"Just when you're starting to really enjoy yourself, you realize that you've reached its conclusion. Then you look back and realize with horror that it only took you perhaps 15 minutes to do so. From the first stage to the last, they are quick little jaunts almost without exception. The vehicle rides are all quite fun, but they end almost as soon as they begin, and there are arguably too many of them."
If this is a shorter review than you would like, please forgive me; this is also a shorter game than you might like, and easier. Of course, that's about what you might expect from Puss 'N Boots, the famed story of a cat who goes on all sorts of great adventures just for the heck of it. Despite its simplicity and lack of length, though, Puss 'N Boots: Pero's Great Adventure still manages to be a good game just by virtue of its sheer variety and generally competent design. By no means a classic, this is nonetheless a title from which you will derive a respectable amount of enjoyment.
As I said, this is a game that plops you down in the role of a feline. Your name, we can presume, is Pero. I didn't read the instruction book. I also know almost nothing of any sort of story because, well, there really isn't one to see here. At the start of the game, you know you're a cat on an adventure, and that's also what you know when you reach the final battles. Plot development in between is non-existent (though I'm not complaining).
While plot goes nowhere, though, Pero himself is going to see a lot of places throughout the world. And thankfully, each place he visits looks quite different from the previous one. You'll see an old west area, you'll see some undersea caverns, and you'll see the inside of a factory. Though none of the stages is particularly impressive from a visual perspective, each is designed with enough detail that it's fun to see what that next area looks like. Bushes and barrels, porches and clouds all mingle in an aesthetically pleasing and simple collage. Particularly commendable is the London stage, which doesn't look a whole lot like London but is nonetheless brightly animated and a fun place to visit.
Throughout each of those places you visit, you'll be encountering a number of different enemies. These villains aren't repeated so often as you might imagine, except for the lightning bolts, so going to that next locale is even more exciting than it would have been otherwise. And while we're on the topic of enemies, know that they are all rather easily dispatched but all well-animated.
Also well-animated are the vehicles Pero will make use of as he heads toward his final destination. There's an airplane, a submarine, a hot air balloon and more. The most exciting of these is the hot air balloon, which sways this way and that when you suddenly increase your elevation or descend to avoid an airborne assault. It might not be an astonishing visual touch, but it gives that particular ride a bit of flair just the same.
In addition to somewhat impressive (or at least better than average) visuals, the game also possesses a cheery little soundtrack that won't stay with you for even a fraction of a second when you stop playing this game, but which serves its purpose most admirably when you're in the midst of your adventure.
Unfortunately, Puss 'N Boots isn't a perfect game. Just when you're starting to really enjoy yourself, you realize that you've reached its conclusion. Then you look back and realize with horror that it only took you perhaps 15 minutes to do so. From the first stage to the last, they are quick little jaunts almost without exception. The vehicle rides are all quite fun, but they end almost as soon as they begin, and there are arguably too many of them. It feels like more than half the areas you visit have Pedro in one sort of ride or another, so that the actual platforming part of your adventure is very limited.
And when you are using those platforming skills, you're quite likely being frustrated, as well. Pero unfortunately jumps with the finesse of a character from Bible Adventures, which is to say that you can tap the button and watch him quickly leap to his doom, then tap it at some other point in the game and watch him barely move at all. Fortunately, there aren't many areas that require precise jumping. The main area the play control hurts you is when you're in the factory and riding along the conveyer belts. It's much simpler than it should be to hop against the natural pull of the belts, then hop again and find that the pull has magically vanished, and suddenly you have over corrected and are headed into a bottomless cavern.
Not that it matters. Even if you eat through your three continues and all your lives, getting back to where you were won't take terribly long. And the system's forgiving continue system--you begin almost exactly where you died in the previous round--means that there's very little backtracking. If you happen to die in the middle of one of the game's four or five boss battles, you'll pick up right where you left off. Clearly, the developers intended this game for children.
With a little more polish in each area, this game easily could have been one of the best titles on the system. It feels a great deal like Felix the Cat, but isn't quite up to the level of that other title. Still, it's worth the half-hour or so it will take you to complete it, and is certainly a recommended purchase if you have young ones in your household who appreciate a little bit of retro gaming. It's a shame no one gave Pero a chance at a second great adventure. A game this good really deserved a sequel. Ah, well. Such is life when you're a cat.
Staff review by Jason Venter (August 08, 2003)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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