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JAWS / LJN / NES
Jaws came out about the same time as LJN's other horror license Friday the 13th, and the graphics and overall game concept are pretty similar. Instead of Jason roaming about Camp Crystal Lake at large, you've got Jaws roaming about the coastal waters, and he has to be avoided as you toodle around the map powering yourself up, until you get to a point where you can actually deal enough damage to come out ahead in a battle. Until then, encounters with the big monsters consist of you simply trying to survive and deal enough damage to make them back off.
Friday the 13th was no prize, but it at least had some interesting ideas. Jaws is tedious, repetitive and boring from the first few minutes.
Unlike Friday the 13th, which had constant action and a variety of types of gameplay and scenarios, Jaws just has you doing the same thing over and over - running a loop between two points, while grinding weak sea creatures in RPG style to upgrade your shell collection. Get enough shells, bring them to a port, your attack level powers up, repeat procedure at the opposite port. That's all there is to the game until you're ready to take Jaws down.
Which doesn't take all that long, since Jaws is a terrible antagonist. Jason was at least menacing because he was fast and way more powerful than you. Jaws is just a mildly bigger version of the common sharks you see all the time, with the same lazy cruising speed, and the same lazy attack pattern that is easily dodged. If he didn't take a billion hits to bring down at your starting level, the game would be over in minutes. You're at more of a threat from all the little sea beasties that are floating around than Jaws himself, you're much more likely to accidentaly hit one of them than actually get caught by Jaws.
And there's another thing - despite being disgustingly easy, the game is still irritating, as your one-hit-wonder nameless character dies on contact with anything. Dying sets you back half your shells, one power upgrade, and restores Jaws health to full. So dying simply means tacking on an extra ten or fifteen minutes more of grinding to your overall schedule. And like Friday the 13th, this is a no-password, no-save, no-continues game, apparently intended only for really bored 10 year olds who had an entire afternoon to sit around grinding jellyfish.
If you're patient enough you can wear down Jaws right from the beginning of the game, since he never gets faster or more sophisticated, without even bothering to engage in the shell-collecting power-uppage that is intended as the meat of the game. Sinking your time into this, however, rewards you only with an irritiating final mini-game to finish Jaws off once and for all, and if you get through that, typical
crappy one-minute ending
that makes you feel like you'll deeply regret having done this on your deathbed someday.
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