Reviews Archive

Chuck Rock II

      Mega Drive Amiga
chuck rock 2 sprite on genesis chuck rock 2 sprite on amiga
chuck rock ii on megadrive
chuck rock ii on amiga
chuck rock 2 snow level on genesis
chuck rock 2 snow level on amiga
chuck rock 2 boss fight on megadrive
chuck rock ii boss on amiga

Mega Drive - There's a good degree of detail here in the graphics. The game has a lot of different environments, there's some big multi-jointed bosses, and most notably there's a lot of very memorable designs for the enemy characters (guys dressed up in dinosaur costumes, little roaring creatures, dinosaurs wearing swimming caps etc) and the helper creatures (the Triceratops, Turtles, and Goat especially).

On the downside I would say that the game sometimes has a very sectioned/layered look to it, generally the backgrounds tend to have layers of repeating patterns (Butterfly Grove is very guilty of this), this look is probably there to make it easier to add a high numbers of parallax scrolling layers.

Lastly, this game is full of some very nice looking effects, most noticeably there are some well made wavy effects for both the water, and heat focused levels, but there's also a pretty cool rotation effect on the "Dippy the Dinosaur" stage.

Mega-CD - This version is virtually identical to the Mega Drive version, the only real differences I've noticed are that here the rotating rocks have been revamped (and funnily enough look worse now in my opinion), and the entrance of the bird on the "Dippy the Dinosaur" stage has been noticeably improved.

Amiga/CD32 - Generally the detail and pixel art in this version is better than it was in the Sega versions. In the first set of levels for instance you find here many more elements placed throughout the stages (such as trees, houses, and cars), the background itself is more packed with detail, whilst it was fairly sparse on Mega Drive (see screenshot 1, the houses are bigger, and less spaced apart on Amiga), there are other nice touches which were not apparent before, such as the fact that you're swinging on a lizards tail now instead of a generic rope (again screenshot 1), and there's also another enemy, the busty cavewoman. Moving through the levels this carries on, the lava stage has an added dinosaur skeleton as a platform, the tree stages have spider webs, holes peeking through to the outside world, and leaf platforms, and the snow themed stages have the moon, and the tops of mountains peaking through the clouds (see screenshot 3).

On the downside two of the bosses here have taken a very noticeable hit, the first boss (see screenshot 1), and the sea monster boss both look quite ropey in comparison to their Mega Drive counterparts (thankfully the other bosses in the game are much more comparable). Also, whilst most of the levels tend to have more detail here, the "Fruit Mountain" stage actually looks worse, with a scaled down mountain backdrop, and a weaker horizon.

  Winner Is: Draw between Amiga, and CD32

Mega Drive/Mega CD - The colour use here is pretty good overall, though can be a bit inconsistent at times. The "Dippy the Dinosaur" stage, lava stages, and snow stages all look especially impressive, with some very vibrant colours, nice combinations, and excellent shading going on, but some of the other stages can have less than stellar colour choices and these stages can look a bit grungy/dirty at times (see screenshot 1), some others are also a little over-reliant on basic, primary colours (again Butterfly Grove).

Amiga/CD32 - A lot of the levels here have a much more restrained look, and some look the better for it (the last stage of level 1), but for the majority its just the Mega Drive game with fewer colours, and more dithering (in the lava, and water levels the platforms here re-use more of the background colours, and in "Dippy the Dinosaur" there's tons more dithering).

Overall this is more drab looking than the Mega Drive game, but still looks pretty comparable, the only big exception being the "Fruit Mountain" stage, which looks very low colour in comparison to the Mega Drive.

  Winner Is: Draw between Mega Drive, and Mega CD

Mega Drive/Mega CD - The animation in this game is very good. The main player, and all the enemies are animated with loads of frames, and all contain a respectable amount of charm, and life.

Backgrounds here are also well animated, with the lava stage looking especially impressive, with animated fire, embers floating everywhere, and a heat wave effect for the background, the water levels also have water swaying back and forth.

Amiga/CD32 - The player, and enemy animations are much better here than they were in the Mega Drive game, everything seems to have more frames, and there's just tons of charm in the game. Some of the main examples I can think of are that here the turtle has an extra yelping animation as it jumps out of the lava, the bird boss waves a white flag after you defeat him, and the shark leaps out of the water on the "Wacky Waterfalls" stage (this was actually noticeably odd on the Mega Drive game, as all you got was a fin going back and forth). Outside of those, Reggie (the weird dog-thing) has extra animation for winning the bonus levels, he gets sick if you eat all the fruit, and he pees on the statue of Chuck Sr.

The background animations here are much weaker than they were in the Mega Drive game, the lava does a much more simplistic colour cycling animation, there are no embers, and there's no wavy heat or water effects for those levels.

This section is actually a hard one to judge, as essentially it comes down to traditional, quality animation vs flashy effects. I think I'll have to give it to the Mega Drive as its lava levels are particularly impressive.

  Winner Is: Draw between Mega Drive and Mega CD

Mega Drive/Mega CD - The main scrolling is smooth, and the backgrounds often have ten odd layers of parallax, which is more than most platformers on Mega Drive have! (more than most of any games on Mega Drive really), even the vertically scrolling tree levels have absolutely tons of parallax.

Amiga/CD32- The main scrolling here is fairly smooth, but not quite as good as the Mega Drive game.

Unlike the parallax filled Mega Drive version, this has the ground, one layer of background parallax, and one layer of foreground parallax. I think this set-up still looks very cool in itself to be honest, and I think the foreground parallax is a nice touch. The last set of levels for both Mega Drive, and Amiga only have the same one layer of parallax.

  Winner Is: Mega Drive

Mega Drive - The quality of the music is actually very, very good here, definitely some of the more impressive music on the system. The sound was done by celebrated sound smith Matt Furniss, who actually wrote his own sound engine for his Mega Drive games. One of the especially noteworthy compositions here is the one for the lava levels.

Amiga - The music here is pretty good, its the same compositions as the Mega Drive game, but it tends to sound a little sparser, and less complex here, the Mega Drive music also sounded a bit clearer.

Mega CD - All the music for this version was completely re-done to take advantage of the CD format, as such it makes my job much harder as I'm judging a whole bunch of different songs across multiple levels.

Firstly, obviously the quality is much higher here, its CD audio we're talking about! and also, this has more tracks too (Butterfly grove shared music with Wacky Waterfalls originally, but each has a different composition here).

Where it comes to the songs themselves though Its harder to make a judgment, the new music for the lava levels especially seems inferior to how it was on the Mega Drive (personally I think the music managed to fit the stages much better in that instance), my opinion of the "Dippy the Dinosaur" music is mixed (it now sounds more like a Beach Boys, or Jan & Dean song), and to be honest I think I prefered the old bonus stage music too, on the upside though I definitely prefer the new first level music here, as well as the new "Fruit Mountain" track.

Overall I'd say composition wise the two are fairly equal, with different versions sounding better on different levels, but with the higher quality of the CD audio, plus the higher number of tracks this just about edges a lead here.

CD32 - This is the same as the Mega CD version, but it has additional tracks on top of the ones added to that version, as here "Fruit Mountain" has different music to the two snow levels, and "Smelly Sewers" has different music to "Car Factory" too, leading this version to have the highest number of unique tunes out of all the versions.

  Winner Is: CD32
  Sound FX

Mega Drive - The sound effects here are good, and do the job respectably but I don't think they quite live up to the other versions (the burning turtle's yelp really isn't that good for example), and there are also some seemingly unpolished areas (Jr's idle animation for instance has him turning to the camera and moving his mouth, but saying nothing).

Mega CD - Many, but not all of the sound effects from the Amiga game have been added to this version, there are also a few new sound effects, and changes to the existing ones (mainly noticeable were the belching, and growling sfx).

Out of the new sound effects the growl is pretty good, whilst the belching noise is just annoying (it actually plays over, and over during the course of one of the stages). The jump sound effect for the animal helpers is still absent, and the sound effect for the enemies when they take damage is still inferior to the Amiga versions.

Amiga - This version has very, very good sound effects, the sound effects add a lot of charm to the game and are diverse and varied. Some examples of differences between this version and the Mega Drive version are that Jr says "come on" during his idle animation, the rideable creatures exclaim when they jump (I particularly liked this sound effect), and the turtle, and growling centipedes have much, much better sound effects.

CD32 - The same as the Amiga version.

  Winner Is: Draw between Amiga, and CD32

Mega Drive - Chuck Rock II is your general platform game really, Chuck Jr has to navigate through the levels jumping over hazards and dispatching the enemies with his club, some of the more interesting elements in the game are the animal helpers, which you can jump onto and ride for short periods of time. Outside of the main levels there are a few stages which try some different things, there's a lava level where the tree sways back and forth (with a nice rotation effect), and there's a stage where you have to ride a run-away moose as he slides through the snow.

Amiga - For the most part this plays very similarly to the Mega Drive game, but there are quite a few areas where it deviates from its counterpart, most of the level layouts actually have the occasional difference here, and there are some exclusive stages, whilst some other stages seen in the Mega Drive game are absent.

Unlike the Mega Drive game, this has 4 stages in the first level (the Mega Drive misses Amiga's stage 3), the 3rd stage on the Amiga had you jumping around in a specific Triceratops stage, whilst in the Mega Drive version the Triceratops was featured in what is the Amiga 4th stage, with that stage's layouts also slightly altered (in the Mega Drive stage for instance the rock fall section doesn't take place, and some of the platforms are in different places).

On the other hand though the Mega Drive's "The Lava Tree" stage is not featured in this version, and this was quite an impressive stage, with a tree rotating back and forth whilst sinking into lava.

The two other major changes here are to the Ostrich Stage (part 2 of "Butterfly Grove"), and the Moose stage ("Meet Morgan Moose"). The Ostrich section in the Mega Drive version kind of felt like a bonus stage, it was fast, full of candy, and had very few hazards and enemies, here its more like a normal level and you have to be more careful on it. The Moose stage on Mega Drive had you careening down a mountain on a run-away moose, here the stage has been replaced with a different level that has you riding around on the goat again, and its a more traditional platforming stage.

In the Mega Drive game the "Spooky Cave" stage has a limited field of vision (you can only see a small circle in around you), whilst in this version you can see the whole screen fine, and they've added a proper background in.

Lastly, the two tree stages are busier, and more interesting in this version than they were in the Mega Drive game, here there's a lot more going on, with spiders swinging on webs, and hands throwing rocks at you from holes in the wall.

Outside of the main points, enemies tend to take more hits to kill on this version, and the huge birds have an attack where they try to poo on you (they sit and do nothing in the Sega versions), whilst some of the bosses have simpler attack patterns (Ozric the Octopus, and Sergei the Sea Slug in particular), and you have to face enemies to hit them (in the Mega Drive game you could exploit the fact that you can get multiple hits by facing away from the enemy).

So, the question is, how do I feel about all the differences? well, I'd say overall the Amiga probably got the short end of the stick, its not a decisive victory or anything, its just that "The Lava Tree", and "Meet Morgan Moose" were stages which broke from the norm somewhat, and whilst the Amiga's replacements are pretty cool, they're less unique. Where it comes to the rest, the tree stages are better on Amiga in my opinion (those stages were actually a bit dull on Mega Drive), and Spooky Cave is pretty comparable in gameplay (its pacier on Amiga, but the Mega Drive version is more tense).

Winner Is: Draw between Mega Drive and Mega CD

Mega Drive - For the presentation this is not really that great, there's a pretty nice menu screen with loads of parallax clouds, but outside of that there's just a between-levels picture of Jr (which I might add is hideous, and makes him look like he's carved out of wood). This version has no intro.

Amiga - The menu screen is still here, and they've removed the ugly between-levels picture. This version has a new slide show intro which explains the plot of the game, and is done to a very good standard.

Amiga CD32/Mega CD - These versions have replaced the slide show intro with a fully animated intro.

Winner Is: Draw between CD32, and Mega CD

This could well be the most subjective comparison I've done so far. The two main versions here have very different strengths, and probably appeal to different types of people, if you like detailed pixel art and attention to detail in your character and enemy animations then the Amiga games could well be the one for you, if you like flashy effects and lots of colour and parallax then the Mega Drive versions are probably the ones to go for.

For me personally, I think that a game like this (which is not exactly brimming with originality in the gameplay department) needs something to make it stand out, and for me the humour, and charm is one of the only things which push this game into the "above average" bracket, I simply find both the Amiga versions more likeable overall, whilst I find the flashy Sega versions to be a little bit overly brash and ugly on some stages. Outside of those subjective preferences, in my opinion the CD32 version definitely has the best sound of all the versions, both music, and sfx, no question.

  Overall Winner Is: CD32
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