A video game adaptation of the Taz-Mania cartoon, starring the Tasmanian Devil. One of several games based on the license, the Sega versions features the same story, but has a unique design and set of levels in the different platforms.
Inspired by a tale his father told, Taz goes on a quest for the egg of a giant prehistoric seabird, which will lead him across the whole of Taz-Mania through 16 levels of platforming action. He must survive a desert, a jungle, a car factory, a mine and ancient ruins. Taz is able to run, jump, and spin fast to turn into his trademark whirlwind. While spinning, he can knock out most enemies he comes across. He can also pick up many different items and try to eat them or use them in another way. Most foods replenish his health, while eating hot peppers gives him a fire breath attack. Stars grant temporal invulnerability, while bombs should be thrown at enemies (and definitely not be eaten!).
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This review contains spoilers
There are many a gamer out there who believe that video games should be nothing more than just that, games. Simple level to level gameplay is all that matters, after all, right? However, this line of thinking, while not wrong in its own right, doesn't acknowledge how video games can be unique from other story telling mediums. It has been said all too many times by various deep thinking people of play, but the thing that sets video games apart from something like a novel or movie is the interactivity.
While it is full of potential for unique, interesting stories, most games are either not interested in pursuing such heights, or try, but ultimately fail at doing so. Many modern games attempt at taking advantage of the medium usually ends at "walk forward while a character talks to you" (examples include any playstation exlcusive released in the past 5 years), or when it comes to interactivity, you can make your own choices to experience a wholly mediocre narrative differently than your buddies (example: any david cage game).
When not using those techniques, story based games often use methods such as dumping so much text that I can tell my mom that I actually haven't stopped reading because I played a visual novel, or the meta narrative. Meta narratives are often a bit shallow, however, as their ideas usually go only as far as "killing people is wrong and gamers are bad???" (which is wrong, killing people that disagree with you is awesome and correct).
With that tangent aside, what does this have to do with Taz-Mania? How does it serve this review for me to shit on a bunch of unnamed games using unspecific examples? What is the point of it all???
I believe it was important to highlight the shortcomings of modern games in order to appreciate how Taz-Mania nigh perfected blending gameplay and story all the way back in the distant age of 1992.
Like a shot of some drug (idk), the feeling of spinning makes Taz and the player feel invincible. Despite the nature of the action, there is control. Yet, just like the high of a substance, it cannot last. Spinning drains your health, it is painful to move forward. Without knowing that you can hit down to eat rocks and tanks (for some fucking reason), the boulder will catch you and fell Taz once more. Anger. Who makes this game? I hope they are locked up forever. I wish to see the developers sealed within the earth.
And yet, despite what we say, we persevere. Our mind tells us to stop. Our senses are being assaulted. We're not having fun. Yet we feel in urge to continue. Our body and mind are at odds. But we must have the inherit urge to conquer Taz-Mania. To what end?
Think of "good acting compilations". What are the emotions you see displayed most often in them? Confusion, anger, and sadness. It is how Taz feels, and by extension, how the player feels. He is the perfect player vessel. You and Taz work together to push through the pain and frustration together, and I did. We reached the end of the line, just like last time. I press and hold the jump button. The follows events had me in awe and nearly brought me to tears. Despite previously not being able to clear small springs of water moments before, the Tasmanian Devil makes a miraculous leap that would make Michael Jordan in space jam blush, escaping the boulder, and by extension, clearing the level.
Today may be hard. Tomorrow may be worse. But if one thing is certain, it's that there is always a way. And like how Taz is probably savoring his year long feast with his loved ones as a reward for his efforts, we enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that we were able to overcome it, despite it all.