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Toxic Crusaders (Game Boy) artwork

Toxic Crusaders (Game Boy) review


"At the beginning of each segment of each stage, players get to choose between Toxie and any of his four sidekicks. I can't be bothered to remember their names because all of them are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same as Toxie. All five characters are the same size, have the same mobility and fire projectiles at the same speed. "



When I'm getting ready to start typing a review for one of those bizarre old-timey games that I'm not overly familiar with, the first thing I like to do is a bit of research on my subject matter. I might not have heard of the GameBoy's Toxic Crusaders until very recently, but when I'm writing about it, I want all of you to think I'm the world's best source of knowledge on that game (regardless of how utterly sad that might be).

And right away, I know I'd be in for a treat with this one. Right as the game starts up, I saw that while Bandai made this game, it was based on characters made by Troma. For the uninitiated, Troma is a film company specializing in low-rent "B" films that tend to be loaded with gore, sex and all sorts of bizarre mutations and other exploitive kinds of things. One of their first cult-classic films was The Toxic Avenger, which was about a geek who became an extremely violent vigilante crime fighter after being transformed by toxic waste into a superhuman monster. While there might have been copious amounts of blood and guts strewn all over that film, the folks at Troma saw it as a gateway to attract younger viewers.

So, the Toxic Crusaders animated series was created, featuring a kinder, more gentle Toxie (the "avenger" of the movie) and a quartet of sidekicks as they fought against pollution. Now, while it might have been easier to make Toxie a family-friendly chap than, say, Sardu and Ralphus from Blood Sucking Freaks, the show wasn't a success and only a handful of episodes ever were shown. However, Toxic Crusaders did last long enough to inspire a couple of video games, including this really shoddy action game for the Game Boy.

At the beginning of each segment of each stage, players get to choose between Toxie and any of his four sidekicks. I can't be bothered to remember their names because all of them are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same as Toxie. All five characters are the same size, have the same mobility and fire projectiles at the same speed. Really, the only purpose of having five heroes (each with five hearts) is to give the player multiple lives while using all the show's main characters.

After picking a character, it's time to start the first stage, which is creatively named "Trouble at the Tromaville Dump or The Goo Hits the Fan". Sadly, the wit used in naming this place is not present in the actual gameplay, as it won't take long to figure out this is a poorly-made game. Toxie (or whoever else) will go from left to right, shooting down various monsters while avoiding bubbles of toxic waste and other harmful things (although I'm not sure how toxic waste would harm someone made of the stuff). You can walk through piles of tires and stuff, making you think they're merely background decoration, but they'll block your bullets. And every once in a while, you'll actually get the "pleasure" of doing a bit of platforming. Nothing is quite so wonderful as having to take a slow, awkward character and have him jump onto a platform over a bottomless pit.

Upon beating the giant rat that supposedly is the boss of this stage (a very strategic battle that I won by kneeling and shooting as fast as I could, so that I killed it before it killed me), it's off to "Tromaville Gets Tromatized or This is a No-Smogging Section". While I had left the dump for a town, nothing seemed to have changed. Toxie (or whoever else) still moved from left to right, shooting down various monsters while avoiding bubbles of toxic waste and other harmful things (and I still wasn't sure how toxic waste could harm someone made of the stuff).

Playing Toxic Crusaders taught me an important lesson --  it's very easy to make a poor game out of a poor show. There didn't seem to be much of any creativity or thought going into the level designs as each small level in each stage essentially seemed to be the exact same. Go to the right. Shoot stuff. Occasionally jump to a higher surface and continue going right. Watch out for toxic waste. Grab the occasionally healing item to replenish hearts. Exit the level. Pick a new character (or the same one) and do the same things in the next level. Remarkably, it took me very little time to get tired of that formula. Maybe if the movie version of Toxie was used and I could rip out the guts of corrupt mayors, I'd have gotten into this game a bit more, but as it is, there just wasn't any appeal there for me.

Rating: 2/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (September 24, 2008)

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

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