Genre: Platformer Developer: Virgin Games Publisher: Virgin Games Players: 1 Released: 1993
Like the title suggests, in Cool Spot, you get to control the cool little red spot that walks and wears a pair of shades. Seeing that this unsung celebrity has been stuck on billions of 7-up cans and has been seen in a few commercials, the makers decided that he deserved his very own video game at long last.
Your mission is to take Spot through eleven huge, good-looking levels. You will venture through dark basements full of falling spiders and rats dressed in pajamas that throw cheese at you. Play in the sand at beaches overflowing with crabs and floating balloons while the sun glistens off the ocean in the background. Brave it out in environments full of toy robots, spinning pencil tops, and jack-in-the-boxes that come alive and try to kill you with a vengeance. Jump headfirst into a stage where Spot simply tumbles down railroad tracks like a gymnast with 100 years of experience. These are just some of the things you’ll experience from playing the vastly underrated game of Cool Spot.
In each level, Spot’s objective is the same. One of his friends, creatively named Spot, is being held captive inside a locked steel cage. Spot must find his identical looking friends and free them, but every road has its curves, so he must do a few other things along the way before he can be hailed as the hero of 7-up land.
The main thing Spot will have to do in each level other than to find his way to the end where his friend is waiting, is to collect as many of the red dots, or spots (it seems like everything in this game is called ”spot”), that he can; there are a hundred of them scattered about in every level. Most of them are in the form of small, rotating red dots, but many come in the shape of a spinning 7-up icon that is worth what seven of the spots would be.
Depending on which difficulty you have it on, you must collect a certain number of spots before you can successfully free the friend. As soon as you collect enough spots, a message will flash frantically on the screen to inform you that you can now perform your rescue. However, if you’re a greedy little bastard like I am, keep collecting them even after that reminder comes up. Collect enough of them and you will get to take a trip to a fun and challenging bonus level, and you’ll have a better chance of obtaining a 1-up (not 7-up) at the end of the level.
There are many items that can be of help to Spot during his 2-D platforming rescue missions. You’ll find extra lives, clocks for putting more time on the clock (if time runs out, you lose a life of course), fizzing 7-up glasses for filling Spot up with a refreshing amount of energy, and flagpoles whose flag rises up when you touch them; they also mark where you will continue from if you happen to die in that level. Most of the spots that you collect will just count toward your percentage of spots found and will be worth a few points, but many of them will not only count toward your percentage but will also turn into a hand that points in a certain direction. These helping hands are for showing you the way in which you need to travel in order to reach the cage that holds your prized possession.
A level of Cool Spot is played just like your typical platformer. Try to collect as many spots as you can while destroying the enemies that stand in your way as you get closer to the end of the stage. Once you’ve collected enough spots and reach the cage, simply shoot the lock and watch as the cage explodes and Spot and his friend jump up and down in celebration. Spot doesn’t have any special powers, but he can shoot unlimited fizzing projectiles in twelve different directions. Imagine the 12 numbers on a clock; these are the directions in which you can shoot. This will be the only weapon you’ll be able to use throughout the game, but it’s enough!
As mentioned earlier, provided you collect enough spots as you run, jump, shoot, and explore your way through the humongous levels, you’ll get to play an engaging bonus stage. Spot will have to bounce off countless numbers of fragile bubbles and climb inside a few somewhat sturdy ones in order to make his way to the middle and upper parts of the screen where the majority of the spots are living. Again, try and collect as many spots as you can (there’s a total of 100), and most importantly, hunt down and grab the letters that spell the word that 7-up is known for: UNCOLA. Not only is it cool and fun to do, but each separate letter of the slogan gives you a continue in case the dreaded game over screen happens to show its ruthless face.
Most platformers’ bonus levels are free of enemies or obstacles that will cause you harm, but not Cool Spot‘s! In the middle to latter bonus stages, you’ll have to shoot or dodge the many spiked balls that can poke Spot full of so many holes that he dies. If you make it out alive, the bonus game will end once you collect all the spots, or once the dwindling time runs out.
Cool Spot not only plays great, it looks great. The characters have surprisingly good animation. To be cool, Spot not only wears some nice shades, but he also has a funky walk and other nice moves that you’ll see throughout the game (especially in the cinemas between stages and at the end of the game). The enemies (there are no bosses in this game, by the way) are just as well done, from the way the hermit crab’s shell flies off revealing its boxer shorts apparel when you shoot one of them, to the realistic looking flies and spiders, the characters move fluidly and they look great.
Even better are the impressive environments and beautiful backgrounds that beg you to take a good look at them as you play. In the dock stages, a gigantic ship floats up and down in the background as you climb up and down several ropes and jump from plank to plank. As you ride a toy train that features shooting cowboys and yellow birds that drop their droppings on top of your head, you can see hundreds of dolls and other toys scrolling by quickly in the background. To make it short, the backgrounds and environments fit together like a lock and key, and most of them are extremely well done. And just think, I only provided a couple of examples. Wait till you see Spot surfing in the ocean on a realistic-looking bottle of 7-up in the intro, or the nice slime effects in the backgrounds of the bonus stages!
The sounds and music tracks are no slouches either. No matter what you do, whether you bump your bald, slick head on a tough piece of wood, or whether you’re simply collecting several spots in a row, you’ll notice something about the sound effects. They all sound crisp, and they have that cartoon-sound to them, but they’re not really what I’d call cutesy. The music is even better. Like the graphics, the music selections go hand in hand with the feel and mood of your current surroundings. You’ll see what I mean when you play the very first level on the beach. Listen to that reggae tune with the steel drums as you walk and jump around amongst the sand crabs, beach chairs, and the partly cloudy skies overlooking the ocean. I swear you will feel just like you’re at the beach on a peaceful, hot summer day.
The controls are really manageable since there aren’t any complex button combinations to remember. You simply have to walk, jump, shoot, climb, and do other simple things. Spot doesn’t walk very fast, but he has an awesome jumping ability. He can jump vertically with the best of them and when he jumps to the left or right, he has enough hang time to flip several times before landing squarely on his feet.
On top of all that, Cool Spot is a challenging game, but it’s not too difficult; you can choose from three difficulty settings to adjust it to your liking before you start the game. You won’t likely beat the game without losing a life, but if you’re a seasoned platformer player, you won’t be astounded by its toughness either.
Cool Spot is a very fun and addictive one-player platformer that has everything, and I mean everything, going for it. Well, wait, there is one thing I don’t like about it. As you’re going through the game, certain levels repeat themselves, unfortunately. For instance, you’ll go through a beach level and one of the toy-filled worlds early on and have a lot of fun with them. After you get through a few more levels, you’ll have to make it through yet another beach stage, another toy stage, and so on. I’ve always looked forward to going through the second beach stage and a second basement level but going through another living toy environment and the second dock level can get a little tedious and/or boring at times.
But that little downfall isn’t half as bad as I’m making it sound; if it were an earthquake, it would register on the Richter scale (just enough to lower the score from a nine to a high eight), but it wouldn’t be that big. I always enjoy most of the levels, and the bonus stages are some of my favorites from any video game. The gorgeous graphics, the mood-fitting music, and the addictiveness and fun that Cool Spot has to offer makes it a must-have title for any platformer fan. That leads one to wonder why the game was named Cool Spot instead of Awesome Spot!
SCORE: 8 out of 10