Totally Rad is one of my favorite games to talk about: not only is it a game that no one I know has EVER heard of, but among the few reviews I can find of it, the opinions are pretty much split (kind of like with Battle of the Bands). As with Battle of the Bands, which was probably quickly prejudged due to other rhythm music games, I think the people who don’t like Totally Rad are jumping to conclusions based on the title alone. Think about it; Totally Rad? Does that even sound close to the title of a good game? Well, let’s see why you shouldn’t judge a game by its title alone with Totally Rad for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The story of the game is that you play a kid named Jake, a magicians apprentice who… know what? No, you don’t care about the story; you are playing a game called Totally Rad. Yes, I know I just said you shouldn’t judge a game by its title, but think about it; they put that little thought into the name, what makes you think the story is anything deep? It’s pretty much standard with people telling you to save the world… because you have to. Though I have to say, you should still check out the cut scenes in between the levels, filled with so much radical lingo, you’ll wonder how anyone ever thought that was cool. Though I’m sure Linkara’s 90’s Kid would be quick to defend his native tongue… (Clip: 90’s kid)- But he’d just be proving me right.
The game plays like a mix of Mega Man and Metroid. I say Mega Man more the Metroid, because you can charge your shot like Mega Man, though this game came before he could do that, and because the levels and some of the enemies do make me think of the blue bomber. The Metroid aspect is mostly based on the twirly jump, which reminds me very much of Samus’ and maybe few of the enemies and background influences… maybe. The big difference between those two and Jake is that you seem a bit slower. I hesitate to say that the controls are “stiffer” since I honestly don’t have a problem with them, but I wouldn’t disagree with you if you think they are.
One aspect this game has that takes it beyond the regular shooting and jumping platform game is magic. I don’t mean like it’s a great aspect, I mean, literally, it’s magic. Most of his spells fall into the category of “Typical, but VERY useful magic skills”, like two types of healing (full and half-way), freezing the enemies, making yourself invincible and 4 types of attacking spells to either hurt or kill one or several enemies. But the most unique spells are the ones that transform into one of the three creatures (plus one spell for turning back) which reminds me of what I saw of Demon’s Crest. Unlike that game though, the transformations from this game are far from necessary (I know since I’ve finished the game without using them). So, it adds the option of making this game different from standard platformers without forcing it too, which I enjoy. It’s worth mention though that you have a magic bar, so use your spells sparingly; e.i. don’t transform too much if you plan on relying on healing spells.
The way the game looks is pretty interesting. It has a whole futuristic city type thing that’s kind of hard to explain. With the way the background and enemies are designed, it gives a bit of the same feeling as some of the Ninja Turtles games on the NES. Things are pretty well sprited; if I had to compare the quality of them, I think I’d have to put it somewhere between Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man. The coloring of it is probably what gives it its personality though. It can be described as neon, or as far as the NES can produce neon. The only problem is that these weird colors and designing might be another reason this game get prejudged like it does, but I think it’s a matter of opinion since I say it gives the game much of its flavor. Just remember, it’s not all about how it looks.Totally Rad may not be the greatest game out there, but it’s still a pretty good game. I will admit it’s far from perfect though; there are minor issues thought out the game that you can easily get to you if you let it. The only one I’ve really had a problem with myself is the fact that you start way back at the start of a level, no matter how long it is, if you die any point during. This can cause big problems if you get to a boss. Still, I don’t think its worthy of the hate it gets from some people, and I can’t help but wonder “If it was under its original title or Magic John, would people like it better?” To sum it all up, I call this game the “From Paris with Love” of NES platformers; nothing astounding, but still pretty good for what you’d expect. Plus, you can get this game for like 2 bucks online, so if you don’t like it, it’s not a big loss. I give Totally Rad for the Nintendo Entertainment System 7.5 levels out of 10.