Hello my Retro Heads, I deeply apologize for lack of content this week, it’s been a bit of a strange one, in a good way of course. Anyway, I have decided to kick this weeks review off in style and review the last of the James Pond Series on the Amiga ( Don’t worry, the other 2 will be reviewed but I wanted to do these in best to worst order ), but that’s not all, this is the AGA finale….
James Pond 3:- Operation Starfish on the Amiga 1200
So, is there a plot? I hear you cry, well yes there is, and I shall furnish you with a copy of it right now!
Following his defeat in Robocod, the evil Dr. Maybe learns of the high quality cheese that lies on the moon. Hiring a workforce of rats, Dr. Maybe begins mining the moon for cheese so he can conquer the global markets and fund his operations. In order to stop Dr. Maybe, James Pond, along with his new sidekick, Finnius Frog, journey to the moon in order to put a stop to Dr. Maybe’s mining operations.
And that’s it, nice and simple but you know that’s how we always like our plots to be like. Before we get into the game play, I have to say I was very impressed with the story intro ( if you leave the menu screen idle, you get to see this ), gives a nice colourful comic book style intro to set up the game and the plot detailed above.
Now, as we go into the game, you are presented with a world map type affair, similar to the Super Mario World map on the SNES. You can only go to levels that you have completed or are about to engage in, so there’s no skipping levels to suit your play abilities. Once you select your level, you are presented with a screen that tells you the level and a “Good Luck Pond!” speech sample. Now, it’s game time. The presentation of the game is lovely, nice big sprites, colourful backdrops and a variety of objects and nasties to take care of. To begin with, James can only stand and punch, which is achieved by holding down the fire button and then clicking the joystick towards the target you wish to smack in the face. Bad guys take on the roles of mice and rats which you can dispatch with a swift punch to the nose, or by throwing objects at them instead. Objects come in a variety of flavours too, from umbrellas that will open and allow you slow fall from great heights, bombs which explode on contact, rocks, dynamite and many more. James can only hold one object at a time so it’s a choice as to what you pick up and when you do so. You also have the ability to leap to gain access to platforms and ledges scattered about the levels. Bonus score points come in the shape of moons, coins and stars, all of which can be forced to appear, or be head butted Mario style from blocks scattered around. One of the fun things with this game is that Pond wears special shoes that attach him to the Moon’s surface, meaning that he can run upside down, vertical and Horizontal, essential for reaching some of the more tricky areas of the levels. Pond has a sidekick this time around called Finnius, a frog type creature that can be unlocked in one of the levels and then used when you find the Frog face icon that are scattered around, Finnius can jump higher than James so is needed to gain access to places that James cannot. James has a certain amount of lives to play with, represented by an energy bar of little fishes, each time you are hit, part of the fish will disappear until finally you are defeated, a nice little touch with the cute little fish to represent the energy, makes a change from the bog standard energy bars you get in most games. Everything in this game is just so damn smooth even when the game hits high speeds ( When James uses ramps to gain speed to run up the other side of a steep incline for example ), you can have a lot of fun playing this one, I can vouch for that.
Graphics:- What can I say about this, well, everything takes advantage of the A1200 and CD32’s AGA chip, meaning a palette of 16 million colours was used to achieve the level of detail needed to make this game so great to the eye. Sprites are well drawn and detailed, animations are absolutely spot on, it’s simply a gorgeous looking game. A fantastic Job here.
Sound:- Music and sound effects in the game are great, even a nice remix of the original James Pond sound track in some levels, which I thought was a nice touch. In-game sound is pretty nice too, with the odd speech sample thrown in for good measure, great job for Ponds last outing.
Overall:- I have to say I enjoyed this, and coming off the heels of Robocod, that was no small feat. I will say it’s a shame it was AGA only as it cut out the A500/600 owners from enjoying this game, but on the other hand maybe it inspired people to upgrade seeing what the AGA chip could do. Great fun animated romp in a very Mario style environment, but still, that worked for Nintendo, right?…