Puss N Boots: Pero's Great Adventure

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System: NES

Review written November, 2001

While recently looking through those very old (and very crappy) Nintendo comics, I was surprised to see advertisements for Puss N Boots, the game whose main claim to fame is that it had a Captain N episode based on it. I wonder if more was spent advertising Puss N Boots than making it. I can play through the entire game in about thirteen minutes.

Puss N Boots is based on an obscure anime's (which I've never seen) movie knock off of Around the World in 80 Days. You'll play as the cat, Pero, who works his way west around the world, walking for part of the trip, but some stages use vehicles: a paddleboat, a submarine, a jumping car, a plane, or a hot air balloon. So, many of the stages have Pero flying through the sky or going through the ocean, which has the nifty effect of letting you travel around the entire world and still see hardly any interesting scenery.

The walking stages (and the jumping car stage) play sort of like a ninth-rate Mega Man clone. In the second stage, you slide to the right across the ocean in a paddleboat - and that's only to the right; you can't move vertically at all. The airplane and submarine stages are like a horizontal space shooter played in molasses, with usually no more than one enemy on the screen at once. Most stages have almost no level design - pits, obstacles, enemies that might pose some danger to you - at all.

The game picks up enough by Big Ben - with its pits, conveyor belts, and moving spikes - to perhaps excite a pre-schooler. The final climax at the Statue of Liberty is a boss fight with a hyena and pig who glide back and forth across the ground, incredibly, about three times as fast as Pero, and shoot bullets in all directions so rapidly it's like they're trying to put the enemies in the Contra games to shame. The incongruity with the uneventfulness of rest of the game is enough that this boss could maybe fit in as an early boss in a good game.

Despite Puss N Boots' shortcomings, I didn't hate the game at all. I even found its lack of polish to be strangely endearing. Pero is cute, the music is laidback, and the game speaks to the innocence in me. Although I would never seriously recommend this game, if I had a child who wrote something like it in BASIC, I would be proud. Puss N Boots was made in 1986 (though it wasn't released in America until 1990) - even by then, masterpieces of gaming, such as Super Mario Bros., existed, so Puss N Boots' age does not excuse how insubstantial it is. Still, there's enough promise in Puss N Boots that I'd love to know how or if anyone who worked on it improved as they matured.

1 1/2 Stars

Note: I later found, played and finished the original 1986 released-only-in-Japan Puss N Boots game. While the control, theme, and graphical style of both games are the same, the games are not identical. Perhaps surprisingly, Pero's Great Adventure, while not nearly a good game, is a slight improvement over the original Puss N Boots.

Pirate ships jump at you on the high seas   Big Ben has pits, spikes, and cats with eye patches


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