Review: Gremlins 2 – The New Batch (Game Boy)

In this review, things get a little fuzzy in the Game Boy game Gremlins 2 – The New Batch. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1991. It was also released on the NES.

The game has a fair amount of backstory in game. After the chaos of the events in the original Gremlins, the store was torn down. Gizmo, the last remaining gremlin, is taken to the Clamp laboratory for genetic research and experimentation. Billy happens to have caught wind of this plan. He already works at Clamp, so he manages to steal Gizmo and hide him in a desk drawer. While Gizmo is told to be quiet, Gizmo disobeys him and begins wandering the facilities.

Initially, you are completely unarmed. Along the way, Gizmo is able to obtain a small number of weapons. The first weapon is a pencil. This is a permanent melee weapon Gizmo can use against enemies. The range is extremely short (about 3 to 5 pixels) and the power is poor (enemies will require at least two hits before being killed). The only positive with this weapon is that it sticks with you for the entire level (including at the boss section).

A second weapon you can obtain is the radio. Collect the radio and you’ll get a musical note that appears on top of your head. Use the attack and the note will weave around forward, taking out enemies along the way. While the range is great and the power is also good, this is a single use weapon. In addition to this, you can’t take this weapon into the boss level.

A third weapon is the briefcase. Gizmo can hide in this and become temporarily invulnerable. The great thing about this is that you have no risk of being injured by other enemies with this. You just run into enemies and take them out. There is a limited number of enemies you can take out and some enemies will cause the case to disappear on contact while dying, so be careful. Also, if you land on a spike, the briefcase disappears.

A fourth weapon is the punching block. If Gizmo jumps on this block, two boxing gloves will spring from either side, taking out any enemy that happens to be near by. The good part about this weapon is that the range is somewhat reasonable. The power of this weapon is excellent. Unfortunately, the location of these weapons are fixed. So, really, it’s only good for knocking out one or two enemies who happen to be close by.

One thing that does help you along the way are springs. If you time your jumping, you can catapult Gizmo into the air and gain access to platforms that would otherwise not be accessible.

There are a number of enemies in this game. These include mice, larger gremlins, and bats. At the end of each level is a boss that you must defeat. Defeat the boss and make it to the next round.

If you manage to defeat the boss, you’ll be taken to a bonus stage. It is with Gizmo and boxing gloves. You have a limited number of time to hit the punching bag. Hit the bag 99 times and you’ll earn a free life. Both “A” and “B” punches, so this can help a lot in making this level much more passable. In fact, I believe this is the only part in the game where you can earn free lives. You start the game with 3 free lives.

This game also features a minor health system. You have four hearts in total. Each time you take damage, you can either lose half a heart or a whole heart. You can have all four hearts missing and still keep going, but if you take one more hit, you lose a life. Along the way, you can collect hearts to restore health. There is the more common small heart. This replenishes a single heart worth of energy. There is also the much more rare big heart. Often, these hearts are only found once per level and placed in areas that are very difficult to access. If you manage to collect one of these hearts, then you restore all of your health.

One thing that really holds this game back is difficulty. This is brought on by two different factors.

The first factor is the weapons you get access to. The most common weapon that you use the most is the weak pencil weapon. The range of this weapon is a mere 3 or so pixels. Trying to hit an enemy without getting hit yourself is often proven to be an extremely difficult task to pull of consistently. Since enemies require multiply hits, it is more than possible to strike an enemy only to have the enemy travel that little distance to hit you in the process. Yes, you can eliminate an enemy with relative ease, but you often find yourself limping across the stage because you keep taking damage in the process.

The short range and weak weapon is only exacerbated when you get to the stages boss. Bosses tend to have movement and weapon capabilities more appropriate for a Mega Man game. Hitting the boss isn’t the problem, it’s being able to survive the encounter is where things get extremely difficult.

If fighting enemies wasn’t enough, the jumps you need to pull off will make things even worse. By level 2, the game expects you to pull off near pixel perfect jumps. This is especially true when springs are involved. Half the time, you’ll find yourself either walking off the spring (because you jumped too late) or hitting the ceiling and failing the jump (because you jumped too early). Some games have a few jumps like this to make things challenging. This game fills the stages with these kinds of jumps – especially when items are involved.

So, really, the difficulty is brought on by game balancing issues more than anything else.

The game itself isn’t all that complex of a game. The levels are fairly straight forward. They even have a few alternate routs as well which is nice to see. Players can definitely see patterns in boss fights. If Gizmo wasn’t such a weak character, this game would have been a pretty decent game to play.

Graphically speaking, this game features some pretty good graphics. The cut-scenes feature some pretty detailed artwork. The levels themselves feature some great backgrounds and settings. The only problem is blurring from some of the faster movements. Otherwise, it’s a very solid game on that respect.

The music featured in this game is pretty decent. While I wouldn’t call the music amazing, it is actually quite pleasant to listen to. The sound effects are also quite solid here. Can’t really fault the game much in this area.

Overall, what really holds this game back is the balance. The weak attacks and extremely difficult jumps makes for a very frustrating game. The levels themselves aren’t that bad. The designs are fairly well realized. The boss fights had some definite thought put into them. The graphics are also quite solid when blurring isn’t a factor. The music is decent enough and the sound effects are nicely done. If it weren’t for the balancing issue, this would be a solid recommendation.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Died fighting level 2 boss
High score: 10,800

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 68%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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