Tale Spin DownloadsTale Spin download
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TaleSpin is the latest example of a popular TV cartoon series that's been translated into a videogame. The idea behind such games is a good one: Rather than create a brand-new hero, such as Mario or Bonk, the game designers use a character who's already popular, worrying only about what that character will do. Unfortunately, this idea sometimes doesn't work very well. Rather than inventing a character to fit the videogame, the designers must create a videogame to fit the character.
In TaleSpin, you take command of Baloo the bear (whose name, by the way, comes from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book). Baloo's task is to piece together a map that leads to a treasure. The map is in five pieces, and Baloo has access to four of them when the game starts. Each piece of the map represents a different area, and at the end of each area is a boss creature that must be defeated. If Baloo defeats the boss, he gets that piece of the map. Baloo must work through the four available stages in order to reach the fifth, where the treasure is hidden.
Basically, TaleSpin is a side-scrolling jumping game. Baloo walks horizontally across the screen, and each stage has a different background. The first four stages include an aerodrome, an arctic landscape, a jungle with cliffs and rivers, and an underwater grotto. (You can play these stages in any order you want.) At various times, Baloo has to climb over rocks, cross bridges, hop across rivers, jump over cliffs, throw snowballs, and even shoot a water pistol. There are crevices to fall into, tottering bridges to cross, and hostile creatures to jump over, duck under, and knock out of the way. Alligator heads become step-pingstones across rivers, and mischievous monkeys throw things at you from above. Although the game doesn't have quite as much variety as, say, Bonk's Adventure, there's enough to keep fans of the TV show happily occupied.
The graphics are very good. Baloo looks like Baloo, and he's at his most irresistible when you stop and duck - he squats down and wraps his paws over his head. If you leave him idle for more than a few seconds, he'll turn toward you and tap his foot impatiently. Each screen has strong colors and lots of background detail, and the effect is almost three-dimensional.
There's also a bonus stage that's nothing short of spectacular. If you reach it, you'll get an overhead view of a lush forest down below as you "sky surf". In TaleSpin, sky-surfing consists of being towed behind an airplane, almost like a water-skier. The goal is to pick up bonus points by flying over numbered targets. The graphics are rather simple, but the screens are uncluttered and Baloo's objectives are clear.
Baloo is easy to control. You move him with the directional pad (the only option is to walk, not run), and jump by pressing button. With button II you can throw things or fire your weapon, depending on which area you're in. And that's it, except for the bonus screen, in which you simply move Baloo from side to side in an attempt to gather points. The controls are well-executed, but the lack of additional options may disappoint some experienced gamers.
One thing's for sure - TaleSpin is a manageable game. While other videogames seem to be growing larger all the time, with more things to do and more stages to survive, TaleSpin takes a simpler approach. The first four stages are short (a couple of them extremely so), and once you master them, you can whisk through them again quickly. It should hold the interest of younger players - the most obvious audience for the game - but may not encourage experienced players to continue to the end. Too bad, because the game isn't that easy all the way through.
And that brings up an important question about TaleSpin: Is it suited to its intended audience? Graphically, with its colorful and endearing cartoon characters, it's perfect. But it's far from an easy game to play. It's doubtful that anyone under age eight or nine is going to get very far at first, and it's highly unlikely that anyone that young will get past the hardest stage, the Aerodrome. It would be nice if the game had multiple difficulty levels, but no choice is offered. Parents who buy this game for younger children would do well to spend some time teaching them to play.
Here are some hints that may help. The first four stages are the Ice Caves of Thembira, the Watusi River Valley, the Great Simeon Reef, and the Aerodrome. Try them in this order, because the Ice Caves are by far the easiest and the Aerodrome clearly the most difficult. Keep in mind at all times that you can shoot straight up and also upward at an angle, and that you can even shoot while jumping. But sometimes shooting isn't the answer. You can simply duck under some of the penguins, monkeys, and blowfish.
To defeat the boss at the end of the jungle stage (the Watusi River Valley), keep moving and keep firing. When he flies over you, shoot straight up. Don't give him any rest.
To defeat the jellyfish at the end of the underwater stage (the Great Simeon Reef), jump to shoot and then duck. Incidentally, you can move very quickly through this entire stage simply by refusing to fight the underwater creatures that attack you. Just dodge under them or jump over them.
When you confront the boss of the arctic world (the Ice Caves of Thembira), move right up to the ice ledge and duck when the boss throws his snowballs. Then jump up and shoot once, landing and ducking again.
Finally, be sure to set both of your control buttons on turbo-fire. That way, firing will be automatic, and on at least two levels that's essential.
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