Review by DrRetro_PhD
Don't turn the page too fast on this one
I remember renting this game in 1994, but I went with the Super NES version at the time. I think I was in a game-review trip back then. I wasn’t publishing my reviews or anything, but I loved to rent games because it gave me the opportunity to rate a bunch of them in little time. And, of course, I reviewed most of them without even beating them, or coming close…
I did come fairly close to beating this one when I rented it. It seemed fairly easy to me, and still does (I beat it this year but I got the bad ending, as I haven’t found enough library cards): it’s a traditional platformer of the run, jump, bump and collect variety, and it plays really well. Granted, the main character’s movement is super slippery, since he has far too much momentum; reaching small ledges can be painful and frustrating, and he runs almost too fast for his own good (and yours). But at the same time the gameplay feels just as fluid and colorful as the animation and playing it becomes addictive despite the warts.
I remember loving, and I still love, the main themes/worlds of this game (Horror, Adventure and Fantasy), even though I’m not sure I’ve even seen the movie it’s based on. I wasn’t a big reader back then but I am now (I have a few thousands books and if you’ve been reading my reviews, you might know that the Ph. D is real, baby) and love how the developers have incorporated the book/literature theme in the maps, levels, enemies and powerups, the license seems to have played a real role in the game’s conception, it’s not a pure afterthought.
It’s probably a game I will periodically go back to. You die a lot, but you also grab a bunch of 1-ups, and although the levels are a bit too similar to each other in a given world, the game’s structure enables you to either take your time and explore your surroundings (there are alternate paths, hidden rooms, the aforementioned library cards, etc.) or go for a more intense, speedrun-like style of play. It’s fairly long and I must admit that emulation’s save states are appreciated (even though I try to not abuse them), because beating the game during a single playthrough could be tiring with the high number of levels.
Let’s be real: The Pagemaster is not even close to the best 16-bit platformers, but it’s playable, fun and involving if you’re ready to deal with a few issues.
Product Release: The Pagemaster (US, 12/31/94)
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