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Video Game Review: The Tick (SNES) - Manic mayhem and miscel

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This is one of several reviews I wrote when FireNexus was trying to start a gaming news site. It never took off, so I have several of these that have nothing left to do but... uh... end up in this brand new gaming forum, here.


So, on with it. I'll post a note on my bogus rating system in another thread.


The Meat:


Well, another day, another amazingly-forgotten Super Nintendo game. This one has the unassuming name of "The Tick," which features, of course, our sometime hero and pastry chef, The Tick, in his own highly-Fox-oriented beat-em-up brouhaha (you can tell that right of the bat when the game takes 30 seconds, non skippable, to show you the Fox logo during the copyrights segment). It's games like this that win awards not for gameplay or plot, but for... well, originality's out... how about perserverence and creativity in the face of beat-em-up stagnation?

The Tick is a nigh-on invincible superhero, though of course, bringing such an attribute to bear in a beat-em-up game would be highly inadvisable (not to mention silly, thus making the game inanely easy like Final Fantasy VIII), so he's only got the normal-size lifebar and takes damage normally when he's hit with spears, pikes, cleavers, ninja stars, punk rollerbladers, Soviet superweapons, chainsaw maniacs, Clark "The Caped Wonder," and other such implements during the course of the game. Meaning, of course, that this is one heck of a wacky noggin-knocker.

You start out on the top of a bus, of all places. Of course, since having unique enemies tailor-fit to such a game (street punks in Combatribes, alien hordes in Battle Toads, martial artists and thugs in Double Dragon), you're fighting... yup, you guessed it... NINJAS. And not just any ninjas, ninjas in blue or red (later white, green, black, and brown) costumes. As if that wasn't enough, they spin their swords or throw their stars in a very goofy-ninja-like manner until you throw them bodily from the bus or knock them out in a fit of cartoon slobberknocking. This is, predictably, just like EVERY OTHER beat-em-up out there, save the fact that it is designed as such to poke fun at EVERY OTHER beat-em-up out there (much like the show). The controls consist of the beater staples--jump, punch, kick, and Nuke Everything With A Big Showy Move (which consists in this game of calling poor ol' Arthur the Moth in to knock everybody out). Of course, they've capitalized on the Tick's overall whimsicality by ending multi-hit combos with finger flicks, spin kicks, picking the guy up and slapping him, and grabbing the guy by the ankle and going ape on everybody within range in a classic Tom and Jerry 'judo' slam maneuver.

Aside from being uproariously funny in game mechanics and nicely simple in gameplay, The Tick sports, of course, an exceptionally limited storyline. 99.876% of all beat-em-ups involve either saving the hero's girl from the clutches of The Bad Guys or simply stopping the destruction or takeover of the world by taking out The Bad Guys. This fits mostly under the latter, with The Tick going on a campaign of righteousness and justice against the baddies of The City. This is communicated in chapters and subplots. Chapters are occassional screens denoting why in tarnation the Tick is where he is, fighting ninjas, and later Idea Men. Such names as "Night of a Million Zillion Ninjas," "The Idea Men Have Landed," "Chairface Chippendale Throws a Party," and "Let's Go To Ninja World!" also help to show the game's lighthearted face. Meanwhile, you'll occassionally fall into a subplot--literally--when you fall in between the buildings in the rooftop stage where all the flying weapons come in. That's where you'll meet Soviet superweapons, "The Caped Wonder," and other such random goofy characters. It's even labeled "Subplot" on the screen you get after falling off the building, along with a picture denoting why the Tick has enraged his opponent so.

Oddly enough, you'll actually want to do this--it refills your lifebar in the event that any of the flying debris overhead found its mark. That is, of course, assuming you survive the subplot.

It's simple--pound through alleys, Ninjatown, hotels, hospitals, residential streets, downtown, and anywhere else you go. If it's there, smash it. If for some reason you try to smash it and pick it up instead, smash something else with it. Just like all beat-em-ups. Occassionally, you'll recieve help from BatManuel (who doesn't do anything until he's hit, when he leaves), American Maid, some samurai with either a loaf of bread or a big Italian sausage, a ninja chick with sai and a yellow leotard, or other such goofy cameos in your quest. You'll stand back to back and be able to move around, but they'll not switch places. Also, when you hit punch, the Tick will punch and they'll kick--and vice versa when you hit kick.

The graphics are good except for a few flaws--occassionally purposeful--such as the ninja switching sides opposite where he's SUPPOSED to be in the Tick's hand, getting slammed against the ground over and over, or the goofy way the Tick picks up mailboxes in a few levels.

The sound is so-so, as you'd expect from a beat-em-up game. Also, if you want to finish it, get ready to sit down a while (I'd suggest using the restroom and eating beforehand, and taking a large supply of Mountain Dew for caffeine), because the levels are LONG, and there's no battery backup. Take heart, though--after fighting ninjas for five or six chapters, ninjas, ninjas, and nothing but ninjas (and occassional bosses) and then more ninjas, you'll get to fight Idea Men, who are tougher and better armed. After that, I don't know, because I've only spent about two hours playing the game in one sitting. And yes, it's that long.

Maybe it wasn't meant to be finished. Maybe it was. Maybe it's one of those games that after you beat it, it just cycles you back to the first level with deadly aliens where the weakest ninjas used to be. I don't know. I might not ever find out.

But heck, it's something to try.

You should be able to get a copy for cheap--for heaven's sake, it's a Fox beat-em-up that's longer than a cross-continental snail race--but you'll have a good time goofing around with it. I did.


The Rating:


Graphics: 6 (It's not supposed to be graphic-intensive, nor does it pretend to be... that, and the occassional fluke)

Gameplay: 8 (It's a beat-em-up... gameplay is limited just by the genre of the game)

Plotline: What? Where?

Chapter Naming Conventions: 17

Chapter Continuity and Interrelation: 3

Goofy Little Extra Things Flung In Haphazardly: 9

Sound: 6 (Not bad... thwack, oof, bang, and all that, but it gets awfully repetitive after an hour)


Overall: 49


Have a nice day!

-The Insane Space Hunter, 2-20-02

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