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4 Pak All Action Review

Developer: Home Entertainment Suppliers Publisher: Home Entertainment Suppliers
Release Date: 1995 Also On: None

4 Pak All Action is without a doubt one of the rarest Master System games out there, which is kind of strange. It was only released in Australia, made by a notorious company known as HES that created a ton unlicensed games for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day. It’s interesting that 4 Pak is the only game they released for the Master System because there were no lockout problems to worry about, which means it will work on any system. In addition, the SMS was more popular abroad, including Australia, so it’s kind of odd that with no problems from Sega they’d decide to only release one title for the Master System. With Nintendo they had a ton of difficulty and kept it going by releasing some of the strangest gimmicks in order to get their cartridges to function, such as the “piggyback,” which worked by being powered by a legitimate catridge attached to it! Thus it’s odd that HES only released 4 Pak and then a converter for the Megadrive because they would have had more success with the SMS. At any rate, that’s enough history, let’s get into the review. Keep in mind this game consists of four games, two of which are actually very good, and two that aren’t so good at all, so the overall score was calculated by factoring in all four together. Though it pains me and I’d like to ignore two of them, I play and review the game as it is, so please remember this is a combo cartridge. The four titles to be found therein are, in no particular order are Power Block, Adventure Kid, Cave Dude and Twin Mouse.

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Overall, I would have to rate the graphics pretty much slightly above middle. Two of the games, Power Block and Cave Dude, have some impressive graphics with a splendid usage of colors and fluid animations. The other two, Adventure Kid and Twin Mouse, are poor hacks of actual games with some of the worst graphics I’ve ever seen. I believe these may have been developed in Korea, known for some piracy problems, so the two games in 4 Pak that seem simply terrible may, and probably are pirated. Power Block is very fluid, with tons of variety and oddity including some creative creatures and large, heavily detailed bosses. Cave Dude is just as good and looks almost like some of the graphics were lifted from Super Mario World, but once you get further along you’ll find these points minors. Great job on the last boss with a well-deserved ending to boot!

Adventure Kid, however, is horrendous, so bad that it simply looks like the programmers didn’t care whatsoever when they made it. Seriously, the graphics constantly skip, and look like they came from an Atari 2600 title or, more likely, were lifted from an early SG-1000 game called Wonder Boy. It’s likely this is exactly what happened since this game was developed in Korea. However, since it looks so similar to the NES title Adventure Island II, I’m not entirely certain. Anyway, you’ll notice immediately that you can actually see the background through the main characters most of the time in addition to the fact it feels like it moves like a really slowed down movie with frames missing. Talk about disgraceful. Twin Mouse is a bit better, but the game is just a total hack of Tiny Toon Adventures, and a poor one at that. If you’re familiar with the game you can generally see how they almost colored over some of the character to make them appear different. I could deal with that, but the main problem with it graphicall is that it lacks variety and is overall a pretty dark game due to the black backgrounds they used most of the time. The ending sucks too.

For the sound, considering the graphical spread above, you have the same issue. Power Block and Cave Dude have excellent tunes and sound effects; very fitting and well placed. Whatever nameless Korean programmed these titles did a great job. But like the graphics, the other two games in 4 Pak All Action are just atrocious. Adventure Kid has this continuous, agonizing soundtrack that refuses to end. The sound effects are a bit better, but generally too loud and awkward. Twin Mouse has poor music and sound as well, but it’s more bearable than Adventure Kid, just nothing memorable, which almost makes it even worse.

Now for the gameplay. Again, this is hard to judge overall because you have four completely different games here, two that are good and two that suck. Power Block is simply excellent. It’s essentially like Arkanoid, except from the side instead of from the bottom of the screen. You have to take out different obstacles to hit an inner core, and then tackle a huge boss every level. It even has a two-player, simultaneous mode that’s wonderfully addictive! It’s a bit strange at first because you move the paddle vertically instead of horizontally, but you’ll get used to it.

Cave Dude runs like any other platformer, but it’s pretty well done considering it was made by some obscure, third-party group of Koreans probably working out of an alley. Some of it almost seems to have been hacked from Super Mario World, but it’s really balanced throughout with a ton of obstacles, power-ups and so forth. You run through eight levels with three stages each and bosses at the end of each. It’s a fun little game, and to top it all off the last boss is excellent and plenty challenging. It even has a nice ending if you beat it.

Adventure Kid, as we’ve gathered from the above, is too horrible for words. The controls are hardly responsive and you never seem to land or attack where you want, not to mention that the screen seems to move too fast for your character, which is is mainly because the graphics skip so much. As I said, this game is nearly a complete hack of Adventure Island II or Wonder Boy, right down to the dinosaurs and everything. It’s just really, really bad.

Twin Mouse is playable, but it’s not really that entertaining at all. At first it seems okay, but since it’s just a poor hack of Tiny Toon Adventures, it doesn’t quite play right. Even if you’re not aware it’s a hack you’ll get tired of it rather quickly because the stages tend to all appear the same and the action never gets any more difficult than the first level. Your jumping is slightly off and if you don’t watch yourself, you’ll constantly fall off of platforms because your character moves to the right or left every time you land depending on the direction you’re facing. The enemies have been cut and pasted every which way and look like they were hacked to bits without any regard for public decency. HES could have done more with this when they got the games and perhaps added a boss or two instead of these MR looking dogs near the end of most levels. In fact, seeing what we’ve seen thus far, why didn’t they just make this 2 Pak All Action or release each of the games separately so I’d have something else to collect?

As for creativity, Power Block and Cave Dude are wonderful, the former being the best of all. If you happen upon this game, they’re more than worth it. Though they are essentially imitations of different types of games, they play very well. Power Block makes up for it’s obvious influences by changing the movement of the paddle, adding a two-player feature that’s just awesome, and throwing in tons of oddity and cool bosses. It’s the best of the four without a doubt.

Cave Dude is a simple platformer, but it’s a bit original, plus it’s fun. It’s the second best of the four. They could have added some more backgrounds, creatures and variety, but overall it’s a good little game, just not very creative if you think about it. Adventure Kid and Twin Mouse are just hacks of actual games. There’s nothing unique about them save some changed characters, and this doesn’t amount to much most of the time. A hack is never very creative and in this case it’s the lowest level of creativity possible.

I will certainly come back to Power Block, it’s a great game and tons of fun with a friend, really a great game. Cave Dude is a nice one, but I wouldn’t come back to it as often since it’s generally the same every time and takes a little longer to beat than I’d like considering it’s not the most original game. Still, it’s definitely good. Adventure Kid is a horrible beast in that it is possibly about a three-hour long game. I’m not kidding. If you’ve played Adventure Island II, it seems to have been programmed to be that long, so you’re in for a world of pain if you choose to complete this demon. Because of graphical problems, however, it’s doubtful you’ll ever make it very far, so it may be that the game simply ends randomly because they didn’t think anyone could make it very far.

Twin Mouse is short and to the point, but it isn’t worth playing at all. Every now and then I show it to people for a laugh, but I don’t actually play it that long. The ending is too pathetic to be redeeming or to entice me to further playing.

In conclusion, based on the greatness of Power Block and Cave Dude, 4 Pak All Action is still worth it. Adventure Kid and Twin Mouse are a waste of cartridge space, however, but they kind of level it out so you have something hilarious to look to since, let’s face it, every unlicensed game tends to have this suck factor we tend to enjoy. Adventure Kid has to be seen to be believed, but it is really quite good for a laugh now and then, though I’m not going to raise the scores at all because of my own sick obsession. Power Block is just excellent, and that’s all I need to say, purchase this game specifically to play this. As I suggested before, HES should have been simply released that title alone, and nothing else, perhaps with Cave Dude though, but stand alone it would have actually given them a somewhat respectable reputation with Master System fans. At any rate, that’s all that needs to be said other than please keep in mind the ratings below had to be based on the four games as a whole, not just one or two.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6
Written by Stan Review Guide