Nintendo NES

Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 7

Sound: 3

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 5

Jaws is one of many movie licenses for the NES. It is better than most but still falls into the category of average when compared to other games in the NES library.

The graphics look nice, given the system they are on. The title screen looks good and the graphics also are well done during the various stages of the game. During the underwater scenes, the characters (player and enemies) are small but the detail is excellent. It is very easy to figure out what the characters are (your diver, stingrays, sharks, jellyfish, etc.). The scenes where your boat battles Jaws in a fight to the finish are also well detailed, with the exception of the water itself, which appears to have tiles.

The sound (music and effects) are far less stellar. The soundtrack is very repetitive, to the point where you feel like strangling somebody if it doesn't stop or change the beat. There are only a few different tracks of music. The sound effects (on the shooting) remind me a lot of Centipede for the Atari 2600.

Like the sound, the gameplay also takes a hit. This game, quite frankly, is pretty boring. There is little challenge throughout the duration of the game. The only challenge is in the shallow water scenes since there is very little room to move around and evade your foes. All of the action in the deep water scenes, however, are a complete piece of cake. An experienced gamer will have little trouble. The controls are smooth and won't serve as an excuse.

I will take a little time to cover the plot. There isn't much to do in Jaws. The point of the game, as you'd expect, is simply to stop Jaws. You start the game at a port and you travel across a large body of water to another port. To finish the game, you need to travel back and forth between the two ports several times. Each visit to a port enables you to power up (in exchange for a certain number of sea shells). While traveling back and forth from port to port, you hit unseen 'objects' (unless it is Jaws, who you can see). From there, you are drawn into underwater battles with sea creatures and sometimes even Jaws. In that aspect alone, it is akin to early rpg's that had several 'random battles', i.e. Dragon Warrior.

As a diver, shooting sea creatures with a spear gun will give you the seashells needed to power up. You continue until the screen is clear of enemies. From time to time, you compete in bonus stages for more seashells. Occasionally, you will bump into Jaws and you work his power level down until you can draw him into a final battle in which he charges your ship. Oftentimes, it takes several battles with Jaws to work down his energy. It's similar to the Friday the 13th game, also by LJN, in which you fight Jason several times taking down his energy level slowly.

From there, you are drawn into a final battle with Jaws, in which he charges your ship. That's it, there is nothing else to do. Considering the number of undersea battles you are drawn into, the fact they last far longer than most random RPG fights and after every couple of battles you'll play a bonus game, you'll have a large number of shells in no time. As you would guess, it gets tiresome being drawn into all these battles when you don't need any more shells and would be fine just going back and forth port to port.

Powerups you can obtain include increased shot strength, a submarine (which increases your firepower and adds bombs to your repertoire), a motion tracker (for keeping tabs on Jaws) and also strobes, the latter being used to finish Jaws once and for all.

Overall, there isn't much to do in this game and what there is to do can be fun initially but quickly grows tiresome. The best part of the game is traveling back and forth to ports, because at least you feel like you are making a little progress, since wearing down Jaws is pretty meaningless until you obtain a few strobes.

While a good time can be had beating the game the first time around, this is one you probably will never go back to after finishing one time. Back in the glory days of the NES the verdict for this game, just like a Jaws movie sequel (2, 3 or 4), would have been rental only.

Here are a few gameplay tips to help you through: -When you bump into Jaws with your boat, you are drawn into battle with him. Unlike other undersea battles, you can move your boat from side to side and fire bombs at Jaws. Take advantage of this time and fire as many bombs as you possibly can at Jaws before your boat is hit, which sends you diving into the water. The bombs are far more effective than your spears and will wear down Jaws a little.

  • Stick and move. Fire at the sea creatures and when they get too close move up or down then get behind them. The computer AI (for the enemies undersea) is pretty dense. All of the sea creatures (save the jellyfish who travel vertically) will swim to the other side of the screen before turning around to come after you, this includes Jaws. This allows you to you to get in good hits on sea creatures without any danger of them getting close to you.
  • Try to avoid losing lives, as in most games it is a setback. You lose your powerups and it is time consuming to earn them back.
  • Don't chase too far after sea shells. You'll find plenty of shells in the game, as it is, including the bonus stages. Unless you are in an area without the rising jellyfish, don't try grabbing any shells from the very bottom of the screen. Jellyfish come up quickly from the bottom, giving you little time to react. Additionally, stay away from sea shells on the far right or left of the screen. The chance of getting hit by emerging sharks or sting rays is too risky. Basically, only go after those sea shells that are within reach (preferably on the way to the ocean floor). You will be dropped into undersea battles at a nauseating rate, so as I mentioned, you'll have ample opportunity to score some shells.
  • It isn't a bad idea to grab the occasional star fish since extra points leads to extra lives.
  • Once you know the path, travel from port to port without bothering to explore. The only worthwhile diversion is the submarine, which makes the game significantly easier (extra speed underwater, ability to use bombs and an extra hit allowed). Unlike 'Dragon Warrior', there is little need for aimless wandering hoping for battles to happen, without being able to make any progress.
  • Deep water battles are easy but the shallow water battles are much more difficult. You'll need to move fast and don't stop firing. To avoid the shallow water battles, stay as far away from land as possible. Stick to the open water, as much as possible, although you must go near land to reach ports and also claim the submarine.
  • Ending the review, I notice the box title says, "This time, there's no escape." On the contrary, I've found a few: the power button, a power outage, selling the game......


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Thursday, December 25, 2003 09:17 PM