Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Kid Klown in Crazy Chase (SNES)

Kid Klown in Crazy Chase title screen
Developer:Kemco|Release Date:1995 (EU) |Systems:Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance

This week on Super Adventures I'm taking a quick look at Kid Klown in Crazy Chase, the second in Kemco's Kid Klown tetralogy. The name reminds me of cult classic 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space', which is interesting because I'd no idea I'd even heard of the film until now. How is this clown movie knowledge leaking into my brain? I'm fairly sure they're unrelated though.

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of clowns, but I love that title screen. It's got to be some of the best title art on the Super Nintendo. It's a shame there's a Kid Klown standing right in the middle of it, but squint your eyes a bit and he could be Kid Santa. The music's a bit clowny as well, though I've heard worse. So far so good, but let's see what happens when I select 'Option'.



Whoa, control scheme Type D is hardcore. As a left handed gamer I appreciate having an option to flip the buttons, but to be honest right handed controllers aren't something that's ever tripped me up. Not like those bloody right handed scissors. Right handed guitars are a pain as well too, with the volume control digging into my wrist and... sorry, I'll get back to the clown game.

I'd show off the other options, but it turns out that controller configuration is all I get. There's no difficulty settings, no sound check, no passwords, no saves. Nothing left to do but start the game.

OH NO! There's a whole planet of clowns! Klowns even.

It's been ages since I've had to rescue a princess, even longer since I've rescued a princess wearing a clown nose.

She reminds me of Gadget from Rescue Rangers with that nose. She's got that anthropomorphic mouse look.

And Blackjack's got a bloody huge whale-shaped pirate ship. It took me a while to figure out what I was looking at here, but I think the diagonal bit on the left is a cutaway showing a close up of the window in the tower on top. This would've been a good time to have the close up bit swishing onto the screen, but this intro's all still images.

Crazy Chase (GBA)
The game also eventually made it to the GBA, with a slightly extended intro and completely rewritten dialogue. Here Blackjack has been renamed to Dirty Joe and Princess Honey has been given a cat to torture. Still no animation though.

All Dirty Joe seems to want is a date with a clown princess, but on the SNES version Blackjack's thinking much bigger. He's holding the Princess hostage in exchange for the world.

The King has other ideas though, sending Kid Klown out on a mission to stop the villainous punk pirate. It has to be a solo mission though as he's the only Klown klutzy enough for the job, apparently. He's gambling that his Jar-Jar Binks factor gives him an edge over competent clowns.

Hmm, Kid Klown has a diamond on his chest, Princess Honey has a heart and Blackjack has a spade, so where's the King's club huh? Oh, here's an fascinating fact for you: Kid Klown's iconic suit was first introduced here, as he had a very different look in his previous game.

Kid Klown in Night Mayor World (NES)
He looks like Mario and Sonic were merged in a horrific 'The Fly'-style teleporter accident! It's so weird seeing him with conjoined eyes, blue hair and a mouth. Plus he's gotten his clown make-up mixed up, putting the white around his mouth and the red over his ears.

Night Mayor World also claims that he's from Kansas, so I guess he moved to Klown Planet between games. Or maybe Earth was Klown Planet all along! Plot twist!

Wow, Kid Klown has a spaceship too!

Kid Klown hails Blackjack's ship and gives him an ultimatum, but he's too hyper to wait for a response so he immediately slams his finger on the button.

But it's the Panic Button, oops. 

See, this is why we don't let children or clowns pilot spacecraft. Funny thing is, if he'd pressed the right button and fired the gun, it would've been the Princess's ship spiralling down to the ground right now.

Well we're on a habitable world with a breathable atmosphere, so that could've gone worse. Maybe it's Klown Planet, maybe it's Earth, maybe it's the forest moon of Endor, it's still a bit of a mystery. But at least we know our hero won't asphyxiate as his skin boils off.

Blackjack cunningly sneaks down after him and plants a bomb on this really unsafe looking bridge. As far as I can figure out, he's planning to blow the bridge to block Kid Klown's path and stop him from rescuing the Princess. The Princess who is currently on a spaceship in orbit. I'm sure it'll make more sense later.

Damn man, did he just fall from orbit and land on his head? He's a resilient little... HANG ON, it took some of my HP away! I'd be very slightly annoyed about that, but it gives me a refill immediately afterwards so I can't complain.

I'll be mangling all my other GIFs by cropping them and lowering the framerate to keep this article on the right side of 3 gigabytes, but this one I'm leaving alone to show off what the game looks like at its true speed. Mostly it looks like a damn pretty a SNES game; just look at the detail and the slick animation. It's like low resolution isometric Looney Tunes cartoon! Ignore the flickering shadows, they look much more transparent on a CRT TV.

Okay, it seems like it's my job to go running through this isometric forest level as fast as my clown shoes will let me, racing to get to the bomb before the fuse burns down. Kind of like a crazy chase you could say.

I didn't throw the clown under the log deliberately, honest.

Getting hit by obstacles rewards me with a bit of well animated slapstick comedy, but while that's playing out the fuse is still burning down. Plus I also lose HP, so I'm being penalised twice.

Ah, so jumping at the balloons along the way is good because I get a prize! But also bad because I'm probably losing time while he's posing with his arm out.

Seems like the reward could be worth the hold up though, as I'm building up a collection of icons down at the bottom left. Maybe getting them all earns me an extra life, maybe I'm collecting different combinations for various bonus effects, or maybe I just need to find them all to not lose, I don't know yet.

I don't know what the coins do either, though it's reassuring to know that the local civilisation is advanced enough to use currency.

That one wasn't even my fault, it must be scripted! The game's helpfully wasting my time for me now. Looked cool though. How many unique animations does this game have?

Okay that one was my fault. I figured I'd do the smart thing and slip between the two dangerous looking logs, but should've suspected the bush would get him just as bad.

I wonder why there's so many logs rolling down here anyway. Did they slip from a log pile or is someone out to get me?

Yeah I'm definitely getting the impression that someone's out to get me.

This music's starting to hack its way into my brain now as well; it's so damn catchy and cheerful and surprisingly not terrible. Here, have a YouTube link: Kid Klown Stage 1 theme, imagine that on a loop.

Man, it's like having my own personal Dick Dastardly, always in front of me no matter how fast I go.

Where's the button to tell Blackjack those giant shoulder pads look daft when he's not got his princess-kidnapping cape on.

MADE TO THE BOMB WITH TIME TO SPARE!

What!? I failed? I have to do the level all over again? The entire run? Just because I missed one balloon? Oh come on!

It's a shame as I was really enjoying the game until this happened. Still, the stage is only 3 minutes long, that's not so bad.


SOON.


There, I found the damn heart on my second time through.

The game was kind enough to let me keep the three suits I'd already found on my first run, but all the balloons were put back so I had go through and open them all again to find this. Most balloons contain coins or HP, but some are rigged with bombs or just plain drop out of the sky and crush me, and I can't remember which are which so I've been hit by every trap all over again.

Crazy Chase (GBA)
The game was later ported across to the Game Boy Advance, with a few changes here and there. Stuff's been moved around a bit, the pixels are brighter, and the bloody balloons are twice as awkward. They instantly vanish when I touch them and you'd think that'd save me time, but it actually means that I have to be especially careful not to accidentally run right past the card suit orbs when they drop out. I can't jog backwards you see, only ever forwards. No backtracking allowed in crazy chases.

Another difference with the GBA game is that Kid Klown actually has his spaceship waiting for him at the end next to the bomb, which finally gives him a reason for his running!

Crazy Chase (GBA)
Yeah, you'd better give me my shiny golden key. Wait, what's the key for?

You know I honestly thought the fuse was going to blow him up in place of the bomb just then, but fate is merciful for once. Must have hurt his toe kicking the thing like that though.


STAGE 2.


Whoa, we've reached civilisation! I guess we're skipping the sewer level then. Well I'm skipping it at least, poor Kid Klown on the other hand looks like a man who's just endured a long odiferous ordeal.

This time Blackjack's chosen a city to attack so now I'm the clown version of Jack Bauer, racing to save the day. At least it won't be hard to figure out where the bomb is.

Crap, my reflexes failed me that time. To be fair if he can make it through a brick wall he should be able to push aside a thin metal barrier.

Damn, I didn't even see that coming! I was so focused on lining myself up with the balloon I didn't even think to look to the sides. At least I'll be ready for it on my inevitable second lap.

That's ball number three! I haven't missed any yet, so I'm doing really well for my first run, aside from having next to zero health left. I've only got a quarter of the stage to go though, so I can handle this.

Actually I can't handle it at all, I'm rubbish.

To be fair, this isn't the first time I've caught him stalking me like this, and he's never charged out and punched me before.

Whoa, run out of HP and it's GAME OVER. No second attempts for the dead. I've got 3 continues at least, so I'm not necessarily out of it yet, but there's no lives.

I decided to continue, and the game went wiped my score and my suits, so now I'm back at stage 2 - square 1.


LATER.


Man, how clumsy do you have to be to accidentally fall into a coke can?

But it's nice to see that Blackjack's got problems of his own for a chance. Hey that cop isn't a clown, so I guess we're not on Klown Planet right now. Though it could be that the clowns are the ruling class on this world... meaning that it really was Earth all along!

Sorry about the quality of this GIF by the way; the camera originally moved around a bit so I had to freeze bits of it to keep the filesize down.

The coke can was a portal to a BASE jumping bonus stage! This gives me a great opportunity to load up on coins, though I'm still not sure why I want to.

Sadly I couldn't check if reaching the bottom got me anything special as I went and dropped my clown on the spikes. Accidentally.


EVENTUALLY.


I screwed up this run too in the end, and the next one after it. Seems that I'm doomed to keep running down this same stretch of road until I find which balloon they've hidden the spade in.

It'd be nice if I could save and quit for a while, take a bit of a break, but there's no saves, no passwords, and no quick way back to a level I've already reached.

At least I'm still finding new bonus rounds to play. Got myself a flying stage this time, though it's basically just the BASE jumping stage flipped.

Up at the top I found a time stop clock which stops time. Well it stopped the fuse burning down at least, which is nice. Now I just need to find the bonus room that gives me a bloody spade orb already so I can leave this street.

I ended up failing on this run as well. But that's fine, as there's nothing I love more than tripping up over the same thing over and over, metaphorically speaking.


EVENTUALLY.


I did it, I finally did it! I beat stage 2! Then I lost at air hockey, but who cares about that? We were only playing for HP.


STAGE 3.


Okay that did make me laugh.

In fact everything makes me laugh in this; there's a beautiful hand-crafted slapstick animation for every kind of pain Kid Klown (and Blackjack) can experience and it's fantastic. It's not so funny after the third or fourth time mind you, but that's why you don't keep running into the same obstacle twice.

I'm calling bullshit on that one though, I totally cleared those flame jets! Maybe. I dunno.

That's the trouble with this game really, it's hard sometimes to figure out where I am in 3D space. The shadows help a lot but it's still tricky, especially when the angle of the floor changes like this.


SOON.


I don't like this, I don't like this, I DON'T LIKE THIS!

Also I've left the diamond ball behind somewhere so I'm going to have to replay the whole stage in a minute.

Crap, I ran out of time just before reaching the bomb! Now I have to collect all the suits again because that's another game over, and another continue lost.

Actually screw it, the game's worn me out and I need a break, so I'm turning it off. It was fun for a while but it's outlasted my attention span.


HOURS LATER, ON STAGE 4.


Oh shit oh shit OH SHIT!

I put the game back on after a few hours and ended up reaching stage 4 this time, but I'm now I'm struggling on a slippery ice level, being shot at by giant pillow head that's eating the floor, and I'm thinking that I need a break again. The game's really crying out for some passwords.


CONCLUSION

If there's one thing I can say about Kid Klown in Crazy Chase, it made me smile. It also got on my nerves, but in those moments between frustrations I was grinning. I wasn't just sleep walking through it waiting for a good excuse to turn it off, like I often do with games.

It's an isometric platformer, but it works for the most part by giving everything a shadow and keeping the platforming bit to a minimum. Some may be put off by the stop-start nature of the game, as even when you do everything right you have to keep pausing to open balloons or receive punishment from fate, but it didn't bother me all that much, weirdly.

The star of it is definitely the visuals though, as it's an awesome looking SNES game and full of charm. I found I wanted to throw the hapless protagonist into everything I came across just to see the animation when it hit him. The sound doesn't let it down either though as the clown music is downright bearable.

But the downside of having so much care and effort spent on animating each obstacle is that there really aren't many of them. The game's only got the 5 running stages so you can beat the whole thing in 20 minutes if you're good. Well, half of it anyway, as completing the game once unlocks hard mode, meaning you can go and finish those 5 levels all over again! Plus it's got multiple endings, but getting the good ending relies on chance, so if you pick the wrong keyhole it's back to the start again!

The GBA port does come with more levels and a different level order, but it's basically a slightly inferior version of the same thing as far as I can tell. Doesn't look as good, doesn't sound as good, doesn't play as good. It's considerably more portable though.

Despite the repetition and lack of content this is an easy recommend for me, because... well I just don't play games for that long anyway. If you've got any interest in slapstick cartoons, watching clowns suffer, or Groundhog Day, I'd say it's worth half an hour of your time. Any longer than that though and you run the risk of either getting sick of it or finishing the whole thing.



Next time on Super Adventures, another clown game! Maybe they'll all be clown games from now on. This next one's considerably more recent though and very indie, so that'll be different.

Leave comments plz!

9 comments:

  1. You made the next game so easy to guess that I'm not even going to spoil it.
    I'll look forward to reading your opinions on [REDACTED] regardless.

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    1. Yeah I'm curious about what I'll end up writing about it as well. It'd be nice if I could jump into the future and get a sneak peek... so I could copy/paste the whole article and save myself some work in the present.

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  2. "He looks like Mario and Sonic were merged in a horrific 'The Fly'-style teleporter accident!"
    This is why I love your reviews, Ray! How do you come up with this stuff. XD

    This game looks surprisingly well-animated. Odd that I had never heard about it, but I suppose despite the awesome smooth graphics, the game lacked on other important thing (like longevity, apparently).

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    1. I have to admit, that's the one line I borrowed from mecha-neko. That was pretty much his first response when I showed him the screenshot, though not quite in those words.

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    2. Well ain't no surprise, both you and Mecha-Neko rock so it was either you or your pal! :P

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  3. Directional for the right hand, more games should have this option =D
    This game is so cute that, it must be because these "klowns" are not that "clown"ish XD

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    1. I guess that clowns are cuter and more likeable when you take away their sinister grinning mouths. Weird, but it seems to work!

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  4. I wouldn't want to honk my own novelty clown horn, but maybe you've heard of Killer Klowns from Outer Space from me. God knows I've mentioned it often enough. Great work on all these GIFs, by the way, it's a real treat. This is such a lovely looking game. Also a really painful-looking game, especially Kid Klown being slammed into the wall by a fire hydrant.

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  5. Wow, when I saw the title screen I was sure this was going to be a Generic 16-Bit Platformer™ but I am pleasantly surprised.

    Control scheme D reminds me of how there's a colour blind mode in the Borderlands games; I like it when games cater for people's differences like that.

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