Review: Spin Master (Neo Geo)

Not masterful, but still pretty good

With probably about half of the Neo Geo's library of games consisting of fighting games, it's always nice to see another platformer for the system released on VC. In Spin Master, you take control of either Johnny or Tom as you try to recover five pieces of a lost treasure map and rescue Johnny's girlfriend.

It's a pretty straight-forward game, in which you pretty much just run through each stage from left to right, or bottom to top, in two instances. A bit comparable to Metal Slug, you'll be greeted by hundreds of enemies on the way to your destination, and it even seems like they just keep respawning behind you indefinitely, so there's not a moment's rest. Thankfully, with very few exceptions, most enemies will have to get within melee range to hit you, so you should be able to knock most of them out if you're quick on your feet.

Your standard weapon is a simple yo-yo, but as you open the numerous treasure chests you'll find lying around, you'll receive plenty of different weapons, like icicles, fireballs, missiles, boxing gloves, shurikens and bombs. Each behaves slightly differently and has a different super attack (of which you get a limited amount of uses per life), so experiment and pick your favourite. Of course, if you lose a life, you also lose your weapon, so you'll be back to the yo-yo before you know it if you're not careful.

The game only has five stages divided into a number of "scenes", none of which are particularly hard, but they can still be challenging due to the sheer number of enemies. Aside from straightforward platforming, there's also a mine cart ride, a boat ride and a few other levels with their own unique gimmicks, and of course, each stage culminates in a boss fight.

The game's not especially difficult, especially with two players, but you can do something about that if you're willing to. Upon starting the game you'll be able to pick one of four difficulty levels - Easy, Normal, Hard and MVS, the last one being the difficulty the arcade cabinet was set on. On Easy, most enemies die in either one or very few hits and you've got more health and special attacks, but on MVS you can expect a much, much harder time.

The game is, unfortunately, not very long. With just five fairly short stages, you can probably blaze through in about 30 minutes, and maybe even faster if you're playing with a friend, which is the recommended way of doing things. Thankfully, because of its small size, it's perfect to pull out and go for another quick romp whenever you feel like it.

The game's true highlight are the graphics: everything's very cartoony and bright, which makes it quite enjoyable to look at. The music and sound effects are not nearly as good, with decent but fairly repetitive tunes and every human bad guy using the exact same death grunt possibly getting on your nerves quite quickly.

Conclusion

It may not be a masterpiece, but Spin Master is fairly enjoyable while it lasts. Due to its short length, it's perfectly suited for replays, especially when playing with a friend, but even on your own it's an entertaining and challenging experience.

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