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Adventures of Rad Gravity (Stan’s Review) Review

Developer: Interplay Productions Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

Though a review was already written for this, I have a bizarre obsession with playing, legitimately completing, provided the title isn’t impossible, and reviewing every NES game. The Adventures of Rad Gravity was one I’d been meaning to play for awhile, and after convincing Kyle that a potentially dangerous void would exist in my being if he didn’t let me do my own review, I finished it and here we are. So what does Stan have to say about The Adventures of Rad Gravity?

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The Adventures of Rad Gravity has a mixed bag of graphical features. The title screen, ship and ending are superb. Other times it could have used a little work. I like Rad’s design in particular, it has a comical look to it with a unique feel. If it weren’t for the fact that he makes the same arm motions whether he’s using a saber or shooting a gun, I’d say he was spot on. In addition, a number of enemies are messy and some of the item integration feels rushed. For example, later in the game you have to carry around these red arrow things to put into slots and they just magically hover over your head when you pick them up. Plus, some enemies have this unlicensed look to them ala’ any Color Dreams slop heap like Raid 2020. However, the levels all have their own unique design, so that’s a plus, in addition to a lot of background features and such that come into play when you’re moving through the levels.

The sound in The Adventures of Rad Gravity is typical to any Activision title from this time. Generally you hear the same track for most of the levels, which is sad because the majority have their own feel, so I was expecting more musical variety. It was also irritating to me that the boss track was on loop on the entire last level. The opening theme was interesting and fitting, however, and the ending track is awesome. Could have used some more work on the tunes, but I’d say in general the sound effects work just fine. They recycled some of them a bit too often, but overall they work. To get an idea of how it looks and sounds, here you go:

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is an interesting title. It has gameplay similar to The Goonies II. Basically, you have to restart a number of computers that were shut down by the evil Agathos, a man who turned himself into a living brain. You have to go around various planets collecting weapons, armor upgrades and items. Pressing one button makes Rad jump and the other use a weapon or item. Rad can easily leave planets if he’s in trouble by selecting his teleporter, and the interface is very fluid. Overall, it’s got an engaging plot (with a nice twist at the end that caught me off guard) and gameplay that’s easy to get into. What about the details?

The Adventures of Rad Gravity involves just the right amount of puzzle-solving and action. It isn’t too heavily weighed on either side, so that’s good. Each world has a lot of variety and different themes and they don’t follow any particular format. One has you rescuing your computer, one upside down because gravity has been shifted, while another has you figuring out how to get into the underground lair of a race of grotesque gnomes. You never know what you might find and the integration of items and weapons into the mix is well-organized. Rad has some shaky jumping, but it didn’t take me too long to get used to it. You have a password feature to use whenever you want to come back and it has a bit of non-linear play. Overall, I was pretty happy, but there are some problems. A few will tax even the most skilled of gamers.

The Adventures of Rad Gravity is strange at first, I almost thought it was a joke. Why? Because it feels like an unlicensed title due to the fact that the level layout, especially the first stage, has this illogical, messy presence to it. It took me a stage or two to get the feel for it. Afterwards, it was enjoyable. Here and there, however, things can get a bit tedious. In the upside-down world, for example, it will take you a few times to figure out what you need to do, but in the process you have to die and go through the same annoying crap over and over. When this occurs, you pretty much play mindlessly to get some small little platform you just can’t jump on right or some item you put in the wrong place. This is especially an issue for the worst part of the game. It was so bad I almost gave up entirely. The Adventures of Rad Gravity has an odd difficulty curve.

You start out feeling like you’re playing a Color Dreams title, and then you find yourself having fun. At that point, it’s actually quite enjoyable, aside from some minor faults and occasionally confusing dialog. However, then you get to Volcania. It’s pretty difficult at first, though manageable, and your anger starts to rise. Then what? The final level. Prepare for the worst gaming experience you could imagine.. I don’t think I’ve played a level as annoying as this in quite awhile. It takes forever to muster the patience to get through it after multiple misses, glitches, odd graphics and bullets from everywhere. One example I can think of was one point near the beginning where a knife barrier thing (not sure what it is) is coming towards you. You figure, okay, throw down my teleporting beacon and press the button when it moves by so I appear behind it. However, when the barrier hits the disc, it disappears. Hmmm, guess that didn’t work. I didn’t figure it out until I got so ticked I starting mashing the buttons to discover that graphically the disc is gone, but in the programming code it’s still present! So when you press the button you do what you’re supposed to do anyway even though they screwed up the visuals. What an annoying glitch! Took me at least an hour to figure out what to do because I assumed it wasn’t working.

And then, to top it off, you have one of the most irritating bosses in the history of video games. I thought the final boss in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker for the Master System was rough, but this is even worse. First you fight the brain, which has some excellent design and programming, by the way. Hard, but manageable. And then, while not blowing the ending for you, you face a spaceship with its weak point on the top. Sound easy? Wrong. You need to use Rad’s gun to move him in the opposite direction of where he’s facing (he’s floating in space), positioning yourself repeatedly as the ship’s missles try to hit you and you direct them to the top as they fly around and miss you. Wow, it’s just as difficult to explain as it is to play. After several hours you’ll figure out the best way to do it, but it takes forever. It’s impossible for me to explain how frustrating this boss is. Thank god the ending is cool enough, with digitized speech to boot!

The Adventures of Rad Gravity isn’t necessarily creative, it takes a tired-and-true puzzle/platforming approach. It’s a lot of fun, but honestly Solar Jetman did it better. Still, it has its own charm and manages to take a well-known format and do it right. I won’t give reallly high marks, but definitely not low either.

One good point is that The Adventures of Rad Gravity has what I consider to be perfect length. With the password feature you can come back whenever you want, and if you actually want to play through it you have a decent four to five hours of solid play, provided you’re good enough and don’t make too many mistakes. Thus, it will take you at least a week to get through it and though some points are annoying, once I figured everything out I wouldn’t mind playing it again, I just need to let me temper cool down a bit. I can even say I’m a bit proud I actually beat that distressing final boss.

Overall, I have to say that The Adventures of Rad Gravity is worth a look. It’s not something I’d recommend to the casual gamer, but for the general NES fan or puzzle/platforming fan, yeah, definitely. It has weak points, but its variety makes up for it, most of the time…

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 6.7
Written by Stan Write a User Review