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Psycho Fox (Sega Master System) artwork

Psycho Fox (Sega Master System) review

"Outside of some glaring flaws, it is actually a fun game."

What Is so Crazy About Saving the World?
Enter a world where Madfox Daimyojin, a renegade fox priest, has created strange creatures and conquered a country. Good fox priests have elected Psycho Fox (although it is never explained if he actually is crazy, or why he is "psycho") with his friend Bird Fly (yes, these are the most innovative names ever concocted) to battle against this evil. Psycho Fox is a 2D platformer on the Sega Master System (SMS) with the core gameplay concentrating on navigating around enemies and obstacles, but also featuring some neat gimmicks that help it stand apart among the SMS platforming library.

Psycho Fox screenshotPsycho Fox screenshot

What Does The Fox Say?
The main thing that sets Psycho Fox apart from other platformers is its animal transformations. In the game you can pick up "psycho sticks" which allow you transform into one of four different forms. Your default form is the fox. Everything in fox form is decent, but not great. Your moving, jumping and punching are all enough to get you through any level. The other forms all tend to specialize in one aspect. The hippo form is powerful, allowing you to punch through stone blocks, but slow and can't jump high. The monkey form guessed it, jump the highest. Finally, the tiger form is the fastest (which also allows for longer jumps). Changing forms and using the other items available (a smart bomb and an invincibility potion) is really fun and adds a lot to the game. Indeed, to access some parts of the levels you are going to need to be in a certain form. The downpoint to this is that you need to pause the game to use the items. Unfortunately the pause button is located on the console itself (not the controller), so, unless you play with the console in your lap, this actually detracts a bit from the experience. Another thing that didn't go so well is the controls. You would think that, being a fox, you would have an agile character to deal with (unless you are in hippo form)...unfortunately, ALL forms feel a bit hippo-ish. The game controls are extremely momentum based. It takes you a while to get moving and a while to stop moving if you are going at a good clip. This REALLY detracts from enjoying the game and takes a while to get used to.

Another thing that takes getting used to is using Bird Fly. This is a cute, feathery companion that you can find during your adventures. The good thing is that you can command him to fly out and attack enemies at range. However, he won't fly straight out so enemies directly in front of you won't be hit. Also, if Bird Fly is with you, he acts as hit protection...but when he flies out that protection is gone. So, in order to attack you have to risk 1-hit deaths. While this does add to the challenge, there is just no way around it being frustrating...especially when you try to react to an enemy in front of you, send Bird Fly out to attack, have Bird Fly miss...and then die...welp, that's annoying. Anyways, let's talk about one of the better things about this game, the level designs. All the levels in Psycho Fox are huge, allowing for multiple paths through each stage. This adds a ton of replayability as well as a bit of an element of exploration. You can jump through some of the higher flying platforms or race along the ground, with slightly different challenges no matter where you go. Also, as stated before, sometimes you will need to be in a certain animal form to reach different areas. Unfortunately, you will need to explore a bit and have some knowledge because the levels have blind jumps...a lot of them. This is super irritating, causing a lot of deaths, and something they really could have done with leaving out. There are a lot of noticeable flaws with the game, but the core experience is solid...especially the level design, with the animal transformations adding some uniqueness and loads of fun!

Psycho Fox (Sega Master System) image

Flawed Fox
I've actually heard a lot about Psycho Fox. It was exclusive to the SMS, highly recommended, and even inspired a couple of other games, like Decap Attack on the Sega Genesis. However, my initial experience was not good. I found the controls SUPER clunky and died a ton. Hey, I need to make this jump...not enough momentum? Okay, dead. Hey, I reached the edge of the platform and have no clue where to go, let me just blindly jump. Okay, dead. Oh I'm walking up to a bad guy, but I have Bird Fly, easy kill...lemme just throw him out. Okay, dead. However, I stuck with it (helped by unlimited continues), and eventually got used to the controls and controlling Bird Fly. After that I really got to appreciate what the game had to offer. The animal transformations are a blast (if you can find a way to reach the pause button or play on an emulator). The level designs really allow you try different approaches to the same level. Outside of some glaring flaws, it is actually a fun game. The issue is that the flaws do glare. With that said, I'd say that most platforming fans will enjoy this game, I'd actually say most gamers will enjoy this game, but it takes a while to get used to it. If you can survive that initial frustration, you'll discover a decent game.

Psycho Fox is a 3.5 / 5, for being a good platforming game, but being hindered by glaring flaws like clunky controls and gratuitous blind jumps.

Clever Raccoon Dog: Defenders of the Nation - This is a ROM hack that acts as a simple reskin for the characters and translates the game into Korean...might be interesting for Korean retro gamers.


Never3ndr's avatar
Community review by Never3ndr (December 10, 2015)

Retro-Gaming Enthusiast!

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