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TaleSpin (NES) artwork

TaleSpin (NES) review


"“TaleSpin” is a game that I did not wholly enjoy. I certainly didn’t enjoy it on the same level as Capcom’s “Darkwing Duck” or “Rescue Rangers.” And yet, it’s a fairly competent piece of software that delivers all the requisite action and brand power. Fans of the syndicated Disney cartoon “TaleSpin” will find that this is probably the only good video game based on it. This isn’t just a concession based on the low bar set by other “TaleSpin” games, but also a fair appraisal independent of any oth..."



“TaleSpin” is a game that I did not wholly enjoy. I certainly didn’t enjoy it on the same level as Capcom’s “Darkwing Duck” or “Rescue Rangers.” And yet, it’s a fairly competent piece of software that delivers all the requisite action and brand power. Fans of the syndicated Disney cartoon “TaleSpin” will find that this is probably the only good video game based on it. This isn’t just a concession based on the low bar set by other “TaleSpin” games, but also a fair appraisal independent of any other considerations.

This game is departure from Capcom’s other Disney titles on the NES. “TaleSpin” is logically suited more to the shoot ‘em up genre than platforming, since the show itself is centered around the aerial antics of Baloo and his plane the Sea Duck. This might explain why I didn’t take to this game too much, since the genre is admittedly not a favorite of mine. That said, I was able to get into the game and see it through to the end. It’s lenient enough to accommodate shoot ‘em up novices (and turn off hardcore genre hounds), but I also found it pretty frustrating at times.

Part of the problem is a slight kink in the controls. In most side-scrolling shooters, your ship constantly fires forward. I’ve never played one where you can fire diagonally, and I prefer it that way. “TaleSpin” does let you shoot in diagonals, which creates problems. The other button in the game, the one that doesn’t fire your weapon, reverses your ship’s direction so you can fire at bogies behind you or save yourself from being crushed between walls. Unfortunately, you can’t reverse during a diagonal shot. This creates a lot of awkward situations where you want to do a quick reverse but you can’t, because pulling down or up and firing prevents it.

That is the one aspect of the controls I didn’t like. Everything else is pretty solid, although reversing does lamentably cause enemies to respawn at parts.

The levels are pretty cool and very active. Enemy planes fly at you, goons from below sling stuff like bubbles and baseballs using little contraptions, there’s packages and money bags scattered about for our consumption, mystery boxes containing fruits and health pick-ups appear frequently, and on occasion your bullets reveal a secret 1-UP or bonus game entrance. Among the different places on Baloo’s delivery route are a baseball stadium, a haunted house, caverns, construction zones, a jungle and ice caps. The eight stages are very lean, never overstaying their welcome but always delivering just the right amount of content.

After you complete a level, you’re given money that can be spent at a power-up shop. The key items here--alongside extra credits and 1-UPs--are two rapid-fire upgrades, a new heart container and a speed booster. Not a lot to be sure, but they’re priced in a way that you likely won’t get all of them until the end. I thought these goods were pretty adequate for a game like this, although I can imagine other people disagreeing. (i.e. hardcore genre hounds.)

Stages are designed to be moderately tricky, but some parts lean a bit too much toward frustration. The attacks of the Frog Machine boss are almost impossible to avoid, which usually results in the fight being a test of endurance rather than skill. The ghosts of the haunted house are quite annoying, due to their tendency to appear in tight spaces. When you shoot them, they separate into tinier ghosts that continue giving chase until you either shoot those or they eventually vanish. I’ve found that for every one of these frustrating parts, there many others that were enjoyable.

Some of this review might come across as pretty negative, which would give the wrong idea about this game. It’s a fun, vivid shooting fest with plenty of stops and action. “TaleSpin” fans young and old will probably like it. I liked it, even when I found myself belly aching over the rougher sections. I guess that goes with the territory of the genre.

Rating: 8/10

joseph_valencia's avatar
Community review by joseph_valencia (July 15, 2009)

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