Review by Snow Dragon

"A blob with no life story"

Smart Ball, known as Jerry Boy in Japan, starts out in the American version as just dumping a blob into your standard initial grassy valley level, with no apparent background as to why you are here. You are just a blob who can pick up red balls that bloom from flowers on the ground, and then you can hurl your nucleus at enemies to inflict damage. Even if there is no clearly given reason why you are doing this, just remember that this is the American version of the game. If you beat it, you will eventually see what is going on. Play the Japanese game for clarity and a little bit (okay, a lot) less befuddlement.

In short, the basic plot from the Japanese game of the version: you're the prince of a kingdom about to go on to be king. Your brother Tom (you're Jerry - catch the pun?) is jealous and hires a sorcerer to capture the princess and turn you into a helpless puddle of goo. The sorcerer does just this, and you must now traverse sixteen formulaic levels to rescue her and regain your rightful throne.

The graphics are about as 1991 as the Super Nintendo gets, this being one of those rare titles from that year of its release to the States. It probably could have been done on the Nintendo with slightly watered down effects and graphics, but the game would have remained essentially the same. Music is fairly upbeat and catchy in open areas, and is appropriately deep and eerie in darker circumstances. It should do, unless you have music on CD that you like better than this stuff, like I and most Earth citizens do. But unlike most games of this primitive Super Nintendo epoch, the music is tolerable and sometimes even fun to listen to. Graphics leave something to be desired, but the Super Nintendo was new in '91, and basically anything there was impressive to just about anyone.

Control requires a bit of your time to learn, but the terrain of the first level is set up so that you can give yourself a bit of a tutorial session if that is in fact what you need. In this title of yore, combinations of buttons were needed to stick your pile of pudding protagonist to a wall and maneuver along it, and controls when defying gravity were actually direction-sensitive, meaning Up led you up, Right was the only way you could go right, etc. This lent a bit of challenge to the game and made you think about how to get along some of the trickier walls.

Investment of time in this game depends on how willing you are to play a game where the hero is a defenseless goo pile and he's out to rescue his princess girl who has met a similar fate. The graphics and sound shouldn't be enough to discourage you, and if you're attracted to weird titles like this one, you will dive right into Smart Ball/Jerry Boy. I liked it because I had seen it a long time ago and rediscovered it through the miracle of emulation. Maybe you can do the same. Who knows.

Score: 5

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 01/28/02, Updated 01/28/02

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