore. I suppose the gadgets add some novelty to it but they're so awkward to switch between that I left arrows selected and rarely used something else unless I had to.
You couldn't call it a long game and someone more skilled and patient than me could be done with it in a couple of hours (I checked YouTube). But if you're not that skilled expect to run out of time, replay multiple stages multiple times over, and really start feeling the lack of passwords, level select, world map, or any other system to let you walk away and come back later.
Though as far as cartoon tie-ins go I've played far worse than this. If you're after a retro SNES platformer to play and you're already bored of all the good ones it might be worth a look. It's likely a better use of your time than watching the Matthew Broderick movie at least. Or the French Stewart one.
Thanks for reading all or some of my words about yet another game you likely don't much care about! Why not repay me for all my hard work by sharing your thoughts about the game and your feelings about my writing in the comment box below? (Or with money.)