You’d think games based on nothing but soulless fast-food/soda logos would be worse than this.
Remember McKids on the NES? Hardly a must-play but really not that bad a game. Kinda like Super Mario Bros. except way worse and near incomprehensible. It was a fun mess for the most part, a guilty pleasure.
Cool Spot however, a game based solely on a bubbly Sprite double, was just plain good.
Believe it or not, I first played the game in hospital. I was a little kid there for a week due to some asthma attack or whatever so my parents decided to cheer me up by bringing my good old Sega MegaDrive and plugging it into the room’s tiny television. A few minutes of playing Bart’s Nightmare, Captain America And The Avengers and Aladdin, and I was already in a better mood. Then, some kid who happened to be in the same room showed up a day later with a game I hadn’t even heard of.
And so I discovered Cool Spot.
As a design, the title fella was about as imaginative as a red dot with arms, legs and a pair of sunglasses. Actually, that’s all he was! His only goals being to remain “cool”, save his Cool Spot clones and sell us 7UP by the gallons. By the end of the game, his mission would be complete all around and a 7UP drip would have somehow found its way into my veins.
Coded by David Perry, the man behind those classic Earthworm Jim games (and the same Aladdin game, funnily enough), Cool Spot bears a similar type of vibe with your character walking through busy, goofy, cartoonish, layered levels, shooting up, down and diagonally at incoming douchebags while picking up hidden items. Except here you’re actually tiny so everything around you is huge and the enemies you face include crabs with polka dotted underwear…
And adorable (although naked) spitting frogs.
The game fails to be quite as polished or as good as Earthworm Jim but it’s still, by all means, tons of fun.
For one thing, there’s always something going on: it’s near-impossible to get bored during a level. Whether you’re at the beach, on a boat or running along the top of a runaway toy train, you’ll find something to pick up, hang onto or destroy. That said, this isn’t an easy game. At all. If you think you can just breeze through every level at break-neck speed, think again. As tempting as it is, when you’re made to restart a level, to flash past every enemy back to where you were, you just can’t do that: you need to pay attention.
I like playing Cool Spot now because it really is an oddity. All these shameless 7UP plugs throughout the game feel pretty random (as appropriate as they are) and you’ve got this constant, dated emphasis on depicting Spot as a “cool” character, since 7UP is down with the kids and all. “Coolness”, it turns out, can be boiled down to wearing dark sunglasses, walking funny and owning a yoyo. Every level either has a hip name like “Radical Rails” or some clever/corny pun (“Pier Pressure”, “Off The Wall”, “Toying Around”) and you can actually get a…
…through Bonus levels which involve you bouncing around some soda bottle collecting “Cool Points”, 7UP logos, bouncing on bubbles and just generally going ape shit.
Come to think of it, how come water kills Cool Spot in some levels but he can swim through 7UP fine?
Is the game trying to make us believe that 7UP is better for you than water?
Could it be that…
7UP is lying to us?
7UP is Lord.
But anyway, the game thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously. It retains enough tongue-in-cheek cartoon charm to make it seem like more than just a heartless plug. Effort went into making the game into an overall satisfying experience and it shows, it just happens to be 7UP-related. The animation on the characters is fluid, the general look of the game is colourful and layered, the controls are pretty straight-forward and its sense of humour is weird enough that you do feel like it’s worth sticking around till the end.
Some of the backgrounds are just odd.
What are those things?
What’s with the fish?
And what, OH WHAT, is the deal with that creepy-ass baby?
Chucky’s got nothing on this little guy!
Wanna see the box he comes in? Sure you do.
Anyway, you go through these levels including bonus levels which help you spell out the word “UNCOLA” (don’t ask) and once you’ve passed the beach, the pier, the toy-infested bedroom then revisited them you finally free the last Spot, which is a good thing I guess.
Don’t tell me his skinny ass can’t fit through those bars, those Spots are thinner than Checkers pieces!
All in all, Cool Spot is certainly worthy of mention and a decent game for the Genesis. As strange as that may seem. The Sega Master System downgrade lacks the levels and fluidity of this one but for the Master System I’ve seen much, much worse. I remember the game fondly and I do recommend it. Of course, I’d recommend both Aladdin and Earthworm Jim more but Cool Spot is well worth a try. Underrated, in my opinion.
But where is Cool Spot now?
He has been “spotted” here and there over the years…
Some claim he was banished to a cruel, Zod-like punishment far into the galaxy…
Some say he’s still out there, free from SEGA’s tyranny, planning his revenge…
Only time will tell…