20 Em 1 Review

Developer: TecToy Publisher: TecToy
Release Date: 1995 Also On: None

Unlicensed games for the Master System, where are thee? Here thee are, two, right in a row! 4 Pak All Action being the first, and the only one out of these two beasts that is playable, I was pretty exicted when I first heard about this one because I love obscure, unlicensed garbage from the 8-Bit era because it tends to be totally hilarious, though I can’t give high scores for that. Action 52 was one of the big ones for the NES, but for the SMS we were blessed with 20 Em 1. 20 Em 1 is a strange game from the later years of the console, released exclusively in Brazil, although it plays just fine on American systems. Technically, complete copies only came packaged with TecToy Sega Master System III models, so keep that in mind if you actually crave this. They were never sold separately and thus have no actual insert or such, though there was a set of instructions that came with them. 20 Em 1 was never released to the public in the same fashion as the bulk of SMS games, much to the joy of the human race. Why is that? Keep reading.

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Graphically, 20 Em 1 is kind of surprising at times. Still, there are simply not enough unholy adjectives for this grand duke pit fiend from the depths when you look at it in its entirety. 20 different games are here for your assumed enjoyment, yes, but all 20 are quite miserable in appearance. The color schemes are sometimes vibrant with a nice amount of detail considering the terrible programming one can find here, but more often than not they are cheaply used or simply used over and over again so that’s the main problem. Or, at times, you have absolutely no clue what you’re looking at.

One game in particular, number “4,” is a bland purple background with a strange, armless, gray being that jumps over yellow blocks. That’s it. Completely void of any meaning or ingenuity. I have no clue what it’s supposed to be and I don’t think anyone will ever figure it out. In addition to this monster, over and over you’ll find they used this one “oval-headed” character repeatedly for different games. In one he appears as a skateboarder, in another a baker, and in yet another a diver. He is indeed a man of all seasons, but I have the drop the score even a bit further because reusing graphics if one of my biggest pet peeves, unlicensed weirdo game or not. Overall, in spite of some interesting displays of color, the graphics are simply awful, though I must say I’ve seen worse in the unlicensed land of suck.

Okay, I’ll give this title a bit in the graphics department, but not in the sound category. This is because the sound is pretty much nonexistent. You have a lame opening track at the title screen that is laughable and then this depressing, bland song that plays continuously through every game. I wish I had a way to describe it, but the best I can do is say imagine a young child repeatedly playing the same four or five notes on a xylophone endlessly and this is what you get. There is no variety at all, only pure repetition. It sticks in your head and refuses to leave, but in a bad way. There are a few sounds effects here and there, but they are also reused and never fit anywhere for the most part. I believe the only one that does make any sense is the incessant putt-putting of the motorcycle in its particular game.

Gameplay, huh? Boy, where to start with this. There isn’t really much to speak of here. 20 Em 1 features 20 different, but absolutely terrible games with no endings. They simply repeat over and over with no real stage variety, and no real reason to continue playing more than a few seconds. It’s a bit humorous to show the spread featured here to your friends now and then, but I don’t know of anyone that would actually sit and play this game at all. It’s simply awful. You rarely use the 1 and 2 Buttons on the Sega controller, and when you do only basic actions occur such as the frog sticking its tongue out to catch these falling beetles or the gray creature jumping. Normally, you simply move up, down, and all around doing this and that. It’s lame and completely bland. None of the games are any fun at all. They’re void of everything basic required to be considered video games in terms of the actual content. I could have dealt with the odd graphics and the sound, but this is just unbearable at times. Why would I want to play a game where I move the oval-headed chap over and over again, catching falling tools, and then just start again and again with no score or anything other than this creature yelling at me in Portugese if I don’t catch enough of them?

Creativity? Let me be brief. None, none at all. The oval-headed character is kind of interesting, but he’s overused. The games are technically all different, but because they only look different and essentially repeat similar game mechanics over and over, I will give them no points here. You might be a skateboarder in one level and a naked Indian in another, but you’re still doing the same thing: moving to avoid obstacles and nothing more.

These game has no replay value whatsoever. You’ll never come back to this game to actually play it, but you may show it off and say look at this beauty (since it is not that easy to find, even loose), but that’s all. As far as I could tell from playing a few of the games for an extended period of time, they never end, and thus have the greatest game length of any game in history if you’re looking for straight length, but nobody would actually want to play them that long.

20 Em 1 is an interesting piece of Master System history. TecToy released several games that were exclusive to Brazil, but the majority of them are actually good. What possessed anyone to make this beast is a tale I refuse to try to understand. What’s strange is that it was packaged with a system that came with “Sonic the Hedgehog” already built in, so why in the world would you want to play this when there’s something so much better along with it? Perhaps TecToy wanted to create an “Action 52” for the SMS. If this was the goal, points given indeed, but since there’s no way to know this for certain, I won’t be giving them out for this review.

Graphics: 2
Sound: 0
Gameplay: 0.5
Creativity: 1
Replay Value/Game Length: 1
Final: 0.8
Written by Stan Review Guide

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