The Retro Critic


Why anyone would go through the trouble of making a Cliffhanger game is beyond me.

I mean, the film’s fine and all but it’s not exactly for kids and its plot doesn’t really lend itself to video games so the fact that they made not just one but several Cliffhanger games is pretty odd to me.

All that said, let’s take a look at some of the different game versions based on Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Mountains-set early 90’s flick.

First, the original Game Boy version.

Now, if you look at the image above, you’ll notice that no effort whatsoever was put into the game’s title card. I can’t even tell what that shadowy figure at the top of the screen is meant to be! Sadly, the rest of the game is pretty much just as lazy. A side-scroller, you play as Sly’s character as he embarks on a truly thrilling adventure that, surely, every kid back in the day must have been really excited about! Plane CrashThere’s a plane crash during a heist, Stallone and a bunch of terrorists survive and they all go and try to find various bags full of money which were lost all over the mountains.

Hm, how do you simplify that for younger gamers?Cliffhanger MoneyI guess having big, cartoonish Alex Kidd-style bags of cash as big as you lying around all over the levels is one way to do it!

As you can tell, the game didn’t really go all out to try and look as good as possible. Visually, it’s so bland that it’ll probably put you to sleep by the time you finish the first level. If there’s one thing I remember about the movie is how action-packed and entertaining it was.

This game is just… not that.

It’s pretty childish in fact, most of the time you’re either attacking wolves: Cliffhanger Wolf   Or punching eagles in the face: Cliffhanger GB BirdThe animation on your character is pretty weird in that it’s about one frame too long. If you’re trying to turn from right to left you have to face the screen for a second before you can do that. In a game that’s otherwise lazily put together and not detailed at all, it feels a bit awkward. Luckily the game isn’t too difficult and is most definitely playable thanks to some relatively straight-forward controls.

But how does the NES version of the game hold up?

I bet it’s WAY better! Cliffhanger NESHm…

It’s the same game, isn’t it? Cliffhanger NES WolfWonderful.

As you can see, this time around there’s colour but the game still looks as unimpressive as ever. You’re still doing the same old thing, fighting the same old purple unitard-wearing villains… Cliffhanger BossWell, I should also probably mention the Klingons. Cliffhanger KlingonJohn Lithgow would have made a terrific Klingon.


Anyway, just like the Game Boy game, Cliffhanger on the NES has its share of pointy levels: Cliffhanger NES PointyCliffhanger SpikesMy favourite part of the game, though, has to be the random black and white picture of Sylvester Stallone that pops up between levels: Cliffhanger NES StalloneBit strange that they didn’t opt for a colour version of that picture seeing as the game differentiates itself from the Game Boy version through its colour palette but never mind. Still good to see something from the movie in there!

The game ends in about as adorable a way as possible… Cliffhanger NES Ending lol

Judging from how they’re both topless and all, I’m guessing they’ll be sharing the pneumonia of their lives also.

Now I wonder what the SNES version of the game is like.

I bet it’s the same again… Cliffhanger SNES :O

Ooh, a beat ’em up? This is so crazy an idea it just might work!

The SNES’ attempt at a Cliffhanger game may be a button masher but it certainly makes more sense than those other games. Besides, the graphics are actually pretty good this time and your character looks much more like Sylvester Stallone than that crappy-looking dude from the Game Boy version.

On top of that, it’s much more action-packed as you fight a helicopter: Cliffhanger Helicopter While doing some actual cliff-hanging, might I add.

You also get to outrun avalanches xXx-style: Cliffhanger Avalanche And, if that wasn’t enough, the game is also pretty violent as your character gets to knife bad guys in the chest:Cliffhanger Knife As a beat ’em up, it’s pretty average: there are much better ones out there. But as a Cliffhanger game, it’s solid.

The gameplay is fun, the graphics look decent and you’re never bored one second. Regardless of whether a Cliffhanger game needed to exist in the first place, at least they came up with a respectable one eventually. The Sega CD and Genesis versions do exist and both follow the SNES’ style but, despite the former having generic film music playing throughout, low resolution cut scenes from the movie itself AND a snowboarding level, the SNES is still, in my opinion, the best version of the game you can find.

As for those older versions, they’re harmless enough but really lack imagination. I’d steer clear of them, personally.

Hm, I guess I should end on a cliff-hanger… CliffhangingThere.