Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jerry Boy (SFC) Review

Received: February 6th, 2014 / Written: February 10th-14th, 2015
Alternate Title: Smart Ball
Year: 1991 | Designed by: GameFreak | Developed by: System Sacom
Published by: Epic/Sony Records | [|O|]
Disclaimer: Contains Spoilers and a Small and Angry Passionate Rant
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  =)  When the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo consoles were released in 1990 and 1991 respectively, there were lots of noteworthy and popular games of varying genres that came out during the Nintendo 16-bit's Generation One run; granted, many of them were ports of '80s titles or even games made in 1990, but there were still games made exclusively for the console itself that the library more than made up for itself.
These exclusives that I'm referring to mostly consisted of platformers like Super Mario World, Super Ghouls'n Ghosts, and Super Castlevania IV or shoot'em ups like Darius Twin, Super Earth Defense Force, and Super R-Type to name a few.  Some titles that surfaced during the 1990-1991 run were hybrid games that combined two genres: such as Actraiser/ActRaiser, Super Wagyan Land, and the first 16-bit Ganbare Goemon entry... to a point, at least.
Love the film reel, it adds a lot  =)
One of the very platformers that came out during the Nintendo 16-bit's Generation One period was a little game by the name of Jerry Boy by System Sacom, a game I found out about several years ago on a forum website that I was curious about but didn't get a chance to play it until February of last year.  American gaming readers will note that the game was actually released in America, only retitled as Smart Ball by Sony Imagesoft.  Yes, I am aware of that; in fact, I recently got the Western version for the sake of making a review that's well-rounded... I'll get to that later.  =|  But let's not tarry any longer, let's see what this game is about.  =)
In a far away... errrm, modern-looking kingdom... there lived a prince named Jerry, who also happens to rule the place in good prosperity.  Wait, if he's a ruler why is he not a king?    O~0  Anyway, from time to time he enjoys the company of his love interest and beautiful girlfriend Princess Emi.  But Jerry's not the only one who likes the young maiden, for she is also sought after by his brother Tom.
Ooooh, subtlety!  {=
Since he's got a crush on Emi he feels that Jerry must be out of the picture so he could have her for himself.  So out of pure jealousy for his brother Tom seeks the assistance of a mysterious witch, and once met they devise a plan to dispose of him.
On the way to Princess Emi's doorway Jerry gets stopped in his tracks by the witch and his brother Tom, setting their scheme to fruition.  The witch makes her move and conjures her magic beam towards the blue-haired monarch, and as soon as it makes contact with him he begins to change shape; transforming him into a slimy blob-like jelly, disappearing into the void of the black screen via Mode 7 rotation and scaling effects.  Thus, Jerry's quest to turn back into a human and save his true love begins.

So it begins
Since I was exposed to System Sacom's action-platformer with the original Super Famicom version firsthand, I will primarily discuss the controls of Jerry Boy exclusively, but I promise I'll give mention to the American version's controls sometime my review.  Jerry has got two forms of attacks: the long-ranged attacks and the short-ranged ones.  The ones you'll find yourself relying on the most are the long-ranged attacks, and they involve spewing out balls towards enemies, which can be found on the ground or inside a series of pink tulips.  The thing you have to be careful about is aiming correctly, for you can only have up to nine at your disposal (don't even try to get over nine red balls, otherwise the count will go back to zero... I don't get that either) and your usage amount is limited to how many you have at the moment.

Aurora Borealis in the sky, yay!  =D
But if you don't want to risk running out of balls to spew out you can always use the short-ranged attacks.  Doing that involves squishing your body downward (Down) or stretching it upward (Up), and you'll know it worked when the enemies are no longer in commission or if they've been momentarily stunned.  While it is a good tactic I do not recommend using it all the time; with the long-ranged ball spiting attacks there is at least a bit of distance between you and the enemies (or boss), while short-ranged attacks leave you vulnerable to damage if done too close to them.  When you use this strategy, use proper judgment in terms of closeby proximity and you'll be fine; that's not to say you won't make it through without losing a heart if you stretch Jerry's body often.

Waiting until the coast is clear
The tulips are your main source for ball weapons, and if you wait awhile they will close up again and can be used once more.  Occasionally though you might find a different power-up which may prove helpful in certain situations; if you stumble across an iron ball you'll move slow but you may just be able to defeat one or more enemies at once should you spew it at them, plus they can be used any time.  A few times you might find a seed, and should you wish to sprout it just press the action button and it'll grow as high as you'd like.  And finally there's the jump power-up which enables you to jump higher than usual so long as it's still inside Jerry.  Here's the thing: if you spit it upward and it lands on Jerry, the power-up can still be used if you would like; but if a power-up (outside of iron) is spewed out towards a wall or ceiling it will pop and will be lost forever, so if you wish to keep using it up to a point then you'll have to find a way of keeping it.  Some tulips might also contain health extensions (up to two times per stage) or even lives.

Jumping in the sewers
Jerry Boy's controls are very simple and while it can take a bit of time to accustom to due to its structure, you'll find yourself adjusted to them after a few areas.  And given that Jerry himself has been turned into a jelly-like blob there are benefits to this: namely the fact that you can stick to and move on the walls and even the ceiling, which is a plus since it means you can access higher parts of the area or avoid facing some enemies on the ground.  From time to time you will find small tubes which Jerry can stretch and squeeze himself inside of to reach the other end.  Pressing B makes you jump, but how high or low you jump depends not just on how hard you press the button but by how fast you're moving when you're jumping.  Sticking to the walls and ceilings means you have to hold down the Y button, which is also used to make Jerry slip by fast; and as for the power-ups, they too are utilized with the Y button.

One small slip for jelly, one giant leap for jellykind
Given that the tone of the game is lighthearted, the visuals are colorful and cheerful to look at; they may not be heavy on detail or exhibit parallax scrolling but all things considered it works for this game.  That's not to say that there aren't moments worth mentioning in this department, because there definitely are.  The game begins in an area inhabited by a green, leafy landscape with a simple yet effective shot of a mountain in the backdrop.  Later in the desert area it begins in the day where it's bright but as you gradually progress it starts to get darker and darker until it's night, and all while the moon is staying in position.  The desert landscape may have an interesting art choice, but as basic as the transition is I find it effective.  The water, especially in the water areas, is made up of blue dithering effects as opposed to the usual color-layering approach; while the enemies stay behind that layer Jerry still sticks out in front, although seeing as the main character himself is blue he probably would've blended into or disappeared into the effect.

As the creatures of the sea anticipate the arrival
of Finding Dory, Jerry prepares to make his move
One area that deserves a very special mention is the moon stages, which are operated on nothing but Mode 7 as Jerry moves to the left or two the right, creating a surreal feeling while the planet you're walking on (or inside) is slowly rotating.  I also give credit for the constellation of Cygnus looming in the distance and the amount of shading that give it depth.  =)  Those are the best-looking areas of the game and it would've been neat if there were more places like those here.  Even though the lava effects look like flashing checker marks they work in their own way.  I also like the waterfall and snow effects in their respective places, and even though it's a still image the Aurora Borealis is still pleasing to look at (I love me some Aurora Borealis).  =)  The other areas look decent as well and have got light anime look and feel to them.

Now that is one burly penguin right there!
And speaking of which, the company that designed the characters and enemies of Jerry Boy is GameFreak (who currently makes Pokémon games), which work to the game's advantage as their motions and expressions all have a fun charm to them.  Jerry as a slimy blob is cute with wide eyed design, plus I like how smooth his idle and stretching animations are; what's also nice is the way that he literally brightens up when the Y button is being held (how else would you know in a game like this that you're ready to run?).  If I have a small nitpick with Jerry's design it's the way that the ball weapon is visible and see-through inside his body; it's almost like you're looking directly at his heart, and I don't know, I find it to be a little distracting (even when he's stretching his body).  0.0

Pop goes the flame
Each enemy has got their own charm going for them as well, particularly when they've been ousted as they make incredulous expressions.  Their animations range from basic to pretty solid; and the enemy roster is decent as you go against upright mice, sentient flames, big birds, fire birds, seemingly harmless rocks, zero gravity bunnies, fish, crabs, penguins, and even humanized toy soldiers (oh wait, they're actually human, never mind).  The boss fights are more than twice as big as Jerry is, and some of them are ingenious ideas.  One of the bosses is a giant bird that's capable of destroying houses, and another is a series of dust clouds with a head and a pair of hands and feet.  I like the flabby penguin and Centaur constellation bosses, the large salmon that begins with all the scales in his body until he's nothing but bone is riveting, and as for the final boss it looks okay.

Now that's something you don't see everyday
Jerry Boy's music was done by a trio of composers--comprising of then first-time conductor Akira Yamaoka of Sparkster and Silent Hill fame, veteran Bomberman composer Yasuhiko Fukuda, and was one of the last games Manabu Saitō provided music for before having passed away in 1992 due to kidney failure at a very young age--and in my opinion the soundtrack is the best part of the package.  =)  The music is very lighthearted, fitting the game's innocent and adorable tone and atmosphere succinctly, for the way the notes are laid out do a good job of adding a sense of mystery, wonder, and charm to their respective areas.

Deep in the scorching hot desert our hero
goes forth
The title theme starts out as a neat fanfare preparing you for what's to come, and after that it segues into a light and sinister-sounding sequence, finally culminating in an epic trumpet-blaring bang.  Now that's how you start a game soundtrack!  =)  Jerry's main theme is quaint and does its job nicely, making a remixed reprise in the pleasant-sounding snowland theme and ending credits suite.  There is a xylophone-driven menacing theme which brings an amount of ominousness when it comes to the sewers and other dangerous areas.  Some themes that stand out very well for me personally are the soft-sounding and melancholy theme for when you discover the ruins of a city, which is both pretty and sad to listen to at the same time; the nice-sounding water theme which is composed in a way that makes you feel immersed in it (especially with the tender piano keys); but my absolute favorite is the moon theme, which does a great job at complementing the fact that you're no longer on earth discovering a new planet with its simple yet wondrous cue.

Ah, it's another "irony battle"; you know, like
the one you faced in TwinBee: Rainbow Bell
Adventure =)
The boss themes, on the other hand, are okay; and a couple themes sound over-the-top (namely the life lost, game over, and victory themes).  Everything else though is really good and fits to the stages to a T.  =)  The sound effects aren't as high in abundance as the music cues, but for what there are they work decently enough.  The sound for when the ball makes contact with an enemy either sounds like a pop or an explosive bang, the former occurring even as Jerry attacks enemies with his stretchy, squishy body.  The sound for when Jerry sustains damage sounds like a shy squeak, and there is beanstalk-like sound as you sprout the growing seed upward.  A few bosses make sound effects, but usually those are for when they managed to land a hit on you.

Received: January 31st, 2015
Year: 1991 | Published by: Sony Imagesoft
Epic/Sony Records released Jerry Boy for the Super Famicom in September 1991, with the American release surfacing six months later by the American Sony publishing firm Sony Imagesoft, under a totally different name--Smart Ball.  Since the Japanese have a tendency to use the L's as opposed to R's or vice versa, one could easily presume that "Jerry Boy" was supposed to be "Jelly Boy"; on the other hand, considering that Jerry is the name of the main character, the title choice may have been deliberate.  Even so, it's easy to understand the name change; had the game come to the States as Jelly Boy it would've probably been laughed off the market.
Image from Wikipedia
Not that European gamers seemed to have a problem with that, albeit a completely different game altogether.  If you try to browse System Sacom's platformer as Jelly Boy online you'll instead be brought to the 1994 European game; the Japanese game is titled Jerry Boy.
When Jerry Boy was converted for American audiences there were lots of changes made; one of them actually pertaining to the controls.  If you've played the original Japanese version you would know that the running, wall/ceiling sticking, and ball projectile-spewing controls were all assigned to the same button (Y).  In Smart Ball, you only run and stick with the Y button, but this time the ball-spewing has been assigned to the shoulder buttons.  This is actually a welcome change, since before you had to be careful not to let go at the wrong time and pressing the button once lets you spew out a ball (even when you just want to run); leading to trying your best to avoid awkward situations.  It makes me wish Jerry Boy had controls like these to begin with.
What's not welcome, however, are the questionable omissions made for Smart Ball--that is, the story and towns.  For reasons that only make sense to them Sony Imagesoft demanded that System Sacom and GameFreak remove the towns and dialogue for the American release; which makes no sense, since there's nothing controversial or wrong with them that warrant being elided.
One could make the argument that the towns made what was already a largely easy game even easier with the inclusion of a freebie life-giving elder in each one, and that's why they may have been removed.  But I don't buy that, because the towns in Jerry Boy were the few times you were given solace and sanctuary before moving on to the next stage; and by taking them out in Smart Ball Sony basically took out the heart of the game--which is shameful>=(
Each version is cute and charming, and the towns were the heart and soul of the game in the original version.  In the process two sweet-sounding songs, the town theme and the theme for heaven (yes, heaven), that were in Jerry Boy once, removed entirely in Smart Ball, are now (just like the heart) gone; never to be heard by American audiences in-game lest you import the Japanese original.  The towns added a lot, with humans of varying ages and professions (like teenagers, professors, men in suits, angels, and eskimoes); you could even talk to animals (not that they have much to say to you, but it was a nice touch), and to see it all gone is sad.
Oh, but you'd think it'd end there, when upon closer inspection: Sony was not very good at covering the fact that it was altered, making the localization some of the most inconsistent I've seen.  So you had no problem taking out the crucifix in front of the chapel at the end of Stage 8-A (due Nintendo of America's old safe-harboring no-religion code at the time), but you couldn't remove or alter the signs leading you to these excised areas?  I understand the need for a goal marker to let people know a stage is over with; except the signs to the cities, towns, an oasis, and a whale are still on there, YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY!!!  >o<
And yet despite the removal of the towns and dialogue, in each version is an alternate exit to Stage 3-A with a little boy in it that you can talk to!  In Smart Ball if you press Y in front of him he'll move his lips with no words coming out, and yet in Jerry Boy he speaks kanji like any regular human would.  I should probably be grateful for the fact that not everything from the Japanese original was lost, but that doesn't say much.
Even though the story was removed they decided to retain these scenes for both versions; the ending (sans kanji) I understand, I mean you don't want to An American Werewolf in London a video game and give it an abrupt stop of an ending that ends up frustrating instead of earning praise, but the wedding crash scene?  In Smart Ball this is the first time you see these humans at all, and if you weren't aware of the story beforehand you'd be very confused.  So instead of dialogue being spoken you have awkward silence taking its place.  And no, I don't know why Tom's hair is now green when any other time you saw him it was violet.
Screengrabbed while watching clip of Linkara/Phelous crossover review of Airzone Solution on YouTube
And before anyone points out that the story in Smart Ball is in the manual, I just want to mention that just because something's in the manual it doesn't necessarily mean its in the game (which is in evidence here).  Also, not everyone likes to read the manual; or if that's not the case, not everyone owns the manual!  Sony Imagesoft seriously did not think this through.

Because the story was removed in America, so too was the intro.  You know that sequence in Jerry Boy where it begins with a black screen, then fades to the intro sequence, and once that's over it segues into another screen which constantly changes colors?  In Smart Ball you're instead treated to roughly two minutes of the most dull and boring gray title screen I've seen on a Nintendo 16-bit game.  Bubsy II had a more interesting 16-bit title screen, and that game isn't worth a mention.  Oh, and to add insult to injury the credits sequence in both versions changes colors each second like the third part of the title screen in the Japanese version.
Software Creations' Equinox and Ukiyotei's Skyblazer at least had intros in the beginning to let you know what was going on; the reason I bring these two up is because, aside from being exclusive to the console, they were both published in America by Sony Imagesoft, who clearly had no problem with the stories in the West.  In-game you were given a point to Jerry's adventure in Jerry Boy; not so in Smart Ball.
Even Millennium Entertainment's Super Morph, which was given exclusive European sales, had an intro sequence, and it too was published by Sony Imagesoft.  Why does this game keep the intro while Smart Ball doesn't?  You make it sound like Europe's more into story than America is.  You could've kept everything in the American version and had the words translated, but nooooo>=P  Whatever it was that Sony Imagesoft wanted to prove or say in early 1992, it's fallen flat on their faces and I sincerely hope that the people involved that still remember being part of it (as unlikely as it is) never hear the end of it.
Any time I see a superficial localization practice that makes no sense or is very unjustified it genuinely makes me wonder what the thought process of these localizing officials is like.  There are some things I will never understand, and changing the difficulty, music, or structure for Western audiences is one of them.  It makes me think, "What does that say about American or European gamers?  That they are unwilling to experience the game as it originally was presented in Japan?"; or rather video game "professionals" must presume that, thinking they know what Western gamers want without asking them if they wanted it like that in the first place.  I mean, what is the point of including these features if only a select group is allowed to experience it that way?  I know no one wants to hear this, but to that I say, "If that's truly how they feel, then maybe they shouldn't have released it outside of Japan in the damn first place!"  URRRRGH!!!  >O<

Year: 1994 | Developed by: GameFreak
Would've Been Published by: Epic/SonyRecords | [|O|]
Jerry Boy was a big hit in Japan (despite its sometimes awkward controls), so Epic/Sony Records fancied another game with the same jelly concept, which was to have come out three years later in 1994 for the Super Famicom exclusively.  I personally think GameFreak is a better developer than System Sacom, the latter of which did not return for the sequel Jelly Boy 2; a game the former handled all by themselves.

A big improvement over its predecessor, it's
a shame it got canned unceremoniously  =(
But it could not have been scheduled at a worse time, because by the time it was slated to be released it was completed.  But due to strains between Nintendo and Sony that year, especially the notorious Phillips CD-i incident, it was cancelled indefinitely when Sony moved on to create their PlayStation business, cutting off all ties with Nintendo from that day forward.  The publisher didn't have to be Sony, but because they were involved with the predecessor there was no alternative option, making it a lose-lose situation.  It was thought to have been lost forever until over a decade ago Jelly Boy 2's ROM was leaked online and made available to play.  It's too bad things went this route, because I recently got to experience the game's ROM online and I honestly found myself liking it a lot.  =)

It wasn't even released, and yet it's quickly
become a candidate for one my favorite games
from 1994  =)
General consensus of people who played the ROM of Jelly Boy 2 states that it's leaps and bounds better than Jerry Boy, and I couldn't agree more because it rectified many flaws that were set in the original 1991 title.  This time around you could play as one of six characters turned jelly blobs (one of them being a dog) who each had different skills, the visuals look more detailed and charmingly colorful, the controls were fine-tuned and polished, there was an options screen from the start, you could go to different routes, and there are secrets to discover which affect the ending.  Normally I don't play ROMs online due to technical and moral reasons, but since this game wasn't released I had no problem going that route (especially the fan-translated version by KingMike and Chris Covell).  =)  With the advent of repro carts of Japan-only or unreleased games being made, I'm surprised no one thought of converting this game too.  Had it been released earlier than 1994 it would've probably been successful because Jelly Boy 2 was very great to play, but sadly it was not to be.  *sigh*  =(

This bird is winged and dangerous
In Jerry Boy's stages there are checkpoints which comprise of five letters spelling out the main character's name.  Getting all of them will grant you a big bonus (completely optional); and while most checkpoints are easy to come by there are some that are hidden in inconspicuous or secret parts of an area.  While the game's controls are decent (if not awkward) there are moments that scream bad design: if you have the seed, the jump, or the iron balls inside you and you open a flower that contains a heart or a life you have to spit out what you have so that you can get them (though with health extensions and regular balls it can go either way).  With the regular ball inside you power-up you can still get everything despite it all, but that can be a problem with the other power-ups because some tulips are encased inside walls and ceiling, and say you needed to jump very far off to the side or go high up; you'd have to sacrifice what you've got in order to attain the contents inside (if you wanted it).  There is also the deal that if you get more than nine red balls the count would revert back to zero, which doesn't add up considering there's enough space near the icon for two digits.

There is also the fact that the running, wall-sticking, and ball-spewing buttons were assigned to one button; which doesn't sound bad at first until you realize that you essentially have the hold down the Y button the whole time you want to move faster.  Pressing the Y button just once after having let go will make you spew the ball of your system, so you have to be careful where you aim (above or in front of you); and even then should it be done at a wall or ceiling it will pop, making it gone.  Also, you don't want to spit the ball while you're sticking in the ceiling or the wall, because otherwise you might start to slip or fall off.  It can also make alternating between ball-spewing and running rather awkward, particularly during the boss fights, and in the end you just end up risking your thumb to be blistered.  Who wants that?  The gameplay may have been altered for the American release, but System Sacom should've implemented an options screen that allowed you to set up your controls to make things more convenient for you in the first place.  Not doing that, however, has partly hurt the game.

Squeezing through
For the most part Jerry Boy is a very easy game to play, with little in the way of challenge.  Continues are unlimited, lives can be easily stocked (especially when a boss is beaten), checkpoints are in the most convenient of places, and all the bosses (including the second wind of a couple) take the same four or five hits to be defeated.  Some areas are straightforward while others are either complex or have got a maze-like design which may take awhile to figure out the first time but once the right path has been found you won't have a hard time finding your way again on subsequent playthroughs.  It's also quite a short game, too, meaning you'll be able to beat it in less than an hour's time (or even shorter depending on how good you are at this game).  But what hurts the game the most is that there's no replay value after you beat it; there's a few alternate paths and secret rooms in some stages if you look hard enough, but aside from those you're sadly given no reason to play it again once it's over (something Jelly Boy 2 fixed).

Stick around
Had there been more length or more challenge there would definitely be a reason to play it again; I think there should've at least been another more challenging difficulty setting or two, that would've helped in favor of the game tremendously.  I'm not saying all games need various difficulty settings in order to be great, as there are some games that proved they could be despite relying only on one difficulty: games like Super Mario World, Mr. Nutz, and Super Metroid come to mind.  If you couldn't create another difficulty, at least give the platformer you're making lots of substance and a good amount of challenge to support it.  Jerry Boy is not a bad game, but it is flawed and could've benefited from more substance and a little bit more length.

Going up
That said though, there are things I like about the game; mainly the music, which is really good and makes for great atmospheric accompaniment pieces to green plains, deserts, water areas, snowy areas, the end castle, and even the moon thanks to the lighthearted and innocent tone and immersive composition.  I liked the idea behind the game, even though Jerry Boy was one of many '90s titles starring blob-like slime or jelly characters; on paper it sounds like a winner, but while the controls are decent they could've been fleshed out and been given more polish--not to mention it would probably have been a sound idea to have assigned the ball-spewing and running/sticking controls to different buttons in the first place (and also fix the tulip situation if you have an iron/seed/jump ball inside you).  Even if that were not the case, you'd still have to be careful not to accidentally stick as you hold Y when you don't want to or being careful not to let go until the right moment.  I understand that it may have been the idea given what Jerry got transformed into, but it could've been fine-tuned to make things less problematic and awkward.

"Ha!  Sucks to be you!"  XD
I liked the anime-style world and the way the game was lighthearted, never trying to be bigger or darker than it actually is; that, and it's very cute and appealing, so that helps.  =)  I thought presenting the stage select screen as a film reel was a quaint idea, as it's not something you see that often in platformers and ends up giving it a bit of personality; not to mention that each stage has two sections.  As colorful and not all that detailed as the areas are (well, compared to other platformers at the time), there's a certain charm to their simplicity; which especially rings true for the desert, water, and snow areas.  The Mode 7 moon stages are great-looking and sounding areas; but like Snowy Valley in The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse they are far too brief and are over before you know it.  =(

Oh, dude, put some clothes on!
And that's another thing about Jerry Boy: uneven area lengths.  Each area has got two sections, A and B, but while that might be the case some areas are shorter than others, while the longer areas are due to complex area designs than the shorter ones that have simplistic design (or lack thereof).  While the story may not be all that impressive or groundbreaking, there was a story nonetheless; in Jerry Boy you were at least given a reason to play it--the same claim cannot be made for Smart Ball, which entirely jettisoned the in-game storyline at the expense of giving you absolutely no reason to venture forth.  I genuinely liked the towns in Jerry Boy and how you got to converse with people and animals in places like the desert oasis, the snow-capped igloos, and even heaven among other places.  I wish they kept those in the American version because they were honestly the heart of the package.  =(

You would think that because the towns with the life-giving elder were removed in Smart Ball, it'd mean it was slightly less easy than the Japanese version; but because the controls were altered to be more fitting (with the shoulder buttons for ball-spewing), the American version is more at ease to play than Jerry Boy.  It's still sticky at times but at least you wouldn't accidentally waste ammo when all you wanted to do was run.  But improved controls do not a better version of this game make, because the story and towns were removed and the dialogue for when they were supposed to happen have long gone despite the various in-game hints that it was localized for American audiences.  I can think of plenty of examples of localization that resulted in a version the equivalent of a short end of the stick: the main one that springs to mind is TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure, for when converted to European audiences as Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures its structure was made strictly linear, progress continuation was done by password, the dialogue was removed, and there was only one ending (while the Japanese version was nonlinear, it had a auto-battery save, thee was dialogue in the map screen, and had six endings).  =|  Yeah, that's fair.

"Hey, I can see my home from here!"  =D
System Sacom clearly tried their best to make it appealing and pleasing to the eyes and ears, as well as make the game fun to play in the process.  But Jerry Boy left a lot to be desired in terms of gameplay and substance that it misses top quality standards by a mile away.  It's lighthearted fare with lots of charm thanks to GameFreak's involvement, but by the time you reach the end of the film reel you can't help but want more.  It's serviceable for what it's worth, and a lot of the characters and enemies have likable designs and the music is great.  But what are good visuals and great music if the gameplay is decent, cluttered, sticky, and sometimes awkward for its own good?  I know Jerry Boy was aimed at a younger audience, but had there been a touch more difficulty and challenge it would've worked better.  As it stands though, this game is simply okay (with a little amount of Japanese culture thrown in).
As for Smart Ball, while it may have been more playable with a convenient control setup it still loses points for depriving American gamers the chance to experience the story and towns in-game, making for a lesser game that lacks heart and drive like Jerry Boy did.  Sony Imagesoft did learn to put up with stories in their published Nintendo 16-bit games afterwards (even weaker titles) until 1994, but by removing the story for this game they made themselves look arrogant and shortsighted in the process.  I feel sorry for all gamers that grew up with the inferior version, not knowing until the days of the internet that they've been had.  =(  That doesn't make Smart Ball bad, but it does make it a lesser game.
I know a lot of people like the 1991 System Sacom platformer a lot and have a fondness for it despite its problems, and I can understand why if they grew up with it.  But if you're a platformer junkie like myself that only got to play this game late in their lives (for me, I got to play it last year), you might not have the same affection for it but you may end up appreciating many of its aspects.  It can be fun to play sometimes, but the lack of replay value hurts it tremendously; but if that doesn't concern you then you may end up liking it more than enough.  If you just want to have a good platforming time (regardless of challenge and brevity) on a cloudy or rainy afternoon then this game is not bad.
If you grew up with Smart Ball I strongly recommend you import Jerry Boy to see what you missed out on; or... if you haven't played either version then I only advise you to play Jerry Boy, because Smart Ball's sole purpose is to make you appreciate the Japanese version more.  It might not be one of the better Generation One Nintendo 16-bit games or one of the better games in the platforming genre, but if you give it a chance it's fun to play once in awhile.  =)

My Personal Smart Ball Score: 6.0/10
My Personal Jerry Boy Score: 6.5/10
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
P.S. Holy crap, I had a lot more to say about this game than I initially thought I did.  O-O  This may be one of my longest reviews yet.
P.S. 2 In hindsight, I'm glad I reviewed Super Morph before I tackled this game, even though the initial idea was to review it in chronological order due to their similar premises amidst different structures.
P.S. 3 I honestly like the title design for Jerry Boy better than the one for Smart Ball; because it's simple, it's cute, and Jerry managed to act as a placeholder for a letter.  =)
P.S. 4 If my ongoing rant made it sound like I hate localization when it's not warranted: well, you'd be right.  Localization practices like these suck>X(
P.S. 5 I probably turned off a lot of people with my rant on localization and criticizing the game's weaker aspects, didn't I?  =/
I'm StarBoy91, and... I just realized this was my first Nintendo 16-bit video game review of 2015  =|
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let know what you think and whether you agree with me or not.  Hope you have a great day, and take care!
Oh, and on a completely unrelated note,
Happy Valentine's Day!
(I did not plan to publish my review that day because I had a hard time writing the review as soon as I could)

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