At a Glance: Captain Novolin, one of the best-known and most embarrassing failures of the SNES age, appears at first glance to merely be a shitty platformer. But no, this isn’t just any old shitty platformer – it’s a shitty platformer about diabetes. But let’s face it, diabetes is nowhere near as tragic as the fact that someone out there was so desperate for game ideas that he decided to base a sidescroller on an incurable disease that makes your pancreas shrivel up and fall into your underpants.
Platform: SNES (Download Emulator here - 395k)
Download: Download ROM here - 342k
Game Plot: My stepbrother has had diabetes for several years, and it always provided a helpful explanation for the somewhat unsettling fact that sugar was more harmful to his system than cocaine. Fortunately neither of us knew about this terrible game when we were growing up, or else he might have been tempted to play it, which would probably have depressed him to the point of attempting a very awkward suicide with a roll of sweet tarts. But thanks to him, I knew enough about diabetes to answer all the game’s trivia questions correctly, which requires a level of knowledge you could gain by flipping through a hospital pamphlet for ten seconds.
Cool, I'm controlling a limp-wristed diabetic superhero who's afraid of heights! I think Aquaman needs to have his official Most Useless Superhero tiara taken away and given to this down's baby.
Game Plot: I guess Sculptured Software didn’t have a very high opinion of diabetics’ gaming skills, because they made Captain Novolin a combination of a platformer where you can kill every enemy by jumping, a trivia game where you’re given the answers before the questions, and a short between-level sequence where you have to match a colored tab with a same-colored tab in as many attempts as you need. None of it is even remotely challenging unless you’re stupid or diabetic.
Each platforming segment is preceded by a doctor - either a creepy blonde who looks like she’s laughing while having a stroke, or a lumpy alien beanbag-man who looks like Al Roker with a pillow surgically implanted into his face. Before each platforming level you are advised by one of these two illegal immigrant doctors about what foods you should and shouldn’t eat. But be sure to pay attention, because when the level starts you will have to kill various forms of giant anthropomorphic junk food while eating one of everything they tell you to, and ONLY one. If they tell you to eat one human-sized cereal bowl with legs and you eat two, Captain Novolin demonstrates his fighting spirit by flopping over on the ground and dying. The game may not be very innovative otherwise, but I will admit that Captain Novolin is the only video game action hero I’ve controlled who can be killed by eating an extra slice of toast.
I demand they make a game show spinoff. Mysteries like this should not go unsolved!
At the beginning and end of each level is a trivia answer and then a question. And yes, it actually goes in that order – at the beginning of each level they give you an answer, and at the end of the level you’re asked the question you were just told the answer to. You’re given a list of three answers, one of which was just shown to you two minutes ago, and you have to pick the one you just saw to get bonus points. But I’m glad I got to see the answers ahead of time, because most of the questions were profound and challenging examinations of human physiology, such as “Where is it bad to inject yourself?” (Answer: “in the knee”)
The “match your level of blood sugar” section is so pathetic that not even the diseased kids get bonus points from it. Fortunately it only occurs once per level and it takes about five seconds to beat, since you just have to look at the color of the strip on the left, match it up with the same color out of the blood sugar spectrum on the right, and you’re on your way to eatin’ well and feelin’ swell.
Enemies: Every enemy in this game is a different kind of humanoid junk food, and they all want to beat up Captain Novolin due to his bad haircut and faggy outfit that he made out of tape and blue cellophane. You’ll find giant donuts, milkshakes, swimming chocolate syrup bottles, twizzlers, basketballs (?), jogging candy bars and floating half-empty packs of gum that spit huge pink gumballs at you. I suppose they can’t raise his blood sugar if he keeps his mouth closed and doesn’t swallow them, so it’s good that they decided to just beat the shit out of him instead.
Note: Captain Novolin needs special advice when mountain climbing because diabetic people are not as good as regular people.
Number of Levels: After playing the first section of the game, I really felt like quitting and just discussing the portion of the game I had completed. But the last time I did that, Lowtax responded by emptying a clip of 9mm rounds into my knee, gathering up all the shell casings and pounding them into my face with a hammer. Actually I’m not sure if he did that out of anger or if it’s just one of those endearing things he likes to do when he’s drunk, but just in case, I decided to finish the game up and try to stay away from hammers. Luckily for me there are only five levels, and armed with a steady supply of flawlessly-regulated glucose, I blasted through them in no time!
Number of Bosses: There is only one boss battle in this game, and the boss is as easy as Metal Man and as retarded as Guts Man. You enter a little metal room where the evil alien guy throws a never ending stream of pies at you and blue energy bolts periodically jump from the ceiling to the floor and then travel along the floor toward you. But wait! There’s a lever right at the spot where the bolts touch the floor! Hit the switch and…Eureka! It makes the blue bolts go toward the boss and hit him! Do that three times and he’s dead. He doesn’t play dead and then grow guns from his nostrils and gain back all his health, he doesn’t turn into a giant evil alternate robot form, and he doesn’t flee to another planet where you have to get through four more levels to fight him again - he just falls down and dies, securing his place in history as the saddest videogame villain of all time. Well, next to Wart.
Defining Moment: I’m still not sure how slogging through a bad platformer, repeating trivia answers you heard two minutes ago and lining up two identical colors is supposed to teach you anything about diabetes. But it was always fun trying to talk the Captain out of eating the tasty foods he had already eaten a serving of, thus preventing him from keeling over and dying a painfully delicious death.
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).
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Lean in close to your screen. Inhale deeply. Does this guide give off a cloyingly sour odor? Then it is likely the genuine article.
The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.