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! There’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.
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: Or punching eagles in the face: The 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?
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… Well, I should also probably mention the Klingons. John Lithgow would have made a terrific Klingon.
Anyway, just like the Game Boy game, Cliffhanger on the NES has its share of pointy levels: My favourite part of the game, though, has to be the random black and white picture of Sylvester Stallone that pops up between levels: Bit 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!
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.
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.
You also get to outrun avalanches xXx-style: And, if that wasn’t enough, the game is also pretty violent as your character gets to knife bad guys in the chest: 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.