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Curse (Genesis) artwork

Curse (Genesis) review

"If you take a very positive attitude into Micronet Megadrive shooter Curse, you just might find yourself in the midst of a pretty good experience. For being released by one of those unknown companies, Curse is a decent shooter with some fast action. "

If you take a very positive attitude into Micronet Megadrive shooter Curse, you just might find yourself in the midst of a pretty good experience. For being released by one of those unknown companies, Curse is a decent shooter with some fast action.

It’s basically a good “junk food” game, though, as beyond that fast action, Curse is no more than a pretty bland game that tries hard to deliver on many fronts, but just doesn’t quite get the job done.

Yeah, that's not exactly the most emphatic endorsement I've bestowed upon a game in my reviewing tenure. On one hand, I liked Curse; on the other, I felt it to be quite lacking in certain things I consider essential to the shooter genre.

You know, minor aspects like length. This game has five stages and none of them are particularly long. Curse isn't the sort of game that's going to stand up to Bio Hazard Battle and Gaiares when it comes to play value. It also falls short in creativity. While Bio Hazard Battle had cool organic monstrosities and Gaiares had !!CAPTAIN AWESOME!! (commonly referred to as that Grim Reaper/Death boss) and Amazonian cyborgs, the only thing that truly tickled my fancy in Curse was the entrance of the final boss. Sadly, it almost immediately transformed into some bizarre-looking alien organism, which really hurt the "Oh my God, this is the greatest thing ever!" feeling I initially had.

To continue with the negatives, Curse starts out by offering you, the player, the opportunity to die a couple of cheap deaths. Overall, the opening jungle stage is pretty easy. After you get a speed power-up or two and a couple of weapon enhancements (which won't take long), you'll be more than equipped to deliver the goods to your opposition. When you add the fact you can take multiple hits thanks to a very effective shield, those piddly enemies should provide very little opposition. And so you'll start to get confident. You’ll then come upon big trees that appear to be in the background. Behind them, a number of enemies accumulate. Aggressively, you'll charge in with all guns blazing....and watch your ship explode as it collides with said "background" tree.

I've played this game more than once and I ALWAYS seem to lose a life early on because of that little trick (way to go, Mr. Short-term Memory...). It really is the kind of thing that sets a negative mood for the rest of the expedition. And that's too bad. The second and fourth stages are both pretty manic for a horizontal scroller. While they aren't overly difficult, you'll have tons of enemies assaulting you in a fairly short span of time, which I found to be a really cool thing for a horizontal scroller (since those games tend to be a bit more methodical than the vertical ones). The third stage is somewhat like the first, except that the deadly mountains are obviously in the foreground, which helps to prevent any stupid little accidents. All in all, the middle three stages provided me with a good deal of entertainment.

Despite those first-stage follies, I would have had a positive impression of Curse upon completing it if not for one little thing — the fifth and final stage. For the last level, Micronet apparently decided to attempt channeling the spirit of R-Type and created a claustrophobic base level loaded to the gills with deadly tricks and traps. You'll have to shoot down enemies while dodging long jets of flame emitted by cleverly-placed contraptions, while (most likely) realizing that life as you know it just ain't fair.

If you've been a good little boy or girl, you've done a pretty good job of powering up your ship. The first four stages aren't overly difficult and, assuming you die, power-ups are extraordinarily plentiful — making it easy to recover from death. The problem is that in doing all of this, you've likely earned a good number of speed enhancements. For most of the game, this is great. You start out moving at the pace of an unhealthy snail, so you'll really appreciate your new-found nimbleness. In fact, for four levels, you'll love it. Then, when you reach the fifth level and realize you need PRECISE movements at all times to survive, everything changes for the worse. You'll find out that you super-awesome fast-moving ship just can't control well enough to handle this area’s mega-tight corners. When you die, you'll find out your impotent vessel is too slow to get away from the enemy fire. Suddenly, this reasonably fun game has turned into a grueling test of survival that just isn't that fun or rewarding.

And that's too bad, as while Curse doesn't have any truly original elements, it had been a pretty fun game until that final stage. While the first four bosses were pretty punchless against my powered-up ship, they were kind of cool. To be honest, with the exception of those damn trees in the first level, I had no major complaints about the game's initial four stages. While the graphics may have been subpar at times, the action was frenetic — and that was enough to keep me interested. And if that wasn't enough, a few stages and/or boss fights were blessed with some excellent music. Don't get me wrong — quality music wasn't ubiquitous, but when it was good, it definitely enhanced the ol’ blasting ‘n dodging experience.

The game also possesses some cool weapons. While most, like the ever-so-handy multi-directional wave beam, aren't exactly original, you can obtain a gigantic crystalline bullet that shatters, sending deadly projectiles in all directions — a device that, while not my favorite, did intrigue me. Curse really does has plenty going for it.

Sadly, it just isn't a game I can recommend. To me, a good shooter is one you can enjoy from beginning to end....not one that fizzles horribly during the final level. And not one that shows a definite lack of cohesion. A major pet peeve I had about Curse is that the game seems to have no real plot. You fly through five levels that seemingly have no connection (jungle, sky, cave, space, base) and then are treated to an ending that is nothing more than credits. I honestly have no clue as to what forces I was destroying or why I was blasting them out of the skies. Like I said, this game is "junk food". Maybe it's tasty at times, but in the end, it’s empty and unfulfilling.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (April 08, 2005)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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