Yo! Joe! has six levels. They're all really big, except the fifth one which is a little train-ride interlude. You can play on your own, or with another player taking the part of your mate, Nat The Rat, who surprisingly isn't actually a rat. The scrolling in two-player mode follows whoever's leading, and stops when one player would fall off the edge of the screen. You can punch or kick your way through the bad dudes inhabiting the levels, or collect any of five extra weapons which you'll find lying around. The weapons all have different properties and advantages - for example, the nunchuks are less powerful than the length of pipe, but you can jump up and grab onto ledges while you're carrying them, which the pipe won't let you do. The chainsaw is extremely hard, but needs petrol to run on which you have to collect separately (and which runs out alarmingly quickly). You can hold all the weapons at once and switch between them at will, so you should be able to pick and choose the best for each situation.
There's a bonus shoot-'em-up stage between levels where you can earn extra lives, but you get infinite continues anyway (back to the start of the current level), so they're not that important. Scenes covered include an Egyptian pyramid, a jungle temple with underground caverns, and the interior of an Oriental pagoda-type building, all rendered in beautifully-drawn and lushly-coloured graphics, with nary a wasted pixel - almost every bit of landscape does something to you or conceals bonus weapons or objects. Joe himself is an athletic dude, able to leap around impressively, crawl through very narrow passageways, and grab ledges and pull himself up onto them in a Prince Of Persia manner, all with the simplest and most instinctive joystick movements you could wish for. Bored of facts yet?
I love this game. It got me shouting and squealing in the office (much to my embarrassment) as I plunged towards spiky pits only to save myself by clutching on to something with my (or rather Joe's) fingernails, cackling manically when I lobbed a petrol bomb right under the trousers of a particularly troublesome bad guy, shrieking with surprise when a load of zombies came out of the walls on level one, and swearing abusively at the smouldering corpses of defeated bosses (of which there are several in each level). The noise was so bad, the rest of the team actually asked me to put some of my "special' music on the office stereo to drown out the racket, but I countered by simply turning up the game's rather fab music, which is something I haven't done in a while, I can tell you.
If everyone took this much care before they unleashed their games on the unsuspecting public, the world would be a finer place. Yo! Joe! is one of the finest games of the year to date.
Nice platform game.
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