Review by JIrish
"I’ll save the monkey jokes for my Ape Escape review"
So what games do you think of when you think about Capcom? Survival Horror games would come to many peoples minds, given the huge popularity of Resident Evil, Dino Crisis and the rest. Fighting games come to mind, too, what with the Street Fighter series and the derivatives both 2D and 3D by the company. Platform action games are also pretty big business for Capcom, thanks to Mega Man, Ghosts and Goblins, the two Strider games, and several more. And it would also be a platform game that would give Capcom it’s earliest hit all the way back in 1984, and yet we would see practically nothing of any real note of the characters and concepts found within this game (except for an NES port of the game and a rare Turbo Graphix 16 sequel) until the title character was reincarnated for Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The game was SonSon, and it’s a cute game that’s as addictive as any true classic video game.
The story is all too simple. SonSon the monkey and TonTon the pig are off to save their friends who were kidnapped by some giant flying on a cloud. SonSon is based off of an old Chinese legend about a monkey-like prankster who rode a cloud and had a gold-tipped staff. Sound familiar, Dragonball fans? Same legend you got Goku from. From what I’ve read (though there are conflicting reports) is that this SonSon is male, and the one you see in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is his granddaughter.
Anyhow, the game plays simply enough and is pretty easy to control, too. You’re playing on a 6-tiered screen, and you can jump up and down from level to level as you walk along. You never stop walking unless you lose a life or you reach a special situation, although you can go forward faster or go backwards. You’re not alone out there, as you’ll be attacked by fish, bats, bugs, statuary, spear throwers, bomb throwers, and more. You get to fire back though, with a medium-range attack. If you shoot down all the enemies in a group, you get a point bonus. You can also find food items and other bonuses sprawled around the play area that you can gain points from. And if you find the “POW” icon, all your enemies turn into food. So that’s where they got the idea for that one super move… Regardless, if they get you, you fly back in on your cloud, and you can’t be hit until you get off your cloud. Timing is everything there.
The graphics are pretty good for the time. There’s never any question what you’re looking at, except for those brown bonus items that grow out of the ground. That might actually be because I have no idea what exactly they are. There is also that one character in the beginning who gets carried away and looks like he’s having a seizure. All told, the game stood up to its contemporaries pretty well at the time.
Similarly, the game was pretty effective in the soundtrack department, but still not exactly groundbreaking. You had the quick intro song, and the one simple melody that follows you as you play the game, except in special situations like boss sectors. Sound effects are also passable, from the sound of your shot to the notification that a special bonus item has popped up behind you. Nothing to really hate, but nothing as iconic as a Pac-Man or Donkey Kong.
There really isn’t much more to say about SonSon other than, like Galaga, it’s the type of game that keeps me coming back to see how much better I can do through the game. That’s really the best praise I can give a classic-era arcade game. Trouble is, this game is a pain to find. Just about every known version of this game was released in Japan only. Probably the most import-friendly version available is the one that appeared on the Capcom Generations series. So you better hope to get lucky if you want to give this unique game a try. If you one of the lucky ones who can find an imported home version on ebay or elsewhere, snatch it up on sight.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/01/02, Updated 10/01/02
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