Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Spin Off From A 32 Bit Title Whos Main USP Was The Music? On Game Gear? Pass The AA Batteries, And A Couple More, Aaaand A Couple More: Game 011

Originating on the 'already doomed at release' Sega Mega Drive add on (no not that one, the other one) the infamous 32X, Tempo is a platformer from developers Red Company the people behind the PC Genjin/Bonk's Adventure series, and several other notable gems along the way. While the 32X version burst from your speakers with its own fully vocalised rap track and incredible sampled music, the Game Gear version, rather unsurprisingly does not. But is that all that is missing from this cutesy portable port?

The first thing that strikes you about Tempo Jr. is the large and beautifully animated sprites, Red have gone all out to at least retain the hand drawn art style and presentation of Tempo 32X and what is on offer here is impressive for the ageing 8-Bit handheld. Tempo himself, walks, jumps, runs, hovers and most notably dances with amazing fluidity, even giving Kirby, the pint sized Michael Jackson of end of level dance routines a run for his money. Sadly the game doesn't live up to the presentation however. This is the most basic of exploration platforming. Never tasking the player with a serious test of their mettle, or often with much exploration for that matter. Tempo Jr.'s major flaw is that perhaps he has too many abilities and while impressive that they have arrived on the handheld intact from their 32 Bit big brother, they mean that you can often and quite easily save yourself from death. The float ability is the worst culprit, but unlike Yoshi's limited climb and fall technique, Tempo can continue to do it indefinitely. Add to this the fact that most defeated enemies leave you an energy power up and that falling off the bottom of the screen doesn't result in instant death (the most basic of platforming law) and you'll be pretty hard pushed to lose a life. Boss battles break up the aimless wandering, but often present no more of a challenge than the regular level cannon fodder. Minigames break up the boss battles, but are again rather underthought pattern repetition tasks masquerading as primitive rhythm action games. The only prizes for completing these games: More lives that you'll never get to use.

Ultimately Tempo Jr. fails to impress as a game in its own right, but is interesting as a spin off from a rather obscure Sega series that by all accounts has a couple of gems in the canon. Its one for the completists, but if your new to the series I'd highly recommend starting with its 32 Bit counterparts Tempo 32X or Super Tempo on Sega Saturn. Though either game may cost you a pretty penny to track down these days.

Favourite Moment: Defeating one of the many boss battles sees Tempo the funky cricket joined by Katy the dancing butterfly in a fully choreographed dance off together. The impressive animations showing off the capabilities of the breeze block of 8-Bit handhelds

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