Sunday 18 July 2010

Coca Cola Kid

Squirrel's reviewing Japanese exclusive Sega Game Gear games. What has the world come to?

Thought this might be notable. "Coca Cola Kid", the hottest thing since Pepsi Invaders on the Atari 2600 in soft drink circles (unless you count the 7-up branded Cool Spot). Unrelated to the film it was developed by Aspect (of Sonic 8-bit fame) and never escaped the country for reasons unknown (though it is a bit Japanesey). It might not look or sound like much from this introductory paragraph and that boring title screen but this is almost a Sonic the Hedgehog game in disguise.

Coca Cola is surprisingly similar to Sonic Chaos. It shares an almost identical looking engine and similar gameplay rules, and was flushed out by the same development team. You play as Japan's then-mascot for the brand, the Coca Cola Kid. Now I have no understanding of what his values were nor can I translate the story, so many parts of this game remain a mystery to me. All I know is you travel from left to right kicking topless people. Which is probably a good thing I guess.

The game's very... westernised, considering it was built for a Japanese audience. Now I'm not saying that these things didn't occur in the early 90s in Japan, but kids wearing baseball caps backwards riding skateboards and endorsing soft drinks is something I'd have expected America to come up with... I mean that's what happened with McDonalds (almost). But I guess there are a lot of anime-like elements thrown into the story.

So how's it like Sonic Chaos (or 2, or Triple Trouble)? Well for one, there's an element of speed. Catch a ride on a skateboard will send you off to the right at a much faster pace (minecarts did this in Sonic 2 8-bit). Items are found in television-like boxes. The title cards are extremely similar to Sonic, as are the death sequences (and one can be triggered from a 9:59 timeout... also a Sonic thing). Each level is split into three, where the third is dedicated to a boss, and yeah... you'd make the connection instantly. It even has the classic "SEGA" sound which was usually only turned up in Sonic titles.

But it's not just a Sonic clone. In fact, it seems to combine elements from a variety of games. Rather than jumping on your enemies, the Coca Cola Kid has a kick move. He also has a Mega Man-esque slide move and wall jumping capabilities. There's a stair system similar to the Castlevania series as well. But I suppose if you really want the proof it was inspired by Sonic you should probably check out the spin-dash move, which although can't be charged up (and doesn't involve spinning), has exactly the same effect (and can destroy walls).

There are of course, some minor drawbacks. If you're one of those people who can't stand advertising you'll probably hate this game on the basis there's almost always a Coca Cola logo on screen somewhere. It's also slightly hindered by the Game Gear's small resolution, but if you have a nice emulator (like the newest Kega Fusion) you can run the game at the resolution of the Sega Master System without many problems.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this title. Despite having Coca Cola attached to its name, it's a very nice platformer and almost acts as a long lost Sonic game. Give it a go sometime.

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