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Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 64%
Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja
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Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja
  • Review Score:

  • B-
Ninjas and video games go together like syrup and pancakes. With their stealthy maneuvers, deadly weapons and foreign mystique, ninjas are a perfect fit on a game system. And thanks to decades of lazy and unimaginative game developers, we've seen way too many ninja incarnations. Gamers have taken control of space ninjas, animal ninjas, undead ninjas and even alien ninjas. With so many silly variations, I don't know why I'm having a hard time getting my mind around Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja.

Based on a 1991 arcade game from Data East, Joe & Mac tells the story of two average Neanderthals on a mission to rescue their tribe's kidnapped women. Using the most ancient form of ninja arts, our heroes are forced to battle more dinosaurs than Jurassic Park. This Genesis port features simultaneous two-player gameplay, some truly inspired levels and a whole lot of fun. Too bad the whole thing is over in less than a half hour.

Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja (Genesis)

Despite the ninja subtitle, Joe & Mac is more of a Wonder Boy/Adventure Island rip-off. You control one of the two cavemen as they avoid enemy dinos and crack eggs open for weapon upgrades. You'll have the choice of several era-specific throwing items, including a wheel chiseled out of stone, boomerangs and, of course, fire. Some of these weapons are better than others, so be careful what you pick up along the way.

This Genesis port is split up into nine different levels, each with their own prehistoric-themed boss battle. At two points in the game you are given a choice between paths, giving the player an incentive to play through the game at least twice. Despite starting in yet another boring forest, Joe & Mac quickly proves its worth with a number of beautiful backgrounds. One stage has volcanoes erupting in the background, another one sees you riding on the head of a sea serpent, while one late stage takes place in a dreary dinosaur graveyard. The level designs may not be anything to write about, their look will keep you going for the twenty or thirty minutes it takes you to beat Joe & Mac.

Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja (Genesis)

While the bosses are large and full of detail, the standard enemies aren't nearly as interesting. You'll run into the same batch of lookalike cavemen and flying dinos. I was excited to get to the water stages; not because of the change in scenery, but rather the introduction of a new type of bad guy. One can definitely make a strong argument that repetition takes hold around the halfway mark.

Despite slightly downgraded graphics, this is an impressive port of a classic arcade game. The gameplay is tight and the bosses are cool, even if it's a bit on the repetitive side. This makes for a good two-player game, the type of thing you can easily bust through in less than a half hour. Joe & Mac isn't perfect, but it has enough charm to make it worth a play.
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