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Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (SNES) artwork

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (SNES) review


"After playing Cold Shadow in its entirety, it would seem to me that Maui Mallard was created only for the simple purpose of fooling us Donald Duck fans into playing the game. Oh, Disney, you and your devilish schemes! That’s right: what you see in the cover art and in-game screenshots is not Donald, but actually Maui Mallard! And what are the differences between Donald and Maui? Well, save for the lack of a red bowtie and Fauntleroy sailor hat, none. "



After playing Cold Shadow in its entirety, it would seem to me that Maui Mallard was created only for the simple purpose of fooling us Donald Duck fans into playing the game. Oh, Disney, you and your devilish schemes! That’s right: what you see in the cover art and in-game screenshots is not Donald, but actually Maui Mallard! And what are the differences between Donald and Maui? Well, save for the lack of a red bowtie and Fauntleroy sailor hat, none.

This obvious lack of effort in creating a new character may seem like a great chance to slam Disney, but that’s not something I’m going to do, because unlike other Disney games, plot plays a minor, almost insignificant, role. Don--(ahem) Maui is given the task of finding Shabuhm Shabuhm, the powerful mojo idol which has protected the island for many centuries and was stolen tonight! All this leads Maui to a quest the game names “The Case of the Missing Mojo.”

And so we’re taken to the Mojo Mansion. From the very first moment you step inside it you’ll notice the splendor that Disney has gotten us used to with (most of) their games: rich backgrounds, fluid animations, and exciting scenery! Each trip Maui takes through every level is much more thrilling and memorable than the trips through Cold Shadow’s Genesis counterpart, Donald Duck starring Maui Mallard. The conclusion is obvious: Disney put some real effort into making Cold Shadow more than just a graphical remake, as every environment has been expanded and improved. Awesome!

The same kind of effort was also put into improving the gameplay, and Disney succeeds (at least partially)! Remember the bags of gold that were (seemingly) useless in the Genesis game? Well, they’re still there, along with gems, jewelry, and other items, but now they’re actually useful. How? In Cold Shadow you’re required to get a certain number of these items if you want to go to the bonus round; these requirements depend on the difficulty level you chose and what level you’re playing. But now, instead of just being scattered around arbitrarily, some of them are pretty well-hidden, making every playthrough exciting.

But as cool as Disney’s attempt to turn a pretty straightforward affair (the Genesis game) into a more profound, exploration-based experience was, it wasn’t entirely successful. First, there is little incentive to search for these items, as the percentage of items required for the bonus level is generally low (for instance, 50% in the first level, at Normal setting). And second, the bonus level is not very exciting: the awesome unicycle rides in the Genesis game were replaced by a theater-based level where Maui must jump back and forth frantically to find little rockets and set them off. Cool at first (especially with the jazzy music), but it gets repetitive after a few levels.

Playing as Maui isn’t very exciting, either; in fact, it’s worse than it was in the Genesis game. In his normal form Maui only has three bug weapons (as opposed to four in the aforementioned title), and these are much less interesting and useful than they were, making, therefore, much less interesting combinations. As a ninja (!) Maui is more fun, and he even has a new spinning move that turns his staff into a tiny cyclone of destruction, allowing streaks of hits against enemies.

But even playing as a ninja reveals most of the underlying problems in Cold Shadow. The camera feels janky: moving Maui back and forth and jumping makes it twitch very awkwardly. The game doesn’t have to seem a very consistent level of difficulty, as it goes from very easy to normal pretty quickly (and normal to somewhat difficult in the same way). Thus you’ll wonder why falling into the water in the first level only takes away one measly point from your health, while falling into the pits in the last level before the final boss (a far more common occurrence) takes away one life! Punch, Maui’s health refill, and health bags, which add points to his health max., are also abundant to an extent that depletes difficulty almost completely.

But it’s still fun, mostly. While Cold Shadow is much more appealing to the eye than Donald Duck starring Maui Mallard, it fails to prove itself superior over it, due to various flaws in gameplay. All this to say that Cold Shadow is simply a good game.

Rating: 7/10

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Community review by make_me_dance (June 11, 2006)

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