CLIFF HANGER / Stern / Arcade

I first saw Cliff Hanger as a young tot on an episode of Starcade (linked below, yay Youtube) and thought it was just the coolest thing in the world. A couple years later I would get a chance to play it in an actual arcade and I was like :(

The game basically takes the anime movie Castle of Cagliostro (starring popular Japanese hero Lupin III) and cuts it up clumsily to make a Dragon's Lair-esque game out of it. Due to not being designed as a proper game from the ground up, there are all sorts of problems.

The designers didn't get any original footage made to smooth the transitions between scenes, so frequently an ugly DOS-looking menu pops up to break the action. To pad the length of the game out, scenes are repeated back-to-back quite frequently. For example, in the car chase scene in the second level, there's a point where you have to dodge a grenade. Since this only happened one time in the movie, the game simply repeats the identical scene three times in a row to tack on some length and challenge. You see this sort of thing happen constantly throughout the rest of the game.

Between the choppy transitions, the repeated clips, and the crappily dubbed in English voices, the game sometimes seems so random and non-sequitir it's like a "make your own" or a Youtube Poop. The fight scenes in the original anime that are re-used here are also extremely fast and don't proceed with real visual cues to how you are supposed to move. Often you're expected to enter a shit ton of inputs incredibly quickly without any real indication what you're supposed to be doing. An insane fight with a bunch of ninjas around the 4th or 5th level is the most visually impressive part of the game, but also by far the hardest and the point at which most people probably just gave up on the thing (if they even made it that far.)

At least with other Laserdisc games you tended to get an amusing death clip to help soften the blow of throwing away 50 cents of mid-1980s money ... but again, since this game relies wholly on existing Lupin footage, there are no real death scenes. Early versions of the game had a scene of Lupin being hanged as the generic stand-in death, but Whiney McWhinesters forced them to take that out. Most of the time you either get a 2-second close-up of an explosion, or one of those ugly DOS menus telling you that "YOU BLEW IT!"

Really, it's better to just watch Castle of Cagliostro than to try to play this game. It looks and plays like a hackjob.

Videos :

* Gameplay Videos
* Starcade clip
* Hanging scene that soccer moms whined about