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RELEASE DATE (NA): 1987 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Karnov in da houze! ...Hey! Where's everybody going?

A few years back, I reviewed Karnov for the NES. It hardly ranked amongst the system's best game library, but at the same time, it wasn't a stagnant swamp of bitter murk. In fact, I have since sat down with the game and finished it in one sitting without overly excessive pillow tossing, curse word expelling, and controller demolishing. It's playable for sure, and it holds a special place in my heart purely because of the fact that it was present during my earlier childhood to shower me with fire-breathing bliss. What I did not know is that Karnov for the NES is based off of an arcade game of the same name. The NES version is partially a port but has some improvements which enhance the gameplay significantly.

Soldiers always attack when Karnov's around.

Which is great because the arcade version is a defecation discharge.

As soon as you start playing through the very first level, you'll know what I mean. Although the controls are moderately decent (though I wonder why the hell the guy falls from high distances like a feather), that's the only positive aspect going for it. The game's difficulty is the failing point, and one that removes anything even remotely pleasant about this fecal excavation, cleverly disguised in an arcade cabinet. Far too frequently, there are excessive numbers of enemies on the screen, often trying to slay you with projectiles or by simply ramming themselves into your perfect Russian face. Considering that one hit will kill you (unlike the NES version where you only turn blue as a sign that you have one more hit before you go unto Death), and that unless you are absolutely powered up to the maximum (a feat that is quite difficult, considering the lack of power-ups), your one weapon's projectiles are the size of shrunken testicles. And hell, random enemies will just come up out of nowhere, but not every time you visit the stage! Just walking along... and oh, random red dragons will fly face first into your abdominal section. What the heck? And the biggest irritant is quite unusual: if you shoot the owls, they explode. And not just on the spot, but with debris flying as far as 10 owl-widths away from them (and right into Karnov's face, also causing immediate loss of life). That's sick... just sick.

Even the seaweed in the underwater areas is trying to kill you. Seriously.

I also do not appreciate their desire to take end-of-stage bosses from one area and insert them into another, with the same abilities, and often in multiple supply. And you expect me to pass these? Your bosses are already damned near impossible with their endless spray of wacky flashing bullets. It's hell enough to get through ONE of those, let alone several at a time. Stupid dinosaurs and multi-headed dragons and jumping fish... where do these things even come from? If I see ANY of those hanging around, I know I'm screwed. And the final boss? So damn impossible that only a madman could finish it -- though anybody who gets that far and lives through countless waves of infinite amounts of projectiles will probably die just because the damn timer ran out. Yeah, that's right, even if you can get to the final boss, you're still likely going to run out of time. It's like they don't even WANT you to finish. And I doubt anybody has done so legitimately without an invincibility cheat. One must possess extreme cat-like reflexes, or you must be Superman himself in order to survive the endless barrages of nonsense Karnov delivers. Shame on Data East for not realizing that we humans have minds, and we want to keep them intact so that we can perform basic activities, such as eating, reading, and basic math.

And yeah, there are special "items" to pick up, just like in the NES version, but unlike there, the items here are so damn useless, they might as well not even exist. I barely used any of the stuff in my inventory, save for the ladder maybe once or twice. But you don't even have any time or patience to use anything anyhow because you're too busy dodging every enemy and projectile possible. Where are the "kill everything on the screen immediately" types of items? I could've used those on just about every damn screen.

And the ending?

Straight from the rectum. It's a little fancier than the NES one, though: Karnov walks across a map of what looks like "Wonerland"... the lost city of Wonerland!!! He finally knabs his treasure and throws it in the air like he's Bill Gates or something, and then I can input my initials. Hooray, now everyone will know that I lost my sanity at Uncle Murray's Pizzeria & Arcade. For a game of that difficulty, I should get a much snappier, longer, and pleasurable ending. I should get all my money back and mechanical arms should pop out and give me a full-body massage. A cheering parade of friendly neighbourhood citizens should pop out of the back panel and dance around while tossing confetti everywhere. A university dean should pop out and give me an honorary degree in Karnovology. Anything better to acknowledge the fact that I beat this impossible game would be much appreciated.

Karnov is a waste of programming space. A defecation discharge, as I recall.

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