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Ren & Stimpy: Quest for the Shaven Yak

Genre: Platform Developer: Real Time Associates Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1994

My Game Gear was an integral piece of my childhood. It helped pass the time on long family trips where I found myself counting the hours until I returned back home. I didn’t have a ton of Game Gear Games, but one of those I did have was Ren & Stimpy: Quest for the Shaven Yak. Playing this game on a cold Pasadena street waiting for the Rose Parade to start brings back fond memories, but how does it stack up nearly 20 years later?

This is a platform game, so the game play is straightforward. You choose either Ren or Stimpy and move from left to right over five levels in your quest to find the Shaven Yak. For a licensed title, the detail throughout the game really shows the amount of care the developers put into it. Some examples are rubber nipples acting as your life bar that gets replenished by collecting different icons depending on the level (TVs on level one, Canteens on level two, etc). If you collect an upgraded weapon, it serves as a free “hit,” where an enemy hits you and you will only lose the weapon, not health. The attacks of each character are different initially, (Ren throws toothbrushes, Stimpy hocks up hairballs) but can be upgraded items that are dependent on the stage, the upgraded weapons will bring more damage and different throwing arcs. Stimpy can access different areas through his butt stomp, while Ren has a super jump. Either way, the game is very easy to pick up and play with each character presenting his own unique way to play the game. The differences are small in their unique abilities but can change how you go about playing the game and what areas you can access throughout the stages. The levels are fairly linear, and except for some twist and turns, they are pretty standard. Expect a lot of jumping onto moving logs, but if taken slowly there isn’t much that will post a challenge.

Quest for the Shaven Yak is very faithful to the show on which it is based. The graphics are large and detailed, with both Ren and Stimpy resembling their TV counterparts fairly accurately. The art style is simple and bright, much like the show, and that atmosphere comes through well throughout the game. Small touches like pausing the game shows only the character eyes on a dark screen while returning to the game shows you catching the character off guard. The power-ups are powdered toast and TV remotes – the TV helmet makes your character invincible while “Happy Happy, Joy Joy” plays through the tinny speaker. The attention to detail is really well done in this title and shows that not all licensed games have to be terrible.

The music is very well done for the system, with recognizable TV tunes being the core of the soundtrack. The sound FX on the other hand, aren’t very numerous, but they do the job at conveying what is going on. This game won’t win any music awards, but this is the Game Gear so the job it does is very admirable.

The only real complaint some may have is that the game is well, boring. The challenges really aren’t there. Every three stages there is a boss whose pattern is fairly rudimentary and won’t take you long to figure out. With patience and some careful jumping, the enemies and platforming will pose little to no threat to you as you reach the end of the stage. That may seem like a bad thing, but to me it really isn’t. Sometimes the best games are ones that have a some challenge but allow you to enjoy the game in its entirety. The game is full of so many small details for fans of the show to appreciate and with the amount of care the developers put into this game to make it feel like a Ren & Stimpy TV episode makes it a very enjoyable experience. It isn’t overly challenging and the control is spot on. This is a game you can throw on and enjoy from beginning to end due to its solid game play and enjoyable presence. 20 years later, Ren & Stimpy: Quest for the Shaven Yak is a solid title that fans of Game Gear platforming should not miss out on.

SCORE: 7 out of 10

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