Wayne’s World – 60 Second Retro Gamer Ep54

I’ve always been a fan of the Wayne’s World movies. They’re infinitely quotable, have a surreal undercurrent in the same style as Airplane and they feature some rather good musicians. I should never be surprised at finding out that another popular licence has received a video game tie-in, but seriously – how does Wayne’s World translate to a video game?

This is another retro title that I played briefly back in the early 90s. We never owned it, so our only opportunity to play it was when my uncle visited. A typical night’s gaming would be a couple of matches on the first FIFA International Soccer (SNES version), followed by maybe a couple of other games (if I didn’t insist on us watching an action replay of every single goal…) and then playing as far as possible through Donkey Kong Country before calling it a night. Being only nine or ten at that point I was far more content to watch everyone else play the games, apart from FIFA – ignoring my obsession with action replays I think I was quite good at it. In fact, when we first got the SNES I played FIFA so much I think my thumb calloused. Again, this is another SNES release that I purchased many years later when the retro bug kicked in. I was lucky enough to buy a complete boxed edition of the game, with manual and consumer information pamphlet. From our own original collection I know SNES boxes don’t last particularly well, so to find a copy of Wayne’s World in this condition was a bonus.

The story sees you playing as Wayne and attempting to rescue Garth from Zantar, the gelatinous cube, this being one of the games mentioned by Noah Vanderhoff, owner of Noah’s Arcade, in the first movie. The game plays out as a nightmare experienced by Wayne, although why it would be structured as a platformer I’m not really sure. Also of note is that in this dream world Wayne has an oversized head, very similar to the Corinthian FA Premier League figurines sold many a moon ago. Armed with a killer guitar (literally – the notes fly out and kill all enemies), you traverse the rather confusing levels on your quest to find Garth.

And that I think is the main problem with this game – the level design is terrible, and you’re never too sure where you’re supposed to be going. I’m of the opinion that the screen is too busy – because of the graphical style they’ve used everything seems to meld together, so it’s occasionally difficult to know where a jump is required and where you actually are in the level. It’s also possible to jump too high and magically leap through the floor of the platform above, making you go through all of it again. Along similar lines, another problem is that if you die at any point throughout a level, you’re sent straight back to the beginning. The levels aren’t exactly long, but their complicated layout means a checkpoint system would have probably been a good idea.

There are a mixture of enemies inspired by the first movie, or in some cases based on locations from the first movie. I remember Stacy, Wayne’s ex-girlfriend and psycho hose beast, who shows up to attack Wayne with hearts (no gun rack in sight, sadly), but I don’t recall living musical instruments or psychopathic ice hockey players in the film. Oh yeah sorry, it’s all a nightmare isn’t it. With regards to the music, if you ignore the constant repetitive loop, the soundtrack is pretty good. Naturally it’s based on the Wayne’s World theme, and for about thirty seconds it’s quite enjoyable. Then it loops. And loops. And loops. Gradually you’ll feel the anger building up in you, which will be exacerbated following a pointless death from a flying cymbal or a glittering disco ball. Both of those enemies seem ridiculously difficult to kill, and as you can’t aim your killer guitar anywhere but straight forward, their constant bobbing around and hovering makes them a decidedly tough target. I usually take the coward’s way out and run away from them. Death usually follows, regardless.

I’ve not played the NES version as yet, but I’ve seen a few clips on YouTube and it actually seems to be the better game. Yes, you could say the graphics are inferior to the SNES version, but it seems to have a better story, a better grasp of platform gameplay, and what could prove to be the deciding factor – the ability to play as Wayne AND Garth. I quite fancy giving it a go, but eBay is sadly lacking in NES versions. I’ll keep searching though, I’m sure I’ll track it down eventually.

So, is it a game worth playing? Yes and no. If you like the films then it’s worth a go. It fits in nicely with the humour from the movies and apart from the issues discussed above, it’s a reasonably solid title. Add the ability to adjust the height of your guitar weapon, throw in a couple of checkpoints per level, and maybe expand the story so you can play through as Garth (magical energy powered drum sticks, perhaps?) and you’ve got a game I’d play quite happily. As it stands I’ll play it on occasion, but given the amount of games I’ve yet to play it’s not likely to escape from its box for quite a while. It’s also a perfect example of games being much harder to complete than they are today. Much like Super Mario Bros, I’ve never reached the end and at this rate, I doubt I ever will!

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