The Toxic Crusaders
What do you get when you take a B-movie and make a Saturday-morning cartoon out of it? Well, you get a D-show, (where D stands for Dropped after thirteen episodes). So, what would happen if then you let Bandai make a video game based on the cartoon? You get an F-game, that's what. I'm not going to tell you what the F stands for, but suffice to say it's not Fantastic. I rented this game when it came out back in '92, and after about ten minutes of play, I went back to the rental store and got a different game, it was that bad. Will it be able to redeem itself, fourteen years after the fact? My sources tell me 'no'.
As I mentioned earlier, this whole fiasco started with a B-movie entitled The Toxic Avenger. I had never watched this movie before, but I felt I would not be able to do this article justice without first seeing the film that started it all. Unable to find it on peer-to-peer, to decided not to be a cheap ass, and shelled out the six bucks to rent it. The movie is an early production of Troma studios, and is directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Here's a little trivia about Troma: they used to give away death-scene roles in their films as a prize on a game show. This would normally be extremely shameful, if the game show weren't arguably the greatest game show ever: Beat The Geeks.
It may shock some of you to know that before writing this article, I had never watched a Troma film. Even though I am far from a B-movie aficionado, I still enjoyed it for the most part. It met all the B-movie prerequisites: Blood Baths, Bad Acting, and Boobies. How anyone thought this would translate to palatable children's programming is beyond me; the cartoon had none of these. The only thing that could have possibly made a worse cartoon would be BC Entertainment's Lycanthrope. Sure Lycanthrope had Robert Carradine, and it had Michael Winslow, and I've actually met Bob Cook, but Toxie actually had potential to be kid friendly. Unfortunately that potential was never met. The Toxic Crusaders video game was anything but kid friendly, and we're going to find out why.
You don't have to go very far into the game to discover several thing that make the game unplayable. In the story we find out that the evik Dr. Killemoff has captured the rest of the Toxic Crusaders and Yvonne. Now, I don't really remember a whole lot about the show, but in the movies Toxie had a blind girlfriend named Sara, and another blind girlfriend named Claire in the sequels. There aren't any Yvonnes. However, plot inconsistancies do not an unplayable game make. You start off the game armed with your trusty mop. Unfortunately, the first time you get hit, the mop flies out of your hands, never to return until you die or get to the next level. Without your mop you are forced to fend of enemies with your bare hands. For whatever reason, your fists do the same amount of damage as the mop does. I assume the mop has a larger range, but I have no desire to test this hypothesis. If it weren't obvious enough that you've lost your mop when you see if fly off the screen, the game adds insult to injury by putting an M icon at the bottom of the screen, letting you know whether or not you are in fact holding a mop. Thanks a lot you assholes. The other major annoyance in this piece of crap is that if you are walking right, and try to quickly turn left to attack, you will instead start moonwalking, and become a prime target to get stabbed in the back. I could go on about the fact that Toxie has a total of maybe seven or eight frames, but lazy programming is something to be expected from Bandai. Well, I've put it off as long as I can; let's get this shitfest under way.
Level one introduces us to our basic enemies. First off we have brutes that run around with a can of toxic waste. Occasionally they'll toss a glob of the stuff at you. Seeing as this is what turned Melvin into the Toxic Avenger in the first place, I don't see what danger this poses. If the brutes get close enough to you they'll try to bludgeon you with the barrel. As you can imagine, a large barrel of toxic waste makes for a pretty fucking unwieldy weapon, so this also doesn't pose much of a threat. Next up we have slightly more agile enemies armed with backpacks full of CO (Or carbon monoxide for the chemically impaired). These guys can be a particular pain in the ass as they jump on screen unexpectedly and punch you in the face. After I was half way through the game, I discovered that the best way to deal with these is to use your super attack. What's the super attack you ask? Well, if you press select, your attack sends enemies flying off the screen in a single hit. There is no detriment to using the attack, aside from the fact that select is an awkward button to use repeatedly on a NES controller. Fortunately on emulators, you can set select as whatever the hell you want. Finally we have rolling barrels. I normally wouldn't include something like this in a list of enemies, but if I didn't, I'd only have two usable screenshots from level one. Is this lack of enemies a sign of bad things to come? Yes, yes it is.
Here we have the first boss, a giant, muddy, rat-thing that spits muddy loogies at you. As much as I may enjoy beating the immobile with a mop, this boss lacks any sort of fun whatsoever. To defeat it, you have you jump and smack it in the face just before he spits. After you do that enough, he explodes or something. You then move on to Tromaville High.
Level two takes the old rolling barrel schtick and adds a twist to it. Now they bounce! Does this make them harder to dodge? No. While most of this game is so ridiculously difficult I can't see how any child could ever beat it, the barrels move so slowly that they are more of an annoyance than an obstacle. Level two also marks the return of the Can-luggers and the Smog-boys. Again, these are the only enemies you will see in this level. Normally when a game fucks you over this bad, they give you the courtesy of a reach around in the form of pallette-swaps, or tougher bad guys. Not Bandai. No, they just rape your colon and your will to play video games. To their credit, though, they throw in flying desks, which come sailing out of the windows in the background. They don't trigger when you step in front of the window however, but once you're past it, so it's still pretty lame.
If, like me, you expected to fight the first boss again at the end of level two, you're going to pleasantly surprised. The second boss is a badass biker with a penchant for pink. I don't know why he's riding a Harley around in a school, tossing explosives at random, but I suspect it has something to do with Marilyn Manson, or Grand Theft Auto, or his neglectful parents and the school bullies. This boss is actually quite a bit more difficult than his predecessor. In order to defeat him, you need to stand directly in the path of the pig, jump at the last second, smack him in the face with your mop, then dodge out of the way in mid-air. I once used this same tactic to single-handedly kill seventy-four members of the Hell's Angels. When you're done you get treated to the closest thing to B-movie violence that this game offers: a shot of what looks like Toxie revving the bike and pushing the spinning tire into Bonehead's face. Sweet.
Things really start to pick up in level three. You'd never know this however, because to get to level three, you have to beat levels one and two. And unless you're an idiot, or writing an article, you'd never play this game long enough to get this far. There's a whole new set of enemies to fight, including birds that dive into open toxic waste canisters and mutate into evil gargoyles. You wouldn't think it, but there is an unlimited number of doves in Tromaville, which can only be stopped by destroying the cans of waste that they seem to mistake for birdbaths. After killing some birds and making some trickier jumps, you get to the vertical scrolling part of the level where enemies try to drop barrels on you. I'm pretty sure I caught a glimpse of one of them with his mask off, and I'm pretty sure it was Donkey Kong, but I can't be sure.
Did I say that things picked up in level three? Well, I lied. The third boss is the first boss, except now he's orange, and now he spits flaming luggies instead of muddy ones. And guess what, you beat him in exactly the same way. Sometimes it's okay to reuse bosses as enemies in the last level, but reusing a boss as another boss is just fucking lazy.
Level four takes us onto the Tromaville Highway, because playing on the highway is a great message to send to kids. At the outset of the level, Toxie mysteriously hauls a skateboard out of his ass and fun times then ensue. Canister Carter and Smoky Bandit are back in this level, and this time they're wearing rollerskates, because it's fashionable. After a lot of asinine auto-scrolling adventure, you get to the end of the level where you fight. . . , holy shit! Do we get to fight that helicopter? That would be fucking awesome!
Damn it. Everytime I think something awesome is going to happen, it turns out to be some fat bastard with a semi-automatic assault rifle. I don't know if there's a particular strategy to beat this guy, I just punched him in the face a lot until he went into cardiac arrest. Then I laughed instead of doing CPR, because I don't want to get sued if something goes wrong.
What video game would complete without a traipse through the sewers? Certainly not this one. After kicking the shit out of everyone you've run into thus far, the enemies are pretty fucking scared, so they try and hide from you. They can hold their breath for so long, so once you see the bubbles from them exhaling, you know that they're going to have to come up for air soon. When they do, you can liberally beat them to death without any rhyme or reason. Eventually you'll get sucked down a drain and swept out to sea. Here you'll kill aquatic plant life and scuba divers on you're way to the fifth boss.
Holy shit, it's the Penis Monster from Tromeo and Juliet! Just kidding.
Boss five is some guy named Psycho in an underwater vehicle that fires missiles at you and then tries to sodomize you with a cattleprod. When you hit the sub, the screen flashes white and blue. I hadn't mentioned it before, but this game is not epilepsy-friendly. So if you have it, don't play it. I tried to find some information on the Toxic Crusaders cartoon, but there is virtually nothing out there to find. What I did find is that the voice of Psycho was played by Michael J. Pollard of House of 1000 Corpses, Dick Tracy, and Sleepaway Camp III fame.
Level six takes us right to the heart of Dr. Killemoff's island. You fight your standard fare of level one enemies, and there are a few new obstacles thrown in for good measure. Giant telescoping drills come out of the walls, missiles come out of the floor, and steel beams fall from the ceiling. You also have to perform some more tricky jumps over pits before you get to the levels minibosses.
First up is some schmuck who teleports around the screen and tries to run into you. He'll keep running until he reaches the same vertical position as you, so he can be rather annoying. Once he takes enough of a beating, he exposes his crotch, allowing you to deliver the final blow. Next is a train sort of thing that drop railway spikes on you and tries to run you over. Neither is terribly difficult, they just get in your way before you face off against the good doctor. And if you thought that Bozo and Slug's death scenes in the movie were anti-climactic, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Dr. K has two attacks. He shoots electricity and pushes you, neither of which is very impressive. But if you were expecting something more than that, you obviously skipped over the entire article and started reading here. Anyway, after you unmask the "pollutant mutant from planet Smogula" he runs off saying that he'll be back. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, it turns out to be an empty threat. Good riddens.
So there you have it, arguably the worst game I ever had the misfortune of playing. No single aspect of this game is difficult in and of itself, but some level sections are so long that the game is nearly impossible to beat without using save states. When I rented this game, I never even made it to the first boss, it was that bad. And as if the gameplay wasn't bad enough, they make you read stupid 'save-the-environment' jokes bewteen every level. This game is a black sheep of the NES family, and should never have been made. At least the movie had some redeeming qualities, such as gratuitous violence, lines like "I've always wanted to cornhole me a blind bitch" and Cindy Manion's breasts.
Posted by: Valdronius
Let's see if you've got any guts