You know what’s a good Steven Spielberg movie? Jaws. And you know what’s not a very good Steven Spielberg movie game? JAWS.
The NES game has been reviewed countless times, even AVGN had a crack at it, but I thought I should give my take on the LJN effort following the re-release of Jaws in the UK this week.
It’s not good.
Ok, I’m jumping ahead here.
The game starts off with you directing some tiny boat over a very limited map. You soon find out that you’re going to bump into things along the way. What are you bumping into? That’s never made clear. You’d just be sailing away when the message “You’ve Hit Something!” would come up randomly. Sort of like in an RPG, you are then sent to a “battle” screen where somehow your boat disappears and you now control a dude in scuba gear going around inexplicably murdering sealife. Don’t ask me why. This includes stingrays, who aren’t after you, by the way, they’re just floating around minding their own business, jellyfish, baby sharks and, of course, Jaws.
Then it’s back to the map where you’re meant to make your way to one port then back to the other in order to collect weapons, items or gain power so you can eventually fight Jaws properly instead of harpooning it endlessly, barely draining its life bar. As your power increases, your enemies get more annoying: the jellyfish start floating in stupid patterns, the baby sharks never stop following you around and Jaws just lumbers around back and forth until the game gets bored and decides to randomly bannish you back to the map.
You pick up shells along the way which allow you to enter those ports, which is dumb because that usually means purposely going around looking for something to bump into. I mean, can you imagine if that was the plot of Spielberg’s film? Some guy in a boat on a mission to find stingrays to slam into and harpoon?
No one would go see that shit!
By the way, remember in the movie all these great, interesting, iconic characters? The nerdy marine scientist, the friendly cop, the old badass sailor dude? Yeah, forget about them: according to this game the cast of Jaws consists of an empty boat and the contents of a paella. Half the time I felt like I was in the bath playing with a toy sailboat. Actually, you do get the chance to pick up a mini sub at some point which makes the underwater bits slightly easier and during the occasional “Bonus Scene” you’re controlling a plane, dumping bombs on jellyfish because…
Jellyfish are assholes, I don’t know…
The game itself, if you look at it on its own, isn’t TOO bad. There’s some variety there, it’s colourful enough… except you can’t look at it as its own thing because it’s Jaws! You expect certain things from a game based on a classic like this one: characters, suspense, blood, the Jaws theme (I’m not counting the lame homage in the start-up menu) and basically a generally gripping game which mixes both adventure and horror, staying true to the spirit of Spielberg’s blockbuster throughout. I’m thinking first-person shooter on a boat where you go around helping swimmers to not get munched on with Jaws kicking ass every so often, add to that some subtle gore and cut scenes with the dudes from the movie, a rough storyline… and you’ve got yourself a game!
Or this, this is fine! On the PS2: you ARE Jaws.
It’s messed up.
But no. Jaws on the NES is more concerned with collecting crabs and harpooning random sharks in the mouth. That’s weird, by the way, collecting crabs. Shouldn’t crabs be part of the stuff you’re shooting at rather than stuff you put in your pocket? Are crabs “good” and stingrays “bad”? Fish racism? Really? In the meantime, we’re the ones BOMBING THE SEA!
This is a repetitive, unimaginative game and although you do get into it eventually, it’s a poor excuse for a Jaws game. By the end you’ll be boiling with hate, cursing every sea creature you’ve ever seen, harpooning left and right like a nut. The music is forgettable, there’s no plot-strand to hang onto, there’s no levels and on top of that, it’s glitchy as hell.
You guys, I think Jaws might be The Thing…
Overall, not the worst NES title but certainly a disappointing attempt.
We’re gonna need a better game…