Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival
- Manufacturer: KONAMI
- Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System
After reviewing other games that were endorsed by one celebrity or another, I was thinking, Oh no, not another one. This one surprised me by actually remembering that it takes more than a name to sell a game in today's market. For those of you that thought the Rad Racer games were the ultimate in driving simulations, take another look.
Just about anything a racing fan could want is in this game: three skill levels; four tracks; three different cars; one engine for qualifying and another for the actual race; manual or automatic transmission; an adjustable spoiler; and you can even adjust your car's tire size and gear ratio in an attempt to fine-tune your car for each track.
First things first, however. You can race either a single race on one of the four tracks (Daytona, Talladega, Sears Point and Watkins Glen), take on all four twice in the Championship Season or simply take a few practice spins around the track to find the optimum racing setup for each track (definitely advisable).
The different skill levels allow you to gradually increase your skill and increase your opponents' skill as you improve. At the novice level, your opponents aren't as fast as you and you can't crash. As a rookie, the other guys are a bit faster, and you aren't invincible any longer. At the pro level, watch out! These guys are going for it all - racing full speed for that checkered flag. If you take on the championship season, you do so at the pro level only, however.
The three cars you may choose from are a Pontiac Grand Prix, Ford Thunder-bird or Chevrolet Lumina. There isn't any difference between the cars at the out-set - their performance depends entirely upon your driving ability. To adjust your car, take it to the garage. There you can change any of the aforementioned features of the car in preparation for the track.
Once you have your car set up and are ready to hit the asphalt, you may choose to race two qualifying laps or to simply be placed in the middle of the pack. A good starting position will definitely affect your chances of winning the race, especially if you choose a shorter race.
You've got that monster fine-tuned and are on the track. "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Now is where you shade-tree mechanics find out how you did when you tuned your car. If you set your tire size incorrectly, you may spin out in a tight turn, which will put you out of the race. If your gear ratio is off, you won't be able to keep up with the other cars and will fall behind quickly.
Also, whether the race is ten miles or 500, keep an eye on those gauges. When fuel runs low or your car starts to break down, it's time to hit the pits. If you ignore the gauges, you guessed it - you're out. When you slow down, careful with that shifter! Try jumping from fourth gear to first too quickly, and you can kiss that engine goodbye, along with the race. If you make it into the pits successfully, there is a timer running. You only have 20 seconds to get your repairs or fueling done before you lose position on the track. Take more than two minutes, and you are out completely!
Really, just about anything you could want has been included in NASCAR Challenge. If you are used to the jerky scrolling when taking corners in other games of this type, you are in for a surprise - the graphics and scrolling are very smooth. Handling the car and shifting gears aren't a problem either. After each race, the position and times and those of the 15 other cars you race against are shown. If you are racing in the season mode, a points total is based upon your position, number of leading laps and whoever has the most leading laps. If you can't complete the season, a password (can't really call it a "word", because it's 35 characters long) is provided to let you continue later.
Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge lives up to its title, providing authentic and detailed racing action. Definitely a must have for racing fans.
Download Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival
- Machine: Nintendo
Muppet Adventure No. 1: Chaos at the Carnival is the first installment in a projected series of Muppet games. It starts in classic fashion when the dreadful Dr. Grump kidnaps - er, pignaps - Miss Piggy.
Leading the daring band of rescuers is, of course, Kermit the Frog. He's aided by Fozzie, Animal, and Gonzo. The setting is a fairground, and each Muppet must complete one of four diabolically challenging carnival rides.
After conquering each ride, your Muppet receives a key. Kermit needs all four keys to reach Dr. Grump's hideout and duel him for the fair hand - er, hoof - of his bountiful heroine.
The four carnival rides give this game a nice variety of challenges. Fozzie has to find his way through a maze of ice-cream cones while being pursued by devilish carnival barkers; he can thwart the barkers by dropping banana peels in their paths. Animal must survive a bumper-car obstacle course. Gonzo has to pilot his way through a lost-in-space sequence and destroy a space station. And Kermit (appropriately enough) has to steer his way down the Raging River Ride, avoiding rocks and floating tree limbs.
After the Muppets get all four keys, Kermit alone must use them to enter the Cave of the Grum-pasaurus, which leads to the place where his porcine princess is held captive. This last round is a tough one, partly because the animated frog is fairly hard to control on dry land. But hey, it's not easy bein' green!
As the late Muppets creator Jim Henson would have wanted, Muppet Adventure No. 1 is very much a game for the whole family. It's challenging enough for veteran gamers, but not so daunting as to discourage younger players. Unfortunately, the game is marred by surprisingly flat, drab, unimaginative graphics - a disappointment, considering the imaginative characters on which the game is based.