NORMY'S BEACH BABE-O-RAMA / Electronic Arts / Sega Genesis
Normy is some sort of surfer/inventor who just wants to have a nice day of ogling bikini hippies at the beach. Unfortunately, aliens kidnap all of them. Then someone decides to build a toxic waste dump at the beach. Then Normy has to go back through time for some reason. Sorry, I hit Start by accident about halfway through the intro, I'm not sure how all of this fits together.

What I can tell you is that the somewhat crudely drawn beach babes are the eventual reward, not any kind of substantial portion of the game. Instead you get an odd blend of Earthworm Jim and Sonic the Hedgehog, just clunkier and with less polish than either.

Generally speaking, Normy suffers from the looseness and floatiness of half-assed platformers of the 16-bit area. Even worse, though, is that it has a sort of choppy screen-scrolling issue that throws off the timing of jumps subtly. It's one of those games that sometimes when you jump from platform to platform, it feels like you're pushing up against some sort of invisible force field. I chalk this up to the unusual parallax scrolling the game employs.

Which leads into what I think the main issue with the game was - the devs were counting too much on the cartoony graphics and cute little visual jokes to carry the day and not worrying nearly enough about gameplay. It's illustrated by the creator of the comic strip Making It, which apparently ran in syndication in U.S. papers from 1987 to 1992, though I used to read comics voraciously as a kid back then (the Calvin and Hobbes salad days) and I don't remember ever seeing it. It seems like too much of the game was tailored to accomodating the author's visual style and jokes, and gameplay took a back seat.

I hate to bash Normy because it's the sort of risky experimental effort that we don't get out of major studios anymore (PARTICULARLY Electronic Arts), and it represents a time when obscure artists and cartoonists or whatever could get a shot without marketing studies promising huge guaranteed sales returns beforehand (worked for Sam & Max!) It's just such a poor platformer, though, only rising to mediocrity in its best moments, and never even really all that funny.
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