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Todd's Adventures in Slime World
   

Videogame Classics

Reviews of the greatest video games of all time, from classic to modern games.

This ongoing series of reviews offers entertaining insights into those great games and consoles that we love.

   
1990 - Epyx - Released on Atari Lynx
       
Todd's Adventures in Slime World - video game classics
         
           
 
     

Videogames of the Damned

Daniel Thomas MacInnes' videogames blog, offering commentary and reviews on classic and modern games.

The spirit of "independent game journalism" lives on!

 

July 1, 2003

There's a certain fun in being in on a secret. Knowing something that most people will never discover, feeling sorry that they missed out. I graduated high school in 1991, the year when underground music of all styles suddenly seemed to break, all at once. Most kids were stuck on the crummy "hair metal" power ballads; if you were wise, you knew about the Seattle sound, just before it got big.

In 1989, Nintendo introduced their Gameboy at the height of their powers. I shouldn't have to tell you how successful it has become - the Nintendo handheld remains the most successful games system ever made. Who wouldn't love to take Tetris and Mario and Zelda on the road? Gameboy had its charms, but for the true videogames lover, there was something much better: Lynx.

The Lynx was the creation of Epyx, one of the great classic game studios whose games should be required playing for everyone. In the late '80s, the designers of the Commodore Amiga set out to create the first color handheld, capable of displaying brilliant colors and amazing visual effects far beyond anything seen in a home console. Epyx eventually needed to sell their machine due to waning finances, and found a suitor in Atari.

Atari released the Lynx in 1989, alongside the Gameboy, but could never compete against the Nintendo name and army of games (Tetris probably sold more systems than anything else). To the faithful fans, Atari was just running Lynx into the ground; the resentment towards the Tramiel family (who owned Atari Corp.) was almost personal. Such was the devotion for this little unit. The Lynx, you see, was Seattle; Gameboy was hair metal.

Epyx wrote six launch games, which are all excellent, and a few others later on; Epyx eventually faded away, but went out on a high note. Today, I want to highlight a personal favorite, Todd's Adventures in Slime World. This title perfectly captures both the charm of Epyx and the spark that made Lynx great. Here is a clever, imaginative game that literally oozes with curiosity and invention.

Slime World was written by M. Peter Englebright, who was responsible for Gates of Zendocon, a great shoot-em-up. Zendocon was an early showcase of the Lynx's abilities, featuring wonderfully animated alien bugs, plants, and cells. Slime World built upon that concept by offering a whole world of strange creatures of all weird shapes and sizes. In the game, the hero (Todd) travels and explores the underground caverns of a world entirely made of green, red, and brown slime. Every inch on the screen bubbles, gurgles, and sways with life; this is the most animated game world ever created. Everything is so wonderfully vital, so fluid, that you feel like a microbe in a giant intestine.

Slime World is probably closest to Metroid, with its many underground areas to explore, but this game is entirely its own. It is also a surprisingly large game; during the six different scenarios, it's easy to get lost in the muck when trying to find that elusive exit. And, oh yes, this is a messy game. Todd absorbs gobs of green slime when struck by aliens; it looks like he's being sneezed on. Thank goodness for the occasional pool of water, where you can wash clean. All through the game, you have to endure slime waterfalls and puddles, bugs and snakes and disembodied heads and giant pimples and endless swarms of maggots. The whole game is one big booger joke.

Todd's main weapon is a - what else? - Water pistol strapped to his back. I was pleasantly surprised to see the water cannon resurrected by Shigeru Miyamoto for Super Mario Sunshine, twelve years later. Imitation is the best form of flattery, you see.

As a 2D showcase for the Atari Lynx, Slime World is without peer. Not only does this easily surpass anything visually on the Gameboy, but it is more animated than anything in the 16-bit era (a Genesis port was embarrassing by comparison). You can see Epyx's eagerness to discover just how far the Lynx could be pushed, to see just how many things could move and bend and explode in a pile of goo. Another challenge is to create different scenarios for exploring the caverns. In one level, you only need to explore and find diamonds while fending off invaders. In another, your pistol is damaged, forcing you to rely on your wits. In another, you need to capture mushrooms to keep the planet from melting.

For me, the biggest challenge is to not yell out when the giant teeth jump out of the ground and swallow me whole. Those haunted dogs in Resident Evil have nothing on the giant teeth. I feel like a sucker every time I get chomped by those damn things.

And then there's the multiplayer mode. While Gameboy allowed for two players to compete, Slime World offers eight, the most in any Lynx title. Friends can explore together, or better yet, hunt each other down; it's deathmatch before deathmatch had a name. Thankfully, today, a Lynx and some games can be found on EBay for $30 - here I am, in 2003, looking on the Internet for an obscure game on a little-known system. Of course, if there was any justice, Lynx would have been far more successful, and games like Englebright's Slime World would be widely seen as classics.

     

Todd's Adventures in Slime World screen shots - click for closeup

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