Psycho Fox (Sega Master System) review
"I read some silly plots in videogames during the years I’ve played them, but Psycho Fox must take the cake for sheer east meets west oddness. Psycho Fox is a game with a sense of humour. Right from the description of the game on the back of the box you can tell this is a game not taking itself to seriously. If I may quote a little of games description from the box sleeve maybe you to will see that this is one tongue in cheek platformer! "
I read some silly plots in videogames during the years I’ve played them, but Psycho Fox must take the cake for sheer east meets west oddness. Psycho Fox is a game with a sense of humour. Right from the description of the game on the back of the box you can tell this is a game not taking itself to seriously. If I may quote a little of games description from the box sleeve maybe you to will see that this is one tongue in cheek platformer!
”Are you bored of being a valiant prince who saves a lovely princess? Are you sick and tired of dungeons and “mother brain”? Do you deliberately stay away from games in which you have to fight as a knight in shining armour? If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions then Psycho Fox is for you!”
Well after reading that in the second-hand shop I was perusing games in I feel in love and quickly forked out £5 to get it. Luckily the box was not misleading. PsychoFox maybe an old skool platform game at hearts but it has enough of a sense of humour both in plot, graphics and gameplay to win over in the most jaded of gamers.
So the game begins. You are told that in Japan it has been customary in the past to worship the “Inari Daimyojin” (Fox Deity) at Inari Shrines. Inari is the god of harvest so they pray to him for fruitful crops. Foxes are considered to have supernatural powers and can be preists to Inari temples. Now an evil fox has gained control of a shrine and plans to conquer the world using strange creature he created. He is know as Madfox Daimyojin. The other foxes of the Inari shrines choose Psycho Fox to go out and defeat Madfox.
He must enter Madfox strange and twisted world and defeat the Bosses that guard each one until he finally reaches madfox himself. Psycho has some powers of his own. He can jump and punch and under certain circumstances transform into other animal forms. He also has a friend named Bird Fly who can help him out but he is currently trapped in an egg and needs to be found before he can help Psycho out.
So there you go, you’re magical fox out to kill an evil Mad fox in a twisted world of platforms and holes. Yes once again the meat of the game is jumping about. There are seven stages to complete and all require a good deal of platform game skill (something I don’t have a lot of). The Mystical Mountains have lots of moving platforms and big leaps to make. Skull Land has collapsing Bridges to negotiate. Diabolical desert has sand that slows you down and fake stairs to trap you. The Wind Zone buffets Psycho across the screen and you must try and use the winds to reach far off platforms. The underground passageway is a murky place where tubes can blow you right into enemy arms. Up next is the Ice Zone were controlling your speed and footing is the key and finally the Underground cavern with steep steel structures to climb and every trap encountered in the game so far.
At the end of each level a hugely complicated bonus games appears. It’s called “Amida” and apparently it’s a Japanese way of conducting a lottery to get prizes. This takes the form of following a pathway from one end to another and collecting the prize at the end. The more money bags Psycho has collected in the pervious level the more pathways he can bet on to get prizes. This is quite good fun and a nice way of increasing you stock of useful items.
You can collect several things to aid you. The Psycho Stick lets you change into another form. The straw Effigy will destroy all enemies on the screen when activated, other things like medicine, extra lives and money have the usual uses. As you explore the levels you will see many eggs lying around. Punching these may release Bird Fly your flappy friend. While Bird Fly is with Psycho, Psycho becomes invulnerable. Bird Fly can also be released to kill any enemies in the area. However Bird Fly won’t hang around for ever and when he files off, punch more eggs to find him again.
The graphics are great, Psycho is a cool looking red fox with a very amusing stretchy arm punch. Bird Fly is a boggle eyed sparrow and Psychos other forms are just as silly. Hippo is a strong, slow character that is good for breaking walls but not much else. Monkey is great for jumping the highest and Tiger specialises in long jumps and fast speed. The main strategy of the game is knowing when to transform. Along the way you will meet such enemies as Pockly Guy (hermit crab?), Gabacho (flying strawberry?), Red Hopper (mushroom?), Bunbun Bee (bee with helmet on???), zizo zizo (bald baby?) and Poota (errr.. no I give up).
Boss Monsters are just as daft. Mad tumbler is made up of sections of what looks like lead piping. Robo Fly is a giant robotic fly. Doramaru looks like Garfield the cat on crack cocaine and MadFox is a fox done out like a Haitian witchdoctor! Tactics are needed to defeat each one, Mad Tumbler must be dismantled bit by bit with an airgun. RoboFly need a few squirts of pesticide to send him packing.
There are plenty of cool things to find as you explore each brightly coloured if simplistic level. The game does not demand too much of the Master System and looks nowhere near as good as Wonderboy 3. However it is in keeping with the general sense of absurdity the game often generates in you. Fun can be had using Bird Fly to seek out hidden doorways and warp points. Funny touches abound like when Psycho jumps on an enemies head he does not kill them rather he squishes them into the ground where they struggle. He can either keep jumping on them or you can punch them.
About the only downside of the game is the controls feel a bit loose in places. Psycho has the annoying habit of slowing down slowly so he often runs off platform edges when not under your direct control. Also his jumps are dependent of the speed he is walking or running at and this makes timing jumps a little tricky in places. It’s a pity that such a slickly designed game falls down at this important hurdle as wrestling with Psychos tendencies to run out of steam mid-air and plummet into a hole or gracefully slide into some spikes really marred my enjoyment in places.
However, it still has a lot to recommend it. Maybe my control issues just stem from the fact I suck at platform games! I found this to be a fun little platform game with well-designed characters and an amusing storyline. It’s occasionally dodgy controls make it more for the expert in the genre, it can be very tricky and unforgiving in places. But as a real little platforming oddity it is definitely worth checking out for any self respecting Master System owner.
Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)
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