Received: October 28th, 2014 / Written: September 15th-17th, 2018
Year: 1993 | Developed by: Traveller's Tales | Published by: Psygnosis
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and covering another Genesis game this year--this time a hidden classic.
In the early '90s there was an Amiga demo by the name of Puggs in Space created and designed by a demogroup called Dionysus (formed up by Lee Carus, Alan McCarthy, and Tim Wright) that starred the space hopper alien Puggsy.
Image from Wikipedia; GOD I love that Roger Dean-designed logo! RIP Psygnosis (1985-2012)Management at Psygnosis was so impressed by the demo that they approached Dionysus to create a game based on the character--unfortunately they had no idea where to go with said character, so the demogroup got pulled out of development (though apparently, according to Wright, their version was going to be akin to something like Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet). Enter British studio Traveller's Tales (at the time using their Travellers Tales brand), who was asked by Psygnosis if they could make the game based on Puggsy's character from the demo, and this time he got his due in the form of a platformer--but with a twist.
Written and directed by company founder Jon Burton (who designed and programmed the game) and his collaborative partner Andy Ingram (who handled the artwork and graphic design), Puggsy would see a release on the Sega MegaDrive and Genesis in Europe and America respectively in late 1993 by Psygnosis. While the eponymous space hopper's design was unaltered from his demo roots, his color got changed from red to orange to prevent color bleeding. Puggsy was one of the very first games developed by Traveller's Tales, after their inaugural title Leander and their joint effort with Psygnosis with the video game adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 movie incarnation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. With the game turning a quarter of a century old this year, does it hold up?
The game revolves around a space hopping alien named Puggsy who in his space travels navigates his spaceship towards The Planet and lands in its waters. Not wanting to stay after exploring a bit, he intends to return to his home planet,...
unfortunately during his search his spaceship's been taken away from the planet's raccoon inhabitants, leaving him stranded and with little option.
On his quest to retrieve his only means to fly back to space, Puggsy will have to overcome the many perils this planet has got in store for him, defeat the five individually placed world guardians along the way, and eventually confront the Raccoon King.
|And so it starts|
|Puggsy used the water pistol, it is ineffective|
|Raccoon boss towering over you|
|Well, that's a creepy-looking fish if I saw one|
and occasionally--whether in the dimly lit levels, behind a waterfall, or when Puggsy finds himself underwater--there are moments that simulate color layering so seamlessly (considering the Sega 16-bit doesn't have color layering effects like Nintendo's 16-bit console does) whether it be the use of dithering or reducing the brightness in half.
|They say he who holds the conch holds the power|
Alternate between raising and lowering to
Image from Wikipedia; Happy 25th Anniversary, game I've yet to playI'm not sure why I expected anything less, as beforehand I thought their animation would be basic; probably because the enemies have basic and minimal animation compared to the titular character.
He shouldn't run with scissors in his hands
Or at least that would be the case if he had his trainers on
All right, I found my ship, and I didn't have to fight a...And the Raccoon King at the end of the Racatlantis Maze...
Well, CRAP!is the biggest baddie in the entire game, taking up practically the entire screen, with a face that screams nightmare fuel coupled with his threatening red eyes and darkly imposing stature (this in spite of the fact that he doesn't animate at all).
One boss encounter in the pyramids is visually impressive considering the MegaDrive/Genesis' technical capabilities as the boss in that segment is a raccoon-themed spaceship that scales in and out. Any other company would've redrawn the sprite at differing distances, but in this case Traveller's Tales accomplishes it so seamlessly. The closest it comes to Mode 7 level effects on Nintendo's 16-bit powerhouse.
|"Did someone order bread?"|
Because after a point during the credits sequence it tells you what Puggsy used to make it what it is by advertising itself. It's great to know that Software Creations' Nintendo 16-bit cult classic Solstice II/Equinox wasn't the only game during the '90s to promote itself in one form or another.
One of the more deviously designed puzzles:
stacking enough coins to open the way out
|Look out, he's about to toss flour at you!|
|I've got my eye on you, literally|
|Imposing raccoon décor is imposing|
What's this? A bat in a Traveller's Tales game?
Ya don't say!
Match the correct equivalent items, or face
the wrath of the butterflies who are highly
impervious to your jumps
Pretty sadistic, I know, but how else is the
recipe on the cauldron going to be complete?
Jon Burton's Sega 16-bit classic is superior in every way, shape, or form to the watered down Nintendo 16-bit conversion, in my opinion, no offense to Chris Stanforth; to be reviewed in 2019I do have more of a fondness for Mickey's Wild Adventure growing up playing it, and the original Sega 16-bit version Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse which I got to play last month is a lot of fun too (head over heels better than the inferior SNES version I caught up with last year; what happened there??), but Puggsy may very well be the best out of all the Traveller's Tales games that I played.
|"Hope you don't mind if I take that"|
One of my least favorite puzzles in the game(in particular the penultimate level leading up to the Raccoon King in the Racatlantis Maze as it not only entails buoyancy but also balance). And it's made all the easier if you've got trainers on.
So this is what it's come down to? Shooting at
evil bouncing snowman heads?
Completing the last of these six levels will lead to a cute thank you message from the Traveller's Tales.
In speaking of Leander, it's nice that Jon Burton incorporated cameos not just from his first game (albeit as a statue) but also from the wabbits from Raising Hell Software's game in two of its secret levels (one for each); it gives Puggsy a bigger sense of scale, like it could be taking place in the same universe as these games. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but it's a nice and thoughtful gesture regardless as it shows how smart Traveller's Tales was (and is) as a company to take their time to acknowledge these titles so early in their career.
A "silly" maths question, or a complex maths question? Regardless, get your calculators readyAs for the special password required to access those six extra levels if your were curious, it comes in the form of this question during the credits sequence, with the answer being (you're welcome):
123 765 444
177 075 537
457 337 735
One secret level will lead you to a room with a message saying "HERE IS A SECRET ROOM", and the cool thing is that you can take some of these letters and form a word by stacking them properly (carrying them from the bottom letter; stacking items is also key to reaching high places at points). One example you're given during the credits is "HEROS" which if you carry all five letters spelling that will take you to a special screen, but what should happen if you spell another word and carry it out the exit door; like, say, "CHEAT"?
"Hear ye, hear ye! We have someone who knows how to spell 'CHEAT'!"It was only for the Lunar Jet Pug level, I promise, but I wanted to show what would happen if you carried that word towards the exit of A Hidden Place. Not only will it give you infinite lives and health (until you resume from your last password) but it will turn Puggsy and all the letters in the map and the numbers in each upper corner sharing his color to green. It's bizarre, yet it's a very interesting result.
|Letting go at the proper time is key|
Oh, that's pleasing and really great to know; as long as there is no sequel baiting we're se---
………...why? Just... why?
*sigh* I already went over my disdain for when games set up or hint at follow-ups that ultimately never ended up happening on a few occasions in the past, so I don't wish to reiterate why I personally find those teasers in the end frustrating at the risk of prolonging my already lengthy review, so I'll just move on. Traveller's Tales probably had plans for Puggsy to appear in a sequel during development, but was discarded entirely when Puggsy didn't sell well despite the positive reception it had gotten; that's too bad. =(
|Racatlantis: The Lost Empire|
Because it wouldn't be a lighthouse without
any (candle) light, now would it?
My Personal Score: 8.5/10
d(^-^)bTO EACH THEIR OWNd(^-^)b
P.S. In this one level there is a puzzle where you have to place the letters M, R, and C in the correct spot (whereas the other letters spelling "chrome" are unused) which is only revealed through a chrome light because the area is dark. I wondered: could that be a subtle reference to Martyn R. Chudley who worked on Wiz 'n' Liz: The Frantic Wabbit Wescue? Because those seem like they would be his initials.
P.S. 2 In relevance to Puggsy (somewhat): during the credits for Traveller's Tales' subsequent platformer Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse there is a name that always catches my attention under the U.K. Quality Assurance segment, and that's "B.Y. Puggsy". I don't know whether that's a real name or a pseudonym, but considering it's only present in that game (also because there's no Puggsy cameo) it's too bizarre to not bring up. o~O Or maybe, it's a subliminal message of some sort; hmmmmmm………
P.S. 3 Over a week ago I saw Corin Hardy's The Nun in theatres, the newest spinoff to James Wan's The Conjuring movies, and I thought it was okay (better than I thought it would be, I might add); nothing great, nothing terrible (well, aside from the jump scares, maybe dial those down a little in the future, or a lot rather?), just okay. I liked it enough for its creepy and foreign atmosphere, settings, and acting, but it doesn't hold a candle to The Conjuring and its sequel in my opinion because it doesn't have the overarching family element, genuine thrills that are earned, and emotional resonance that's prevalent in those movies, but with this one I felt that they were trying somewhat to recapture some magic from said movies as I was invested in some of its characters (James Wan's involvement as script writer helps; like this one scene in the cemetery that was intensely shot) but is undermined somewhat by the overreliance of jump scares and hindered by some questionable moments. Still, it was better than John R. Leonetti's Annabelle from four years ago, which is really not that hard a feat and was all I was hoping for before seeing it.
Happy 25th Anniversary, Puggsy!!! =D
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think (neither spam nor NSFW comments are allowed); hope you have a great day, take care! =D