Wednesday, October 3, 2012

VGR Super Tempo

And here's the last installment in the 3-episodes Tempo series!

Don't miss out my previous Tempo-related reviews!

VGR: Super Tempo 
From Aspect/Red Company/MediaQuest/Sega
Played on Sega Saturn
Also available on /

Type Sidescrolling platformer
Year 1998

Released three years after the original's debut, Super Tempo was co-developed by the original creators at Red Company already behind Tempo (on the 32X) and Tempo Jr (Game Gear) and Aspect co. (the studio responsible for various 8-bit Sonic games).

For this very special episode on the always-fun 2D powerhouse that was the Saturn they went into a completely different direction.

Super Tempo is sort of Red's ultimate epic project. (even though the studio still makes new games and all, this represents sort an end to that simpler and funnier era)
This final Tempo was made from the various scrapped ideas they decided to develop from their previous projects.
The game even was supposed to be much longer originally!

This crazy project from the creators of Bonk/PC Genjin actually takes a lot more influence from that series than its predecessors.

You might think at first look this will be another friendly animated platformer similarto Rayman, but you're in for quite a surprise!....

Once again the game stars both Tempo and his girlfriend Katy.
This time our heroes are completely broke!
They need to make some quick cash! 'Not soon enough!!

Since the game was only released in Japan and I don't read Japanese, I'm sure I'm missing some details from the cutscenes, but really the story is only here as a pretext.

The game follows our heroes as they embark on a big adventure around Tempo's world.
The whole television show dynamic has been ditched this time around. Music is still present but more of a background element than last times.
And Major Minor is back as well (the "pimp" gameshow host from the original), Tempo works for him now.
Minor is here to set different challenges for Tempo and Katy to go through all over the places!

Tempo's creator was a big fan of Earthworm Jim, and it shows!
The game is actually closer to those game than the previous Tempo titles.

Basically the game is 6 levels long (..or short for that matter).
But this is the kind of game that tries to surprisde the player around each corner, far from any traditional platformers.
It touches various sidescroller genres with an ever-changing gameplay (like Earthworm Jim 2).

The goal here is to go around and collect various random objects, such as plushes, toys, action figures, books, cameras, aquariums, little cars, etc.
You can either buy them with your in-game money or find them in secret areas.
They will then be stored at Tempo's house. At the end of the game the items are sold which give you a total revenue/score. According to that you will get one of the 6 different picture-endings.

The important is not the destination though, but the journey itself!

The basic gameplay of the game seems like your usual platformer.
But the gameplay has been drastically reimagined from scratch!
Tempo can't stomp enemies by jumping over them like Mario. He is now equipped with a violin. Playing the violin will make some bubbles which can be used to harm or trap enemies (then you can "kill" them).
You can still slow down your falls by flying, while playing some more music.

Yeah. At first it's quite an unusual gameplay, and totally different from Tempo 1, so you'll need a moment to adapt and get accustomed to the changes.

The original already looked colorful and all, but the graphics look so much sharper and psychedelic this time!
The characters and sprites look bigger, sporting vast color palettes. Some of the bosses are huge, massive!

Super Tempo looks absolutely stunning!
The clean and clear 2D artwork tone of the game is obviously to make the game as gorgeous as the cartoon art it's obviously inspired from.

The 6 levels are more original and random than in the original too.
This time you get to play as Katy too! While Tempo gets the bubbles, Katy's got a flamethrower!!
She uses the flames to help her fly above the ground or defeat enemies easier and quicker than Tempo. Which means a radically different experience. You'll find some "characters select-pod" thingie around to help you change back and forth amongst our two insects.
You start in a sort of "milky" valley, will have to collect the soul of animal musicians in a cemetery, go through a shoot 'em up retro-ysh level 3, climb water falls in a very Bonk-inspired 4th stage, go through another shooting level between pizzas and black holes while exploring the world of music and Beethoven, and finally explore an house and its entire plumbing system in the last one!

The art direction and tone is hilarious! There's lots of random funny elements, humor in the enemies' behavior and graphical jokes around. (see my drawing above to know the secret behind the water in the first level...)

The game will keep testing players through the different segments. You'll need precision, make use of your memory and have solid reflexes to explore and resolve all the problems Tempo will be face with!

But the game is not without some little problems.
It's pretty easy.
And way too short!

It's the kind of game you play through in one (little) sitting, without encountering much resistance.
One or two bosses might surprise you at first, but it's details you can quickly surpass.
And the musical 5th level needed some comprehension of Japanese to answer some in-game quizzes (think EWJ), but easy to overcome once you find out you can discover the correct answers by keeping an eye on the level's layout.

The boss fights are much better and more original this time. Every boss is a random different type of challenge.
They're more in-theme and related to the game directly unlike 32X's Tempo's CGi random objects.
Never twice the same patterns, the first one will end up in a QTE-button mashup as Tempo grows bigger and bigger in muscles until the huuuuuuge boss explodes!! (spoilers?)
They're also much easier this time around.

There's some fun new power-ups this time!
Superhero transformations!
Tempo can turn into this giant "Muscle Tempo" from the cover - the eponymous Super Tempo. And Katy into this pin-up boxing queen. (a magical girl parody)

The fun little minigames from the Game Center make a comeback too!
They're rythmic time based challenges. Like eating a pizza (the only returning one from the first game), mastering karaté moves, etc. Originally the game was planned to have 7 of those.

Finally the music is...well, decent. Nothing remarquable actually, though I like the returning remixed themes from the original game.
The soundtrack was composed by Hudson Soft's own T's music studio. Mostly discrete but groovxy tracks.

Overall,as fun and entertaining as it looks!
Visually, it's perfect, like an interactive cartoon. It's gorgeous!
This final episode sports a ton of ideas. The gameplay is fun and ever changing.
But the game is not particularly long or difficult. There's not much challenging moments. Even though it's still a must for fans

The original became a cult classic even if it didn't sell many copies (or 32X..).
The GG episode was also enjoyable. I'm glad they offered him one more apperance.
The stages look more like random little skits than anything, don't search for a logical progressions from level to level.  I really liked the influence from Bonk and Earthworm Jim in the game's aesthetics.
And the classic music level is priceless!

The ending according to how much money you accumulated it a nice way to provide some replay value. (*hint hint* they're some sexy rewards in those!)
You can either find objects around in levels, collect them at the end of levels or trade your in-game money in little shops.

It's the ultimate Red game! It shows the best of their work from the 80s/90s!
It might not have much in common with the first Tempo except the character. But it showcase the best of the studio, a bit of Bonk, a bit of Zonk and a bit of Tempo of course!

A very original and funny game everyone should at least experience once! A must!

I give it:
 3 / 3 Bruces!

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