Genre: Compilation Developer: Leland Interactive Media Publisher: Tradewest Players: 1 Released: 1993
With an irritatingly abbreviated title and vague cover art, you may not be sure what to expect from Fun ‘N’ Games. What you get when you plug the cart in is a set of kiddie mini-games. I can already hear you groaning, but hold your patience! Maybe this compilation will actually be… good?
You navigate through an interesting animated toy-house featuring an anthropomorphized jukebox, arcade cab, easel, chest of drawers, and toy-box. All are cute and inviting and much more interesting than simply picking from a menu, as a more cheaply-designed game would be tempted to do.
There are five main sections to the game, and I’ll detail them separately.
The game features a very robust painting program, featuring a fairly vast array of stickers as well as preset coloring pages. You can use thin-lined pencils, thick markers, and spray paints as well as a huge variety of colors and patterns, making for all sorts of wacky fun like purple plaid cows and pink-checkered race cars. The variety allows for a better drawing experience. There’s both an eraser and a do-over button. You can choose different soundtracks while you doodle. You can even zoom in and out for tiny details if you so choose.
While you won’t be able to recreate the Mona Lisa on your Genesis system, it’s actually possible to create something that doesn’t look like nightmare garbage or a poor Jackson Pollock imitation. It even supports the Mega Mouse if you happen to have one lying around. But as usual, there is no way to export or save your masterpiece beyond taking a picture of your TV screen. This program by itself blows both Art Alive and Wacky Worlds out of the water for best art game on the system. But wait! There’s more…
A fairly involved music simulator on your Genesis? Who would have thought? Now sure, it’s not an actual synthesizer or even an instructing program like the Miracle Piano cart. It’s a primitive music editor that operates in much the same way modern studio programs do, allowing you to place notes on a music bar and then play them back to a beat.
You can simulate a full band with bass/snare drums, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, bass, banjo, marimba, trumpet, saxophone, violin, and flute (complete with sharp and flat notes for each instrument)! They even give you the option of including joke sounds like animal noises, screams, and explosions. You know, just in case your awesome 16-bit guitar solo needed a background soundtrack of a hostile takeover by the animal kingdom.
The recordings are decent, but most instruments come out sounding like synthesized mish-mash. However, that’s more of the fault of the system not being equipped to emulate horns or stringed instruments beyond heavily distorted guitars. Still, though, it is a valiant effort put forth by the programmers, and makes this worth a look even for those of us out of grade school. You can pick differently-timed background beats to underscore your notes, and choose from slow, medium, or fast tempo. Once again, there is no way to save your 16-bit recreation of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, but at least you’ll have fun creating it!
Mouse Maze – This is the best mini-game, and it’s just a weak Pac-Man ripoff with cutesy graphics reminiscent of Flicky. Instead of power pellets, you’re collecting inexplicably wriggling blocks of cheese that bear a strange resemblance to pizza slices. Snatching the bone power-up briefly transforms you into an invincible, cheerful dog that can mow down any cat in his way. Yay for animal-on-animal violence! Mouse Maze finally answers the age-old question “If you give a mouse a bone… he’ll turn into a dog and eat cats for breakfast.” Take that, Animal Planet!
There are 20 levels, but none of them are even remotely very difficult, though I suppose that might be counted as a plus, since the game is targeted at such a young audience. The AI cats are a joke, and they don’t seem to hunt down your mouse as much as accidentally bump into him every now and then. Mouse Maze controls fine and is fun for what it is.
Space Lazer – A fairly boring first-person space-shooting game that brings up some bad memories of Warpspeed by Accolade. There’s not much meat to this game besides mindless shooting and asteroid dodging. Not much fun involved, either. A yawn-fest.
Whack-O-Clown – This is your standard Whack-a-Mole type game. About the only interesting thing about it is the satisfying scream of pain when you bop the clown on the head. Seriously, listen to him yowl! Now you too can join in the fun of inflicting head trauma on helpless painted men on your Sega Genesis! The controls are hindered by the limits of the Genesis controller, leading to a quick playing experience. After a few minutes, you’ll simply hit the exit button.
After the other sections of the game, this part feels kind of like a letdown. You alternate the clothing on a doll and can change the colors and patterns. This is a far cry from letting you role-play Ralph Lauren (or even Ed Hardy). It’s basically like the create-a-player screen in The Sims, but without the actual game-play and with much uglier clothing options. Still, not a horrible addition to a cart with all the other little mini-games.
As with the Style section, this is another lackluster “game” that seemed thrown in at the last minute. It merely consists of mixing and matching the heads, bodies, and legs of different characters until you match them all correctly. What would be merely boring for kids is unbearably lame for the adults. Take a pass on this one.
So, what we have here is essentially the precursor to those 10 Party Games in One for the Wii that usually end up in the bargain bins of GameStop, except this one is squared straightly for the six-and-under crowd. That doesn’t mean it’s bad; it just has limited appeal nowadays.
Fun ‘N” Games features both the best painting program in the system’s library as well as the only music editor, with a couple of cheap mini-games and a Barbie doll simulator to round out the package. Those with young children or children at heart may safely add a point or two to the overall score. It may not have you feverishly searching eBay for a complete copy, but if you’re pining for a good drawing program for your Sega Genesis in 2016 (and who isn’t?) look no further than Fun ‘N’ Games!
SCORE: 6 out of 10