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First Impressions: Pole's Big Adventure

Posted by Sean Aaron

I have a confession to make. I hate platforming games.

I think outside of sports games they must be my least favourite genre. So why would I be interested in a game like Pole's Adventure, which is very much a mishmash of 8-bit platformers? Well, because it takes the piss out of them fantastically of course!

I think it's safe to say that if you aren't familiar with 8-bit games from the Nintendo Famicom or Sega Master System days you aren't likely to get as much out of this. Indeed my lack of Japanese knowledge probably means I'm missing out on a lot of the humour, but the video game nature of the gags are clear enough that I've still had plenty of chuckles and full on Laughs Out Loud in my hour-plus of play.

Control is available with wiimote on its end, classic controller or Gamecube controller. Given the controls consist of d-pad and two buttons (jump/shoot), I prefer the old school controller on the side method. Options are sparse, but outside of being able to play with the BGM volume I didn't play with them to decipher them and they're in Japanese; so beyond my comprehension at present.

The intro will be familiar to any old-timers out there. Still screens with large pixellated figures looking like digitised photos and giant text-filled bubbles passing for dialogue. Our hero is a butch cowboy up against a green bull-man with some mustachioed cigarette-smoking man in the middle. Basically get your girl back from bull-man and kill the baddies on the way!

There are six levels all told with four stages each. It plays very much like an old 8-bit platformer with lots of jumping, but instead of jumping on your enemies heads you shoot them with a shotgun (not terribly sporting since they're unarmed, but you're a cowboy, so I guess it's okay), oh and you can eat apples on the way, lots and lots of apples. The game doesn't take too long to get through and it's not very difficult, but that's not really the point, the point is to see the jokes -- in fact if you still have jokes unseen after reaching the end the game simply starts over again! Apparently there are 100 in all, which are counted in the lower right corner as they're encountered.

The levels all echo games from the 8-bit era whether it's the green square hills of Mario, the jungles of Jungle King/Hunt, the medieval Japanese/Chinese setting of games like Kicker or the surface of the moon, you're covered. The tropes are all there from the opening "Say-gah" to power ups and one-ups to slowdown and video glitching lovingly rendered for the modern era.

Some of the gags will kill you like the mushroom that makes you grow until you fly off the screen or the background object that turns out to be in the foreground and decapitates you. Others are juvenile like the mushroom that gives you an erection for most of the level. And then you have the bizarre happenings like zoo animals in the arctic or irritants like the down pipe that takes you back near the start of the game which then means playing through the middle of the game again.

If I could compare it to anything it would be Jeff Minter's Llamatron, where the point was also to see what bizarre stuff is coming next rather than have any real challenge. The humour is great, the gameplay is fun and I think the 500 points is quite reasonable for what is a unique experience on any system.

I'm sure some of you will say "who cares?" but equally many must be wondering when you can get your hands on this. Will it get localised? Well, Sega is putting out Let's Tap! in Europe and North America and I never thought that would happen, so who knows? I do know that if it is localised for PAL I'll happily buy it again just to get more of the jokes. Now all we need is for Konami to do Parodius ReBirth to make sure shooters get theirs...

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User Comments (39)

JohnshiBRPG

#1

JohnshiBRPG said:

I wished I would play it, but if Sega wants this game released, they would have to soften it up.

Olimar_91

#4

Olimar_91 said:

How can you hate platformers? ;__;

Anyway, this game looks crazy. I hope it gets localized, but I'm not optimistic.

MarkyVigoroth

#5

MarkyVigoroth said:

YES! I AM ONE OF THOSE WHO WANT HIS HANDS (paws?) ON THIS!!!

Anyways, I also thought that, if Sega brings this to the US/Puerto Rico/Europe/Australia, considering culture concerns, Sega will replace all of the off-colour jokes. That possibility just causes me to want this game localized even more. (Then again, considering that tons of teenagers and children actually like vulgarities, I bet this game will be released as-is. Doh.)

I also saw two new gameplay videos. I would so buy this if this turned E-rated...

Vulgarity list:
He finds a rotting apple.
His head falls out (gorelessly, thankfully) when he hits a wrecking ball.
He suffers a Mortal Kombat Brutality after crashing into a cactus that was supposed to be part of the background.
He... "rewinds" his food (rather explicitly).
One of the enemies seems to be... "Zero-suit".
He eats a mushroom that gives him... "Mara (from Shin Megami Tensei/Persona) fanservice".

Adam

#7

Adam said:

You don't like platformers? Where's my pitchfork? ;)

If the game play isn't that exciting and it's all about the jokes, I think I'll just watch it on Youtube if it's localized. Same difference, $5 cheaper!

Chunky_Droid

#9

Chunky_Droid said:

This has to be localised un-touched! It sounds awesome, and the only WiiWare game to come out that contains an erection, lol. Go Pole!

bwaybuddy26

#10

bwaybuddy26 said:

I highly doubt this one will get localized unless Sega of America/Europe is really not worried about being un-PC.

Ren

#13

Ren said:

Ok, I stood my ground in the last thread about the samurai toaster thing because that game looks awesome, but this game just looks kinda dumb and boring. Maybe funny for a minute, but erection humor only goes so far. Better not be more than 500 points if it does make it here.

themortalangel

#14

themortalangel said:

Def worth it for only 500 points...but will it make it here? Either way seems to be a decent game shame to think America might miss out on a decent new SEGA game.

CanisWolfred

#15

CanisWolfred said:

I love humor enough to overlook any gameplay quibles. I really hope this game makes it to the States!

Sean_Aaron

#16

Sean_Aaron said:

The erection is only one-note, but this is a symphony.

And I really should qualify my "I hate platformers" statement (I did in the original write-up, but it was clunky and didn't scan well). I like action platformers, like Contra, but during the 8,16, 32 and 64-bit eras the endless stream of games with some character (especially the ones "with attitude") running and jumping to collect rings, fruit, ice lollies, bits of dung, etc. got really really old to the point where I see videos of the Klonoa remake and cannot muster any interest, though it does look pretty.

I have played many of them, but very few to conclusion either due to lack of interest or hitting a brick wall of impossible jumps or bosses. During my Wii gaming "rebirth" I actually decided to give Mario 3 a shot since everyone raves about it; I must have spent hours replaying the desert world boss before deleting the game from my system (not as satisfying as blowing up a cartridge Angry-Nerd-Stylee, but that's modern times for you). I bought Mario 64 at the same time and similarly hit a part that just seemed like bad design. Some underworld section where you need to do a series of jumps except you're in the background and have foreground objects periodically blocking your view. Why people love these games is quite beyond me, I just end up bruising my thighs and the ears of those around me in a frenzy of self-flagellation and swearing.

I will say that I played through Super Mario Galaxy and quite enjoyed it -- it had some tough parts, but there was balance; I never felt like killing someone (say, Mario?), but the shadow races were completely beyond me which really really ticked me off. Thankfully I could still complete the game, but having that be a block to unlocking Luigi really disappointed me so I sold it -- isn't 92 stars enough FFS?

And De Blob, I really enjoyed that just because of the mechanic. There's a really difficult bit towards the end, but I very much liked the fact that I could finish the game without getting every last star or whatever and I can now replay the stages at my leisure, plus all the little side challenges -- this is how to make a platform game to me.

Hey, this would have been a good blog entry...

Kirk

#17

Kirk said:

I still think the graphics are way below par even for a parody of an old 8bit game.

Super Mario Bros 1,2,3, Wonder Boy (all of them), Bonk games (all of them), Alex Kid in Mircle World etc. All these platform games are from the 8bit era but they actually have nice graphics in that the sprites and tile sets are well designed and just nice in general.

This looks like an ugly game from the 8bit era, and even the controls look like they belong to a slightly crappy 8bit platformer as opposed to a good one like the ones above, and for me that kinda loses the joke.

I'm never a fan, and never was, of ugly graphics or average controls, even back in the day.

I get what they were trying but I don't think they did it quite the way I would have liked.

Amorous_Badger

#19

Amorous_Badger said:

I have to confess that I think this looks dreadful, a hideous mash of gaming cliches tied together with some tiresome wacky jokes and scenary that arbitrarily kills you?

Stufff that.

DamoAdmin

#20

Damo said:

Badger - I think you've missed the point a little there...

Sean_Aaron

#22

Sean_Aaron said:

I'll definitely work up a full review of this eventually. I suppose you could make the arguement that like Wii Fit or Wii Music it's "not really a game" because you're looking for gags rather than trying to finish the game.

The only answer I have for you is to get a sense of humour you soulless bastard.

hal

#23

hal said:

@Sean Aaron : cool Pole preview! actually looking forward to this one (before, + definitely after reading this!)

hmm.. not sure about Wii Fit though, it is very 'challenge-oriented'.

MarkyVigoroth

#24

MarkyVigoroth said:

Meh, I am fine with him disliking platformers. (If people actually like Beer Toss, there are people who dislike Mario AND Sonic.) Besides, a platformer game that appealed even to a platformer-disliker has to be truly good! (Then again, as the comments above say, not everyone likes Pole.)

Sean_Aaron

#25

Sean_Aaron said:

@hal: Hey, thanks. Yeah, and Wii Fit contains games as well. I find the whole dismissive attitude towards "lifestyle" software to be tiresome, personally.

Kawaiipikachu

#26

Kawaiipikachu said:

Thanks to you now I want this game.

@Sean Aaron I don't seam to remember you doing any articles before on this site
Is this your first articale or am I missing something

Sean_Aaron

#27

Sean_Aaron said:

Yes, it is my first. I suspect my ability to sound halfway intelligent combined with owning a Japanese Wii helped. I'm hoping you'll see more Japanese WiiWare views from me in the future!

Objection

#30

Objection said:

@Sean Aaron-Or at least you have a Japanese Wii. KIDDING! KIDDING!
"I would so buy this if this turned E-rated..." That would eliminate the whole point. I hope this gets localized intact with a T or M rating, I don't care which.

mojo25

#32

mojo25 said:

Awesome, 500 wiipoints...I think I'll pick this one up if it gets good reviews....or then I'll just get Castlevania: Dracula's Curse (or w/e it's called...) :D

Sean_Aaron

#33

Sean_Aaron said:

I've written up a full review (content different from above) on my blog:

http://www.seanswiiworld.co.uk/2009/02/poles-big-adventure-review.html

So check it out. I played it some more yesterday and there's more here than just a joke reel. What appeared to be a simple restart of the game was actually a harder version (so hard that the Level 1 boss totally kicked my ass).

Great platforming action even someone who doesn't like platformers can enjoy. If you've got a Japanese Wii get it; if you don't pray to your gods for it!

CorbsAdmin

#34

Corbs said:

Great review Sean. I enjoyed it. And thanks for the impressions of the game on here.

Sean_Aaron

#37

Sean_Aaron said:

The music is really good as well; I've updated the review to comment on that (can't believe I left it out) as well. The start of Level 2 has a gag where a human voice is doing the background music initially -- you can see this in the second gameplay video on Gametrailers.com -- pretty cool.

HappyHappy

#39

HappyHappy said:

I going to get this. I think I more interested in seeing the gags than just playing the game.

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