Rage Mage Reviews!
Just when you thought it was safe to get back into retro gaming… there’s Jaws the video game to remind you that the 80’s was less awesome than everyone remembers.
Released by those champions of quality games, LJN Toys Ltd., Jaws is based on the film franchise of the same name. Loosely based. Like acute diarrhea loose. There’s no connection at all besides for a giant frickin’ shark and a messy rendition of John Williams’ iconic score over the title screen that sounds as if it’s being played by a bunch of quadruple-amputee 1st graders. Jaws is here to remind us that video games based on movies are never a good idea. Because it sucks. Most of Jaws is steering around in your boat aimlessly until you crash into something like an inebriated employee of LJN Toys Ltd. Once you ram your vessel adrift, the game switches from bird’s eye view to fish eye view and you’re now tasked with wiping out every single stingray and jellyfish you can find, armed only with infinite harpoons.
Why would you want to kill stingrays and jellyfish, you ask? Because they drop conch shells. Why would you want to collect conches? Because they can be used to purchase a fish-finder and upgrades for your power level at ports. And why would you want to upgrade your power level? Because it reduces the amount of harpoons Jaws can take from 4 billion to 2 billion.
Jaws will chase down your boat and then attack you underwater with his baby jawses. Expect to have arthritis by the time you plug enough slugs into the great white people-eater to get his health down.
And once you do that, then you get to jump to a first-person view. This game doesn’t know what it wants to be. Jaws’ dorsal fin comes rushing across the water from the horizon and the goal here is use your “strobe” to make “jump the shark” out of the water and then stab it with the prow of your ship. Jaws has to be as close as possible and directly in front of you. Good thing he makes rapid moves from side to side. If it sounds hard that’s because it’s impossible. My trained monkey got lucky stabbing Jaws after 2,351,023,801.5 attempts.
The worst thing about Jaws the video game (besides for everything) is its blatant disregard for the feelings of sharks. These gentle giants are the most misunderstood creatures on Earth, thanks to greedy, poaching sphincters like this fellow:
Sharks don’t want to eat people. It happens accidentally when they try to give you a kiss on the cheek or a friendly Christian side-hug. They can’t help that they were born with all those razor sharp teeth.
Sharks a friendly. And the bigger they are, the friendlier they are. So go rub some chum all over your naked body and jump into the waters of Rhode Island. You’ll be fine. Think of it this way, your chances of survival will be better than if you decide to try to beat the 1987 rubbish game Jaws. Sharks don’t kill people. Crappy video games about sharks kill people, with an explosion in your brain stem caused by extreme boredom. At least this game is barely more exciting than Richard Dreyfuss’ career.
The 8-Bit Review
Speaking of decrepit, the only impressive thing about Jaw’s visuals are when you switch to the first-person view. An uncommon perspective for the NES. Looking out over the water toward the horizon, that dorsal fin rushing toward your boat is a real thrill… before you realize just how hard it is to stab Jaws with your prow.
John Williams must be rolling in his urn, because this pays as much tribute to his score as the sound of baboons screaming. Which must be the sound they recorded to pass as the soundtrack for this game. Feast your audio canals on the track below. Warning, you may need tissues for bleeding ears.
Let me explain the gameplay this way: It’s like somebody blind folded you and stuck you in a warehouse where there’s nothing but mattresses on metal supports, so all you can do is wander around and stub your pinky toes again and again until they bleed. After that, you’re attacked by a swarm of bees. And after that, you’re tasked with trying to poke someone in the tumtum by running straight at them but without being able to turn. Oh, and I almost forgot. If you eat a raw crab, it’ll make you throw up and get faster. And that’s Jaws!
Jaws doesn’t tell you how to do anything. You might as well shove those conch shells up your butt, Piggy, because figuring out what to do with them and how much you need to collect are both a matter of guesswork. And Jaws is so resilient to anything you can throw at it, literally even depth charges, that you’ll wonder if you can even kill it at all. That’s when the moment of horror sets in and you wonder if this game even has an ending. Yes it does. There is a God.
Jaws is hard in the same way that trying to drive a nail into a wall using only your forehead would be hard. It’s unfair because the nail has the advantage. Jaws takes so many hits unless you level up your harpooning powers, and even once you get his health to zero, you still have to try to shove your boat into his side using only 3 strobes. If you fail, you have to repeat the process of harpooning him again. And you only have three lives. And everything kills you in one hit. Good times. Good times…
As much as I love torture, the agonizingly tedious gameplay and spitefully few secrets (you can get a submarine, randomly) in Jaws make for something only slightly better than having your skin peeled back from your fingernail cuticles with a dull butter knife. The ironic thing is, a dull butter knife would probably kill Jaws just as quickly as the endless harpoons you chuck at him in the game.
This game might be based on Jaws but there’s nothing scary about it. I haven’t played anything in a while that switches from top-view to side-view to first-person all in the space of a minute. Perfect for all you single men out there who can’t commit to anything in life.
My Personal Grade: 4/10
Watch your buddy play this game. Watch him. You can almost see his frontal lobe shutting down, his intelligence bleeding out. And when you look into his eyes, they’re lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white.
Aggregated Score: 4.1