Tale Spin review
Tail spun and destroyed
Disney and Capcom have managed to make a whole bunch of excellent games, but there is no such thing as a perfect streak. Adventures In The Magic Kingdom was a mixed bag, and Darkwing Duck, while good, wasn’t quite as excellent as it could’ve been. Either way, both are not only recommended, but they’re also Super Mario Brothers 3 in comparison to the mess that is Tale Spin. It’s a basic shoot em up with crap controls and boring gameplay, both elements that always leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Story: Baloo has to deliver cargo across the world while fighting off air pirates sent by Don Karnage, who is hired by Shere Khan, who wants to put Baloo’s boss, Rebecca, out of business. At the very least, it keeps to the license it’s based on, and reminds me of a few episodes from the cartoon of the same name (which is actually good, unlike this game, so go watch it now), and that’s what all licenses should try to do – make the player feel like they’re a part of it.
Gameplay: As I’ve said in the introduction, it’s a shoot em up game. Now, this is Capcom, the creator of 1942 and 1943, alongside Legendary Wings. They, or at least 1943 and Legendary Wings, are excellent shoot em ups, so you’d expect Tale Spin to be excellent as well. Unfortunately, it goes down south as soon as you start playing.
First off, the rapid rate is crap. Until you finish the first level and buy the rapid shot, you can only fire one shot at a time. Even though there aren’t heaps of enemies, if you miss, you might have a problem killing the enemy or enemies before they kill you. I think the rapid shot you buy from the shop should’ve been installed into the plane by default. This isn’t challenge. This is just bullshit to piss you off.
How do you buy stuff, you might be asking? Grab all the cargo you see in the levels. Congrats. You’ll be rich. At the end of each level, you can buy stuff like upgrades, extra lives and extra continues, though they tend to be expensive. The rapid shots and extra armor are upgrades you’ll want to buy above all else, though keep some money for continues, or you’ll be back at stage one, meaning you’ll be flying above shit river again with no rapid fire.
If you can actually find these, the bonus stages are... well, they manage to break up the monotony of the rest of the game by letting you play as Baloo’s sidekick, Kit Cloudkicker. You go through some balloons, which contain fruit, which gives you points, which gives you a free life if you get enough points. You can’t traverse backwards, but you won’t need to, for with decent reflexes, you can get all the bonus points with time to spare before heading back to the lame shoot em up gameplay.
The bosses are pretty crap. Aside from the ghost and Don Karnage, none of the bosses are all that interesting to fight. It’s mostly formulaic crap that gets boring. I mean, a submarine that shoots missiles? A wrecking ball boss? Eh? Not much effort is put in the creativity department, nor is there much in the awesomeness department either. Oh, they might be trickier than the levels, which are shit easy, but they’re not much fun to fight. At times, it feels like a chore to get through them.
Above all else, it’s just lame. It just doesn’t FEEL like a shooter. Most shooters have enemies coming to you in droves with a lot of tricky maneuvers to perform to make sure you don’t die. Here, you mostly dodge a few bullets and shoot a few bad guys. Whoopee. No skill necessary, no fun involved – just tedium when it attempts challenge, like the need to change directions to get through narrow squeezes or you’re dead. There are some legitimately challenging bosses towards the end, but that’s about as far as it goes. Nothing wanted to be good in this department. It just wanted to suck. The reality of the matter is that Capcom just went “*bleep* it”, and that’s how the gameplay comes to be.
Controls: This destroys the game for me. When moving up or down, unless you’re holding left or right as well as up and down on the d-pad, your plane will tilt, meaning you’ll be shooting up and down, which isn’t what you’d want to do in most situations in the game where, if you shoot diagonally, you’ll be put into an awkward position, possibly a dead zone, plus if you absolutely have to shoot diagonally, you need to keep moving, meaning you’ll lose your target after the shot is made. The diagonal tilting prevents you from switching the direction you’re facing, which means when you have to go up and yet the screen is catching up to you in a narrow passage, you’re dead! Switching direction should be easy, but no, it’s not, unless you’re not going up and down.
Graphics: I found it a bit silly that Baloo flies a small plane in the game instead of a cargo plane like in the show. As well as that, when you change directions, you fly upside down... what’s wrong with simply horizontally flipping the plane? Looks like Baloo’s defying the laws of physics. But you don’t have to overthink in order to notice how mediocre the graphics are. The enemy designs are very samey... I know that the show didn’t have many villains, so they had to make some up out of the blue, but come on, are they even trying with some of them? I’m surprised the bosses look good. From a large ghost that is only seen when clothes are on it, they definitely have some charm to them, like they’re worth looking at, and that’s just it – the backgrounds look “meh” at best, like they didn’t put much effort into making some interesting backdrops.
Audio: The soundtrack is weaker than your typical Capcom tracks. Nothing really stands out, and nothing really sounds excellent. The tracks are mediocre at best. Nothing that makes you want to download the OST off of Youtube, anyway. Nothing good. I guess the musicians ran out of ideas or something. On a lighter note, the boss song fits very well and – I might be contradicting what I said – it’s a pretty good track overall. Not excellent, but likable and somewhat memorable, at least.
Replay Value: If you can play through this game, you’ll find no real reason to replay it. It’s nothing exciting and nothing to really consider playing through more than once (or really, just once).
Overall: Tale Spin is a bland and mediocre shoot em up with terrible controls and bland gameplay. It sort of keeps to the source material, even if Baloo’s plane is much shorter, but it doesn’t mean much, since the other Capcom/Disney games did this too. The difference is that they’re good, while this is *bleep*ing garbage. Not worth playing. Go play 1943 or Legendary Wings for your fix of Capcom shoot em ups, or Duck Tales and Rescue Rangers for your fix of Disney-licensed Capcom titles. At least those are good. Leave this shit in the bargain bin or Cash Converters if you find a copy.
Replay Value: 2/10