THE ADVENTURES OF RAD GRAVITY / Activision / NES
 
I like to imagine that the creative team behind Futurama made this janky NES platformer when they were first starting out in the entertainment business. It isn't true, of course, but somehow it just feels right. It has a similar sort of quirky dorky sci-fi parody charm; what it also has is the sloppy jankiness typical of most late 80s / early 90s platformers.

Our lantern-jawed hero Rad has to travel between three different planets for some purpose or another. Initially, however, he can only access the planet Cyberia; he'll have to find computer codes there that give him coordinates or something for the Bad Guy Bases on the other planets. We start out on Rad's ship, where he has an impressively huge sprite with an impressively huge head for some reason; get into the actual action and everything shrinks down closer to typical NES platformer scale.
 


It's standard platformer action, with Rad jumping and attacking a neverending plethora of enemies who respawn constantly. Rad starts out with a meager short-range Dicksaber, but after only a bit of playtime will encounter a pistol. There's a bit of puzzle-solving action here and there based on using items in your inventory (you pause with the Start button and can select your active weapon/item from a row at the top of the screen.)

Mostly it's slidey platforming combat, however. You seem to have an unlimited amount of lives, and simply get kicked back to your ship when you die, where you can teleport instantly to the last checkpoint. That sounds like an easy setup, but the slidey janky action combined with the relentless enemies (and the fact that they shoot high-speed projectiles at you from off the screen) actually makes the game quite difficult and frustrating. The process of simply grinding from checkpoint to checkpoint over and over gets tedious fairly fast.

Rad is in a weird place - the generic bouncy music and slidey platforming of a late 80s Japanese cutesy platformer, but with some experimental Western PC adventure and puzzle elements to it as well as a semi-non-linear structure, and way more graphical polish and effort than the usual janky platformer. I can see some people appreciating the quirky humor and its unique qualities, but the game to me just ends up being too rough to play. The relentless difficulty and tedium washes out whatever other positive elements it has.
 
 
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