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CONSOLE: NES DEVELOPER: Mind's Eye PUBLISHER: Hi-Tech Expressions
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 1990 GENRE: Action/Puzzle
// review by SoyBomb

It's not quite a mop, it's not quite a puppet...

Those Muppets... weren't they cool? They were like the Pogs of the 80s. You just couldn't get enough of them. There must be something about crazy talking felt amalgamations that gets people of all ages aflutter and internally excited. Well, when you have a crazy television fad like that, you simply MUST make a video game about it. It's the natural order! So here we have "Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival", a game that really feels pasted together (as is the way with many games by Hi-Tech Expressions). The game starts out with an important news bulletin:

Yes, that's right. Miss Piggy was kidnapped by the owner of a carnival! She's going to be placed in the Freak Show as "The Incredible Overfattened Talking Dinner"! Somehow, the entire Muppet gang is going to commit acts of trespassing and sneak onto the carnival grounds at night and gruntfully haul the big pig back to the home turf. Well, okay -- only four Muppets actually came to save her; the rest were participating in a killer soirée at Fraggle Rock, with the Swedish Chef cooking up a smorgasborg worthy of the Royal Family. So in sneaks Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Animal (why would you bring Animal somewhere when you want to be conspicuous?) to rescue her, but then it turns out they have to get four keys so that they can access Miss Piggy, as well as the owner of the carnival. These four keys are located at the end of four different rides, each of which seem to take up as much area as a space shuttle launch tarmac. So instead of actually just going to the other end of each ride and grabbing the key that way, the four Muppets (sans puppeteer hands up their tuckuses) will travel along the entire ride.

You can tackle any rides in any order, but just remember that you have 12 lives (plus some extras that you can pick up along your routes in the game) to get through the four rides. The first ride you can attend to is the River Ride, which places Kermit in an inner-tube, and he has to make his way down a lengthy set of rapids to the end, where the first key resides. Along his way, he'll have to deal with rocks, moving logs, and whirlpools, among other things. You can pick up items along the way, like extra lives and life-meter-filling objects, which is good, because you'll probably hit a lot of things based on the awful controls. Now, this synopsis may seem familiar to more experienced gamers. Why? Because it's a dead-on rip-off of another game called Toobin'. See?

Yeah, that's right. They stole the idea from Toobin', added a frog made of felt, and voilà! You have a river ride. Well, I am not impressed... but this is only the beginning of your journey as a Muppet. Your next location is the Car Course, which puts you in the role of Animal, where you pretty much have to navigate your way along an extremely long road with strategically (and repetitively) placed bombs, barrels, and oil slicks in a bumper car. If you hit a bomb with your car, it will obviously explode and you'll lose some health. So you have to get around such dangers very cautiously, but the controls don't allow for such precise driving; considering you can only point your car in the eight cardinal directions to move, you'll find yourself shuffling very slowly down, then down to the right, then right... just to get your car through a narrow wedge of space to avoid taking damage. It's all very irritating, and consider that the bumper car is rather skiddish, as are most bumper cars, it's quite a challenging trek. Animal would be wiser just to get out and walk. Not only is that safer, it would also be faster.

Next is the Space Ride, and it's just too damn hard as hell to play. Consider a game of Asteroids, but replace your regular spaceship with a big orbish pile of junk that shoots little bullets and holds a Muppet with a weird nose, and you have the mini-game. You'll have to shoot your way past all sorts of asteroids and unusual creatures that just happen to be able to breathe in space. The controls will drive you batty as you bounce all over the place, taking hits here, there and everywhere because you're out of control. Horde all the lives you can for this level; you'll probably use up many a life here (including your REAL life, if you spend all your time trying to complete this level). But to clear your mind, you can take Fozzie Bear on a trip through a world of really tall ice cream parfaits -- yes, the Amazing Maze is here. It's thirty levels of pure zaniness; you must collect all three items that appear in a level while trying to avoid the strange rat enemies and other additional hazards. The controls here aren't too bad, as long as you know where the paths go (and where they are blocked by ice cream sundaes). That's not where my beef lies though. My only issue is with the sprite of Fozzie Bear when he's facing away from you. LOOK!


Would you look at that! It's time for a Muppet colonoscopy.

It appears that the developers have opted to include a sphincter. Well, at least this shows the attention to detail... although why anyone would program a fozzie hole is beyond me. It's still an interesting point of order, and it shows how one red pixel can get me ranting about such dirty dirty things! Anyway, once you find all four keys, you get to go up against Dr. Grump and his big ol' Grumpasaurus. I haven't gotten that far, and I doubt many people have, considering the almost criminal difficulty that the Space Race level has thrust upon me.

The graphics in this game are fair enough. The game isn't exactly the prettiest thing to look at though. Looking at gray asphalt for ten minutes while trying to wedge Animal through a pair of large bombs isn't exactly my idea of eye candy. Actually, the backgrounds are pretty ugly as a whole. The characters themselves can be identified as the Muppets they were intended to be, but they do clash somewhat with everything... especially Miss Piggy. Gah. On the plus side, the music is rather catchy. You'll probably get up and boogie instead of play with Fozzie during the Amazing Maze mini-game. The sound effects also serve their purpose, but they are far from special.

But it all comes down to one basic element: is this game fun? That's what video games are supposed to be about, right? Well, to be honest, this game just reeks of tedium and dismay. The controls are sort of a mixed bag in this game, which greatly affects the amusement I get from this game. But as a whole, the mini-games are just far too lengthy and require too much precision; where's the fun in constantly running into things and losing health? It's nowhere, I tells ya. And I'm not going to overlook the sheer boredom and frustration I will receive from this game just because the damn Muppets are licensed characters here. This game has a lot of potential hidden within; it's a shame that it was kept cached and replaced with space-traveling Gonzos and frogs in inner-tubes.


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