The Retro Critic


Ah Cool World.

My childhood wouldn’t have been complete without the nightmares and headaches caused by this bizarre little partly-animated flick. A big fan of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? at the time, despite how terrifying Christopher Lloyd’s Judge Doom truly was, I expected the Brad Pitt-starring cartoon film noir to really be the next best thing but it just freaked me out.

Something tells me I might enjoy it more re-watching it today though, we’ll see.

I never played any Cool World game back in the day because, as far as I was concerned, Cool World was evil and needed to die. But, after having tracked down a copy of the Game Boy game since and giving it a go, I can finally confirm that…

Cool World is evil and needs to die.

Or that one game, at least.

Now I’ll give it that: it probably has the best Game Boy opening ever.

: O

Wait, wasn’t the Game Boy for kids?

I… don’t think she’s wearing any pants.

Let me see the cover, this can’t be right…


Man, really need to re-watch that movie.

Jessica Not Rabbit’s little opening dance here is as good as the game gets, my friends. That’s the highlight, right there. Then it’s title card and we begin our first “wave” (stage).

Now the first thing you’ll notice is that the game looks butt-ugly. Like, what kind of level design is that? Is this meant to be Brad Pitt? What are all these things running and floating all around you? Where are you meant to go? What are you meant to do?

At first, I was just going around shooting everything and subsequently got massacred by floating heads. As it turns out, you are actually meant to do just that except that when you shoot something, it turns into some kind of ink ball and unless you bounce on it or suck it up, your enemy turns into a floating head and comes back to mess you up. So you run around, you keep repeating the same process over and over, you pick up anything you see bouncing around and, when you’re all done, you just gotta enter the weird vortex anus thing…

And it’s wave 2 time.

The actual plot of the game involves you trying to stop the nasty “Doodles” from screwing up the balance between the real world and the cartoon world, hence the pen and the ink that you use to destroy them.

Still not sure what the giant fruits are about, though…

Wave 2 is the same deal except you’re in a slightly different location. It’s exactly the same stuff throughout the entire game in fact except, of course, enemies get faster, bigger and more plentiful as it goes on. This makes the game very repetitive and it’s so unpleasant to look at that I really don’t see why you would put yourself through such an ordeal.

Trust me, the reward is SO not worth it.

Told ya.

The enemies you face are about as strange as you’d expect from a Cool World game.

From these guys:

To these big-ass dudes:

To Big Baby:

And whatever these are:

Not to mention that “terrifying” final boss:

They just get weirder and weirder.

The final boss is actually pretty straight forward to get rid off. He just bounces around from one side of the screen to the other and since you’ve got the whole location to yourself, it’s just a matter of walking below him whenever possible and shooting the entire time. No big challenge, really.

Hell, the real challenge is making it this far without leaving and playing something else!

Now I just need to mention one odd thing about this game.

You remember Dr Franken? Yeah, well the character you play as in Cool World is basically a smaller, uglier version of Franky from that other Game Boy game!

It’s similarly animated, the sound effects you hear when grabbing stuff or getting hit are almost exactly the same and the animation on the character when he dies is identical.

Why would Cool World rip-off Dr Franken?!

I mean, sure the latter is a superior game in every way but it’s such a random game to steal from. Then again, your character is called “Frank”…

Basically all this does is make me want to play Dr Franken again, at least I can tell what things are in that one!

All in all, Cool World makes that NES Roger Rabbit game look like Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s just so unappealing both visually and in terms of gameplay. It really isn’t clear what you’re meant to do so unless you’ve read the instructions, you’ll just be running around aimlessly and dying over and over again. It’s a great example of a game lazily downgraded from its original version rather than being properly adapted to the system at hand. This is a game that, as it is, needs texture and color; otherwise, you simply can’t make out what most of the stuff you’re looking at even is! If you’ve seen the movie you can guess but where’s the fun in that? A completely new Cool World game should have been designed specifically for the Game Boy, a straight-forward side-scroller where you’re going around inking Doodles and making your way to those vortexes. Simple but effective.

I’d say if you really want to try the game, play it on the Commodore 64. It looks way better.