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Totally Rad (NES) artwork

Totally Rad (NES) review

"Totally Rad is a ''gnarly'' little platformer that has quite a few RPGish options much in the style of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. It put you in the role of Jake, an up and coming magician who must face off against mysterious enemies who kidnap his girlfriend and her parents. With a few tips from your local magic man you must discover the power deep inside you and SAVE THE DAY! Sounds corny? Well it is.... "

Totally Rad is a ''gnarly'' little platformer that has quite a few RPGish options much in the style of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. It put you in the role of Jake, an up and coming magician who must face off against mysterious enemies who kidnap his girlfriend and her parents. With a few tips from your local magic man you must discover the power deep inside you and SAVE THE DAY! Sounds corny? Well it is....

The gameplay differs away from the normal platformers by offering some interesting ideas that help set this game away from the rest of the pack. Introduced into the game are such features as magic points and enemy counters (kill fifty and you get a free life! GOLLY GEE!) to spice the repetitive platformer style up a bit. This makes Totally Rad quite a bit more strategic and means you'll have to excercise some smarts to make it to the end.
The level design could have been done a bit better, the designs are sometimes ridiculously simple whilst others are just confusing. The game has been designed so the enemies you face provide you with the real challenge, you must use strategy and guile to get past them. Thankfully there's very little of that frustrating jumping that very few people enjoy, it's a refreshing change depite the flaws in some of the set ups.
The real strength of Totally Rad lies in Jake's ability to transform, he can turn into either a lion, a bird, or a fish. Each of these mutations has different abilities which will need to be utilised at appropriate times if you want to make it all the way to the end. Along with this there are the spells at his disposal, there are two kinds, the ones that destroy all enemies on screen and the ones that will replenish Jakes health. You only have limited magic (it's refilled at the conclusion of each level) and must share it out sparingly and not waste it.
There are a few problems with the game, a few of the later levels are quite long. This can sap your energy and make it seemingly impossible to defeat the boss at the end of the rainbow, the thing is...if you die then Jake is cast back down to the start of the level and you'll have to repeat the same process all over again. This is an event that can make you go straight for the power button with ease, nobody wants to repeat long boring levels too many times and this is often where Totally Rad falls down in a heap and dies.
The boss fights that Jake partakes in are one of the best bits of the game, they're absolutely huge and you have to hunt down their weak spot and beat the **** out of it. This could be a small spot on their stomach or the back of their foot, you must track this spot down and DESTROY IT! These fights provide a good challenge and often make getting to them worth the hassle.
Overall, the gameplay of Totally Rad has some interesting ideas but is let down by some rather naughty problems. It's a bit of a mixed bag, some could love it whilst it may drive other players to the brink of insanity. Totally Rad is an acquired taste and can sometimes be well worth the effort.

The graphics have been nicely done, depite having some small flaws. The colours that are used are decidedly drab and at times downright boring, also the appearance can at times come across as a little grainy. The backgrounds have been well designed, with a fair amount of detail being evident throughout the whole thing. Whilst you're controlling the action in the foreground there may be such events as a carnival taking place in the background, the screen is very active with a whole lot of movement always happening. The scenes chosen for the game have been depicted well and duly represent the chosen time and location, there are very few complaints with this section of the graphical package.
The design of the majority of the characters is exceptional, the lead hero is less memorable than many others you'll ever see and his various transformations added nothing to the appeal of this forgettable lead. The real strength of the designs lies in the enemies that Jake encounters and must defeat, the bosses in particular look fantastic. These monstrousities that you face off against will take up nearly the whole screen and have an attention to detail for you to die for. These spectacles are truly awesome and well worth a look, the other enemies being quite innovative and also of a good design. It's a pleasure to blast these suckers into oblovion.
The amount of special effects littered throughout this game and their quality is astounding. Jake has a good number of magic spells up his sleeve and every time you utilise one you're in for a fantastic light show. They're bright, flashy and make some good eye-candy for the player to feast on. The spells look destructive and are generally a pleasure to view.
Overall, this graphical package was a fantastic effort and it was always great to sit down and view the splendours that this game offered. Very few complaints can be made here, everything from the animations to the hairs on the nose of the last boss has been done too well. The graphics are definitely the strongest part of the game.

The sound is reasonable, but not much more than that. Most of the background tunes are action orientated and are meant to get your pulse racing as you guide the character through the treacherous levels, it's a pity that the desired effect is not duly met. The end result is a soundtrack that sounds cheesy, repetitive and at times simply inaudible. Some of the music is used to build a bit of tension during the transition from one level to another and this is most likely the only section of the background themes that actually works, it's a pretty disappointing effort and make the game less pleasurable to play if you end up listening to it.
The sound effects try hard to rectify this problem but unfortunately can't quite come up with the goods. The sound effects are put to nice use but often come away sounding tinny and not enjoyable at all. There's a fine amount of effects, and they've been placed nicely but in the end it's the delivery that lets the team down. You can't blame them for trying but it sounds like the developers got a bit ambitious and out of their league, it tends to sound half-assed at times.
Overall, the sound is a bit of a let down. It could have done a lot more to complement the graphics and there were quite a few problems that could have been fixed pretty easily. There are some nice ideas that have been excercised but they just don't pay off in the end.

The lifespan is hampered quite a bit by the need to repeat those long and tedious levels many times. You may be having a good time at the game and then suddenly POW! That happens and you'll just switch the console off straight away. If you have perserverance and want to finish the game then you'll have to spend quite a few hours tackling this mammoth challenge. If you can get pastb the flaws and problems of the game, Totally Rad offered quite a good lifespan, it's just that the gameplay can get so annoying at times that this is unlikely to happen.

The fun factor (much like the above category) is hurt deeply by these aggravations that the gameplay often abounds in. You can get some enjoyment out of parts of the game, but these moments tend to be a little bit more infrequent than most people would care for. There are some beight moments to be had, but these are heavily outnumbered by downsides. Only the most patient of gamers could get some good fun out of this game, it's just too irritating for the majority of us to get a good kick out of.

The challenge is somewhere between medium and high, the earliest levels can prove your downfall unless you're affluent with the way the game works and from there it won't get any easier. The difficulty range just isn't there, so if you're inexperienced be prepared for a steep learning curve. The controls can be difficult to get the hang of and will add to the amount of times you get frazzled by the weakest of enemies. Once you're more experienced it's a great challenge, it's just that few people are likely to stick around that long.

Totally Rad had some great ideas that were put into execution. It offered a fine change from the more generic titles that plagued the NES. Unfortunately, the game had some big problems that hurt the playability of the game considerably and made it less pleasurable to have a go at. The graphics were really the only the only category that held up it's end of the bargain, from there down things just get worse and worse. It could have been good if the execution had been done better and some simple problems had been recitified. Oh what could have been......
- The graphics are good, thank heavens for that
- Some intriguing boss fights could keep you entertained
- A change from other platforming games....

- The needless repitition helps considerably to destroy the game
- A difficult game to come to grips with
- The sound could have used a bit more work
SOUND - 5/10
OVERALL - 3/10

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)

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