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Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators Master System Review

It’s easy to be cynical about Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators. The game is very keen to highlight an environmentalist theme by putting you in control of a kid who has to go around cleaning up sludge-infested areas with what appears to be a squirt-gun full of some orange substance (you can interpret that one as you will). Despite this focus on defeating numerous, toxic beasties the game comes with a whacking great McDonalds logo plastered on every available space. You can’t help but wonder whether McDonalds were trying to associate themselves with a positive subject that steers away from the topics the company are so widely criticised for (e.g. unhealthy food). Regardless of cynicism the important thing you need to take away from Global Gladiators is that it’s an absolutely dreadful game.

Before we tear Global Gladiators a new one, allow me to explain what is being asked of you. As either Mick or Mack, it’s up to you to explore the different stages picking up a certain amount of ‘M’ tokens. Once you have enough you can then exit the stage which is highlighted by Ronald McDonald himself. This would be simple enough if it wasn’t for the multitude of enemies that are strewn across the stage. Using your squirt-gun you must defeat the enemies that stand in your path as well as block important tokens. There’s some light platforming that needs to be done to reach certain tokens, health items and extra lives but otherwise you simply run ‘n’ gun your way around the place collecting tokens and then clearing off once you have enough.

The big problem with putting the focus on collecting items is it requires you to explore the stage and rather infuriatingly, exploration is often met with an untimely death. The stages in Global Gladiators are not designed with exploration in mind. If you don’t use up and down on the controller to correctly scope out the area before you make a leap of faith, you will often end up falling into the abyss and losing another precious life. So much of the game relies on you taking random leaps of faith and you’ll be tearing your hair out when you accidentally jump down another unseen pit for the umpteenth time.

The other big issue Global Gladiators has is one of information. It’s incredibly difficult to tell how much health you have thanks to the rather abstract health gauge. Health is indicated by the disembodied head of your character. As you take more damage the head gets upset and then dramatically pale. When the head is as white as it could possibly go (whilst also flashing) then you can be damn certain that one more encounter with an enemy is going to be your last. It’s such a strange design decision that even as an adult it’s difficult to interpret, then you have to remember this game is targeted directly at children.

So how does this horrible mess of design choices control? Not great I’m afraid. Your character is responsive but aggravatingly twitchy and floaty. Your jump height is astronomical as well which often means you’ll jump unnervingly high into unseen foes. The game is also keen to riff on the speed of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and moving in any direction long enough will grant you a much higher top speed. This would be quite exciting if it wasn’t for the fact that enemies are so frequent that you won’t last long before you collide with one.

Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators has barely anything good going for it. It’s quite deceptive as well as it boasts some rather decent graphics for a Master System game whilst also managing to pull off music and sound effects with no trouble. It should also be commended for handling so many on-screen enemies without any serious slowdown or flicker but unfortunately it’s too infuriating to play to deserve any praise as an entertaining experience. I’m afraid Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators is banished to a special place in Hell for bizarrely licensed video games. Don’t come back now!


Written by Sonic Yoda on 06/03/2014

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