"Rad Gravity: A hero blessed with a HAL-style computer with a giant eye, possibly the coolest name ever, a cool spaceship, a, frankly, glorious chin, and a quest to save the Universe (or something along those lines). Hang on, maybe the last one isn't exactly a blessing...... "
Rad Gravity: A hero blessed with a HAL-style computer with a giant eye, possibly the coolest name ever, a cool spaceship, a, frankly, glorious chin, and a quest to save the Universe (or something along those lines). Hang on, maybe the last one isn't exactly a blessing......
The plot to this game involves our Hero attempting to reactivate some computers that were shut down by the evil Agathos. To do this Rad takes to the stars in his ship (which is controlled by the cyclopean computer mentioned above), and ventures from planet to planet, generally being a hero along the way. Yay Rad!
Okay, so the plot is pure pulp cliché (the manual even tells it in comic book form, which is a very nice touch, if you can find a copy of the game that still has the manual nowadays), but the game itself is superb. I honestly don't know why this game is not so well known. This game is superficially nothing that hasn't been seen before- Rad runs jumps and shoots his way through several platform filled levels in the same way as so many NES characters before him. However, not that many have pulled the game off with such style and flair. There is a great deal of variety in the levels - one level sees you downloaded into a computer (during which Rad is presented in a cool photo-negative style graphic) in order to shut down security beams. Other levels see you chasing a group of thieves who have stolen your computer and have escaped across a junkyard planet in an ice cream truck (I kid ye not), facing Dinosaurs on the planet Saurius, a standout level that sees you travel through a asteroid belt in your space suit, a level that sees you play upside down until you fix the gravity generator for that particular planet.... Nearly every level has a quirky feature that makes you feel that this game is something special. And it's not just the level design that feels special in this game, there are lots of nice little touches in the other departments of the game - one of the best being that in true comic book style, you can get out of the way of the robots' laser fire (for some reason this game gives me an urge to refer to them as death rays....) only to watch the shot meant for you destroy the robot behind you. It may not sound like a big thing now, but at the time the fact that the bad guys could kill each other as well as you seemed like a really big deal to me.
Along the way Rad can find many pickups that will help him on his quest. These include extra energy bars (reminiscent of Zelda), more powerful armour, and better weapons. Rad starts out with only one energy bar (which can take three hits) and what appears to be a lightsaber-style weapon. By the end of the game, however, he will have stacks of energy and some really powerful weapons. Again, this really is nothing new, but somehow it seems very innovative in this game. And what's great about it is how well hidden some of these items are - early examples include the energy bar that, while plainly visible, is sitting just waiting to be collected in the middle of a ball of fire. If your health is low by the time you reach this point then you may well have to kiss this extra energy bar goodbye.
The game is well catered for in the Graphics and Sound departments too. The inter-level sections that feature Rad on his ship are very impressive, and the levels are bright and colourful when they need to be, and dark 'n' moody in all the right places. In a game set across such a variety of locations, it is quite a feat that each planet has it's own distinct graphical look. Rad's movement seems a little choppy at times, and there is some major slowdown when things get busy, but this is only a real problem if you haven't played NES games for years. Those of you who still put the big grey carts into the machines on a regular basis will still notice these problems, but will more than likely forgive them, as they are so common throughout the NES library of games. There are several graphical moments in this game that make you feel that the developers have really put some effort in, too. In addition to small things such as the aforementioned Ice Cream truck, details such as the fact that the Rad sprite actually looks different when wearing different armour stands out, even though it amounts to little more than a change of colour. While the sound effects are nothing above the standard NES action game fare (you've heard the gunfire sounds a hundred other times before), the music is very good (the awful title screen tune aside), and suits the comic book tone of the game very well. While not many of the tunes will have you whistling or humming along even when you aren't playing the game, they still stand out as some of the better tunes on the NES. However, in the interplanetary sections, when Rad is hanging in his spaceship, the sound goes a bit... odd. I'm not entirely sure whether it's supposed to be music or sound effects - it's just occasional clanging noises. Very bizarre.
At the end of the day, Rad Gravity is just another in a long line of games of this genre on the NES, and as such people that feel that their collection is already over saturated by either platformers or shooters may not want to take a look at Rad Gravity, but if you feel that you need another game in this style then you really should take Rad for a spin - this is a game that is full of great little touches, variety, above average presentation, and most of all it is great fun, and hey, isn't that the most important thing? It doesn't redefine the genre by any means, but it does put a lot of it's competitors to shame.
A true classic of the NES era.
Community review by tomclark (February 02, 2004)
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