Whomp 'Em

a game by Jaleco

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Platformer

  • Manufacturer: Jaleco
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System

"Wampum" is a slang term for money; it originally referred to the strings of beads used by North American Indians for trade and for decoration. Whomp 'Em, as defined by Jaleco, has nothing to do with currency; this is a game about hitting things with a stick.

Well, that's not entirely true. As an Indian brave named Soaring Eagle, your purpose in life is to collect "totems" for your magic pouch. In order to find these items, you must run around and "whomp" a lot of bad guys with your spear. In its basic form, the spear acts as sort of a spring-loaded, retractable cattle prod. However, when you find a totem, you can use its power to alter the way the spear is used. You can spin the tip like a buzzsaw, shoot a freeze ray, even trap your enemies in a web. There are seven totems in all, including the mysterious "unknown" totem, and each one has a different effect.

It seems a bit odd that the instruction manual doesn't spell out a more specific reason why Soaring Eagle has to go through so much trouble, especially because the game's introduction screens allude to a huge, ominous figure lurking in the shadows. As it's described, Whomp 'Em lets you whack your enemies for the sole purpose of learning new and exciting ways to...well, whack your enemies. If nothing else, I was expecting a token background story about a kidnapped squaw or something.

All kidding aside, this one's another War-o-style "guy game", one that takes you through eight levels of action that scroll in all directions. There are plenty of strange, unfriendly beasties to plow through as you go along; my favorites are the spear-wielding, mop-topped green pygmies and the golden robot knights. Again, the documentation gives you no information about who your enemies are and why they attack you on sight; they are simply referred to en masse as "creatures". I realize that many players never read the instructions anyway, but a lot of video-game information is disseminated by word-of-mouth, and it's tough to spread the word about a hot new title when all of the game's elements must be referred to as "that green guy" or "the little, orange striped thing".

Another small gripe concerns the "deerskin shirt" and "buffalo headdress" power-ups. These items increase Soaring Eagle's defensive power and grant him temporary invincibility; it would have been nice to see the little guy actually wear them. Instead, the screen displays icons in the corner of the screen to show that they're in use.

Though the influence is not immediately obvious, Whomp 'Em has a lot in common with Capcom's popular Mega Man series. After the first level is completed, a circular map screen lets you pick the next "world"; you can play through Levels 2-6 in any order you choose. Each level ends with a boss character who gives up one of the aforementioned totems when defeated, which essentially equips you with a new type of weapon. These and other features are very much like the play mechanics of the Mega Man titles, right down to the ladder-climbing and platform-jumping.

It's easy to criticize games like Whomp 'Em on the basis of originality; I'll be the first to admit that this one is not exactly the next Tetris. But there's a lot to be said for a product that's well-produced. The graphics are clean and colorful, the play control is flawless and immediately accessible, and it's addicting enough to keep me going until all my "continues" are used up. For these reasons, I have to recommend Whomp 'Em.

Other games by
Jaleco

Whomp 'Em Downloads

NES Whomp 'Em download

Touted as the first American video game to star a Native American, Whomp 'Em, Jaleco's new adventure title, tells the tale of young Soaring Eagle, who sets out one day to collect Totems (spiritual icons) for his Magic Pouch. The little Indian Brave's innocent Totem trek quickly turns into a psychedelic trip through eight mysterious Worlds, where objects of nature and Indian symbols, such as mushrooms and sacred dolls, transform into wild, life-size maniacs.

Six of the eight Worlds have a theme, such as the Magic Forest, the Water Test, and the Secret Cliff, and they're all overrun with fierce creatures and bosses to match! When Soaring Eagle makes it through a World in one piece, he earns magic Totems that enable him to do nifty things like fly and shoot spider webs.

ProTips: Get to a Magic Potion 1-Up in World One by jumping around in front of the last set of steps. Hug the left wall when you jump down the cliff to avoid deadly spikes.

War Paint

Whomp 'Em fares well in the looks department. Soaring Eagle is a Mario-sized guy, minus the moustache, who looks pretty sharp in his headband. And, Jaleco didn't go into overkill with the detailing. The sprites are clean, colorful, and, most importantly, easy to see.

When you see flying snakes in the Secret Cliff World allow them to approach you lace to lace then lire. That way you won't get hit by their fiery breath.

Eagle Power

Soaring Eagle's definitely got his moves down. He's an ace with the spear, and he can out-jump most rabbits. His Totem weapons, such as the Spear Whirlwind and the Ice Crystal, are good for certain specific situations, but they don't offer consistent protection like the ordinary spear. Destroy your foes and they almost always leave behind icons that are good for things such as extra energy, a stronger spearhead, or a temporary shield.

  • When you jab swooping lire birds, beware. They burst into hot debris.
  • If Soaring Eagle gets ice on his feet in the Water Test area, he can shake it loose by immediately jumping up and down.
  • Get healthy in the Ice Ritual World by jumping down to the third or fourth platform on the left. Move close to the edge and stab the rocks as they fly past. Every imaginable power up item can be found inside these rocks, so hang around.

How the West Was Fun

For a first timer in the video dimension this little Indian Brave does a pretty good job. The action's constant, but not frantic, and each world offers a good mix of challenging obstacles. For the hard-core action gamer, Whomp ‘Em may be a bit of a sleeper, but for the general gaming public this little Indian's got a clever tale to share.

reggie posted a review

This is another digital entertainment, Jaleco's legendary video game called Whomp 'Em. It is a typical single-player game of an action genre that was released in 1991 by NES. The game was the American version of a Japanese Saiyuuki World 2. The game, as well as its prequel, was based on the Journey to the West novel. Now it is classed as a retro game.

One of the peculiarities of the game is that after you complete the first stage, you can play another 5 in any order you feel like. All the stages represent the elements, like fire and water. After each one, you get a new weapon that is much like the Mega Man Classic series, extremely popular at the time.

The game is also notable for being one of the few video games that featured a Native American protagonist. The story of a little brave Indian named Soaring Eagle, who has to prove himself to the tribe elders and venture through dangerous worlds.

reggie posted a review
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