Mad Max


Review by Kevin "tsr" Gifford



Graphics: 5

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 5

Mindscape is probably the most overlooked company in the world of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game label of the more serious software company The Software Toolworks, they fared much better on 8-bit computers (I still like the Commodore 64 version of Paperboy over all others, including arcade). Their cartridge efforts over on the NES, while all original and not cheap imports of already made Japanese games, have apparently no special features. They made 24 games - that's -twenty-four- games, and the only really noteworthy one is a great port of Gauntlet II complete with all the dowdy voices.

madmaxnes1.png (6081 bytes)It didn't help any that most of their games are (a) movie licenses (b) set to such a stupefying difficulty level that you wondered if they hired The Flash as their playtester. The odd controls for their games may have contributed to this. The best example of that would be Conan, possibly the only platform game to require two buttons - Down and B - to crouch. Just pressing Down by itself makes Conan jump forward... not that you can't do this simply by running and pressing A.

The concept of "impossible games" usually makes people think of 2600 shooters that never end; NES games, with their fancy endings, can't possibly fall into this category. People couldn't be more wrong. Two nightmarish specimens float to my mind…

Mindscape's NES division never seemed to have the money to get real licenses. Instead they went cut-rate (is there a Big Lots for movie licenses?) and bought scratch-and-dents like Days of Thunder and worn-out "classic" flicks like Mad Max.

Each of the three levels in this game is divided into two parts - the Road War, and the Arena. The Road War is set in the grayish-brown landscapes that pervade both the movie and this colorless game. Max has attached an odd gun to his car that lets him lob sticks of dynamite right from the center of the hood, and he'll need it to survive. The object of this first part is to fend off cars and fortresses - all of which also shoot dynamite - and find enough food and water to barter a ticket to the Arena. Your average gamer will dead-end right here - you only have enough gas to last about a minute, and until you buy more or know where some is hidden you're endlessly restarting.

The Arena is far more exciting, taking place in a square-shape enclosure with holes that open and close. You have three chances to push or lure 30 or so enemy cars into the pits. The main problem with this is that it's impossible - in order to lure cars into opening holes you have to be so close to the hole that you almost always fall in anyway, and if you forgot to power-up your car in the Road War enemy cars can hit and bounce you around like a Ping-Pong ball on a trampoline. Death might occur fairly often in the wasteland of the future, but this is ridiculous.

But the true Power Player, undaunted by these trifling things, can persevere and make it to the final Arena on Area 3. There he will find Max facing a final boss, the Ultimate Warrior (not the great pro wrestler of years past, unfortunately). And you will find you cannot beat him. This drove me nuts. I would just die and die and die and die and die against this enemy. I would literally shoot every piece of ammunition I had at him and he still would not die. Arrrgh. Doesn't Mindscape have any compassion?

In fact (and I only found this out by cheating with a Game Action Replay) there's "special" ammunition - crossbow bolts - you have to find in the Road War. This ammo is hidden in a mine shaft, though, that is so easy to miss I doubt anyone could have ever found it without being tipped off by Mindscape tech support. Just imagine the crying kids trying to finish this game, over and over, wasting their summer and gaining 200 pounds off of snack foods in the process. I was crying, too, at the end - the ending is only one static screen. And I'm not giving it away; you try finishing it.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2005 07:01 PM