Review by QXZ

Reviewed: 12/27/01 | Updated: 12/27/01

Acclaim’s failed attempt at creating a cute mascot. The game, on the other hand...

Once upon a time when the year was 1994, Nintendo released a rather unique game for their 16-bit system. Its name was Uniracers. A rather unique racing game which used 1.5 dimensions. It was also one of the most enjoyable 16-bit games ever — one worthy of Nintendo’s 64-bit system. Sadly, Nintendo never realized the classic Uniracers was. Unfortunately, a SNES gem wound up being forgotten in the 16-era of gaming.

But nobody knows what game companies will pull from certain areas of the body. Acclaim is a very good example — especially on the N64. They game us the South Park series of games, placed under the What the Hell were they thinking? category. Acclaim also released the somehow under-rated Extreme-G, which mixed the PlayStation’s famous WipeOut series with Disney’s Tron.

Acclaim has released yet another game worth calling such — Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls. I don’t recall any mass publicity for the title, but from the screenshots, Iggy looked, more or less, like a blatant Uniracers rip-off. Minus the unicycles, of course. Instead, there are balls. Reckin’ balls (sic).

This is exactly where the similarities end, as Iggy adds another general plane of movement to the Uniracers formula — height.

Out title character, among eight regulars, is Iggy — an iguana. (How original.) Other cast members include a valley girl named Q-Tee, one of those boastful, “all that”-type women (the type I outright loathe) named Amanda, a ball with a “Sonny” persona, and a set of teeth, among others. Everyone has a distinct profile, so you can easily tell who’s who.

Amazing as it seems, one of the most famous movie stars of all time appears in the game — the pumpkin used in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or at least dinsey’s version. Aside of appearances and their voices, their attributes — power, speed, and whatever else fits here — are equal.

And everyone’s gotten together for the Olympics of destruction. The ultimate goal: Demolish tall, levitating buildings. First to the peak emerges from the mist victorious, receiving the spoils of victory, and proudly speak, “I’m gonna push the button! I’m gonna push the button!” Those who get left behind are doomed to be forgotten in the rubble.

Supposedly, there is a story why these guys act as chaotic and as destructive as they are. Never given any implementation anywhere in the game, who gives a damn? The story could be just our spherical cast “having a good time” as far as I can care.

Iggy & co. maneuver in a fairly straightforward way. Ground movement is purely 1D — moving left and right. Jumping and grappling comprise the rest of it. The controls are rather minimalistic, offering only three essential functions — one button for jumps, another for grapples.

The grappling hook is just standard issue. Handy, considering that you can grab your enemies by the balls... (huh-huh... I said “balls”...) and knock them for a loop. The hook is just the bare essence of this mayhem. There are projectiles to pick up, a way to transform everyone into the ice-age Rolling Stones, and give out a temporary, albeit severe, case of dyslexia. Grapplers interact with the environmental obstacles, turning them into painful ten-ton cartoon weights.

Prepare your grapplers for strenuous exercise. Ten circuits with ten races each equals one hundred races — I can count that high (by ones) in about forty seconds. Makes me wonder if those chains have unconditional, money-back warrantees on them.

The first few levels are merely the appetizer of the insanity. It’s psychologically fit and mentally stable compared to what all you’d find yourself coming across. The screwiness will eminently rise and the already nutty flavor intensifies. (Is that hazelnut I taste? Almond, maybe?)

Oh, yeah. Hallucinogenic levels of surrealism, and possible questioning of laws of physics still apply, gravity’s very existence, and the gasses that make up the atmosphere — could be oxygen, marijuana smoke, or one Hell of an anesthetic. Quoting my brother, “These guys had too much time on their hands.” At the staggering total of 100 towers, I might have to agree.

And, if you plan on tackling any one circuit, set up an appointment. With ten towers per circuit, there is a lot of climbing to do, which may even cause wear in that grappler — purchasing an extended warrantee is critical. Several take much more time then necessary. You’ll even need to climb each twice and even thrice in order to claim victory. One lap’s enough, but lengthening it is murder. Even at a road runner’s speed, time is one thing you’ll need enough of. Think thirty minutes at minimum.

And, yes, there is even a battle mode — something that seems to be an obligation for most N64 games. Arenas are, as the norm of the game goes, bizarre. Multi-tiered madness prevails, as there are plenty of places to ambush opponents. It’s actually pretty fun, although the computer players could have used a boost of aggression.

(Which reminds me: The only real flaw about the multiplayer game is that the camera is a bit too far from the action. My solo hours vastly outnumber the multiplayer, but the demo shows the camera’s distance.)

Everything Iggy offers is proven bizarre. From the teetering floors to the distorted backgrounds, everything screams “look at me — I’m weird!” Even the floors, when broken off, look like the middle of a Heath bar — complete with hard caramel center. (Wouldn’t you know it — I’m starved for a candy bar.)

Our cast is also rather oddly designed. No Silly Putty was injured in the production of this game — I assure you. Their faces look like, well, normal faces, if they looked normal. Just take a look at their profiles — notice the rough edges? Good! They sure looked rigid to me. Personally, I feel happy nobody slapped on onto a ball and call it 3D. Everyone’s easily distinguishable.

The only thing that really keeps them all from being truly unique. Iggy and Chatter (the living teeth) should’ve had a tongue, Q-Tee and Amanda could’ve used their hair. Would’ve made sense in a game that defies it elsewhere.

Music is also appropriately loopy for the game. Even when you win a race, there is a piece that declares your triumph. Instruments vary by ball, with some offering a better and more enjoyable; Other instruments just annoy and sound just wrong.

If you’ve dared venture this far in the document, you probably know already that I can easily describe Iggy as a definition for the word weird. You’re probably far from even concentrating on why I chose to write “Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls is ‘Acclaim’s failed attempt creating a cute mascot’”. Let’s see: 1. This is the first and only time Acclaim uses the said title character; 2. Will whoever thinks of iguanas as cute animals please stand up? (Please stand up? Please stand up?)

[Ben Stein voice] Anyone? Anyone? ANYONE?

Failing at creating a lasting (let alone cute) mascot is Iggy’s crime. As a game, it’s quite the opposite. I will say that not everyone will enjoy this game, especially victims of vertigo. If you are one of them, keep your distance — give yourself half a mile. On the other hand, should your stomach be insulated enough to tolerate the dizzying heights, you should try this game out.

Fans of Uniracers should cast aside loyalty and take time to investigate Iggy. Not as a replacement, as it fails to rekindle the flame, but a complimentary title to Uniracers. Heck, it’s really as close to as the N64 ever came, thanks to Acclaim. Now, if only Nintendo had realized...

Had you never played Uniracers in the past, this is still a pretty entertaining and challenging title. Don’t be put off by the look of the game. It offers ample challenge and depth. And it might come off as a pleasant surprise.

(And had I released this review three months ago, when it would have been on schedule...)


Rating: 7

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