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Low G Man

Those of us who grew up in the 80s are familiar with using the back of the box to determine if a game is worth buying or not.  Gaming magazines weren’t on most of our radars until the 90s or so, so to take their place all we had to go on were either word of mouth or the dreaded ad copy on the box.  I say dreaded because, and I’m pretty sure of it, publishers would use deceptive tactics like screenshots of the title screen or cut scenes to get your childlike imagination running about the adventures to come.  In reality, we were 20 minutes away from getting our asses reamed by the latest licensed Acclaim shit fest, but at the time we were too young to comprehend a company putting out bad games to take our money.  But I digress.

Low G Man was bought strictly because of the box art, (or lack thereof) and the description on the back of the box.

This is what we had to go by in the 80’s.  Scary huh?

Like most kids, I only received new games on birthdays, Christmas, or the odd holiday.  In this case I bought the game using birthday money.  Walking through the Toys R Us aisle I felt like the world was my oyster.  The urine yellow box immediately stood out, and the blurb on the back about jumping 3 screens high sent my mind alight thinking of all the cool stuff you can do if you can jump that high.

Released in 1991 a few things stood out right away.  Your primary attack consists of a freeze gun that only stuns enemies, but also leaves them susceptible to your secondary attack, a spear that can only be used from above and below.  This 2-fisted approach greatly switches up how you deal with enemies; there are many situations where you’ll have to prioritize which ones you can actually reach to finish off while also being mindful of how long your stuns will last.  The game knows this, and puts you in many situations where you have to make snap decisions.  4 sub weapons are available and you’ll know which enemies drop them as they will be using it.  While they are powerful I mostly saved them for bosses and truthfully, the game can be beaten using nothing but your freezing shot and spear.

In addition to the sub weapons you also have the ability to capture certain enemy vehicles and use them as your own.  Aside from protecting you from damage these vehicles boost your attack power and also have secondary functions that allow you to explore the levels and find secrets.  The spider mech can super jump and moves faster than your default walking speed for example.

Graphically, the game is very good by NES standards and thankfully avoids many of the common platform game tropes.  As the game takes place in the future, most of the backgrounds consist of dark blues, grays and browns.  Normally this would be a bit of a turnoff but they make excellent use of the colors chosen to give visual variety.

The music doesn’t rise to the same level but doesn’t get in the way.  The level designs take full advantage of your jumping ability and almost dare you to use it to explore and find hidden items and even hidden levels.  There are very few bottomless pits as it would be unfair, seeing as how you can jump nearly miles straight in the air and platform jumping is also kept to a minimum.   Some of the bosses make up entire levels themselves.  I found it annoying that they didn’t have life bars to indicate how close they are to dying, but on the same token you can guess how much longer they have to go when it takes fewer shots to freeze them.

On the whole the game is very much worth your time.  I remember finishing the game and seeing the hints dropped about hidden levels and specifically where to find them.  That was enough to get me to replay the game again (not that I had any other new games to play either) but it also gives you a second and third quest which are just the main game but harder with slightly different endings. Regardless, I wholeheartedly recommend this game as it will more than likely only cost a few bucks.

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