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Up from (Super) Obscurity

As you may recall, last time on Middling Movie Cash-In Theater, we talked about the first half of the Super Nintendo video game, The Rocketeer:
...and how it's basically four unplayable minigames strung together with a few repeats. Each one is either virtually unwinable and/or a reallllly long battle of attrition between a "level length" bar and your health bar, to see which expires first.
Oh, also there are comic-book-style cut-scenes between levels.
But mostly, if you're anything like me* the only reason you'll be seeing anything past the terrible plane race-track levels is because the game has a stage-select cheat.
*: crazy enough to try to wring some enjoyment out of this cartridge, but not crazy enough to actually figure out the weird game mechanics so you can somehow win it legitimately.
So anyway, since I covered the plane race-track minigame and the Hanger Shooting Gallery minigame last week, that means we're down to the last two (or two-and-a-half?) minigames.
But first, let's set the mood:
After a pair of 10-minute shoot-outs between Cliff Rockeeter and about 300 gangsters/nazis/whatevers in the hanger, they've decided that shooting bullets at you isn't a very effective strategy. Instead they're doing what all self-respecting video game villains have done from the beginning of time (ie, Donkey Kong): ...they're going to kidnap a girl! (and possibly also a crusty old mentor-type figure!)
But when you choose to follow them, the Nazis have a plan. A terrible, wonderful, grinchy plan. A plan that involves...
...tying parachutes onto thousands of party favor-sized boxes of explosives and dropping them in front of you -- hoping they will waft into your path and you'll bump into them, WHICH WILL CAUSE YOU TO BE SLIGHTLY INJURED!
Truly, a brilliant day in military tactics. Yes, welcome one and all, to...
#3: The "Fly and Shoot Stuff" minigame -- rocketeer edition!
Ok, so sometimes the mighty Third Reich Warmacht changes up their plan (of chipping away at your health with individually-wrapped cherry bomb explosives, each equipped with a fetching hand-tied parachute), by shooting a build-it-at-home Whamm-O model rocket in your general direction:
And every now and then, one of Der Fuhrer's elite corps of Tiny Parcel Wrapping/Dropping Troopers ends up floating down towards you, equipped with his very own slightly larger parachute (and what looks like Han Solo's blaster):
But overall, it should come as no surprise that the Fly and Shoot Stuff minigame is an exercise in tedium. You may have a fairly long health-bar, infinite ammo, and occasionally you'll find a health-powerup or a Starburst Special Spread Shot power-up (good for a few shots only):
However that doesn't mean it's easy or fun. Though your health bar is fairly generous, you'll notice the "Progress Bar" at the bottom right of the screen. And it moves verrrrrrrrry slowly.
Granted, we're on the 3rd-to-last level, but still, the "quantity over quality" approach is wearing thin. And on that note, what do you imagine you'd find if you survived the extended sideways float that is the "Flying and Shooting Stuff" minigame (rocketeer edition?)
That's right...it's the "Flying and Shooting Stuff" minigame -- Whale-Wearing-a-Toupee Edition!
I guess that bizarre green-and-gray thing is probably supposed to be a plane, somehow...but to me, it seems more like a H.R. Giger-esque bio-mechanical member of the Order Cetacea, wearing some kind of green hair-piece, with a propeller protruding from its posterior.
All alliteration aside*, this is basically a sprite-swap clone of the last level's play-control. Replace the party-favor bombs with mini-zeppelins carrying those giant spike-mines you see in submarine movies and MegaMan 2, and throw in some actual enemy planes, and you're done.
*: ha!
Your plane shoots and moves pretty much the same as The Rocketeer, and if I had the energy I'd go back in and get some screen-captures of the same Starburst very-limited-ammo Power-Up, which evidently comes in Plane-Sized Gun Edition as well as Human-Sized Gun Edition.
But there's no time for that now, because in the last stage minigame screen-where-they-decide-to-introduce-a-new-play-control,-equally-bad-as-the-rest-of-the-game, we discover that it's time for the true test of your aeronautic mettle:
FIST-FIGHTING WITH NAZIS ON THE OUTER SKIN OF A BLIMP!
(I heard that this was how Orville and Wilbur Wright decided who should take the first trip in their plane)
Oh yeah, it's on!!!
The level begins inauspiciously: you land on the blimp's wing as the last of your rocket fuel runs out.
In another puzzling move, Jenny appears to suffer from the same spontaneous cut-scene ethnicity change disorder as Player 2 in N.A.R.C. and Douglas Bild. Maybe they accidentally captured her stunt-woman?
In any event, we're all set for The Rocketeer's brief foray into the world of one-on-one fighting:
If you've been paying attention, you'll know not to expect a lot. But still, prepare for disappointment. You're talking to someone who can be entertained by Urban Champion for upwards of 20 minutes...
...and I still found this level almost unplayable.
Let's explain why:
This minigame shares Urban Champion's objective: you win by walking to the other side of the screen. However, you only get a few (verrrry slow) steps in before a Nazi Rocketman jets onto the blimp-wing in front of you and challenges you to fisticuffs:
Fortunately, you have a wide repertoire of punches, kicks, jumps and special moves at your disposal! Oops, I'm sorry -- I was thinking of Street Combat. Cliff Rocketeer has two barely-distinguishable punches:
A Right Cross, and a Left Jab! I'm not sure if they function differently, but they are triggered by pressing DIFFERENT BUTTONS!
Oh, and here's a pro-tip: always hold the "D" pad to the right during these fights. Occasionally your opponent -- in addition to depleting your health by extending towards you a row of pixels ("punching you") -- will push against you and force you towards the left side of the screen.
This is bad because, win or lose, there's ALWAYS another Nazi Jetpack Guy waiting to fight you. The only way to stop this Sisyphean torment is to get to the ladder at the latter side** of the screen.
**: ha ha!
Yup, the reward granted by besting each white-clad Aryan is those few seconds between his demise and his replacement's arrival when you're allowed to take a few staggering steps closer to your goal.
Oh, and you know that guy in the blue suit, standing up there holding Jenny like she was Pauline to his Donkey Kong?
He apes*** that oddly-named monkey and throws exploding things at you.
***: ha ha ha!
That's really the nail in the coffin of this level: You can't move fast enough to dodge, and even if you could, taking a few steps backwards would mean a whole additional fist-fight you'd have to win to make up the ground you lost.
But it's not as if he throws them randomly -- nope, he tends to aim for the dead center of the blimp wing...and whether it's you or your evil counterpart that's standing there, WATCH OUT!
While you can get a few cheap laughs from him fire-bombing his subordinates, what this really means is: at some point you're going to have advanced to the center of the wing. When that happens, you better win that fist-fight VERY quickly and scuttle further down the wing, because during that fight you'll be repeatedly bombed most of the time. This wing-center fight is usually where you die, or lose enough health you can't survive the subsequent several fistfights.
Well, anyway --
After losing all your health and falling off the blimp's wing a number of times (and seeing this amusing screen)
you may be lucky enough to climb the latter and give Colonel Kong a taste of his own medicine. Well, not exactly his own medicine (because HE'S not forced to play this level while YOU throw things at exactly one spot on the ground), but anyway -- he runs like a scared rabbit up a SECOND latter, onto the zeppelin's steering vane, dragging Indeterminate-Ethnicity-Jenny with him:
Then (as often happens in these situations), your girlfriend trips and is dangling by her fingernails from a "S.S." banner, the end of the steering vane catches fire, and you have to engage in a fist-fight with a really tall Nazi soldier as the ground slowly burns up under your very feet:
Compared to the FIRST part of this minigame this is relatively easy (there's no one throwing bombs at you, and only one enemy to fight), and soon your crusty old mentor is air-lifting you and approximately 50% of Jenny's body to safety:
(I think the Jenny graphic is kind of glitched in this picture)
Hooray, it's over!
And you can celebrate a job well done by reading a placard about it:
If you choose "Next Level", the game loops around and you're a glutton for punishment. But if you pick "End Here", you get to examine the game's hefty victory credits, where you find the greatest secret of them all...
The game's music was done by Jake's old crime-solving partner!!
— carlmarksguy, 2013-05-31
1
Back when I subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine in the 90s, they rarely said a bad word about any games they covered, but I could often tell if a game was bad by "reading between the lines". Such was the case with this one. While they gave most SNES launch titles a plethora of coverage, they didn't seem thrilled about this one aside from the digitized graphics.
2
Oh, '90s Nintendo Power! I think I had a subscription from the beginning (yay Clay Super Mario 2 landscape cover!) through when they started to only promote Gameboy and ..either late Super Nintendo stuff or N64? Either way - I hope I've given everyone an idea about how dire this game is; the only level I've legitimately beaten is the blimp-fight level (it's also the only one that you can win in 5ish minutes, rather than 20+)
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