Friday, September 22, 2006

Slime World on Genesis

A hallmark of a good game is when it reappears on another console. Usually when a minor console has a "hit," that game reappears on the bigger-selling systems. I guess that means Chip's Challenge and Todd's Adventures in Slime World were the Atari Lynx's biggest hits.

Slime World was ported to the Genesis, and was published by Rennovation, who were responsible for publishing a number of Telenet games like Valis 2 and Gaiares and Granada. I don't remember who was responsible for the Genesis Slime World, aside from Lx Rudis, who did all that techno-industrial sounding music for a number of Epyx and Atari Lynx games.

Anyway, Slime World wasn't successful on Genesis, and pretty much came and went without fanfare. The prozines were somewhat merciless, but it has to be said, this game was always a little out of left field. Remember, this was several years before Super Metroid, and ages before developers started pirating Nintendo's formula for advanture platformers.

The general consensus by gamers and press is that Genesis Slime World wasn't as good as the Lynx original. I think that's an easy first impression, especially when you notice how static and stationary the game worlds are. On Lynx, the environments twisted, turned, and gurgled with fantastic animation. This kind of sprite manipulation simply was not possible on other consoles, and probably could only be replicated with today's generation. Even then, I think pulling it off would require some skill from the programmers.

I can't say whether the atmosphere, and its claustrophobic tension, was a result of the Lynx's small screen, so that everything is in close-up. There is something tangible that's lost when ported to the Genesis. Perhaps it's the smaller sprites, or the fact that it's on a larger television. This version feels a little distant, detached.

However, when you look deeper (something Thich Nhat Hanh is always fond of saying), you realize that Genesis Slime World is very faithful. As translations go, it's as close to the original as was possible, without any need to redraw the graphics or change the gameplay to mimic every other Genesis title. Aside from the animation, the graphics look pretty good. It all seems scrunched down a little, but this is for the benefit of the 2-player split-screen action. Nowhere near the Lynx and its 8-player games, but, honestly, how many of you have ever played a multiplayer Lynx game? You might as well debate the afterlife.

What impresses me the most is that the control scheme is untouched. I'm sure it would have been easier to remap the control scheme, and maybe speed up Todd's jumping and firing. No doubt the slower, more suspenseful tempo turned off writers from the prozines; perhaps this is why, aside from good 'ol VG&CE, it was completely ignored. I thought EGM had an Atari employee writing reviews for them (as "Sushi-x"). What's their deal, anyway?

Time, however, has blessed Slime World, and the Genesis version now fills a void for a genre that practically didn't exist. Super Metroid and Castlevania changed all that, and now you'll go scrounging through your Genesis library for something to compare to.

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