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Hook (Game Gear) Review

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Hook was developed for the Game Gear by Spidersoft and released in 1993. I say this, as Hook has actually a few games under the same title by different developers. The First Hook game was for the NES in 1992 and was developed by Ocean Software. There's not a lot of information about its development process under Spidersoft, but what I can say is that when comparing it to the SNES and Sega CD iterations Hook is clearly a faithful port of those two titles albeit fewer stages and simpler music composition and graphics. However, that's to be expected due to the Game Gears hardware limitations. In future, I may return to Hook on a different platform and see how it compares.


Plot

The plot of Hook follows Peter's journey in the movie rather than the rest of the movies more intricate plots of the other characters. Like Jack's loss of respect for his father which makes him join Captain Hook, or Hook's boredom and discontent with his current life, wishing to once again face a truly life-threatening challenge in Peter only to be disappointed when he arrives. No, this game starts with Peter telling his children, Jack and Maggie, to go to bed and that Wendy's stories of Peter Pan are all fairy tales. Then after Hooks ship subtly passes the moon, nice ;), Peter returns to find the children missing. Tink, the fairy, then appears and convinces/kidnaps Peter, taking him to Neverland and the Lost Boy's hideout. There Peter must fight Rufio and convince the Lost Boy's he's "The Pan" retrieving his sword from the now subdued Rufio. Peter Pan then proceeds to hunt the Pirates down through Neverland saving any and all captured Lost Boys on the way. Once reaching the ship Peter confronts the Pirates defeating Hook in their first sortie. During the battle though Rufio is killed saving the children which leads to the final duel with Captain James T Hook. Once Hook is defeated Peter returns the sword to the Lost Boys and leaves Neverland with his children. Returning home with a newfound look on his life. Yes, there are bits and pieces missing from the movie but the main beats of Peter's story do survive mostly in tacked.


Pros

Hook is quite faithful to the movie and shows it through its choice of characters, cut scenes and dialogue. For instance, this game has most of the major players from the movie: Peter, Jack, Maggie, Tink, Rufio and Captain James T Hook. Hook also recreates some of the iconic music scores from the movie and many of the sprites are also influenced by the movies esthetics. Peter's sprite for instance is noticeably taller than the lost boys and is dressed in an approximate 8bit rendition of Robbin Williams Pan attire in the movie's 3rd act. Even his son Jack has a baseball cap on in the cut scenes.

Hook has a flight mechanic in it which I do enjoy as Peter is able to glide and outmanoeuvre enemies on occasion with it. However, I do wish the developers had put more thought or indeed leaned into this side of the character more. As flying is very restrictive because Tink is the only one that restores your flight metre. As a result, she is used very incidentally a lot of the time and that is also true for the flight mechanic as well. Meaning it's there solely to solve a problem at the time rather than just being a natural ability that the Player can use.


Cons

Hook fortunately has good music but sadly not many tunes, I'd say 3 maybe 4 stage themes over 8 levels, So yes it's a bit repetitive. Which isn't so bad if you manage to do the game in one great uninterrupted run but if you die as often as I do you'll find yourself reaching for that volume dial sooner rather than later.


Hook is surprisingly shorter than you would expect, this in part due to a misleading map screen, rather than the actual length of most platformers on the Game Gear. The map screen between stages suggests that each large dot is a stage, but you'll find that Peter will sort of jump ahead at times on the map. This might make more sense if the map was more detailed, but it mostly just consists of a forest, a port and a ship. It's also a redundant map and could have been removed altogether from the game, as it shows a rather counter-intuitive way that Peter goes about saving his kids. I suspect that it only exists because it's in the SNES and Sega CD versions of Hook.

There are a number of design choices in Hook that I find are there to make the game rather more difficult than is necessary. It smacks to me of either laziness or rushing a game out with little thought just to get a quick buck from a hot property at the time. These problems are the limited thought put into the flight mechanic, the short attack range (unless you keep the golden sword), the golden sword that disappears after your first point of damage(yes I'm aware you can collect it again but it's still annoying), the minor input lag with the controls, the fact that a large quantity of the jumps in the game that are blind jumps and that most of the bosses just sort of happen. No music shift or anything just.

"O this is a boss now, is it?"


Nerd O Meter Rating


2 out of 5


Hook has a lot in common with the Last Battle in relation to its problems. It has repetitive music, an interesting mechanic that it fails to fully embrace, a redundant map screen that's misleading and a high difficulty curve. However, it is better in its presentation of the story using cut-scenes rather than large exposition text scrolling that can't be skipped. The difficulty is also not as infuriating due to its consistency throughout the game, unlike Last Battle where the levels can be laughably easy but the bosses are harder than punching through a brick wall. Hook also provides lives and continues making the game's difficulty a bit more manageable. Do I recommend Hook? Not really there are better platformers and indeed better looking and sounding renditions of the game, the Sega CD one springs to mind. Even though Hook is a relatively faithfully port of the Sega CD and SNES games it doesn't quite live up to them. I'd really only recommend acquiring this one if you're an avid collector or if you're curious to see how a Game Gear version of Hook looks. Like I say the flight mechanic's fun, but underutilized, and it's fairly colourful so it may provide a couple of hours of distraction. After that, though it wouldn't surprise me if you didn't pick it up again.


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