Genre: Sports Developer: Sierra Publisher: Sega Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
The Sega CD was home to some of the strangest games ever released during it’s time. Sure, the Philips CD-i and the Panasonic 3DO were a haven for every gimmicky and stupid game ever released but on the mainstream side of the gaming market the Sega CD seemed to have every weird idea that the dumped onto it that the programmers could think of. I’ve stated it several times in the past, but I really enjoy reviewing these lame and forgotten games as they’re really interesting to discover. I enjoy shining the light of day on a game that otherwise doesn’t seem to have much coverage anywhere else.
That all being said, Bouncers on the Sega CD is a really strange game that’s a mishmash of halfhearted ideas and it seems like the programmers at Dynamix came up with an idea that sounded pretty good for the most part but unfortunately, they never actually developed it into anything more than a rush job of a dull game. Bouncers is one of those types of games that would be considered lacking in content even if it was released early on in the life cycle on the NES, as it’s just a limited game full of extra fluff to make it seem like you’re getting your money’s worth.
I’m going to call Bouncers a sports game, though I’m at a loss as to what genre it’s really supposed to be. The game has you playing as one of eight basketballs (yes you are a basketball) and will pick one of eight fantasy courts where you have to play one of the other basketball opponents. The game is a total slapstick game which has an atmosphere similar to the Earthworm Jim games or the Clayfighter series. All of the courts are one screen length and you score by bouncing off your opponent and launching yourself into one of two to three hoops. Yes, some courts have three hoops; and range from an actual court with rims, one is a tropical theme where monkeys hold their hands out forming a hoop, another is a haunted house where skeletons’ rib cages form the hoop, yet another is a snow-covered cliff where the hoops are holes in the edge of the cliff. There are eight courts total and each one is different and the strategy you will play with will vary ever so slightly for each court.
The game controls pretty simply: A is jump and B is an attack. You simply try to jump and bounce off your opponent and score or dodge or attack the other ball to prevent him from scoring. There are some basic power-ups in the game, such as spring shoes to jump higher or winged boots to float around. Players can obtain several other stage specific power-ups as well, like lead boots, which you want to avoid as they make it hard to jump very high. Every once in a while, three basketball icons will bounce across the screen, and their point value varies depending which color they are. The game is played over four two-minute quarters, and then you’re off to another opponent. The controls are overly simple but also pretty stiff, and it can be tough to get used to how limited they are. The first time I played this game, I got really ticked off with how easily the computer could score points on me, but the second time I played it I figured it out and never lost. Once you figure the game out, there’s not much challenge either.
That’s about all there is to Bouncers; it’s really that stripped down and simple. To extend to life of the game the developers added some intro cartoons for each of the balls that can be viewed in the main menu and honestly they’re probably the better part of the game. Each one of the cartoons makes the balls out to be complete klutzes and are actually pretty funny. The cartoon style is similar to all of those classic 1960s space age cartoons, and I like that.
The graphics are decent for what they are. There is a fair amount of detail in the backgrounds of each stage, and the balls are animated pretty well, but everything is really grainy looking and a bit washed. They definitely don’t use anything near the full strength of the Sega CD’s resources. Additionally, the music is nothing more than adequate. Each stage is typical cheesy ’90s pop themed music, and I found myself liking some of it, but it’s nothing that I’d ever want to listen to outside of the game. You can listen to the soundtrack in a CD player or by ripping it into iTunes if you’d like as well.
The one thing that really stood out to me as really bad was the main menu. Not only does it have some of the worst music in the game, but it’s like to programmers went out of their way to drag it out to make the game feel longer. You can start the game and go through a few options and select a few game modes. You can choose to watch the intro cartoons for each character or go into the game options, which are really poorly laid out. Most games show you a single screen with a list of options to choose from or adjust settings for. In this game, each menu option has a separate screen. The first screen will have you choose which game mode you want, the next screen you choose the sound options, then the music options and so forth. It seems to drag on forever and seems like they did it just to make the game take longer to complete.
That being said, Bouncers is not very exciting to play at all. Sure, it’s amusing for a few minutes the first few times you try it, but after that you’ll realize just how shallow and rushed the game is. Bouncers is just another game that ended up in discount bins real early on and makes the Sega CD look bad. It’s a rush job and unneeded filler that never should’ve been released in the first place. The only way this would’ve worked is if the programmers spent much longer with the game and really upped the content: bigger play fields, maybe a few more characters, some deeper options and maybe even some unlockables. Even then this would still be a shallow game. The only other thing this game is notable for is that it features the voices of Mark Hamil (yes, the Mark Hamil of Star Wars fame) and Michael Bell. Their voices are a cool footnote but no they’re not enough to save this otherwise poor title.
SCORE: 3 out of 10
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i liked this one. as a single player game it gets boring pretty fast but playing with a friend/multiplayer really adds to the quality of gameplay. also, the backdrops are pretty and the music isn’t bad either. if you’re a collector, don’t let this one pass you by. i’d give it a 7/10.
You know, I played a game on the Commodore 64 that’s a lot like this. It was called “Sam & Ed.” I think it was a COMPUTE! magazine type-in. Amazing how little new content actually exists in the world…