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CONSOLE: Sega Genesis DEVELOPER: Tengen PUBLISHER: Tengen
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1993 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Jeff

This is the least awesome possum I've ever met.

Oh, sweet Fannie-Mae, what have I stumbled upon?

As soon as you start up the game, not only do you see the dastardly image of the Tengen logo, but the game begins with a theme song. With vocals. HUMAN vocals, chanting the title of the game, followed by Awesome Possum himself spouting out a lovable catchphrase: "I'm awesome!" Well, good for you. Way to stay positive. I guess I'm about to find out what makes you so dog-gone awesome.

According to the fine introductory sequence, it says that in twenty years, mankind has "automated the destruction of the environment". Looking into the future, we can see that humans have become so lazy that they can't even pollute anymore and require robots to do it for them. So the world's salvation has been entrusted to -- get this -- a possum. But not just any possum! It had to be an awesome possum. You can't save the world with a moderately motivated possum or a sub-par possum. It HAS to be awesome. That's a must. It has to be on his resumé, right above "Environmental Activist". Though, really, this aspect of the game won't matter much in the end; the only time you really notice the game is about saving the environment is from the little quizzes in between each stage that ask you a multiple-choice question about pollution or energy consumption. You win points! Oooo... points...

This particular possum is quite the narcissistic marsupial. He has a lot to say, usually mocking those around him. Awesome Possum features more voice samples than I would have ever expected out of a Sega Genesis game, or more precisely, more voice samples than I would ever WANT. This guy always has something ridiculous to say. He usually spouts off nonsensical phrases when leaping a long distance or coming in contact with an enemy. I swear he often calls enemies "Chernobyl breath". That doesn't even make any sense. At the end of each level, he'll usually say something as well, like "I won... of course!" or "Ha ha, I won! Nyah nyah na-nyah nyah!" I thought Bubsy the Bobcat was a pompous line-spouter, but Awesome Possum takes the cake. The worst part is that the developers obviously know just how grating his voice can be, so in the Options menu, you can modify his overall level of talkativeness. If they knew Awesome Possum would annoy the player, why did they even include so much voice acting? It boggles the mind.

Though not as much as the game itself.


Nothing is more painful than a chainsaw up the tuckus.

Let's just start off by saying this: the game is broken. It's just broken. Bubsy the Bobcat, released a year earlier, was panned by critics who basically indicated that the control scheme and the unusual physics were an inhibitor to the game's enjoyment. Tengen must not have been paying attention, because this plays pretty much the same way, but somehow is even less enjoyable. Tengen hasn't really been known for quality games overall, but anyone who actually played this prior to its release would know something is horribly wrong. Running around feels very floaty due to his impressive yet uncontrollable momentum. Jumping alone is a travesty. You never know where he'll end up, and you'll be scrambling to get control of him during his jump sequence. Just scampering through the twelve levels from one end to the other is a difficult enough task (and these levels are quite lengthy), but considering your sole method of defending yourself against enemies is by jumping on them, one would expect that the mechanic would work well. Mercifully, taking a great fall from above will not cause your demise. At least Tengen got something right.

Nope. Awesome Possum isn't so awesome when it comes to squashing enemies. When up against Dr. Machino's preposterous enemies -- be they robots carrying chainsaws, flying flamethrowing robotic angels, or even very determined low-flying jets -- you might as well have a giant target painted on your abdomen. Sometimes our possum pal will defeat enemies without a hitch; othertimes, you're dead meat because the hit detection is flaky. Heck, sometimes you can even take damage when you're not even close to the enemy. Things get even worse when an entire world (basically one quarter of the game) takes place underwater. Don't even anticipate getting much accomplished down there; just do your best to swim to the right. And, worse yet, in many cases platforms are not visible on-screen before you progress, so be prepared for far too many leaps of faith without knowing what's below. Oh, and one-hit kill spikes at the bottom of a steep hill? You bet your sweet bippy they put 'em there.

Your health meter helps a little bit; you can take 4-5 hits before Awesome Possum calls it quits, and there are multiple ways to fill it. You can find little med-kits in semi-hidden spaces that will top up your life meter. Also scattered in each level are countless collectables that often look like game controllers or can of Coca-Cola with the actual namesake lost in pixelation; by collecting 50 of them, you get a nice health refill AND an extra life. Those extra lives will certainly come in handy because of all the cheap deaths brought upon you...

The graphics may very well be the best part of the game, but that's not saying much, considering the environments were likely inspired by the internal flotations within a toilet bowl. The actual characters are a bit more pleasing to the eye, but only by an infinitesimally higher fraction of visual pleasure, because they seem scribbled together in a matter of minutes. As for the audio, it makes me cry tears of cobblestone. Yup, it's that painful. Aside from the inane braying of an overzealous furball, the music is a turn-off as well. The bass in some songs sounds like a bad case of post-taco diarrhea, and the rest fails to please. Presentation is half the battle; the number of fatalities on this battlefield are high.

Awesome Possum isn't awesome at all. In fact, he should change his name to the more apt "Flawsome Possum". That would best describe both his character and this embarrassing stink of a game. Don't ever look for it on purpose. Use it as a disposable coaster or for batting practice. By the way, Awesome Possum was released on Christmas Day in Japan. Merry Christmas, Nippon. You'll be clamoring for coal soon enough.


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