When it comes to tracking down retro games, normally the ones with higher price tags are the rare and treasured gems that are simply so good that those who own them either don’t want to part with them, or will only do so if a healthy profit is involved. Sometimes however, an older game will simply be expensive for the simple fact that it’s print was low in numbers, regardless of the quality of the game. Today’s case is unfortunately of the latter variety; Swamp Thing on the NES is not a cheap game (the lowest I scored it for was around $50 for the cart only) and is easily one of the single worst games I’ve ever had the displeasure to review.
Full disclosure: I’ve sworn that when I review a game, I try my hardest to complete it, as you wouldn’t review a book you didn’t read all of, nor a film you walked out halfway through. In the rare case I’ve had to call it quits and break that vow (both Wolverine on the SNES and Sega Genesis come to mind) and that is the case with Swamp Thing, because I swear it was designed by people who absolutely hate video games and those that play them. The furthest I got before throwing in the towel was the start of the third level and it was at that point when I decided enough was enough, there couldn’t possibly be anything around that corner that would redeem this poor excuse for an NES game.
Swamp Thing is a 2-D side-scroller based on the short-lived animated series (seriously, five episodes in total) where the title character is being hunted by the nefarious Anton Arcane and his Un-Men for locked within his body is a formula that he can use to conquer the world. Look, it was the 90’s okay, and the story isn’t really that important here: You play as Swamp Thing, you move left to right and not have a lot of fun.
What makes Swamp Thing so awful is well, everything. Your character moves incredibly slow, your attack is weak, and the majority of enemies that attack you crawl around the ground, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, except when you crouch and attack, Swamp Thing stands up. Starting out your only attack is a punch but you can also collect a projectile weapon with limited ammunition…that still is useless for anything that hovers around your ankles. When you’re not fighting for your life against things that can’t reach your knees, you’ll also engage in some basic plat-forming that is serviceable at best, but jumping feels just as stiff as Swamp Thing’s snail-paced movement.
Another thing that makes this one of the worst games in the NES library is that it’s another one of those handful of lives, zero continue games. I’ve managed to beat a couple of those: Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six as well as Spider-Man and the X-Men, but this is far, FAR worse than any LJN game, a bold statement but one you would understand if you played this game. You can collect spare lives within levels that are in short supply, or you can increase your live counter by collecting fifty batteries, the caveat being that batteries come from, get this, killing enemies. On the off-chance that can actually find an enemy that you can kill, the battery flies away from them and by the time you leisurely stroll over to it, it disappears.So in summary: You can’t kill most enemies, Swamp Thing moves too slow, spare lives are collected by collecting items that you either A) can’t reach in time or B) produce in the first place. See why I said this game was created by people who hate video games?
In running a website dedicated to video games, I’ve come across some pretty bad games but Swamp Thing takes the cake. There’s absolutely nothing in this package that is worth the high asking price it’s going for online. Even the most die-hard collector of NES games or Swamp Thing memorabilia would be wise to avoid this game like the plague.
Yeah, amazing indeed.