I’d rather stay a weakling than eating spinach.
Another arcade original. This time developed by Nintendo and ported by Parker Brothers to the Atari 2600.
Nintendo planned to use Popeye in Donkey Kong but they couldn’t get it licensed, so now we are stuck with some weird Italian plumber.
Put yourself in Popeye’s place. You’ve got a daffy girlfriend who goes by the name of Olive Oyl. Right now, she’s got you running in circles, chasing hearts and notes all over the place. Then, there’s that blubber-brain, Brutus, who’s out to get you. While you’re dashing around, he’s taking shots to knock you overboard. And if that’s not bad enough – you’ve got that nasty ‘old buddy, the Sea Hag, pelting you with bottles. Now you’d think with all this going on, you could rely on your spinach. NO CHANCE! It’s there one second – gone the next! So go ahead, put yourself in Popeye’s place – if you think you can handle all the action!
I don’t think I can. See ya!
You start out at the top of a platform right under Olive’s feet.
As soon as the game begins she starts throwing hearts down and it’s your goal to catch 20 of ’em. Miss one and you’ll lose a life. Of course, that’s not all.
There’s also your arch enemy Brutus who cant use ladders (just stairs) and who will beat you into submission whenever he gets the chance. This dude is such a jerk that he will even grab you from another platform.
Another annoyance is a weird Sea Hag positioned somewhere out of sight who will throw bottles at you. Thankfully you can catch them with the right timing for some bonus points.
If things get too hectic you can grab a rare spinach, become invincible and beat the everliving crap out of Brutus.
Once you’ve collected all the hearts you move on to the second stage. Here you have to catch letters and get familiar with your new surroundings. No ladders or stairs this time but a large trampoline at the bottom.
The third stage resembles a large ship and now you have to collect X’s. Beat this stage too and you’re sent back to a tougher Stage 1.
The Atari 2600 obviously pales in comparison to the original but that doesn’t mean its ugly. Every stage has a distinct color palette and Popeye closely resembles his cartoon original. Sadly Olive and Brutus look like pixelated blobs.
The gameplay is also fine for the most part but it took some time to get used to pressing ‘fire’ meaning punch instead of jump.
Yes, there is no jumping in this game and I’m not a fan. It’s not a dealbreaker but feels like a strange choice in this type of game.
Popeye is also fairly challenging especially with bottles flying all over the place which can easily result in death when ladders or stairs are not nearby.
While I’m not blown away by this game (like many others) I still appreciate the stage variety and overall solid gameplay. I just doubt I’m gonna return to it very often.
When sh*t hits the fan and you’re in the middle of flying bottles, vicious punches and gaping pits, a can of spinach doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.