Ren & Stimpy Show Review by: rcarter2Animals In Space!
Anyone growing up in the 90's remembers the Ren & Stimpy show. It was one of the most raunchy cartoons around on cable TV at the time. One of the not so common segments was the Space Cadette's episodes that follow Ren and Stimpy as they try to find their way home after getting lost in Dimension X, which is what this game is slightly based off of. The story isn't the same, but you might notice a lot of familiar things from the show. This was one of the most played games in my GameBoy collection because this is both highly entertaining and a bit of a challenge. This game can be enjoyable whether you were a fan of the show or not.
One thing that is often associated with GameBoy graphics is the highly pixelated characters that you have to use your imagination with a bit. This is not the case with this game. If you have ever even seen commercials for the television show, you are going to know who the characters are. They are very clean, and surprisingly detailed. Another great aspect of this game is the environments. Not only are the environments completely different for each level, there are multiple different environments within each level. In one level, you go from a cockpit, to a boiler room, to a factory, and even outside a shuttle while in space. In another, while on a mutant planet, you switch from the surface to the tunnels and crossing bottomless pits. Those are just a few examples. Not only is there a great variety in environments, they are highly detailed. There is not question about exactly what the places are supposed to be, but there are many interacting moving parts on the screen at once throughout the game. A lot of times, you can see up to 5 different moving things that you can interact with (be it good or harmful) on that small screen, which is saying a lot for the GameBoy. The graphics are very impressive for what the GameBoy's capacity was.
There is one clear thing that this game does well in the sound department, which is the music. What I like about this game is the fact that the music is not scratchy or screechy, which is also a common problem with GameBoy games. Also, anyone who has watched the show at least once will recognize the music of the first level, which is the opening music for the show, which is always fun. If you watched the Space Cadette episodes, you might recognize most of the rest of the music. There is one main problem with the music though, which is the fact that the music is very short. How is this a problem? Well, when each level takes about 10 minutes to go through (if you know exactly what to do and don't die once), and the music is about 20 seconds long, you are going to hear it start over a LOT of times, and that tends to be a bit annoying. Music also hides the fact that there really aren't all that many sound effects in the game. The game might have about 10 different sound effects in the game. The thing is, a lot of things in this game actually make sound, so 10 sounds isn't enough to distribute them. There is also the fact that even though there are about 10 of them, a lot of them are very similar to one another, so it isn't all that distinguishable anyway.
This game was one of my favorites for the GameBoy simply because it is just flat out entertaining. The game play for this is exactly what you could expect from a Ren and Stimpy game. As Stimpy, you get to run around hacking hair balls at anything that moves. As Ren, you run around backhanding anything that annoys you. What else do you need? What also makes this game addicting is that even though it only has 4 levels, each level is long enough to make you forget that, and they are difficult enough to give you a challenge. There are a few hiccups though. There are no power ups to change the game play in the game. As Stimpy, it is always a simply platform with hair balls as your only mans of attacking. As Ren, it is the same thing, only with slapping. It can get repetitive. Also, you don't get very many lives in this game, and with the fact that it is already difficult, you might get really upset if you die in level 4 and have to start all over again. Especially if you die at the last segment of level 4, which is actually a real pain in the neck.
Another thing that sets this apart from many earlier GameBoy games is that this story is done very well. The surprising thing is, there are only short cuts scenes between each level, but just enough is given to make it not random in a bad way and makes more than enough sense. The story starts with Ren doing a routine space walk outside the shuttle as a part of his mission log. When it is time to open the hatch to let him back in, Stimpy (being the complete idiot that he is) accidentally pushes the "cut line" button, making Ren drift off into space. Stimpy must reach the outside before Ren is lost forever. From there, it is just a domino effect of bad events that pretty much all result from Stimpy doing something else completely stupid. That cat never learns, but it just makes the ending that much better (especially for fans of the show).
After reading the addictiveness section of this review, this score probably isn't much of a surprise. Like I said before, the levels are well done to give a great variety of environments not only between levels, but within the levels themselves. There is no problem there in the depth side of it. But game play does lack a bit. Once you master the first Stimpy level and first Ren level, the other 2 levels are a cake walk (except for the last part of the game). This is mainly because the game play just does not change at all. Though enemies and obstacles change, the strategy and main idea of them do not. The only difference in game play you ever get is the bonus sequences that you get from watching the Muddy Mud Skipper show on the televisions within the levels. But even then, all it is is just picking heads or tails as Muddy flips a coin three times. If you get 2/3 right, you get temporary invincibility. Otherwise, it is the same old game play. Luckily, the story development, environment variety, and level length save the depth score.
I remember when I was a kid, and I honestly thought that this game had to be the most difficult game ever made for the GameBoy. If I made this review years ago, the score would be a 10. But when I played it a few days ago for this review, my first thought is "What did I have so much trouble with this game for?" If you love a difficult game, then you will be able to breeze through this game after you master the first 2 levels. But getting the hang of it does take time, which is why it still gets a relatively high score in difficulty. It does take quite a while to be able to move through the levels smoothly. For a while, this game will kick you butt if you are a casual gamer.
Overall, this game is definitely worth your time. The graphics are top of the line as far as early GameBoy games go. The music is fun, but can get very repetitive when you take into account how long the levels are, and the music never changes during the level (but each level does get it's own music). The sound is lacking quite a bit, so it hides behind the music. Though there really isn't much variety in game play, the little bit that you do get is just so dang entertaining that it is strangely addictive. The story is simple, but not in a bad way. It is done well enough to be fluid, and even funny. Lastly, it is difficult, but won't give a challenge to more hardcore gamer once they get used to the details of the game. Casual gamers will have a bit more difficulty with it. If you want to relive some childhood moments, or just want some old fashioned entertainment, give this game a try.