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Totally Rad (NES) artwork

Totally Rad (NES) review

"And so, young and awesome Jake sets off into the wild blue yonder, endeavoring to complete five whole stages of magic and mayhem, rescue Allison, rescue Allisonís father (no clue how he fits into things, other than to give Jake another reason to look like a big-shot in front of his girl) and spew out TOTALLY RAD dialogue, all of which I forced myself to forget as soon as the words left my screen."

If not for an utterly abysmal gimmick, I likely never would have noticed Totally Rad. Forgettable platformers tend to fly beneath my radar more often than not, but this one didnít because Jaleco had a plan that was destined to work! After all, what do gamers really want when they pick up a game?

1. A wide variety of levels ó some where the main character is on foot, others where he is underwater and still more where he must master the controls of a car, mine cart or other vehicle. Sounds intriguing, but nah ó no one buys games for diverse gameplay.

2. A large number of things to grab, whether they be one-ups (or collectables that eventually deliver a one-up after enough are snared), power-ups or even some form of currency used to purchase cool items. Are you kidding? Why make a player think? Something like this can and will happen: ďGee, I got me 97 coins, so that means I need how many more to get a life? I canít figure this out ó I QUIT!!!!Ē Thatís not good for sales.

3. A bunch of pre-level cutscenes where every important character talks like theyíve suffered severe head trauma....more than once. Thatís the ticket! Just ignore all those meddlesome gameplay elements proposed in the first two examples ó people want to read about the heartwarming drama of a boy named Jake using his totally rad magic to save bodacious babe Allison from gnarly, but bogus, baddies!

I had a headache before the first level had even started. A somewhat lengthy intro told me that Jake was learning magic from a guy named Zebediah, who looked like a pudgy child molester with a TOTALLY RAD hat. However! Tragic developments are afoot! Jakeís babe is kidnapped by monsters! How exciting!

And so, young and awesome Jake sets off into the wild blue yonder, endeavoring to complete five whole stages of magic and mayhem, rescue Allison, rescue Allisonís father (no clue how he fits into things, other than to give Jake another reason to look like a big-shot in front of his girl) and spew out TOTALLY RAD dialogue, all of which I forced myself to forget as soon as the words left my screen.

With such a plan, how could Totally Rad fail to take the gaming world by storm? Well, since the list format worked so well for me just a few short paragraphs ago, letís try it again!

1. The levels are lame. There is nothing for Jake to do except go from the beginning to the end while taking as little damage as possible. No goodies to pick up, no side paths to venture down, no nothing. Just a small collection of linear stages that all follow the exact same pattern of going through a handful of short areas, usually fighting a miniboss at the end, and then taking on a massive boss. There is no variation to this theme and no reason to play through anything in this game more than once.

2. Jake is lame. His TOTALLY RAD magic consists of a couple of healing spells to rejuvenate his tiny health meter, some generic spells such as one that temporarily stops time and a few transformation spells that turn him into various animals. These spells are actually somewhat useful, as they can make seemingly impossible bosses much easier to defeat, but itís unlikely the average player will want to experiment too much with them. After all, as I alluded to earlier, Totally Rad doesnít have power-ups, meaning the only way Jakeís magic bar can be restored is to either finish a level or beat certain (but not all) minibosses and move on to the next section of a stage. Jake isnít given so many magic points that he can afford to constantly waste them testing out the various spells, especially when one considers that....

3. The play control is lame. Jake isnít exactly the most nimble hero Iíve controlled, combining slow movement with inability to do any move more complex than a jump. Jake canít even run up slight inclines ó instead being forced to jump off those demanding 45 degree hills. Shoddy hit detection adds to the TOTALLY RAD fun, as Iíve seen Jake take hits from projectiles that seemingly were on a path to sail over his head. Now thatís just beautiful, especially when those unnecessary hits force me to waste my magic on the healing spells, rather than figuring out which animal transformation might be of use against certain tough foes.

There really isnít much thatís even barely rad about Totally Rad. The bosses at the end of each level looked cool, as they were very detailed and took up a good chunk of the screen. Yeah, their attacks were repetitive and many were fairly easy to dodge (unless the shoddy hit detection played a role), but they at least were entertaining foes to go up against. I also really liked the final stretch of the last level. Taking place in a cave, the background was eerily beautiful, constantly shifting in color and easily outclassing virtually everything else the game had to offer.

Of course, the effect of that little section was somewhat dulled for me, as by this point, I was sick and tired of Totally Rad. There are a lot of elements I like to see in platforming games, but this one could only muster a handful of impressive (in appearance) bosses. Take those away and thereís little left besides a short, awkward game ďboastingĒ a feeble magic system and a generic storyline augmented with some of the worst dialogue imaginable. Now thatís what TOTALLY RAD gaming is all about!

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (June 30, 2006)

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

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If you enjoyed this Totally Rad review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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astroass34 posted June 01, 2018:

You can always count on Honest Gamers to have absolutely no clue about old school games. These clowns constantly give awesome NES games bad reviews. Just check out their Kickle Cubicle review. They hated Kickle Cubicle, even though it is pretty common knowledge that Kickle Cubicle is one of the best games on the NES, and was even featured in Metal Jesus Rocksí hidden gems video. Totally Rad is actually a pretty awesome game. It plays in the vain of Mega Man, and while not as polished, it still is a damn fun game.I really hate you, Honest Gamers. Youíre the minor league if review sites. Maybe if you guys were alive back in the day when these games were out, youíd appreciate them and actually have a clue what you are talking about.
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honestgamer posted June 01, 2018:

Reviews reflect the subjective opinions of the individuals who write them. We didn't like some games you liked as much as you liked them. That happens, and age isn't even the reason. A lot of our most frequent contributors cut our teeth playing Atari 2600 and NES games back when they were new and we had to save up for weeks or months just to buy one. So we're not exactly wet behind the ears, as much as that myth might please you. Have a nice day, and thanks for reading!
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JoeTheDestroyer posted June 02, 2018:

"Maybe if you guys were alive back in the day when these games were out, youíd appreciate them and actually have a clue what you are talking about."

I was born 1980, and have been gaming since '83. The guy who wrote this review is older than I am, and I'm pretty sure he played the game back when it was fairly new. Face it: your opinion is not universal. Maybe that bothers you, but it shouldn't. It only means you form your own ideas, as do I and Rob Hamilton. Insulting others because they don't hold the same opinions serves no purpose.
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EmP posted June 02, 2018:

The guy who wrote this review is older than I am

The guy who wrote this review is older than I am

The guy who wrote this review is older than I am
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JoeTheDestroyer posted June 02, 2018:

I knew I was giving EmP ammo when I wrote that line.
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overdrive posted June 02, 2018:

Ol' grandpa here just remembering how 2006 was a year for him to really take on an oft-obnoxious bro-tacular personality with reviews like this and Parasite Eve. And I turned 33 that year (12 years before this one, meaning I'll hit 45 by the end of it, which kind of blows up that whole "alive in the day" bit that was your main argument other than "but...but...but I LIKED IT!!!!!"), so I can't even blame youth. Oh well, such is life. I just pretend to be a better person, even if I'm not!

And really? Comparing this game to Mega Man? That's just an evil marriage of silly-talk and outright blasphemy. As Lloyd Bentson didn't quite say to Dan Quayle: Totally Rad, I served with Mega Man. I knew Mega Man. Mega Man was a friend of mine. Totally Rad, you're no Mega Man.

There, with that reference, this site will truly become TOTALLY RAD!
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Masters posted June 03, 2018:

Count on Rob to get it wrong, and make us more hateable at the same time.
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overdrive posted June 04, 2018:

Making us more hateable is my specialty and we all need to flaunt our skills at times!
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honestgamer posted June 04, 2018:

Sorry to derail this topic, and I hope overdrive doesn't mind me taking it into unrelated territory... but I've been working on my photography and since I see this thread is active, I wondered if I could get some feedback.

What do you think of the lighting? The color contrast? Does this picture capture its subject well, or could it somehow be enhanced? I admit I'm an amateur photographer at best, so all feedback is appreciated, of course!

(Disclaimer: No NES game cartridges were harmed in the creation of the above art.)
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overdrive posted June 05, 2018:

I have never played Kickle Cubicle, so I can't comment on it, but I think Totally Rad could be enhanced if, next to the hammer, there was a container full of hydrochloric acid. For proper disposal of cartridge shards, of course!
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jerec posted June 07, 2018:

Don't listen to the haters, I thought that was a totally rad review.
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Follow_Freeman posted June 08, 2018:

@jerec - Well, we peaked. There can be no comment better than that one now. On any site. I mean, how does one even come close to that? Thanks, jerec.

@hg - Good composition, would add a light source from the "north" direction, but good overall.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 06, 2020:

I randomly remembered this thread recently. I was thinking it's hilarious how we give negative reviews to games we grew up with, only so people in our age group can accuse us of being punk kids who "don't get it."
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overdrive posted April 07, 2020:

I'd forgotten all about this, so thanks for bringing it up! One of those complaints where you have two ways of reacting: either laughing it off or immediately going "grumpy old man" and yelling about how I'm a middle-aged man and know more about NES games than a dozen or more of him ever could!

Fortunately, I took the former tactic, as the other would have made the site look even worse than my stupid opinions on games that actually are super-great do.
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jerec posted April 07, 2020:

Thanks for bumping this so I could be reminded that I made the greatest post in history.

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