At a Glance: I'm a man, aren't I? I mean a real man. You know, the kind that complains about their wife all the time. Sorry to say, I might be less of a man than you'd think a Something Awful writer might be. I haven't thrown a ball since I tossed DocEvil a Mother Mary ball gag during that "Holier than Thou" New Years Bash. It was heavy. In an effort to improve my manliness and deepen my farmer's tan I decided this bi-week I should review Absolute Entertainment's "Home Improvement" for the SNES.
Platform: SNES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 64k
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Game Plot: After starting this game up I could feel Tim Allen's soothing manwaves roll over me in his patented non-homosexual, non-interesting way. The plot revolves around Tim "The Toolman" Taylor having a line of power tools named after him only to have the tools snatched by a mysterious stranger. Since he's the only character that's been fully animated, Tim runs over to the neighboring sound stages in order to retrieve the missing pieces. The last scrap of similiarity between the show and the game is when he sometimes returns to the set of Tool Time to exchange some witty banter with his co-host and sons. The kind of banter that makes you keel over and violently vomit up everything that once was or ever will be funny about you.
Considering I couldn't make it beyond the third stage before I started to turn on my fellow man, I never got to see who the mysterious thief turned out to be. Considering the type of comedy swill Home Improvement ladles out of the bottom of the sitcom barrel, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's his wife. Then they have a long talk about how Tim hasn't been paying attention to her. He shrugs while turning to the camera to say "I just want to watch the big game." She complains about him not listening to her, he says she always nags him, she asks for new curtains, he emotionally disfigures his children by shoving a chainsaw into his wife's abdomen. Laugh track.
I'd make an "Aroo?" joke here if I it could force it out of my lips. I've suffered brain damage from drinking drain-o before, but not nearly enough to find that crap funny.
Enemies: Do you know the deadliest thing man must face? No, not the erotic scorpions, dinosaurs, or ghosts you face in the game. The answer is inclines. It may be idiot programmers or your banana peel loafers, but any angle of any kind will completely possess your little tool man and send him off to die.
Camera controls that make me violently ill before I can complete the game are also on the list, but do not take the first place because no one's smart enough to intentionally make a camera this devious. I would mention that the enemies are frustratingly powerful and respawn in the most unpredictable and idiotic patterns, but that would assume you could navigate far enough into the game to fight one without hemorrhaging.
Weapons: Your weapon upgrades include all sorts of tools: Staple guns, flame throwers, magic chainsaws that shoot out stars, you. Don't expect to hold onto your tools for too long. Every time you're hit all of your power-ups come flying out of you along with your previously collected nuts and bolts, a true masterstroke in realism by the developers. Ever hit a kid with a baseball bat and watch his ability to do math go flying out of him? Well then, hit him again. I lost my flamethrower, my car keys, and my ability to comprehend colors this exact same way.
Power-ups can be collected along the way, sometimes springing out of the corpses of your recently stapled enemies. Hard hats grant you invulnerability (safety tip), but the major beef and lieutenant beef I have is with the "power-up" upgrade that eventually grants you the ability to walk on spikes and fire . It also effects your weapons. I use the term "effects" because it does not actually do much of anything besides make them look nicer. Enemies still require a two hour dissertation on why they should die before they consider it. You can't drop your current weapons so you're stuck with whatever junk you happen to run into while wandering around the stage. Apparently part of being a man is never being able to let go.
Does that make a better joke if I put in "of their tools" or "and learn to love"? I can't tell.
Levels: Stages are made at exactly your height, allowing for maximum "bump your head and not make the jump"atude. Considering this I imagine the games' original title was something like "The Legend of Bumpy Noggins: Wear a Helmet, dude!" I have never run into these kind of balls-emptingly frustrating jumps since Kid Kool for the NES. Level construction can only be described as idiotic, confusing the concept of wandering around and exploring. When I've lost my debit card and my rent payment is due, finding it is not an act of exploration. I did not explore the far reaches of my room to find it under the mystical disks of the god "Journey". I just found it. There's a difference.
Bosses: Considering it takes a half an hour to kill a run of the mill scorpion with your staple gun, the bosses are just slightly more irritating in the same way you can call that girl you're friends with "pretty" only because she is pretty compared to a pork roast beaten with butter hammers. You guys are "just friends" for a reason. If this explaination confuses you then you've never been friends with a fat girl. Or you're not manly enough.
Defining Moment: This game was so (something) awful that the distributors wouldn't even spring for manuals, hiding behind the line: "Real men don't need manuals."
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).