With my encyclopaedic knowledge of Hanna-Barbera cartoons and my endearing way of telling everybody about them at length, there was never any doubt as to who would get to review this game.
Jonny Quest is one of Hanna-Barbera's 'soap opera' cartoons, dealing with realistic characters as opposed to out-and-out slapstick gagsters. Of course, when I say the characters are realistic, I don't mean that they spend their time losing the car keys, or setting the video timer wrongly, or worrying what their mum is going to say about the carpet. This would make for a staggeringly dull cartoon. Actually, their idea of realism is to thwart villainy on a weekly basis. This, of course, is extremely interesting.
JONNY BE GOOD!
The basic plot of the show is as follows Jonny is the only son of Dr Benton Quest, who has bravely overcome the tragedy of being named Benton to become an ace scientist and table tennis supremo. Constantly striving to improve the quality of people's lives with such amazing inventions as the self-assembly jigsaw, the atomic stilt and the neutron bomb, Jonny's pa is the number one target of the eminently hissable Doctor Zin. Consequently the Quests are accompanied at all times by government bodyguard and amateur flautist Race Bannon. However, and and I quote, "this does not stop Jonny and his mystical Indian friend Hadji, along with Jonny's pet dog Bandit getting into all sorts of hair-raising adventures." Ahem indeed. As the theme music plays and the cassette inlay unfolds, our diminutive do-gooder is having a startlingly poor day. Taking advantage of a momentary lapse in Race's vigilance, Dr Zin has kidnapped Benton, Hadji, Bandit, a passing librarian named Sue and the bodyguard himself. Undaunted, Jonny sets out to rescue the lot, which is where you come in.
The game's a tasty platform number, with loads of rooms and more than a small hatful of objects to utilise. There's a kind of mini-game at the beginning to ease you into the main part, with Jonny wandering quietly through leafy glades where innocuous and exceptionally fluffy bunnies bobble around harmlessly. The overall effect is to lull you into a horribly false sense of security, 'cos in the very next screen an enormous blue beetle leaps out at you. This more or less sums up the game as a whole - it might sound hackneyed, but this one really keeps you on your toes!
Once you get into Dr Zin's headquarters you face his shadow guards and robot minions. This is where the games one fault shows up. As a collect-'em-up maze game it's hard enough, but as a beat-'em-up it's almost impossible. The guards sap energy when you touch them, and when you punch, you move forward a bit as well. So every time you bash a guard, it also drains your energy. There's a way to avoid this - punch them once, then back off to biff them again - but its really frustrating not to able to get past the minions without losing some energy. Its almost as if the programmers finished the game, then decided to put this in as an afterthought just to make it harder. What bounders!
Don't let this put you off though. Jonny Quest is an exceedingly playable game. The puzzles are of the match-the-object-with-the-barrier sort, but the objects have been distributed with an enviable degree of sneakiness. The graphics are rather marvellous for a barg, with large and smoothly animated sprites plodding around pretty backdrops. Apart from the problemette with the punchy bits, I've got only one reservation with the game and that's that the tie-in element is a bit shaky to say the least. These days, the rescue-your-friends idea is only of interest to Speccy historians. There's a better attempt than usual to fit in the supporting characters (for example, you've only got one life, until you can rescue Hadji and persuade him to bung you some more) but it's a pretty feeble plot. Still, that's only a minor grumble. Jonny Quest is fat and addictive, and well worth shelling out for. Jingle those coins, and get questing.
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