Genre: Other Developer: Dragons Team Publisher: Realtec Players: 1 Released: 1992
When I ask people if they have heard of Whac-A-Critter, they give me this “deer in the headlights” look and reply “what are you talking about?” Actually, I get that look when I mention Realtec in general and rightfully so, because it was one of the most obscure companies to develop games for the Genesis. It was responsible for programming four mediocre games that date back to the early ’90s but never saw the light of day until the end of the Genesis’ life. Whac-A-Critter is probably the most bizarre title it made and features its most offbeat idea to be turned into a video game. Ironically, it’s also its best product. Is it a good game overall and worth your play time just because it’s Realtec’s best effort? Read on to find out?
How many of you remember back when you were a kid, playing those Whac-A-Mole games where you take a mallet and hit the critters that pop up out of the board to score points and usually earn tickets to win prizes? Well if you do then you will feel right at home with Whac-A-Critter because that’s the idea that Realtec used to make this game. This time around though, it gave it an useless story about a prince going to save his kidnapped princess and kicked the difficulty up to the levels of a god. Realtec even created a controller specifically for this game that has nine buttons!
Are you feeling the good vibes yet? Well, I felt the good vibes at first but then realized that no matter how valiantly I tried to rescue the princess, my effort was futile. The back of the box says that no one has finished the game yet and it was probably right. I can make it to the third round, and that’s it. This my, friends may quite possibly be the hardest game ever released on the Genesis/MD!
Upon starting you’ll probably realize that Whac-A-Critter has a pretty unique graphical style. The characters are brightly drawn using many pastel colors and have an art style very similar to the images seen in the stain glass windows in old churches. Once you get to an actual gameplay screen the enemies take on a look of a bizarre child’s cartoon. The graphics fortunately, are nicely drawn for this type of game, and the music and sound effects are also pretty well done. I like the music and never got tired of it thankfully, as each sound and tune are nicely done, if not a bit strange to say the least. I just can’t seem to place a style to it though.
The gameplay is where Whac-A-Critter leaves you wondering what happened here. It’s not like the horse in the race that got over the starting line and just fell over, but rather the weak one that had no energy and slowly plodded down the track to at least finish in last place while trying its hardest. First of all, the start button isn’t used at all, and you have to press A, B, or C to begin the game. It is confusing at first
There is also no way to pause at all. It’s somewhat understandable, since the game is designed for the exclusive Smash Controller with the nine buttons, and using the Genesis controller is only second rate. Once you get to the gameplay you have to hold the control pad in the direction of the enemy that pops up and press the A button to hit it. It’s also a bit confusing at first, and while I got the hang of it soon enough, it still took a long time to finish the first round. You have to score over one hundred hits on the first found with only around two minutes to do so, and halfway through the critters pop up like lightning. The trick to doing it is to hit as many critters more than once then hit another one scoring more hits. By the third stage I scored more than one hundred and forty hits and still got the game over screen, so I don’t know how many hits you need nor how it is possible to finish the game since I was hitting more than one enemy per second. The game throws some nice bonus rounds at you to break up the speed, and they are pretty fun to play, but still tough to get the end bonus.
In the end, Whac-A-Critter is a unique game. It is rare, obscure, fun and quirky at the same time, but it shows that the programmers rushed it in the end. I have yet to see the Smash Controller and even doubt its very existence. At this time I can’t comment on it much more, but if one of you own it please share some pictures. WAC by itself isn’t expensive at all, and it is actually quite fun for a while until difficulty overcomes you. The cover art is badness at its best, and all these factors make the game well worth owning, so grab a copy because it’s worth a second look.
SCORE: 5 out of 10