The latest word in RPGs is cute. With Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy II using small, rotund characters, the trend seems to have taken root. Along comes Spike McFang, a cellular-phone-wielding Tomato vampire. Too cute, you say? You don't know the half of it. This one makes Macaulay Culkin look like Charlie Manson.
- To knock off Croc, get behind him and let Rudy do all the work. Use Companion Cards and other power-ups to wear Croc down. Be careful, though; Croc powers up to max potential when he gets low on health.
- Don't waste your time on any Hat other than the Feather Hat. Save your money to get one.
Don't let the kid-size sprites or cartoon-colored backgrounds fool you. Spike McFang plays like a standard RPG, with hit points, experience points, fighting companions, and enemies galore. That's standard RPG, not great RPG. This is definitely a first-timer's RPG game.
The story line even has a beginner's ring to it. Spike's traveling with Dr. Steam, his mentor, when his father, Dracuman, is kidnapped by General Von Hesler. Von Hesler, Dracuman, and Vampra were all leaders of the island until Von Hesler wanted it all for himself. Now Spike, along with Vampra's daughter, Camelia, and Von Hesler's son, Rudy, must put a stop to Von Hesler's evil.
Your simple repertoire of weapons is strictly for beginners ever seen. That's both a drawback and a plus. The pleasing graphics are clean and well drawn. On a Cape, which you spin to swipe at weak enemies, and a Hat, which you throw to inflict several hits on enemies. You can buy upgrades for your Hat, and you can also buy Cards, which give Spike power-ups and health-ups during the game.
The levels are filled with enough amateur enemies to keep your Hat busy, but they're simple enough that a first-time player won't have any trouble slugging through them. You'll fight through Feline Fighters, fire-breathing Frankensteins, Killer Garlic Cloves, and more. At the end of each area you'll have to contend with a boss, and they aren't as kid-infectious as the rest of the game. You'll grapple with them over and over again.
The graphics in Spike McFang are undoubtedly the cutest ever seen. That's both a drawback and a plus. The pleasing graphics are clean and well drawn. On the other hand, so is Barney, and no one wants to see an RPG with him in it.
The sounds are a little repetitive. With such a vampiric theme to the game, you'd expect spookier sounds. There are some sound effects, and the music changes from stage to stage, but a little variety would have helped.
Sometimes the Tooth Hurts
Okay, so you're not impressed. Well, something has to keep the young-uns occupied while you're playing Shadowrun. Spike McFang is a good exercise for young players who would be deathly bored by grown-up RPGs. It's also a good change of pace for RPG players who have seen one too many Neutral Chaotic Lawful Barbarians being eaten by the dreaded She-Hounds of Sloggogoth. You know what I mean.
- Don't let the Feline Fighters get too dose to you. They'll hang on and suck the life from you.
- To knock off the Tree Root, attack it from the sides using your Hat Watch for the tree arms and other obstacles. When the Monkeys start throwing things, move from one end of the screen to the other to avoid them.