Sunday, 14 February 2016

Spanky's Quest (SNES)

Developer:Natsume|Release Date:1991|Systems:SNES

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing a video game, on the Super Nintendo! Seriously, that's a SNES title screen you're looking at there. You're also looking at the word 'ASS' written across the hero's face in a Nintendo game.

The game's English title is Spanky's Quest, and that's terrible, but in Japan it's called Hansei Zaru: JirĊ-kun no Daibouken, which apparently means something like 'Reflection Monkey: Adventures of Jiro-kun'. Which is awesome. It also means I've inadvertently put another game with 'adventures' in the title on my site. Alas.




The game begins with Spanky the Monkey finding his stroll through the jungle interrupted when someone starts dropping a castle on him one brick at a time. Should've made a run for it while he had the chance.

I’ve done a bit of editing here and shortened a lot of the pauses because this intro takes forever in game. The monkey's absolutely fascinated by those first two bricks that drop, taking his time to reflect on all they portend. It wouldn't be so bad except it's also unskippable, as the game would be absolute nonsense without this crucial story set up!

So Spanky gets trapped in a castle, a witch flies past, and then fruit's pulled out of his head while he does a two frame freak out. Or maybe they're coming from that backpack he's wearing, it's hard to tell. Then the fruit grows limbs and eyes, turns evil and chases him away.

He sure reacted to that fruit a lot faster than he reacted to the bricks falling. The guy's got a bit of adrenaline pumping now, his fight or flight response is kicking in.

This... isn't the fruit volleyball the title screen promised me.

Okay there's a door up there with two locks on it and two of these lime things are bouncing keys on their head, so I'm thinking I need to steal them somehow.

Aha, I can fire bubbles to stun enemies! This... isn't actually helping me much as it doesn't make them drop the key. Though maybe I can leap over their head and grab it while they're stunned. I'll get down closer to them and give that a try.

Well this is an intriguing development. Turns out that when my bubbles pop they turn into baseballs and baseballs can kill fruit outright (much like in real life). I like how Spanky grabs his monkey ears when he hears the pop, like he's somehow surprised by it every single time. His sprites' not blessed with an abundance of animation frames but there's a lot of character to it. Plus his little backpack reminds me of Umihara Kawase.

Once I had both keys I went back to the door and left for level two.


AREAS 1-3, A COUPLE OF LEVELS LATER.


Wow… what? Bouncing bubbles on my head supercharges them to unleash even more powerful sports attacks when they pop, going from baseball, to football, to volleyball and finally to basketball, the ultimate destructive technique. So it's both a football platformer to join Soccer Kid and a basketball platformer to rival Chaos in the Windy City at the same time! Kind of. But not really.

There's only one key needed on stage three so I was out of here pretty fast this time.


AREAS 1-4.


I was out pretty fast here too, lasting about 7 seconds before getting into a fruit jam. To be fair they didn’t give me anywhere safe  to land!

At least I've learned that I have hit points now though, so I don't have to replay the entire level if I screw up.



 AREAS 1-5.


Oh that's cool, seems that collecting pickups in the bubble instantly charges it to maximum, giving me a potential burst of basketball power. Handy for when I feel like unleashing a devastating shower of balls upon the antagonistic lemons floating in my way. I've noticed my bubble's not popping against the scenery much lately, but that's fine as I've learned I can trigger it myself at any time.


AREAS 1-7.


Damn, that was harsh. Instant game over in a can!

Well now I know that the cans explode to replace dead enemies with fresh fruit. I've also learned that I get just three hits and then I'm out.

Wow, that's a very 'Star Trek' kind of password. Type that in on the Enterprise and you'll set the self-destruct off.

Passwords are good, I like passwords, especially when the game lets me continue without typing them in each time I game over. Trouble is that they're passwords for the world, so I have to make it through 10 levels with my three hit points to earn the next one.

Well I'm bored of that now (for a while). But this gives me an excuse to take a look at the Game Boy version instead!

Spanky's Quest (Game Boy)
Whoa, that is one weird-ass pixel primate. He looks like a... man I don't even know. He looks like a stretchy slime monster trying to digest a monkey. Plus he's lost the epic sideburns.

The Game Boy game known as Spanky's Quest is very similar to the SNES game but different enough that I wouldn't exactly call it a port. Especially as it's called Lucky Monkey in Japan and it came out six months earlier.

I'm fairly sure I'm playing as the same guy, but the game's got different levels, I have to kill all enemies instead of collecting keys, I have to touch the bubble to burst it and it's got a different feel to it in general. The bubble bouncing sports attacks are still present though.


LATER, BACK IN THE SNES GAME.


A CLOWN APPLE? The first boss fight is against a giant evil clown apple? I replayed 9 stages just to put myself through this?


SOME TIME LATER.



I'm getting a bit bored again now. If you want to know what this boss fight has been like, imagine this GIF a hundred times over. Well more like 6 perhaps, I haven't really been keeping count.

What's really infuriating though, is that I eventually screwed it up and got Game Over'd again. So now I have to start the fight again from the beginning... after replaying those first 9 stages all over again first.


9 STAGES LATER.


Wow, that was kind of harsh. My basketballs ate him away in seconds like a swarm of inflatable rubber vegetarian piranhas! I'd feel kind of guilty if he hadn't taken so long to kill. I was dropping balls on his head for like a minute and a half straight, and I've got video evidence to back that up.

It claims I just collected a 1UP, but don't be fooled, that's actually a single hit point. But it's fine though, as I just reached the NEXT PASSWORD, WOO!

Oh, I guess I have to lose first before it'll tell me what it is.


AREAS 2-2.


M-M-M-MULTIKILL! That's my revenge for what happened back on stage 1-4.

I like how the clouds and cars are made out of cut-up piles of paper on this world; it's a weird look, but it's different. I could do without them moving though, as it's making my GIF animations massive.

Wait, if Spanky got out of the castle, then what's he even doing here? Getting revenge on the fruit?


AREAS 2-3.


Uh, what? There was supposed to be basketballs! A beautiful destructive shower of basketballs! Every time I make a tiny mistake like this it feels like a disaster, as I haven't got the hit points to waste. A couple more screw ups like this and I'm right back to square 1. Well square 11 I guess, but you know what I mean.

I definitely don't have the hit points spare to lose two on the same stage like this. Why was I so focused on keeping my bubble safe? I can make a new one any time I like!

Well at least now I know that the world 2 password is... 732.


AREAS 2-5.


The levels are getting more complicated now, with props like conveyor belts and cannons. Oh, plus hit point hats! At least I hope wearing it gives me an extra hit point, as it's not doing much else.

Annoyingly it seems like the enemies can get to go anywhere I can, walk off with my hats and even fire themselves out of the cannon. So I really don't want to linger around those three platforms in the middle any longer than I need to, else what happened to those fruits will happen to me.


AREAS 2-6.


Fire a bubble, fire a bubble, fire a bubble, FIRE A BUBBLE YOU DUMB SON OF A MONKEY!

I can only have the one attack on screen at once so I have to be really careful how I use it. Especially when I'm trapped in a corner and a lime's coming over to give me an uppercut. He didn't even have to, Spanky was dead the moment he touched his citrus acidic skin, but the guy'd just watched his friend explode in a cloud of stars and was out for vengeance.


AREAS 2-4.


Well this is interesting. Seems I walked right past a hidden door the last 2 or 3 times I came through this stage. Could've been more times, I'm losing count at this point. Games get kind of repetitive when you fail repeatedly.


BONUS STAGE.


Ah it's a bonus stage. I have to keep bouncing a giant bubble for as long as I can for bonus points. Makes sense.


AREAS 2-3.


Pain in the ass indestructible 'hurry up' raven... I had a hit point hat on, I should've been fine!

There's no time limit, but if I take too long to complete a level, this bird shows up to light a fire under my ass. Like I didn't have enough things on screen trying to kill me already!

There's a lot of things like this that point to the game being an arcade conversion, but as far as I know it's a SNES exclusive based on a Game Boy exclusive (or maybe the other way around depending on which got started first). The developers just liked their arcade games I guess.


AREAS 2-9.


Oh c'mon, I was on 2-9! I was only one stage from the next boss! I don't want to Game Over now!

I have no idea what I was thinking just then, aside from "Oh crap, the fruit's going to jump up and that can's about to explode," but I obviously made the wrong move. I'm all out of right moves right now though, as I've played through these 9 stages so many times now that I never want to see fruit again. I just want the game to be over!

So congratulations Spanky's Quest, you've ruined my diet.


CONCLUSION

I don't know what's left to say about Spanky's Quest I haven't already said, as it's not an overly complex experience. The music's likeable enough, the graphics are nice and clear enough to see what's going on, the gameplay's fun and it's a pain in the ass.

I'd list a bunch of games that have the same concept and executed it better/worse, but the gameplay's so unusual I can't really think of anything to compare it to. A couple of times I felt like I was playing Parasol Stars and wished I could catch the ball on an umbrella and throw it to wash the enemies away, but that's just because they're both so arcadey. Parasol Stars, now there's a game I should play for my site at some point, though it would mean I'd have to play Rainbow Islands again...

In conclusion, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes Spanky's Quest. The Game Boy game too.



Thanks for reading more of my words! Sentences tend to sit lifeless and idle until observed, so really you've done me a favour by running your eyes across them.

It's up to you what you do now, but I'd suggest dropping some thoughts and feedback into the box below and then coming back next week to see what the next game is (you'll never guess).

11 comments:

  1. I played this game once with my cousins, and loved it!
    It was so long ago that I forgot its name, so thanks for this post =D
    but I never made it to the second boss.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reminding people about old games is basically what I'm here for! Amongst other things.

      Delete
    2. Geez... I'm playing Brutal Doom and your on clean SNES games.

      Delete
  2. I played both of these when they first came out. The Gameboy version, for whatever reason, is the one that really stuck with me. I coulda swore the name of this game in Japan was "Lucky Monkey", but maybe the handheld version had a different title?

    If you're gonna play Parasol Stars and Rainbow Islands, I'd recommend the PC-E CD ports (unless you're going with the Arcade originals). Have fun! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah they've got different titles in Japan, and the Game Boy version's called Lucky Monkey like you say.

      And if I do someday play Parasol Stars and Rainbow Islands... and Bubble Bobble, I'll probably end up playing ALL the versions. That seems to be how these things usually work out.

      Delete
  3. Your next game looks like Heretic or Hexen, but I think it's some other game.

    Can I make another request ? Don't miss playing Veil of Darkness, a little gem from SSI and one of the best horror games

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your next game looks like Heretic or Hexen, but I think it's some other game.

      Well, it is and it isn't...

      Delete
    2. Veil of Darkness is already on my site! I played it back in my early days when I still wrote in sentences instead of walls of text.

      And yeah the next game is Hexen II, so you were close enough.

      Delete
  4. I believe what you call lime is actually melon or maybe i'm wrong
    I guess the next game will be Hexen II, one of game sequel that go wrong
    I really dislike it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm rubbish at fruit identification so you could well be right.

      You were definitely right about Hexen II coming next.

      Delete
  5. Nice article.

    I will never play this since I don't need more reasons to not eat fruit :D

    ReplyDelete

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