- Manufacturer: NEC
- Version: TurboGrafx-16
For years, most people thought that the only video games featuring Disney characters would be created by Capcom for the NES. Now that Nintendo has loosened up the "exclusivity" clauses in their contracts with third-party developers, we can enjoy Mickey Mouse on a Genesis and Baloo the Bear and the Tale Spin gang on a TG-16.
Based on the popular animated TV show, Tale Spin spotlights the exploits of the adventurous pilot Baloo and his navigator Kit Cloudkicker. Together these furry fortune hunters travel all over the country in search of the missing pieces of a map that points the way to a fabulous treasure.
The Tale Spin cast features a lot of appealing characters: Baloo, in particular, has been a favorite of anyone who ever saw Disney's film version of The Jungle Book. Unfortunately, a lot of his charisma is derived from his booming voice, which is the only one of his characteristics that this video game does not reproduce. As a result, his personality shines through only on rare occasions - for example, when he's swept away under a waterfall and waves his arms in desperation as the current pulls him back.
Of course, with the constant attacks Baloo is subjected to in the game, he's more pitiable than likable. There's always an army of bad guys in his face, and there are certain areas that are nearly impossible to fight through without sustaining some kind of damage. But when you're familiar enough with the patterns of your enemies' attacks, the game becomes a simple memory test: you just have to remember when to jump, when to duck and when to throw. The hit-and-miss controls aren't much help - the "jump" button is noticeably unresponsive. Try setting the auto-fire switches on the next highest position - that way, you can be sure that the Turbo will register at least one press of the button.
The background music is not bad at all. It may be slightly repetitive, but it's not irritating - in fact, it's rather subdued. At times the tunes are so quiet that you may find yourself cranking up the volume just to get an earful. Of course, you'll mute it again when the sound effects start to grate on your nerves - the whistling noise of the coconuts Baloo tosses is particularly annoying.
Visually, Tale Spin reaches deep into the TurboGrafx's bag of visual tricks and comes up with a variety of results. Most of the main action features Baloo rambling through scrolling backgrounds; aside from the occasional multi-plane effect, there's nothing here that couldn't have been done on an NES. The crudely illustrated intermissions are also somewhat disappointing, as they don't seem to use a palette of more than 16 colors.
On the other hand, the scenarios that let you control the flight of Baloo's plane are outstanding. In a series of vertically scrolling bonus rounds, Kit "sky surfs" from the Sea Duck's tail and picks up points and power-ups. Later, there's a terrific sequence with a huge side view of the plane as you pilot it through an attacking squadron of old-fashioned pirate fighters.
If the rest of Baloo's adventures were as exciting, as challenging or as well-drawn as this airborne-combat stage, Tale Spin would earn a hearty thumbs-up vote from TG-16 owners everywhere. As is, it's not a failure, but the high points give you an unsettling feeling that the game could have been so much better. It's worth checking out, but definitely an acquired taste.
Download Tale Spin
- Machine: Turbo
TaleSpin is the latest example of a popular TV cartoon series that's been translated into a videogame. The idea behind such games is a good one: Rather than create a brand-new hero, such as Mario or Bonk, the game designers use a character who's already popular, worrying only about what that character will do. Unfortunately, this idea sometimes doesn't work very well. Rather than inventing a character to fit the videogame, the designers must create a videogame to fit the character.
In TaleSpin, you take command of Baloo the bear (whose name, by the way, comes from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Bookk). Baloo's task is to piece together a map that leads to a treasure. The map is in five pieces, and Baloo has access to four of them when the game starts. Each piece of the map represents a different area, and at the end of each area is a boss creature that must be defeated. If Baloo defeats the boss, he gets that piece of the map. Baloo must work through the four available stages in order to reach the fifth, where the treasure is hidden.
Basically, TaleSpin is a side-scrolling jumping game. Baloo walks horizontally across the screen, and each stage has a different background. The first four stages include an aerodrome, an arctic landscape, a jungle with cliffs and rivers, and an underwater grotto. (You can play these stages in any order you want.) At various times, Baloo has to climb over rocks, cross bridges, hop across rivers, jump over cliffs, throw snowballs, and even shoot a water pistol. There are crevices to fall into, tottering bridges to cross, and hostile creatures to jump over, duck under, and knock out of the way. Alligator heads become step-pingstones across rivers, and mischievous monkeys throw things at you from above. Although the game doesn't have quite as much variety as, say, Bonk's Adventure, there's enough to keep fans of the TV show happily occupied.
The graphics are very good. Baloo looks like Baloo, and he's at his most irresistible when you stop and duck - he squats down and wraps his paws over his head. If you leave him idle for more than a few seconds, he'll turn toward you and tap his foot impatiently. Each screen has strong colors and lots of background detail, and the effect is almost three-dimensional.
There's also a bonus stage that's nothing short of spectacular. If you reach it, you'll get an overhead view of a lush forest down below as you "sky surf". In TaleSpin, sky-surfing consists of being towed behind an airplane, almost like a water-skier. The goal is to pick up bonus points by flying over numbered targets. The graphics are rather simple, but the screens are uncluttered and Baloo's objectives are clear.
Baloo is easy to control. You move him with the directional pad (the only option is to walk, not run), and jump by pressing button. With button II you can throw things or fire your weapon, depending on which area you're in. And that's it, except for the bonus screen, in which you simply move Baloo from side to side in an attempt to gather points. The controls are well-executed, but the lack of additional options may disappoint some experienced gamers.
One thing's for sure - TaleSpin is a manageable game. While other videogames seem to be growing larger all the time, with more things to do and more stages to survive, TaleSpin takes a simpler approach. The first four stages are short (a couple of them extremely so), and once you master them, you can whisk through them again quickly. It should hold the interest of younger players - the most obvious audience for the game - but may not encourage experienced players to continue to the end. Too bad, because the game isn't that easy all the way through.
And that brings up an important question about TaleSpin: Is it suited to its intended audience? Graphically, with its colorful and endearing cartoon characters, it's perfect. But it's far from an easy game to play. It's doubtful that anyone under age eight or nine is going to get very far at first, and it's highly unlikely that anyone that young will get past the hardest stage, the Aerodrome. It would be nice if the game had multiple difficulty levels, but no choice is offered. Parents who buy this game for younger children would do well to spend some time teaching them to play.
Here are some hints that may help. The first four stages are the Ice Caves of Thembira, the Watusi River Valley, the Great Simeon Reef, and the Aerodrome. Try them in this order, because the Ice Caves are by far the easiest and the Aerodrome clearly the most difficult. Keep in mind at all times that you can shoot straight up and also upward at an angle, and that you can even shoot while jumping. But sometimes shooting isn't the answer. You can simply duck under some of the penguins, monkeys, and blowfish.
To defeat the boss at the end of the jungle stage (the Watusi River Valley), keep moving and keep firing. When he flies over you, shoot straight up. Don't give him any rest.
To defeat the jellyfish at the end of the underwater stage (the Great Simeon Reef), jump to shoot and then duck. Incidentally, you can move very quickly through this entire stage simply by refusing to fight the underwater creatures that attack you. Just dodge under them or jump over them.
When you confront the boss of the arctic world (the Ice Caves of Thembira), move right up to the ice ledge and duck when the boss throws his snowballs. Then jump up and shoot once, landing and ducking again.
Finally, be sure to set both of your control buttons on turbo-fire. That way, firing will be automatic, and on at least two levels that's essential.
Disney has been very busy licensing many of it's animations to video game companies. NEC has grabbed the popular Talespin characters, and in this episode you must locate 5 pieces of an ancient stone map. Get all of them to find the location of a hidden city containing the powers of the universe. Fight your way through a jungle river valley loaded with mischievous monkeys ready to bonk you with coconuts. Swim through the great simeon reef, explore the chilling ice caves and trek through an airplane hanger avoiding the monkey wrench throwing enemies!
Eight-bit Baloo and his sidekicks, Kit Cloudkicker and Molly, have arrived at last. This long awaited Capcom title sends the two loveable Disney creatures on a high flyin' eight level rescue adventure. Baloo zips through the airways in his tiny biplane, the Mini Sea Duck, delivering cargo to locals. Simple, right? Wrong-a-roo! Don Kamage and his not-so-merry band of Pirates want the cargo for themselves, so they hop into their planes and go after Baloo. Can you bear so much high flyin' fun?
The Bear Necessities
Captain Baloo and Kit Cloudkicker, Baloo's sky sledding lil' buddy, are convinced by their friend, Louie the Orangatang, to help gather missing pieces of a treasure map to the lost city of Ionia. Ionia was the home of a special room that contained the power of the universe. Unfortunately, Ionia has vanished... people, buildings, power of the universe... poof!
Your quest for four pieces of the map leads you through the Watusi River Valley, a lush rain forest filled with miles of waterfalls, streams, pools, and, of course, head hunters!
You'll scuba dive under the Great Simeon Reef, past colorful coral and tropical fish. Watch out for the electric eels and manta rays!
Then you'll chill out in the Ice Caves of Thembria. Seals, penguins, and Thembrian soldiers are ready to thwart your efforts. And if they don't stop you, the infamous Colonel Spigot will, in a snowball fight to the death.
What would a Talespin adventure be without an appearance from that no-good tiger, Shere Khan. He's got a piece of the map in his hangar, and his panther pilots will try to throw a monkey wrench into your plans to find it.
Just for Kills
Talespin, like the cartoon, is geared towards the younger crowd. It's hard to determine how challenging this game will be once it's completed, but you can bet it'll be a real winner with the under ten set.