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Growl (Genesis) artwork

Growl (Genesis) review

"I'm sure it's not the case with everyone, but my experience with games made by Taito has not been very good. Well, at least my experience with their Genesis games. "

I'm sure it's not the case with everyone, but my experience with games made by Taito has not been very good. Well, at least my experience with their Genesis games.

Sometimes, I get the impression that their design process was based on two teams working separately. Team 1 would consist of happy and idealistic non-programmers that would think about great ideas to be implemented in games. They would write down all their ideas and pass them down to Team 2, consisting of angry downtrodden programmers who would make the actual game with all those ideas implemented in half-arsed ways.

I could say that games like 'Rastan Saga' and “Saint Sword' are examples of that. Yet I won't here, because now I shall focus exclusively on one of their games: 'Growl' (AKA 'Runark' in some places).

'Growl' is a brawler for the Genesis that could be a lot of fun, yet it has flaws that are so blatantly obvious that one cannot help but think that if Taito called in one or two gamers for a single playtest session they would quickly tell them what should be altered in the game.

Here, you take the role of one of 4 characters who set out to fight against a pretty large gang of early 20th century predatory poachers. As you advance in your battles against their massive armies, you will see firsthand these un-ecological folks dish out some pretty harsh treatment over both cute animals and yourself.

The presentation of the game and the way it's simple story is told is actually quite a high point of the game. Seeing the poachers poaching the animal is a simple way to show that they are, indeed, as evil as the back of the box said they were and righteously deserving your punches. Also, in some key points the grateful animals will help you out. Destroying a tank is a much simpler job when you have an elephant by your side.

Unfortunately, as soon as your press 'start' the games shortcomings will show up. The first thing you will realize is that there is no 2-player option. This is not uncommon in, say, a shooter or platformer, but this is a BRAWLER, a genre that pretty much screams '2-player action'! It doesn't help this game's case that the game screen clearly has some space left for a second life bar that will never show up.

Then you'll select one of 4 characters. There may be 4 of them, but there are only 2 different character sprites for you in the game: characters 2 and 4 look exactly alike, and ditto for characters 1 & 3. Even their clothing is the same! Realizing this, the fact that 2 & 4 look like seasoned pirates and that 1 & 3 clearly were supposed to be Indiana Jones' doubles is not a cool enough fact to reedem them. Actually, maybe it just makes them look even sillier.

Anyway, as soon as the fighting starts, you find yourself in a tavern surrounded by no less than 6 (!) evil poachers bent on making you their bitch. You may, to avoid this predicament, pick up one of the many weapons scattered around in said tavern, including a sword, a revolver, and a grenade launcher (!!!). Then again, if you feel too manly to use weapons, just duke it out barehanded. This way, when you beat up an enemy until he almost dies, you'll see him kneel and pant to recover some strength. Attack him in this state and you'll be treated to a nice 'finish him' animation that'll teach those poachers not to mess with defenseless animals anymore.

Hey, sounds fun, right? Well, it may be so the first or second time you apply a fatality on some evil poacher. But you'll soon realize that ALL POACHERS LOOK ALIKE! There are pretty much only 3 enemies in this game: the poacher with a hat, the lady poacher, and the hooded poacher. They come in quite a variety of colors: red, green, blue, gray, etc. Do the colors mean anything? Nope, the blue poacher might vote democrat whilst the red one votes republican, but in regards to fighting it's all alike.

In the first screen, you'll fight 6 poachers of the 'with a hat' variety. Then 4 more 'lady poachers', then a few more 'hat' ones, then a horde of the 'hooded', then a few 'hats' combined with some 'ladies', and so on. It will go like this until the game ends. Which, by the way, you'll probably end up seeing, because the game is just so easy. The poachers are slow to punch you, the weapons are great at keeping baddies at bay, and the 'special attack' you can use consumes little energy and is terribly efficient. Frankly, your greatest foe will be your urge to turn off the Genesis after you kill the 167th poacher with a hat, since you'll know that he's just the prelude to the battle against 'hooded poacher 348'.

That's 'Growl' for you: a really repetitive brawler which simply has not understood that simple pandering to the 'green thinking' way is not enough to conquer the hearts and minds of gamers.

If only Taito used its proceedings to offset the carbon footprints left behind by every crappy game cartridge it produced...

zanzard's avatar
Community review by zanzard (March 09, 2008)

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