Review by tafffer

Reviewed: 09/18/06

This is an 8-bit acid trip you'll want to avoid

Pesterminator – The Western Exterminator (NES)

When ever you approach a Color Dreams title, you always know your in for a sub-par gaming experience. It’s no secret their games aren’t up to the standard’s of carts that bear the infamous seal of approval from the big N. Color Dreams have freely admitted that there games are fairly lousy. The coders and designers did what they could with what limited knowledge and resources they had to produce some cheap software without the ludicrously unfair terms of Nintendo’s licensing agreement.
For those who aren’t in the know, American outfit Color Dreams reverse engineered the NES lock-out chip to freely produce titles without Nintendo’s very costly blessing.

Pesterminator is a platform game that’s title character is based on Western Exterminator Company’s logo Kernel Kleanup. I don’t recall this character in the slightest. He sort of looks like one of those manic cartoon characters from the 20’s, he has a top-hat on, his trusty mallet held in readiness behind his back, and his free hand pointing forwards. His sprite animation consists of about three frames – static, step, and hammer swipe.

The games story goes something like the following - a big giant mutant rat that lives on the moon and likes to call himself Ronnie, dreams of buying a copy of Super Mario Bros and world domination in his spare time, being a factory owner keeps him quite busy don’t you know. So anyway, Ronnie’s factory makes rats, bugs, moths, you know pests. It’s up to you to terminate the pests. Hence the title Pesterminator. Clever. No. Lets move on.

The game begins in what can only be his home, complete with the Home – Sweet – Home placed above the living room sofa.
Color Dreams patented High Resolution graphics are employed, so the scale of everything is quite small. The graphics are fairly ugly, and unpleasant atmosphere dominates. The layout of the house is something like looking at the Little Computer People (Apple 2, C-64 etc) home, except with 50’s styling’s and sickly rich colour schemes. Everything seems to be in place, but there is no toilet. Maybe Jet Set Wily will lend him one.

The house is over-run with bugs, and you have to go around whacking them with your hammer. Some die instantly, while others bounce around the screen in a kinetic fashion before coming to a rest. Points are awarded for each dead bug. You start the game with five energy units, represented here by hearts in the top right of the screen. If the pests touch you it saps your life a bit. Some bugs drop a heart when they die, that you can collect to replenish your life.

There are doors throughout the house to get around the place, and once you’ve killed all the bugs in the house, and the ones beyond the front and back door, it’s on to the Hotel.
The game continues as before, thump the bugs, thump the bugs, and it goes on. Some new pests are introduced, and the new seedy environment is as stimulation as the last. Using the jump comes into power more here, and you’ll find that you can be temporarily suspended in air by hitting the hammer mid-flight and can walk on air al little bit. This is actually integral to moving around some of the areas. At one point you find yourself on the roof by the bill-board outside the front of the hotel, so there is a lot of moving around up and down to clear some levels.

You’d think by now it was time for a change of atmosphere, and your treated to a dingy Imports warehouse. This level has lost of pipes, sewers, conveyor belts with thresher’s on the end and other nice things. This bit was a little tricky first time around, as to make your way to the higher points in the level, you have to use the crates and pipes and moving platforms. The thing is, it all blends in as background and discerning what is solid and what is not can be difficult.

What sort of amazing stuff comes next I here you ask. Well, get this, you get to play the first level over, except this time some of the bugs are a bit more defensive, and there some bigger nasties, and wait for it, the level is nearly all hot pink. By this point I had enough.
But, another day I decided to try it again (yes, I am disturbed) just to see if there was new content later, I wasn’t full of hope though.
To my amazement the game changed a little bit. Instead of wandering around, you were in a chopper and had to go left and right shooting insects and swarms of bees. Your projectile sort of plops out in a short arc and you have to move around a bit to kill the insects. This is mildly better than before. The backdrop was a simple blue sky with some tall trees, more appealing that anything to this point. But not by much.

You are sent back to the warehouse again after this, for the same old grind. After this horrible formality, the game moves on to an underwater section. Apparently, the Pesterminator has a problem with sea creatures also, and here you kill various fish, squid and the like, with the odd chemical waste barrel to destroy, I suppose to protect the sharks, as their the only animals that can’t be killed on this section. There is no real illusion of being under water here, such as bubbles or warped vision. Though the various sea creatures are competently drawn. Kleanup has some scuba gear appended to his sprite. If I had to say this level reminded me of anything, I would say Activision’s SeaQuest on Atari 2600, and I would say the play was a little deeper even then (Pun intended), what eight years earlier.

The following section sees you donning a space helmet as you make your way to the Moon, and yes, you guessed it, plod along hitting mostly defenceless space pests. There also quirks like once you’ve cleared them to the end, they re-appear further back, and then forwards again. OK, where at the business end now. You board Ronnies space factory through an Air-Lock. This bit goes as for the House level, but with a trickier layout, and you actually have to find a key card to get to king Ronnie. I thought this was the most inspired thing in the game. An actual goal. Wonders will never cease. Up until now, it seemed as if you had unlimited continues, but here it still say’s press Start plus button A to continue, but it doesn’t work. Do you want to start again from the beginning or commit suicide. Your choice, of course. Anyway, if you make it to Ronnie, you have to endure his sad routine of shoot and scuttle before snuffing him. Finally, your treated to a lame picture and a score you couldn’t give a rats posterior about.

I neglected to mention the music as it is utter cack and never changes through the whole game. Surprisingly the same can be said for the sound effects.

Yes, it’s as deadly slow, boring and repetitive as it sounds. I had an idea of what I was in for and stuck it out to the end to explore the 1 Mbit I paid for and got what I deserved. Consider yourself spared.
You might say that this game was the epitome of monotony, but I think I’m being kind. This is an 8-bit acid trip you’ll want to avoid. Sheesh.

Playability 2/10
Graphics 3/10
Sound 1/10
Overall 2/10

Rating: 2

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