Snoopy’s Silly Sports Spectacular! (Good Grief…..)

Name: Snoopy’s Silly Sports Spectacular!

System: NES

Release Date: April 1990

Status: DEFEATED! October 1, 2016

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Nothing says innocent family fun like everyone’s favourite Peanuts character, Snoopy!

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I’ve always been a Peanuts fan, both the nut and the comic. So when a friend of mine lent me this game, I was intrigued, though based on the picture and title on the cartridge, I wasn’t expecting anything “Spectacular”…

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Prove me wrong…PLEASE!!

I did some digging before sitting down and giving it a go; turns out this game was originally released overseas as a Donald Duck game!

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It’s $1 on ebay!!

The developer, Kemco, replaced Donald with Snoopy when it hit North America due to Capcom USA holding the rights at the time to create games of Disney properties. Mayhaps you’ve heard of such classic gems as “Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers”, “Darkwing Duck”, and the flawless “Ducktales”! But we’re not playing genre defining NES masterpieces…we’re playing Snoopy….The “Story” as depicted in the opening scene, depicts Snoopy flying from America to Italy because “why not”!? Also, America and Italy both now sit on clouds in the sky:

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I’m going to guess that this is meant to represent Snoopy’s imagination? Makes sense to me; my dog probably thinks our 30th floor condo floats on a cloud too! I can’t even guess what he thinks elevators are! The meat and bones of the game consists of 6 different “Olympic” sports:

A Sack Race against Snoopy’s derelict cousin Spike…

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Boot throwing…

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A pogo stick obstacle course…

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A shoving match between Snoopy and Spike on a boat…

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A pizza carrying contest…

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And pole vaulting over a river.

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You can play these games individually for practice, or one after the other in the attempt to win a gold medal! There are 3 rounds where you play the same 6 games, each round requiring you to earn a certain amount of points to move on; 2000 pts for round 1, 5000 pts for round 2, and 10 000 pts for round 3. Getting above 10 000 will nab you a bronze medal at least, but you’ll need over 15 000 points to get gold!

This game would be a fun romp for any kid (or 33 year old married man) if it weren’t for one thing…THE CONTROLS. The controls completely ruin this game; It’s not even “Silly” bad, it’s a “Spectacular” nerve shredding rage contraption. What I think is the most frustrating aspect is that the games consist of pressing 1 MAYBE 2 buttons, and they still managed to make it difficult.

There is a lot of trial and error when approaching the games: the sack race for example has you pressing “A” to jump; though mashing buttons accomplishes nothing. You need to press it in a steady rhythm to have Snoopy jump in a timely fashion. The same goes for the boot toss; press down until your swing builds up speed and then press “A” to let go, but good luck finding the right moment to send the boot flying a good distance! My advice: don’t blink!!

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Then you have games that rely on mashing the controls. I’m still not 100% sure how the boat shoving mechanics work. Sometimes my mashing sends Spike flying instantly off the boat, other times, it did the same to me. I found it’s really just up to chance. The pole vault game sent me into more than one rage! I had to look up the controls on how to get over the freaking river!! (Seen here: http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Snoopy’s_Silly_Sports_Spectacular! ) The Pogo level is no better, the slightest touch will send Snoopy flying into a wall; you need to find the delicate balance between subtle approach and out of control crazy jumps!

But the worst has got to be the Pizza carrying game. Just like in the Pogo game, any fast movement will make Snoopy start power-walking and send your pizzas crashing to the ground. The more pizzas you have by the finish line, the higher your score…but your score also depends on speed. You could have all 40 (40!!!!) Pizzas at the finish, but if you have less than 10 seconds remaining, then you’ll get a measly 200 pts. I found you need at least 20 seconds remaining to get the max 1000 pts. To do this, I had to hold the controller at a 45 degree angle and press the right button in half second beats. If your hand isn’t raw by the end of this level, then congratulations on having well-padded meat hands! This may have been easier if I had the metronome peripheral I assume was originally packaged with the game.

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Just a side note: is it ever a good idea to have a game that relies on you going slow? It’s just so agonizing watching Snoopy painstakingly shuffle along the screen. I honestly couldn’t think of a game that benefits from that…please feel free to enlighten me!

The music isn’t anything fantastic or memorable. Many of the games (the Boot Toss, Boat Pushing and Pole Jump in particular) are so short that you never really get to hear what the music has to offer. One thing that surprised me was the graphics. Though there is the odd moment where part of Snoopy’s body might disappear if he gets too close to another object on screen, the animation was fluid, for an NES game. The sprites are big enough to see facial expressions, and the backgrounds nicely depict famous Italian landmarks in all their 8-bit glory.

Should you play this? Well, you’d REALLY have to like Snoopy in order to sit through this one. I’m going to go as far as to say that I wouldn’t recommend this for kids…unless you want to have their confidence smashed over and over again. It took me WEEKS to master the awkward controls to get a gold medal, and I’ve beaten some of the hardest games the NES has to offer!

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It seems that the lesson this game is trying to teach you is that you’ll most likely be second best at what you do in life….unless you spend hours and hours and hours honing your skills, fighting off headaches and the urge to blink all while improving your library of vulgar catch phrases! So, it’s a lot like the actual Olympics, except after winning gold you’re too ashamed to tell anybody. Also, you haven’t experienced Italy until you’ve thrown a boot as far as you can in front of the coliseum!

Even after playing this garbage, it’s hard to stay mad at Snoopy; I just watched The Peanuts Movie and let me tell ya, that Beagle’s still got it! But like many games that slap a popular character on the cover, the selling point is the name, not the game.

 

Adamus Prime Rating: 1.5 / 5

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Written by: Adam McNamara

Edited by: Jamie O’Connor

 

 

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