Strange happenings are afoot once again in Sweethaven and only Popeye can make it right. In Popeye 2, our spinach lovin' hero must once again rescue Olive Oyl and make mincemeat of Bluto while looking after Swee'Pea, feeding Wimpy and keeping an eye on Jeep. Popeye has four different levels to traverse through. His initial adventure takes him to a construction site where bouncing springs, falling girders and open welding flames impede his progress. Rolling barrels, and bombs which must be touched to be put out also stand to cause harm. In every level scattered hamburgers must be collected in order for Popeye to get past Wimpy who is often hanging out somewhere near the top of every vertically scrolling platform level. There are also feats of strength that Popeye must perform by beating up a punching robot-type thing with the aid of Spinach. Once past all these obstacles Popeye can move on to the next level. The second level takes Popeye into the urban jungle where he must climb the side of the Biff Spinach building and avoid the same obstacles as in the previous levels. In the third level falling girders are replaced with giant bananas as Popeye finds himself in a jungle. Coconut throwing monkeys hang from ledges and snoozing tigers and snakes decorate the trees. The fourth and final level of the game finds Popeye climbing the masts of the S.S. Trev and the S.S. Andy as he makes his way to a final confrontation with Bluto and rescue Olive Oyl. Popeye is able to jump around and occasionally when the situation calls for it punch his way through this vertical platformer. Bonus points are rewarded for finding Swee'Pea and Jeep. He can take multiple hits before he takes a curtain call but thankfully is unharmed by long drops. The player should beware as Popeye has only one life to get through the four levels of this adventure.
Were it not for the fact that Popeye is a famous cartoon character and that this was a great C64 platformer, I wouldn't even consider reviewing it.
Don't get me wrong, the game is actually quite good, but there's something about the graphics… In DOSBox it gives out a weird 320X400 pixel resolution that just makes the whole thing go nuts. You'll see what I mean in the bottom part of the screen. It's not something you'd really need to play the game, but it's a nuisance. And in WinXP it runs way too slow to play. Well, at least the colors are good and the characters quite well made.
Also the sound is of poor quality. You'll need it though, because when you hear a his, that means a bomb is lit and you need to touch it to extinguish it.
And what's the point of the game? Well you need to climb the construction site. The time is limited and there are obstacles on the way. Barrels are falling from above, bombs are randomly set off, steel railing is falling or disappearing under your feet, springs are springing and fires are burning. And let's not forget good old Wimpy. He won't let you pass until you bring him his dose of hamburgers (you'll need to collect those on the way). You also get to fight. You'll have to pick up spinach first. Can't find it? Don't worry, it'll bounce around you, when it's time to fight.
Basically the game is a nice idea and I really loved the C64 version of it. This version is trying to be as good as the C64 one, but it's not succeeding. I haven't had the chance to test it in real DOS environment, hopefully it runs better there. But it's still playable and fun. All in all the game deserves a good mark for the gameplay and design, but a bad mark for the technical merit.
Popeye 2 is a fairly poor jump'n run featuring the popular comic hero with an affection for smoking green grass, for a thin woman and as an abnormal feature in this game - jumping - although this was role intended. Usually Popeye doesn't jump that much. Ok, Popeye 2 is the standard jump'n run... mediocre graphics, PC speaker sound and boring gameplay. Let the hero himself have the last word: "I'm strong to the finish cos I eat me spinach."
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