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Woody Pop Reviewed by Adam Romano on . Rating: 64%
Woody Pop
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Almost everything Steve Jobs touches is destined to become imitated: user-friendly computers, iPods, Pixar films, and ... Breakout!? Yes, Jobs built the first circuit board for Atari's Breakout, and since its release in 1976 countless clones have surfaced, most notably Taito's Arkanoid, a game that has been legally challenged by Atari for patent infringement. Woody Pop, on the other hand, has gone largely unnoticed, though it employs the same brick-breaking premise of the aforementioned games. Its obscurity lies chiefly in that it was originally limited to Japanese audiences (via Sega's Mark III console) before being ported to the Game Gear.

These types of games don't really need a story, but Sega provides one anyway. Your paddle, an anthropomorphized log, likes spherically shaped objects (i.e. balls) and so he is out to free some of his round friends from the confines of a gumball machine. On route to the contraption, he is impeded by blocks and various wind-up toys. The log's facial expressions match his actions - he winces when a large ball bounces on his head and grimaces when it falls below him into oblivion.

Unlike most ball-and-paddle games, this one allows the player to choose his path toward the end; doors open when Woody demolishes all of the blocks and you may find yourself sketching a map to learn which routes are easier or faster. With 52 rooms in all and multiple paths, the game has high replay value.

The power-ups are virtually the same as most ball-and-paddles games: double-ball, sticky-ball, slow ball, big ball, etc. The highly coveted tornado ball allows you to fire wind funnels at blocks and enemies. A few innovations include elemental power-ups that react differently with different kinds of blocks (e.g. fire burns wood), and there's even a power-down-a skull that removes the lips of the floor that sometimes save you ball from the dark basement of death. To counter the effects of these, you will need a hammer power-up to restore your partial floor.

Though Woody Pop seems a direct port the original software, the Game Gear version has a few changes that improve upon the original. For one, the truncated screen size helps to make most of the levels eminently more digestible than their original counterparts. Where the original allowed for fourteen blocks across the screen, this rendering only allows for nine. More importantly, the continue feature is unhidden, and unless you have the reflexes of a frog's tongue, you're going to need it.

Woody Pop is the perfect game for a portable system - quick, easy-to-learn, and fun. Its physics are perfect and the paddle flows smoothly. In the words of the Ren & Stimpy cartoon, "All kids love log ... It's big, it's heavy, it's wood, ... it's better than bad, it's good."
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