City Connection (NES) review
"The problem is that all the timing in the world may not always be enough to save you. This is because some of the enemy sprites move so quickly and come so unexpectedly from off screen that only lightning-fast reflexes will save you. Worse, you have to be at the right level in order for an oil can shot to do any good."
Following a daring robbery thatís sure to make you a fortune, you find yourself chased by police as you hop around the world trying to avoid being arrested. Your only means of defense is a collection of oil cans you find strewn across the globe. Youíll have to use that weapon to its fullest potential if you want to survive long enough to enjoy the rewards of a life of crime. This is the premise of City Connection, a fun little arcade game brought home to the NES courtesy of Jaleco.
As mentioned already, you really donít have much with which to defend yourself. The oil cans you can gather arenít exactly unlimited, and the last thing you want to do is be caught without a projectile at an inopportune moment. Therefore, itís important to conserve shots for those times when you really need them. As a police car comes into your sights, you can choose either to jump out of its way, or you can pelt the vehicle with a bullet-like can to send it spinning.
More often than not, the cowardís approach proves the most productive. Thatís because to succeed at City Connection you must paint the town. Literally. As you travel along the various roads that comprise a level, youíll leave squares whitened as you pass over them. The easiest way to clear a stage is to completely whiten each and every road in sight.
An alternative route is to collect three red balloons. Each time you do so, youíll be able to warp to an alternate stage and your points will be tallied. Any of the red balls of helium youíve collected in a previous area are carried over to the next (until you warp), so the smart player will find himself grabbing balloons as is convenient but otherwise focusing on the paint.
However, itís never safe to focus too much, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, you have to worry about cats. Stay on any single level for too long and youíll collide with the suicidal felines that populate each stage. Striking one sends it flying in an amusing animation, but also costs one of the lives in your reserve.
Because cats are such a common problem, you really have to hop from road to road if you want to succeed. This becomes difficult rather quickly, as later stages switch up the manner in which roads are organized. Whereas an early stage has them set up almost like a staircase, the going gets tough when you only have small openings you can use to climb to the higher portions of a stage. Not only that, but law enforcement officials become a great deal more cunning as the game progresses. Some barrel right into you unless you fire a well-timed oil can.
The problem is that all the timing in the world may not always be enough to save you. This is because some of the enemy sprites move so quickly and come so unexpectedly from off screen that only lightning-fast reflexes will save you. Worse, you have to be at the right level in order for an oil can shot to do any good. Itís not uncommon to see a foe blasting toward you, fire a can, then watch the shot go wild as your own ride bursts into an explosion of hearts.
Spotty hit detection isnít the only thing City Connection has going against it, either. Itís also rather redundant. Though most new stages have a charmingly-illustrated backdrop that really captures the essence of the new location (at least, as much as the NES allows), there are only about five or six of them before they start repeating. Although differing road layouts are thrown in for good measure, these are at times a frustration more than a boon.
Still, the basic gameplay mechanics that drive the game as a whole are executed well enough that City Connection remains a joy to play in brief spurts. This is doubly true if you find a like-minded friend who isnít obsessed with playing only the latest and greatest next-generation titles. If you know such a person, count yourself fortunate as the both of you sit down to some good, old-fashioned retro gaming. Otherwise, you might look to a different NES title if youíre planning a lengthy session. Preferably one without those pesky cats!
Staff review by Jason Venter (February 03, 2005)
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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