Reviews Archive
           
  CJ's Elephant Antics  
   
 
 
 
  Graphics  
           
    C64 Spectrum NES  
           
     
     
           
     
     
           
     
     
           
     
     
           
  Detail  
 

C64 - This is one of the areas where the Commodore version falls down in, the sprites and background graphics tend to look a little more blocky and lacking in detail here, however this has to be one of the best examples of making every pixel count on Commodore as the sprites still look quite nice and stylised even though so few pixels are used.

Spectrum - For the most part there's a very high level of detail in this version, from the flooring and moving blocks, to the background graphics having more elements (such as plants), to even the status bar.

NES - The base level detail is pretty good in this version, though I don't think its quite as good as in the Spectrum version as some textures look slightly simpler, and the status bar is noticeably sparse (probably too sparse for something which takes up so much screen real estate).

The main player sprite looks a bit cheap and kiddy to me but it's certainly not terrible, on the other hand though some of the enemy sprites look really great, especially notable are the penguin and snowman enemies.

 
   
  Winner Is: Spectrum  
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  Colour  
 

C64 - Really fantastic use of the C64's pallet here, the colour is used in an artistic style that looks great, with contrasted sunset's, and harsh desert landscapes.

Spectrum - This version's colour is much worse than the other two, though to be honest for a Spectrum game this is actually pretty good (The colour section of my comparisons will always be the bane of the poor old Spectrum as it's probably the hardware's weakest aspect).

Colour clash is here in abundance (the main player and all the enemies are effectively transparent at all times) but thankfully it does not detract too much from the gameplay.

NES - The colour is pretty good here for the most part though it's a little bit more simplistic in it's use, for example the 1st stage on the C64 original always looked like it was taking place at sunset, whilst the NES version just uses a basic sky blue background, in fact all levels here tend to use similar colour pallets throughout (for elements such as the sky), whilst the C64 version tends to change the colours around for each of the levels.

Lastly, I also dislike the sludge green status bar somewhat.

 
   
  Winner Is: C64  
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  Animation  
 

C64 - The animation is alright, it's not really that impressive but it has some charm and does the job.

Spectrum - The animations on this version are actually very impressive, the main player animation uses many frames, with CJ's trunk noticeably waving back and forth as he moves (this is the only version that has a standing still frame of animation), and all the enemies are animated very well too.

NES - Good, it's not quite as good as the Spectrum in this area but is still a lot better than the C64 original.

 
   
  Winner Is: Spectrum  
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  Scrolling  
 

C64 - Scrolls pretty well, it's a bit "bouncy" but is very smooth

Spectrum - This version scrolls very poorly in comparison to the other formats, unfortunately it's choppy and can occasionally be quite unreliable.

There's not really a big affect on gameplay thankfully but it can still cause some minor annoyances from time to time and brings the overall look of the game down a little.

NES - Very close to the Commodore version but on occasion when you move too fast it can take a while for the scrolling to catch up with you.

 
   
  Winner Is: C64  
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Overall Graphics

C64 - I'd say overall the Commodore version looks pretty good, it's certainly lacking in detail but I think still retains a good amount of charm and atmosphere.

Spectrum - This version looks a little bit crude overall due to colour clash and some basic colour choices, but still looks alright.

NES - Though the NES version doesn't specifically win out in any of the preceding graphics sections it easily has the most consistent graphics overall when taking into account both colour and detail simultaneously.

Winner is: NES
  Sound  
     
  Music  
 

C64 - There's only one tune for the main levels of the game but it's pretty catchy, is well suited to the Commodore's sound chip and goes with the game well. Apart from the main tune there's a boss theme, and the bonus level tune.

Seeing as the bonus levels are missing from the other versions this means that in this instance the Commodore has the highest number of different songs.

Spectrum - This version's take on the original tune is alright, the quality is not up to the standards of the original Commodore version but it's not bad by any means.

NES - A little bit of a mixed bag really, the actual quality of the music is fine, but it has more of a niggling, repetitive grating element to it.

 
   
  Winner Is: C64  
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  Sound FX  
 

C64 - No sound effects, only in game music

Spectrum - This version has very bad sound effects, they sound awful and grate on the ears.

I do realize this is due to the sound effects being created by the Spectrum's beeper but come on! I've heard the beeper do much better than this before.

NES - The sound effects aren't bad at all, nothing amazing but still pretty good, as such, with the lack of competition in this area this is an easy win for the Nintendo.

 
   
  Winner Is: NES  
     
Gameplay

C64 - This is the original version of the game, CJ plays in a way very reminiscent of The Newzealand Story, and the Mega Man series. The main way of disposing of enemies here is to shoot projectyles (peanuts), but you're also allocated bombs which are thrown by pressing down. The game is fast, has a high emphasis on jumping between stationary and moving platforms, and has big labyrinth style level designs.

Lets start with the good, the game is fun, fast and smooth, the bomb throwing is a very clever element to the game and works extremely well, as they can be used to kill dangerous enemies both above and below you, there's a fantastic 2-player co-op mode which works pretty well and the bonus stages whilst difficult are a lot of fun.

On to the bad, CJ has a serious gameplay flaw based around the fact that low ceilings will always stop you in your tracks when attempting to jump over hazards, you get to pass through 2 ceiling blocks but the 3rd will stop you and make you drop, this "two block jumping" can cause a lot of frustration and means sometimes pixel perfect jumping is required, luckily CJ gives you nine lives to start with which help to offset this somewhat.

The last thing worth mentioning is that the C64 version has a glitch in it whereby if you're falling, bombs and peanuts you've already fired will disappear, this means that tactics usable in the later versions (such as dropping a bomb with you to take out unseen enemies you may land on) no longer work.

Spectrum - This version is a little bit slower but still retains much of the playability of the original, importantly though the two block jumping which causes so many problems in the other versions is completely absent! instead CJ just jumps through all types of ceiling sections as though they're not there, making this probably the fairest version of the game. The glitch which makes your weapons disappear mid jump is also gone, so firing a projectile and then dropping is doable as well as dropping bombs with you as cover.

Less positive things that need to be noted are that instead of dropping bombs as he does in the C64 original, here he throws them, this unfortunately makes them a little slower to use and less well implemented than they were before.

Lastly the bicycle riding bonus game from the original C64 game is missing here, which causes the game to feel a bit thinner on content than the original (the game only had four levels as it is).

NES - There's not many good points here to be honest.

The invincibility power-up (which was useful) has now been replaced with a fizzy drink that makes CJ move faster, and as such actually makes him harder to control and results in more deaths, bosses take a much longer amount of time to defeat, and for some reason it takes ages to recover after you lose a life. The NES version has fewer enemies compared to the other versions, often where there'd be three or four enemies before there is now only one or two.

Unfortunately not only has the two block jumping problem been carried over from the C64 original, but the less useful thrown bombs from the Spectrum version are here too and has a similar effect of slowing down the games pacing.

Winner Is: C64
 
Presentation
There's no competition here as the C64 version has a short intro of CJ escaping from his cage, grabbing an umbrella and leaping out of the airplane he's traveling in, this intro is missing from all other version (even the 16-bit versions)
Winner Is: C64
 
  Misc  
 

The NES version of this game was only released as part of a multi-game cartridge called Quatro Arcade

You automatically start off with 20 bombs on the NES version instead of having to immediately collect them.

At the end of each level in the NES version, after the boss is defeated items start falling from the sky for a few seconds giving you a chance to try to catch them and stock up before they land.
 
   
     
  Conclusion  
 

Firstly the NES version whilst not having the best detail or colour most definitely has the most consistent graphics of the three games as it doesn't do badly in either area (whilst the other two versions are sub par in one area and great in the other). Gameplay wise however is a different matter as unfortunately it has the worst elements of the C64 version (two block jumping, frustrating sections) and the worst elements of the Spectrum version (missing bonus stages, missing intro, slower gameplay, less useful bombs) with nothing gameplay wise to stand in it's favour not apparent in other ports. Another point I'd like to make is that CJ was originally a budget release for the Spectrum and C64 (priced at around £3/$5) and as such represented great value for money, I feel that for the NES release they really should've improved the game with more levels and better graphics, the C64 and Spectrum version's graphical weaknesses are both products of their particular hardware's and so the programmers were certainly not to blame for any of their shortcomings (in fact in both instances the programmers did an amazing job at making the most of the hardware) whereas this version really doesn't make the most of the NES at all. So at the end of the day the NES version looks better but plays worse compared to the other versions (it's still not a bad port by any means though)

Out of the other two it's more difficult to judge as they have their own strengths and weaknesses, the Spectrum game is much fairer, more accessible and less frustrating, whilst the C64 version is faster which in my opinion makes it a little more fun to play, The scrolling is smoother, the bombing is more useful and quicker in this version making the gameplay flow better, and the bonus levels help to pad out the lack of levels in the game.

In conclusion, I think that the C64 version is probably the best, though anyone finding it too frustrating should maybe check out the Spectrum version.

 
  Overall Winner is: C64  
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