Lets be honest. Games can divide. With a venomous strike of critique that labels a game no good to an air of confidence that repels any sense of justification that the game in question is poor. It’s a rare case that a game can be good and at the same time hated. Parallels will be drawn to other similar games. Arguments will roll on regardless of who maybe right and who maybe wrong. There’s rarely a middle ground where as to both ends of the spectrum fall on a conclusion that basically ends with ‘the game was ok’.
But it’s Christmas now. So what better way to celebrate the festive period by playing a game that amazingly has the tag ‘it’s ok’.
James Pond 2: Codename RoboCod is that game and it’s ok to like it.
Why point out the negatives when there’s so much positive.
The Amiga version of this strange yet compulsive must play sequel literally gives you a dose of Christmas all year round. It repels any idea that you can’t play this game at any other point other than at Christmas.
After all, it’s set in Santa’s Workshop, which as we all know is busy all year around the clock. It’s Christmas everyday here. I don’t know how much he pays the elf’s. I don’t know where he imports his materials from to make toys all year round.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that Christmas may not happen this year. Santa, or as you may call him ‘Father Christmas’ has been held captive. If he can’t control the day to day business in the workshop, then it’s all over.
The reason the Amiga version is being spoken about here is because, well, Penguin Chocolate Bars.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Penguin Chocolate Bars. Product placement at it’s finest.
Not only that, but Penguins live in the North Pole. Don’t they? They abandon the southern hemisphere for Christmas sometimes. This tells me that although the game could be set at any time of the year, it is in fact only a few days before Christmas.
If the Penguins can’t rescue Santa, then who will?
James Pond. James Pond will rescue him, and, in the process, save Christmas.
Not may games think outside the box when it comes to main character design. Ok, that’s a lie but not many games infuse a lump of cod with and 80’s sci-fi action icon.
A cod wearing a RoboCop suit. Yes. In 1991, this was peak stuff.
As basic as basic can be in the realms of platform games in the early 90’s, RoboCod absolutely nails the gaming terminology of ‘basic’. That’s not to say basic is bad.
Basic isn’t good either.
But the more basic approach sometimes lends itself to the more cram filed adventure. Super Mario World came out a whole year before this game. Super Mario World wasn’t basic, but it wasn’t adventurous either. It had the blend. The blend of satisfaction. What’s more, Super Mario World was eye soothing.
It had spectacle.
Flavour and due care.
RoboCod for it’s limitations had this too. Flair, creative design although mediocre and a touch of dazzle. Sometime receptiveness is a good thing. If your gaming brain relies on an easy subject to master, then a game like RoboCod will act instinctively, allowing you to approach each level as you did before with a dash of ease, a slight pinch of familiar surroundings. It doesn’t change it’s dynamics or make up for any previous short comings in the levels before. There’s secrets to be found, most I’m sure that not all of us even know about. It’s actually quite a large scale game for it’s genre and time.
Jumping over enemies or jumping onto enemies to defeat them is key here. There’s nothing fancy. You can fly a toy plane briefly, along with a comical looking car. Levels are bright, colours are mixed and some sections are as high as a skyscraper, the feeling of negotiating a level like this until it’s completion is basic bliss.
Playing a game like this requires brain numbingly artistry that only a simple platformer like RoboCod can offer.
And that’s the best thing about it. It’s simplistic.
Where simplicity begins, freedom of thought flows. You only have to worry about jumping or pressing the one button fire technique to extend our fishy version of Paul Verhoeven masterpiece’s body reach up and climb across the odd ceiling or collect a lolly pop for heath.
RoboCod’s ignorant belief that the bare necessities will only do is why this game continued to be ported to systems up until the late 2000’s.
There’s no escaping the fact that this game is so mediocre that it’s counter-intuitive design sets off a toxic, nostalgic wave of gas that illuminates the whole ‘gaming when you were a child’ at Christmas thought process and allows for memories to overflow the festive stockings with a fish dressed as RoboCop to become one of the most talked about games based on Christmas ever.
It’s beyond great, but below poor. That’s a good game. A remembered game. An ‘OK’ game.