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Quattro Adventure (NES) artwork

Quattro Adventure (NES) review


"Masochists never back down from a challenging or particularly awful game. We do, however, tend to shy away from multiple turkeys on one cartridge. It's as though Codemasters knew our weakness and developed Quattro Adventure to break us. No, not developed; turned loose. Many were wounded, some even perished, but a few rose their heads up high and said, “I survived Quattro Adventure!”"



Masochists never back down from a challenging or particularly awful game.

We do, however, tend to shy away from multiple turkeys on one cartridge. It's as though Codemasters knew our weakness and developed Quattro Adventure to break us. No, not developed; turned loose. Many were wounded, some even perished, but a few rose their heads up high and said, “I survived Quattro Adventure!”

Me, I came, I saw, I turned tail and ran after hitting the start button four times and beholding the tetralogy of terror, the four horsemen of the NES:

PestilenceLinus Spacehead
FamineSuper Robin Hood
WarBoomerang Kid
DeathTreasure Island Dizzy

They came riding on horses that bore names I'd heard before. One was called “Faulty Controls,” another “Uninteresting Levels,” and joined by the other two, “Outrageous Challenge Factor” and “Unforgiving Gameplay.” They charged toward me and at first I held my ground. Every unsteady jump, every ridiculous situation, every easily-achieved game over screen bombarded me. It wasn't worth holding my ground. I turned tail and ran, screaming like a little girl into the night, but they found me.

The first horseman captured me and told me his name was Linus Spacehead. He came to me in the form of a straightforward platformer with a little added cartoony cuteness.; a game starring a spandex-wearing alien superhero who had crashed his ship into the icy depths of the sea and was seeking a way home.

My only method of escape was to run and jump from platform to platform, dodging the many hazards like falling coconuts that threatened to cave in my super-skull, clouds of bees that sent me flying backward into bottomless pits, and annoyingly-placed eagles with razor-sharp beaks and talons. I had no eye lasers, adamantium claws or even the ability to summon useless marine creatures. My only super powers were to always run like I was on ice and to jump like my ass was made of lead. This made dodging the perils very problematic and survival seemed more like a stroke of luck.

A superhero I obviously wasn't, as even benign colorful fish could end my life with a single strike. When it wasn't Mother Nature I was dodging, it was the gaping holes in the ground surrounding such minuscule platforms. I was given no more than a hair's breadth to gain momentum and jump, and often slid as though I were on rollerskates and plunged into salty water to sink to the bottom and never leave the accursed planet.

Never mind the fact that the first level was entirely underwater. Apparently I had gained an aversion to water after exiting it.

There were only three lives, and when I lost all three of them, which was not a difficult task, there was no continuing. I had only to pick up the pieces and try again. The harsh difficulty combined with the lack of forgiveness made Linus a painful experience not in any way worth the effort to go through.

I wept as I played and the horseman laughed. I tried using save states and he laughed more harshly as they prolonged the punishment.

Another horseman approached and called himself Super Robin Hood. I controlled Robin as he raided Castle Nottingham, using his agility and brains to battle nasty archers, leap over pygmies, slide under tight crawlspaces, and close gaps between platforms with all the ease of an inebriated giraffe, all while trying to snatch anything shiny that wasn't nailed down--i.e. bling.

Unlike Linus, Robin had some decent points. Some moments promoted brain power above platforming. Many scenes required me to think and react, had me sprinting to avoid oncoming fireballs and to time my jump properly to leap over a bed of spikes, climb up a dangling chain to a platform where I would throw a switch, then leap down onto another moving platform, all to get to a key that unlocks the way out of the level. Sequences could be maddening and somewhat fun.

Sound exciting? Robin apparently bought shoes from the same place Linus did. His motions were slippery, making precise jumps difficult to calculate. His sense of momentum was also wonky, going from old-man-with-bad-hips speed to did-a-whole-lot-of-amphetamines speed without warning. Many lives were lost incinerated by fireballs I accidentally ran into or impaled on spikes onto which I had slipped.

Claustrophobia set in. It wasn't enough that each level had to look similar with only minor graphical tweaks, but all of the spaces were so cramped and tight. One situation had me battle an archer crammed into a location so tight that there was no room to jump. I had to slowly crawl down a ladder leading to the archer, quickly fire an arrow, and scramble back up the ladder to commit a virtual impossibility in dodging the archer's own arrow. And this guy took multiple hits!

Robin's sprite was also awkward and gangly. Many situations put me against multiple archers and statue traps with arrows and fireballs coming from every angle. Dodging was nearly impossible mostly because of the sprite, but also because of the aforementioned controls.

Though there was an actual life bar in Super Robin Hood, it still has no continues and dying was not a difficult task. That and the game itself was very long drawn. Even if I could have survived the whole ordeal, there was the question as to whether I would lose interest before the climax, and the answer was “almost surely.”

The third horseman had an Australian accent. He was called Boomerang Kid, and he wore a Donkey Kong promo patch somehow stitched into his armor.

Turns out he had a lot in common with DK. Where I would have imagined a game with a name like Boomerang Kid to be a generic platformer where you kill stock enemies with boomerangs, the game was similar to arcade games from the early 80's, featuring a single screen and a plethora of platforms placed throughout.

Guiding a random child through simple, single-screen levels, I had to collect boomerangs while avoiding animals like snakes, koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles like this was a late 70's eco-horror flick (and sadly, no Christopher George to save me). After nabbing the last 'rang, I had to head to the cave to exit the level and select the next one I wanted to play.

The first few levels were too simple. Zero resistance, zero fun. As levels slipped by, they became more difficult, but not in a favorable way. Unlike the first two games, the controls weren't slippery. The jumping physics, on the other hand, were still wonky as all get out. The kid's jumps were high and no so lengthy, making timing the jumps irksome. Far too often had I jumped onto the tail of a kangaroo and died, or pushed the jump button too early and missed the next platform over.

The kid must have had a very frail frame. Dropping from too high up was certain doom. Sometimes it was difficult to judge if a drop is high enough to be fatal, and some were just a couple pixels too high.

The true death knell was realizing that Boomerang Kid would have been the perfect game...

...circa 1980. It was a decade too late, and being as we're a couple more decades removed from its initial release, you can surmise that the ages haven't been kind. There were better games even before BK slithered into existence. Even for being the best game in the package, the dated and dull gameplay didn't justify touching it.

The final horseman rode up and grinned. He was the worst of them all, wearing an eggshell for a helmet and carrying three random items. He called himself Treasure Island Dizzy, and it was a name that came to be synonymous with despair.

TID featured an anthropomorphic egg using his brain power to collect items and use them towards finding a treasure, and doing so with such awkward jumping physics. Rather than a basic leap in the air, Dizzy hurtled head over heels like a clumsy ninja. The maneuver served no practical purpose and seemed to only be added in for the sake of style--as if this was going to make children under the age of ten say, “WHOA COOL!”

I wandered the island, picking up items like rocks, a magic stone or a snorkel and placing them in key locations to gain access to other places or clues, such as using a rock to climb up the side of a hill and gain access to an abandoned tree village. I could only hold three items at a time, so I had to consider carefully what I picked up and when. The trouble, however, was that in order to cycle through items, I had to drop them. Say I have a rock, a snorkel and a human skull. In order to use the human skull, I had to put down the rock and the snorkel, then use the skull and pick the other two items back up. Dizzy obviously had issues with coordination and probably should have been referred to a neurologist.

Or a frying pan.

It wasn't the item system that destroyed my interest, but the insane difficulty. At one point I was caught by a cage that sat off the screen above me. There was no way of telling that it was there; it simply fell and landed on me, taking my life.

Yes, I meant “life” as in singular. TID only gave me one life, no life bars, no continues. Muck up once and it's back to the title screen. All I had to do was get snagged by one cage, touch one fish, accidentally walk into the water at the beginning of the game without a snorkel and it's curtains.

I broke free of spells of the horsemen and fled, screaming. Dull and lackluster gameplay does not justify extreme challenge, and playing such challenge. Heed my words and venture not into the realm of Quattro Adventure. The horsemen are unkind and unforgiving. They're also big jerks.

Rating: 3/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (March 03, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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CoarseDragon posted March 03, 2011:

Very strong and very funny start but you seemed to tail off that course somewhere in the middle of the review. I guess I expected the humor you infused to be present throughout considering the great start. Don't take it wrong it was a very good review and I did enjoy the read but I think maybe you could trim some. Perhaps it was "Robin" that felt a bit long to me.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted March 04, 2011:

Thanks, CD! This is actually quite condensed from its original form (which was about 12 KB in the very first draft),but I'll see if I can shed anymore pieces of it.

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