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Low G Man (NES) artwork

Low G Man (NES) review


"One minute, you'll be fighting robotic enemies; the next, it'll be little flying gargoyles coming at you. You'll find yourself diving to the depths of an ocean to set up a jaunt through an alien-infested submarine in the second level; meanwhile the fourth level begins with a jaunt up a tower leading to a fight with a teleporting boss in an oddly psychedelic room and ends with a short trip through an alien mothership."



It was a robot producing exploration planet like any other: large cities, beautiful sunsets � but then they came..... We'll send in Low G Man. (punctuation inserted into game's intro courtesy of me)

So, who wants to bet that when they created Low G Man, Taxan just wanted to create a futuristic superhero-type platformer without worrying about minor details like plot? All you need to know is that your character has been called upon to stop an invasion by the diabolical forces of "they" on a planet that produces robots, apparently for exploration purposes. And what hero worth anything could stand by and just watch large cities be overrun by evil beings, preventing the people from getting any enjoyment out of beautiful sunsets? Not me, that's for damn sure!

Low G Man is one of those funny games. I could spend a number of paragraphs running down all sorts of flaws concerning many aspects of this game. Still, it ranks pretty high in the ever-so-prestigious Overdrive's Big List O' Tush-Kickin' NES Games list (highly acclaimed and recommended by no fewer than one individual).

I think the main reason I like this game is simply because I've always found it to be imaginative. By only giving a short, vague plot to Low G Man, the designers really had no limits placed upon them, which allowed them to do pretty much whatever they wanted in creating levels and opposition. A lot of NES games lived by this creed. Take Blaster Master for example. The plot involved you exhibiting questionable judgment by diving into a bizarre hole to an underground world in an attempt to rescue a pet frog. And that led to you going through a bunch of huge worlds ranging from an underground ocean to a high-tech computerized zone. If I step back and think about things, there was absolutely no logic to the way ANYTHING flowed together, but I had a hell of a time playing the game!

Low G Man is much the same way. One minute, you'll be fighting robotic enemies; the next, it'll be little flying gargoyles coming at you. You'll find yourself diving to the depths of an ocean to set up a jaunt through an alien-infested submarine in the second level; meanwhile the fourth level begins with a jaunt up a tower leading to a fight with a teleporting boss in an oddly psychedelic room and ends with a short trip through an alien mothership. The graphics and sound are pretty good for the eight-bit era and there's no shortage of imagination used in crafting the levels and enemies, making it pretty easy for me to overlook a lot of this game's flaws. Such as these two:

ONE: Your hero's main "superpower" is that gravity doesn't really affect him that much (hence the title Low G Man), which allows him to jump REALLY high. Most levels, whether horizontal or vertical in nature, are multiple screens in height because if you put some pressure on the jump button, you'll fly like you've been shot out of a cannon, soaring a good screen or two into the air. Now, one could put "jumping really high" right up there with "running really fast" (like The Flash) and "being really fat" (like The Blob) as being in an elite class of lame superpowers, but I did have a not-so-superficial issue with this choice of ability � the minor one of play control. In most platformers, jumping is a pretty important element, as you're expected to be able to make precise leaps while dodging and/or eliminating enemies. The amount of area you can cover at once in this game can easily take precision out of the equation. If you can cover multiple screens with one tap of a button, it goes to follow that you'll inadvertently slam into enemies you had no way of seeing when your feet left the ground.

TWO: Bizarrely, for a character whose main attribute is the amount of space he can cover with one jump, leaping isn't particularly important. A couple of the game's larger boss fights expect you to quickly get to the top of a giant piece of equipment to take it out and the final level is very fond of forcing you to make gigantic blind leaps with the beloved "death via bottomless pit" your price for failure. Other than that, Low G Man's jumping ability is merely a novelty. Heck, many of the game's plentiful boss fights take place in confined locations where jumping really high won't be a possibility, let alone necessary for victory. While I can't say this really bothered me, as, like I said, the ability to make accurate jumps does go down the crapper when you're launching yourself 50 feet into the air � it still is kinda funny to base the concept of a game around a specific gimmick, but then design most levels in such a way that said gimmick isn't needed.

Instead, what Low G Man focuses on is a pretty neat little system of combat. Your basic gun doesn't damage foes, but instead temporarily freezes them. When an enemy is frozen, you can stand under or jump on top of it and press the attack button along with either up or down on the control pad to slam a spear into it. Most weaker enemies are frozen with one or two shots from the gun and killed with one or two pokes with the spear. Bosses take more of both, obviously, but as you weaken them with the spear, it takes fewer and fewer shots with the gun to put them back "on ice".

Or, alternatively, there are a handful of enemies that drop sub-weapons upon death. Pressing the select button lets you toggle between the freeze gun and whichever of the four alternate weapons you're currently using (determined by hitting the start button and picking one). Oftentimes, blasting folk with these can be far easier than the "freeze and stab" method of killing them. Boomerangs can be powered up to fly in three directions, hitting enemies more than once; while the wave beam covers a LOT of ground. On the other hand, a frozen enemy can't shoot back, while one getting blasted with a sub-weapon will likely be constantly returning fire. A good deal of this game's difficulty (or lack thereof) is determined by figuring out when it might be a good idea to switch from the freeze gun to a different weapon or vice versa.

Really, if you take away the wacky multi-screen jumping ability (which is easy to do, considering how rarely you'll need it), this is a pretty fun little game that shows the designers at Taxan were fairly imaginative chaps. Not only is this a decent-sized game, but you get passwords after completing each level and can beat the game three times, getting an altered ending with each time through. When I picked up Low G Man for the first time in years, I figured it'd be one of those games I liked in the past, but no longer do. Instead, I still found it to be an enjoyable, engaging game.....even if I did occasionally leap right into the underside of an enemy that wasn't on the same screen as I was when I started my jump.

Rating: 8/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 06, 2009)

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

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