If you’re new to the Random NES segment then here’s how it goes: a random NES game is pulled from a large hat and then it gets the review treatment. This week’s game is Hook. A loose cart of the game goes for just a bit less than 10 bucks, so it’s not one of those coveted carts. This is not a game that I’m very familiar with. In fact, Hook or Peter Pan isn’t a story I’m familiar with. I was brought up on movies like Terminator, my parents did not buy into the whole Disney thing. But anyway, I don’t remember renting this or ever playing this one, so it’s a brand new experience. It’s never a good thing when the nostalgia factor is zero when it comes to reviewing NES games, because I find that so many games are a bit tough to take in the year 2020.

Hook is a platforming game that has us players looking for items in a maze-like room. Once we collect all the items, we can exit the room. The game is equipped with an overworld map, but not a great one. It’s basically a compass that acts as a menu for us to select a stage. The game defies the nature of linear progression by allowing us to choose our path. But it’s not like Megaman where we get a power up after completing a level. So, I don’t find Hook’s progression system to be anything special. Also, this is a hard game that requires some muscle memory, which means patience is needed. Patience needed for the many tries. There is a continue in the main menu, so the game is forgiving. And there isn’t some password system, I think it’s a battery in the cart system (I’m educatedly guessing here, I don’t have the cart).

As usual, as with most NES games, the game doesn’t show us what to do when it comes to playing the game. We’re suppose to read the manual. But this is the age of emulation, so no books. We’re left to either look on the internet of figure it out ourselves. I choose to figure it out myself and I never felt like I did. There are random items placed around the room and I don’t know what any of them do. The cooked turkey is obviously health. I figured that one out. There’s a stage with basketballs scattered though out with hoops. I assumed we have to stop worrying about saving children and drain a couple free throws. The devs didn’t even animate the net so there’s is no satisfaction in nailing the shots.

Peter Pan’s attack is a knock on the whole game. He has a micro sword, and he does a stabbing motion but he never hits anything. There is no collision when we stab a pirate. Or, maybe there is a collision but no feedback, which is even worse. Little things like that make me feel that this game was an afterthought. The SNES game was made, but many kids (like myself) didn’t have an SNES till later, so the powers in charge wanted an NES version.

The platforming is fun, for a few minutes. The jump was designed close to being too loose, it’s kind of like we are on the moon. But it works. The graphics are fine, but the inability to defend ourselves with ease when the stabbing sprite is clearly in the game annoys me. The feedback system is lazy: I would find my health bar draining, but Peter just stands there like everything is zen. Middle of the road game.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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