Guest Review by Lamar @ Every Gamer Review
Another day, another product placement game and which company wants to sell themselves onto our video games? 7 Up! A fizzy drink that a lot of people may have drank in their lifetime, including me. To me its lemonade in a can…or just lemonade in general. But for those who don’t know (somehow), 7 Up is a fizzy drink with a flavour of lemon and lime. Well that’s it, it’s been around since 1920 and was sold in 1929 as Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda before eventually changing it to 7 Up in 1936. Wait what does this have to do with Cool Spot? The giant red guy with a pair of sunglasses on and kick ass white sneakers!
Filler aside, how do you sell a fizzy drink, especially to the young generation in the radical and embarrassing decade of the 90’s? Use a mascot of course, and for 7 Up, we have Cool Spot and I don’t know anything about him since in the UK, we had Fido Dido. In fact, he was supposed to have his own game too but unfortunately, due to Kaneko U.S shutting down, the game was cancelled, though you can download a ROM of this lost game. But back to the other game I’m taking a look at Cool Spot, developed by Virgin Games and published by Virgin Interactive and was released in 1993 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and in 1994 for the SNES and other consoles in the US and Europe, with the Amiga, MS-DOS and Sega Master System ports being released exclusively in Europe.
Cool Spot, and his friends have been captured by someone who wants to show them to the world to prove that Cool Spots do indeed exist. So you are Cool Spot, but you’re different, and when I mean different, I mean you weren’t caught by this person. So Cool Spot the…Red Spot, go save your friends…I guess. This is a retro game and stories didn’t matter, especially for a game that’s selling you citrus flavoured carbonated liquid.
You play as Cool Spot in a super side scrolling platformer, the objective is to collect spots, collect enough of them to rescue a Cool Spot. In easy mode, you collect 30 spots to rescue a Cool Spot and 60 for normal. Collect 85 and you can go to a bonus stage, Every time you complete a bonus stage, you get a letter until it spells out the 7 Up slogan at the time, UNCOLA but because Europe didn’t know about Cool Spot, we just had VIRGIN instead, the developers of this game.
You go around shooting enemies. How does it work? Well you simply throw…what does he throw? Apparently its soda bubbles. Because fizzy drink. You can shoot in any direction, which is cool…like Cool Spot…sorry. You can easily shoot up, down, left and right; problem is, you can’t stand still when shooting in other directions, and it’s vital to shoot in specific directions, or else you’ll get hit by the enemy, and this happens in nearly all the levels so it’s not the grandest of combat for a platformer. Depending on the difficulty, in easy mode, you’ll have a decent time with it and it’s not exactly impossible. Normal however, is a lot more difficult, since enemies will be everywhere; but as long as you know how to spot some enemies, you can dodge attacks but not as much.
Gameplay can be odd, uneven and very sluggish at times, Cool Spot can walk slowly, but the longer he moves, the faster he gets and then run into enemies, like Busby but at least you have a chance here. Even jumping is awkward since you have to move to jump further, it doesn’t work in a way that lets you be free with experiencing in the game. I know I would be deemed mad for asking but, where are the bosses? I mean, every level have the same objective and usually games would have bosses, or even a final boss. But nope, not here, in the final level, you rescue a Cool Spot and that’s it, you win. But it leaves you unfulfilled and all you have is a brainwashed cranium full of a thirst for 7 Up.
I need to talk about the graphics and level design because this is where I can remember the game, even after playing through the game. The graphics are fantastic. They are very detailed and it gives the game a unique identity. Heck, even the sprite animations of Cool Spot are really good since he does different animations depending on what you do with him. To achieve these graphics, Virgin Games used a Map Editor known as tUME (the Universal Map Editor) and it’s been used for many games like Global Gladiators, The Earthworm Jim games, Sega’s Aladdin and many more. The level design is mixed, I mean the beach, pier, wooden and much more are great, then there is the Loco Motive level, where the background is moving while you’re on a toy train, but some of you might feel a bit ill, this is just a warning, if you can’t take it, use a level skip code. At least you get arrows telling you where to go because without them, you would easily get lost in the same old level design.
The one thing I absolutely hate about this game and can sometimes work for and against you is the camera. Every time you turn around, the camera instantly moves in the direction you’re facing. It can work so you can see where you need to go, which is cool, but when trying to go through tricky platforms, it can be annoying. Also, the game can end up getting repetitive, collecting the same spots and doing nothing else, but then the levels eventually loop, as in you’re going to play another level with different designs to make sure it doesn’t feel like a repeat, but this eventually shows it’s repetition nonetheless. The music is composed by Tommy Tallarico and it’s pretty good; it’s upbeat and so…90’s, and you have that Sega twang, a fitting tradition in the long line of western Sega Mega Drive games.
Overall, Cool Spot is above average by gaming standards. It’s a decent little platformer that does the job well. The nice graphics are there but the gameplay that varies in quality. Should you avoid it? No! Cool Spot is a good game and I recommend slapping it in to your Sega Mega Drive (or whatever console you’re on) and having a go. It’s not the best game in the world but at least it’s memorable and is a product of its time…meaning it’s tolerable compared to other 90’s stuff that could be considered annoying.
You can get it on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, Amiga, Super Nintendo, Game Boy and MS-DOS.
Guest Review by Lamar @ Every Gamer Review
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