Pesterminator (NES) review
"With a name like Kernel Kleanup, how can you lose? Easily, that's how. For one thing, the dorks at Western Exterminator and Color Dreams didn't even spell it right. It's Colonel, not Kernel. And he must think he's got that rat right where he wants him, what with the hammer cleverly hidden behind his back and all. Still, a wave of familiarity will hit you like a brick in the face even you've never played this game. How so? Well, odds are you've probably seen this guy on the Mossimo shirts from ba..."
With a name like Kernel Kleanup, how can you lose? Easily, that's how. For one thing, the dorks at Western Exterminator and Color Dreams didn't even spell it right. It's Colonel, not Kernel. And he must think he's got that rat right where he wants him, what with the hammer cleverly hidden behind his back and all. Still, a wave of familiarity will hit you like a brick in the face even you've never played this game. How so? Well, odds are you've probably seen this guy on the Mossimo shirts from back in the day (that is, the late eighties and early nineties). He had that weird outfit on and he admonished the mischievous rat with an eerily silent wagging finger. You know him. Did you know that at one point, he was given his video game? You didn't? Frankly, I'm not surprised, because it really sucks.
A story behind why this mascot is in a game helps cushion the blow of stupidity a little, but when you actually read the story, the cushion is ripped away and you end up getting pummeled by a pile driver of stupidity anyway. As Colonel Kleanup (I refuse to use that horrendous homophone), you must eliminate a severe pest problem unleashed on various locales that appear to be uninhabited by humans or any kinds of animals. This lovely invasion comes courtesy of Ronnie the Super Rat, whose headquarters are located on the moon. Every time I think of this, I run my hand down my face in disgust and beat my head against the nearest available hard surface. This is not just dumb. This is flat-out bad, and it doesn't help the game out in any way. The point of the game, by the way, is to eliminate all the pests in a level, although not by way of pesticides or crop dusting as the situation would normally call for. Colonel Kleanup decides to get down and dirty with his mallet. While messy, it must be effective, because it gets the job done. Most levels will require the use of this mallet, so you'll have to learn how to swing it well to get anywhere. (In one level you get to ride a helicopter! But it has awful handling!)
Swinging that mallet can get pretty difficult, because Color Dreams has made another stupid move here and reversed what we normally know to be the jumping and attacking buttons. You'll hop around using B, and whack rodents and insects with the A button. As we all know, this is not how games work. Because of this, you'll find yourself jumping when you want to smash an ant and swiping at nothing with the hammer when you have to make an important jump. Once past this learning curve, things get a little bit better, as you'll start to get a feel for how things work. Once you start offing those abominations with ease, the game actually becomes fun to play in some respects, and you start to get carried away with it. Then you remember what the game's about and why you do these things, and you're brought harshly back to reality in the time it takes to blink. Control is the only thing I can think of at this point that makes the game more enjoyable.
Like just about every other wretched game by Color Dreams, the choices of colors they decided to use makes a person retch and have seizures. Every pixel that isn't a monochromatic hue has an icky neon quality to it, and the backgrounds and levels are very poorly constructed. If she weren't in such hot water with the stock market right now, I'd get Martha Stewart to come and give these incongruous colors a full fixer-upperin'. Also, not only does this game employ Color Palette Changes To Enemies To Somehow Distinguish Them In Terms Of Difficulty To Kill(tm), it goes a step farther and applies the rule to entire levels. Any trained chipmunk could tell that except for changes in color (and a difference in the number of enemies), levels 1 and 4 are exactly the same. This is not only lazy, but it's also an insult to my intelligence to give me levels that have been cut from the same cookie cutter. The graphics embody a type of faux surrealism that would have made Salvador Dali writhe on the floor in agony, and I'm right down there with him. These are some pretty tepid colors.
As far as I know, one song plays throughout the course of the game. It's a song I was able to deal with for a while and liked the beat of at first, but my groove slowed to a halt and my hopes faded when it became apparent that there weren't going to be any more songs. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a game with one song in it. The sound effects don't help at all, so eventually you'll just reach for the mute button, or, failing that, you'll turn the volume all the way down on your TV. The sound just gave me less of a reason to like this game. It's hard to find anything interesting about it, and Colonel Kleanup doesn't look like the kind of guy who looks like he'd appreciate the lone composition this horrid title has to offer. Colonel Kleanup looks to me like a guy who appreciates some good rap. Don't know why he strikes me as that kind of guy - he just does.
If I ever see you playing Pesterminator, I'm going to be forced to take some extreme physical action (all for your own good, of course). Let Ronnie the Super Rat take over the world with mutated biological freaks for all I care. This game does nothing to make me want to play it or look at it. The only reason anyone should touch this and give it a go is if they are in a spirit of happy-go-lucky curiosity. I'm not to be held liable if you find this game entertaining. Don't subject yourself to the awful, awful horror for too long, or the effects may be irreversible. I can't totally bag this game, however. Pesterminator may have one of the stupidest plots ever conceived, the graphics may be bad enough to make puke itself puke, and it may not have a sharply honed sense of musicality. But the boy's got moves. That made it fun for at least a few minutes.
Kleans Up House
--Control, once you get used to it, can make the game somewhat enjoyable
--In one level, you get to ride in a helicopter (but it has bad control, so this pro is, in essence, moot)
Kernels of Discontent
--Horrible plot; would have actually been better without one
--Graphics have all the appeal of a plate of liver and onions
--With one song, it's not like it's going to get a Grammy nomination any time soon
--Who names their hero Kernel Kleanup? Spell it right, for God's sake!
Community review by snowdragon (December 09, 2003)
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