Reviews Archive

Cool Spot

    Mega Drive SNES Amiga  
    cool spot sprite on genesis cool spot sprite on snes cool spot sprite on amiga  
    cool spot on genesis cool spot on snes cool spot on amiga  
    cool spot level 4 on genesis cool spot sprite on snes cool spot sprite on amiga
    cool spot level 5 on megadrive cool spot level 5 on snes cool spot level 5 on amiga  

Mega Drive - A fairly good level of detail overall, though on occasion some of the backgrounds can tend to look a little un-inspired, and bland. Some backgrounds have big scrolling backdrops which look pretty impressive (such as the 1st level's clouds and the 2nd level's boat which dips up and down), and there's a selection of different graphical effects, like the moving water in "Wading Around", and the swaying effect in the score count screen, but many of the other levels just tend to use relatively simple repeating patterns.

One of the more disappointing elements to the background graphics is that after the halfway point of the game the backgrounds start to get recycled, with you having to play through another toy shop level, another seaside level, another warehouse level, and another harbour level.

SNES - The graphics in this version have had numerous improvements made, I would say that the SNES wins out in graphics in around 60% of the levels, with many new elements and details having been added, such as a walkman in the first level (see first screen shot), and a spotlight effect for the third, the balloons are now properly transparent as well.

The backgrounds of the fourth level (Wading Around) and bonus stages have been completely re-done. The bonus levels especially look much better here, but "Wading Around" is more of a case of different, than superior (that level is also missing the original's water effects).

Apart from the graphical improvements there are a few downgrades, the screen is noticeably bordered at the top and bottom, the resolution is lower, and the graphics are horizontally stretched (compare the see-able screen area between the Mega Drive and SNES on screenshots 2 and 3), though other than in the Toy Shop level (see below) I don't feel that the stretched graphics are really that noticeable here.

In regards to the other 40% of levels, The harbour levels ("Pier Pressure" and "Dock and Roll") look comparable, but the boat in the background has been downgraded and is much smaller than before, and the toy shop levels ("Toying Around" and "Wound Up") I feel are worse, the aforementioned screen stretching causes the background elements to be much further apart than usual, which gives this stage an empty look to it, and the detail level is lower (check out the shading on the 3rd screen shot down, the playing cards are cruder now, and the background toys no longer have shadows).

Amiga - This version's graphics are pretty awful truth be told. The foreground graphics are alright for the most part, but most of the levels have backgrounds which are very pixilated, sketchy, and generally have an unfinished look to them.

Most of the background textures are absent, being replaced by a boring looking copper background (I've seen the Amiga do much better copper backgrounds than this), and this version also has a noticeably lower frame rate.

  Winner is: SNES  

Mega Drive - I'd say that the colour use is pretty good here, everything is quite realistically coloured, and apart from the "Off the Wall" levels you never really notice low colour counts.

SNES - The colour use has been improved, though not by a substantial degree.

The most important thing is that some of the colours have been better blended (check the clouds on the first screen shot). Apart from that though, most of the newer elements are fairly trivial (a few different coloured balloons here, some different coloured enemies there), in fact they're often so trivial that it feels as though the developer is adding in colours just for the sake of adding in more colours, take the toy levels for instance (3rd screen shot down) the background toys look to me to have had their colours changed around for no reason, with the rodent-like toy now an ill-fitting shade of green.

Amiga - Just like in the detail section, the colour in this version looks far worse than in the console ports. Instead of the detailed colour use of the console ports, here we often have simple colour transitions (such as the green/blue mix seen in the screen shots above) which are overlaid on top of the sketchy background artwork.

  Winner is: SNES  

Mega Drive - The animation work in Cool Spot is extremely impressive, the actions all look very fluid and contain loads of charm, there's also a very high number off different animations (there's a ton of standing actions alone).

All in all I'd have to say that Cool Spot probably contained the absolute best animation available at the time of its release.

SNES - Very impressive, but I did notice that a few of the animations were cut down or removed from this version.

Amiga - The lower frame rate makes the animations look a little worse, but its not bad.

  Winner Is: Mega Drive  

Mega Drive - Cool Spot on Mega Drive implements the general Dave Perry scrolling which appeared in most of his Mega Drive games, characterised by extremely fast horizontal movement and smooth, slower vertical movement. This scrolling can take a little bit of time to get used to and can be disorientating at first, but does suit fast action quite well.

SNES - This version contains a more conventional style of scrolling and is easier to get to grips with, though I think this scrolling may be slightly less well suited to action.

Many of the levels have extra parallax added to them, the best of which would have to be "Wading Around" which looks much more 3D now. On the other side though I have to say that I feel the added parallax to "Toying Around" (that level again?!) actually hurts the stage, every time I played that level I had the feeling that something was wrong with the perspective, eventually it occurred to me that the shelves should obviously be attached to the walls but the parallax moves so fast for the shelves that they appear to be floating in mid air, making the stage look weird.

Amiga - This version scrolls in a similar manner to the Mega Drive original, though not anywhere near as smoothly, unlike the SNES port it does not contain any added parallax.

  Winner Is: SNES  

Mega Drive - Cool Spot's music contains a very eclectic range of different musical styles, all of which manage to be handled with aplomb by the Mega Drive sound chip. This game was pretty much the benchmark for Mega Drive sound when it came out, with the game winning much accolade within the video game community. Its acclaimed sound smith Tommy Talarico did an extremely good job of getting the Mega Drive sound chip to play clear samples of real world instruments, and there are few games on the system which live up to its sound use.

SNES - In what must've been a first for the SNES at the time, here we have sampled music which sounds much lower in quality to its Mega Drive counterpart (sampled music is usually the SNES chip's forte). The sound of this version is quite simply just not as rich or clear as it was in the Mega Drive version. There also seems to be fewer music tracks as the music which plays after you finish a level is absent from this version.

Amiga - Alright, but certainly not up to the standards of the console versions. The quality is quite high but the sound is much sparser and has a lot less going on. Also, adding to the problems is the fact that the sound effects actually stop elements of the music from playing, so while you're firing at the enemies the music sounds even cruder. Just like in the SNES version, the "level finish" track is also missing here.

  Winner Is: Mega Drive  
  Sound FX  

Mega Drive - Another impressive job! They really managed to squeeze in tons of different high quality sound effects, even many of the minor elements often have their own sound effects no matter how trivial (such as the rubber ducks squeaking when jumped on)

SNES - The sound effects used have been changed in this version. There's fewer sound effects here in comparison to the Mega Drive original. Some of the ones I noticed which were missing were the sound effects for both the rubber ducks and frogs on "Wading Around". Where it comes to the sound effects that did make the cut, I think I slightly prefer them here, but not by much and its certainly not to a level where it offsets all the missing sounds effects.

Amiga - The sound effects here are taken from the Mega Drive original, they're not all here but more of them managed to make the cut than in the SNES port.

  Winner Is: Mega Drive  

Mega Drive - Cool Spot is an exploration based platform game, the aim is to search through the stages collecting "spots" (you can only finish the level when at least 60% of them have been found). The game also contains a lot of climbing and shooting action with you dispatching the enemies with an 8-way firing bubble shot. If you manage to find 85% of the spots in any level, at the end of it you get to play a fun bonus stage which has you bouncing around on bubbles at high speed.

SNES - Firstly, due to the exploratory nature of the game the smaller screen area here has an even more detrimental effect than usual as it not only creates the usual added problems with leaps of faith (especially in stages like "Wading Around"), but also makes searching for the spots a lot more time consuming, as you tend to have to walk all the way to the edges of the levels when before you'd just be able to see that an area contained no spots and move on.

The gameplay in this version generally has a slower pace, the character walks, jumps and climbs much slower than before. Going back to the spotlight I mentioned earlier in the graphics section, I feel that whilst looking nice this effect actually damages the gameplay in the levels which use it, limiting the screen area in a game which is so focused on exploring not only makes searching for spots more time consuming, but also creates a claustrophobic atmosphere.

My last point is going to take quite a bit of explaining so bear with me. As a game the original Cool Spot always contained a slow pace which focused on the systematic searching of the spots and destroying of the enemies, this slow pace was offset by the fact that you knew that when a spot had been collected it would not need to be collected again, and when an enemy was destroyed it was out of the picture for good. Unfortunately this is not entirely the case with this SNES version, if you die in a stage here, all the enemies of that level return, due to this one difference you feel much less willing to spend time killing every enemy in a level, as there's always a niggling thought that it will all be for naught if you end up losing a life. This also makes losing a life in this version a far more frustrating and (again) time consuming experience overall.

Amiga - The gameplay here is much slower and the frame rate makes it feel a little bit less playable, but all in all this plays relatively close to the original version. The only thing I would bring up is that the bonus stage here, with its lower frame rate feels a little bit off in comparison to the console games.

Winner Is: Mega Drive

Mega Drive - There are quite a few nice elements included in Cool Spot. You see him jumping behind the Sega logo at the start of the game, pulling the Virgin Logo along, riding a bottle of 7-up in the intro, and checking a map between levels.

SNES - This version has a similar amount of presentation to the Mega Drive version, though there are differences.

Instead of jumping behind the Sega logo you see Cool Spot trying to pull himself up, but falling back, and the Virgin logo section is slightly worse, everything else however has been improved and definitely looks nicer, the 7-up surfing intro is longer, the instructions screen more animated, and the menu screen improved.

Amiga - Similar to the Mega Drive version, but the quality is much lower.

Winner Is: SNES



Firstly the Amiga version is out of the running. The dodgy graphics and frame rate really drag this version down and give it a very unfinished feel, and there's not really anything extra here to set it apart from the console versions.

Between the console versions. Although the SNES wins out in graphics in the largest part of the stages (not all though) it falls down in sound, and especially in gameplay. The gameplay in this case is inferior by just too much of a degree, its to an extent that it does actually hurt the overall experience, making this version feel a little more tedious than before.

  Overall Winner Is: Mega Drive  
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