Gremlins remains one of my favorite films ever. I enjoyed its blended mix of horror, Christmas, comedy, and charm. Even with all the potential for disaster, I’d still love to own a Mogwai. While this year’s sequel was a bit of a letdown, it still had some fun moments. I was extremely happy to learn that Sunsoft was developing Gremlins 2 for the Nintendo. Of course they have an excellent track record, and already have two really solid games this year with Batman and Journey to Silius.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch follows the plot of the movie pretty closely and the story is told in quick animations in between the stages — much like in the aforementioned Batman game. You play as Gizmo and the game takes place inside the towering Clamp Centre. The goal is to reunite with Billy and eliminate the wicked Mogwai. This is an overhead action title that looks and plays similar to Fester’s Quest, however this game is simplified, more user-friendly, and as a result much more fun.
Gizmo is initially armed with tomatoes to throw at villains. Early on your foes are mostly just rats and bats, but after Stage 1 you’re up against the troublesome and nefarious Mogwai, all outfitted with different attacks and powers. Your weapon is upgraded after completion of each stage to stronger items like a torch or bow & arrow. You’ll find helpful items scattered about the levels, such as the pogo stick, which quickly knocks out any creatures you hop on, balloons that help you float over holes in the walkways, and a flashbulb which kills everything else on the screen.
Every enemy you defeat will drop a crystal, and once per stage, there is a shop where you can trade your crystals for balloons, hearts, an extra life, or weapon power-ups. Gizmo initially has 3 hearts, and similar to The Legend of Zelda, these act as a life meter. Even falling off a platform will only knock down half a heart. This is a welcome change over the unforgiving 2-hit kills in Fester’s Quest. There is a lot of platform jumping in this game, which is mixed in with environmental hazards like electricity, spikes, and fire. This really ramps up the difficulty, especially jumping from moving conveyor belts and floating platforms while avoiding Mogwai and other dangers. Luckily this has a simple 4-character password to input, so it’s convenient to pick up where you left off. There are 5 total areas, most with 3 acts and a boss fight serving as the final act.
Gremlins 2 looks very sharp and certainly has Sunsoft’s quality touch. The animation sequences look terrific and they did a great job of quick and simple storytelling without interrupting the game flow. The Mogwai and Gizmo are drawn perfect and he even waddles when he walks.
You move quickly and control perfectly, which is refreshing as far too many games are held back by sluggish controls. You can easily jump and shoot diagonally, something that is often lost in top-down games. While the game is fairly challenging, it is significantly less daunting than the ridiculously difficult Fester’s Quest and frustrating Batman.
Some of the best sounding music on the Nintendo comes from the Sunsoft team, and of course Gremlins 2 is no exception. Each area has its own theme and these tunes match the comedy/horror theme of the Gremlins films. The composer Naoki Kodaka also scored Blaster Master, Batman, and Journey to Silius so his musical style is quite recognizable and some of the best heard on the NES.
There are a lot of games hitting stores in these final months of the year, and I really hope Gremlins 2 doesn’t get overlooked. This is a fantastic action-platformer that should appeal both to fans of the movie franchise and anyone looking to play a terrific game. Unlimited continues and a simple password system just make this game more approachable than previous Sunsoft efforts. The soundtrack is marvelous and it looks and plays wonderfully. The only drawbacks are the limited environmental settings, as the entire game takes place inside the skyscraper. How different can one office cubicle look from another? I would also like to see Sunsoft take a stab at a 2-player co-op game sometime soon.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
This is a solid companion game to the film that has the rare distinction of being better than the movie! Gremlins 2 is a great example of a “pick up and play” game that is ideal for any age group, much like Duck Tales or Mega Man. This isn’t a super long game, but it’s difficulty is balanced well enough that it’s still worth the purchase price. We all hope that more games based on films fall into the hands of Sunsoft and not LJN, Activision, or Acclaim.