With a name like John's Adventure I was expecting an epic action game full of dark caves, hidden treasure and big bosses to slay. Unfortunately what I got was not an action game at all; instead it's a puzzle game that will look familiar to anybody who has ever owned a Nintendo console or portable. That's right; John's Adventure is nothing more than a rip-off of Dr. Mario, the overrated Nintendo game that took a little from Tetris and a little from Puyo Puyo to create another puzzle game with falling pieces.
I've never been a huge fan of the Dr. Mario series, while Nintendo got the presentation right (as they always do); this franchise always felt like it played second fiddle to the other puzzle games of the era. While it offered a simple premise (two "colored" blocks fall from the top of the screen and it's your job to match four together and clear the screen), the concept was just never as intriguing to me as something like Tetris. And to make matters worse, the game hasn't help up particularly well, either. I find myself actually having less fun playing Dr. Mario now than I did fifteen years ago. Part of the problem is that there are just too many better puzzlers on the market, but sadly that's not the only thing going against Nintendo's title. I also don't like how shallow the whole game feels, there just doesn't seem to be the same amount of depth to the game as the other competing puzzlers.
But wait a second ... is this a review for Dr. Mario or John's Adventure. To be honest, even I'm a little fuzzy on which is which. The thing is, you could use this review for both John's Adventure and Dr. Mario ... the two games are that similar. While the graphics are a little different (instead of Mario you have what looks like an egg with a hat on) and the music isn't nearly as catchy, John's Adventure is so close to Dr. Mario that not even Nintendo would know the difference.
Released a mere two years after Dr. Mario for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, John's Adventure is nothing more than a shameless rip-off. I know I've said that already, but as far as I can tell it bears repeating. If you've played Dr. Mario then you'll feel right at home with John's Adventure, all of the controls, level layouts and extras are identical. The gameplay is simple; two "colored" shapes (in this case the colors are indicated by shades of black and gray) drop from the sky and it's your job to clear the level of floating blocks. Once you've cleared the board your score is tallied and it's off to the next challenge. Like Dr. Mario, you can set up the levels any way you want, so if you're looking for a challenge you may want to set the speed all the way up or add a lot of objects that need to be cleared on any given level.
Unlike Puyo Puyo (a game that both John's Adventure and Dr. Mario borrowed heavily from), this Supervision puzzler doesn't give you a lot of depth. Because the game is about clearing levels, you never really feel like you could keep doing this for hours on end. An even bigger problem is that the concept of clearing levels gets old extremely quickly. That's not to say that you won't have some fun with the game in short bursts, but I was sick of this kind of puzzle game only minutes after tossing it in.
Thankfully the game does have a few things going for it, including solid graphics, fast gameplay and a responsive control scheme. The game's music isn't very good, but outside of that the presentation is fantastic. The only real complaint I have (outside of the shallowness of the actual game) is the name. When you buy a game like John's Adventure you don't expect a Dr. Mario rip-off, instead you expect it to be some exciting action game or even an RPG.
Obviously not everybody is going to agree with my take on Dr. Mario, the game's success cannot be dismissed completely. Chances are there are a lot of gamers out there reading this review that loved Nintendo's franchise, which means that they will like this blatant rip-off. I'm not one of those people, but at the end of the day that's just an opinion. If you own a Sueprvision, want a good puzzle game and loved Dr. Mario, then John's Adventure is worth getting. It may be a rip-off, but it manages to capture everything that made Dr. Mario good. It's not my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean it won't be yours.