Tooncrap #19 - Captain Planet: The NES Game
The power is YOURS!!! to not buy this game.
Written by: Raymond Gallant
Oh I did say I was going to wait a year until I went
after Captain Planet again, but you know, there's just so much outright
failure with this character that it's almost impossible to wait. Over
the years, I've beaten down on Captain Planet so many times that it
feels like there's nothing left to say. The cartoon, while trying to be
environmentally conscious, was still pretty awful. But I'll take awful
aids cartoons, drugged blintzes, and rat people over the awful NES game
That's right, there's a Captain Planet video game. And yes, it's as bad
as you'd think.
In 1992, the NES was starting it's eventual slowdown in terms of
releases, what with the Super Nintendo released, and many companies
moving to the new console, leaving the NES with what was for the most
part a lot of the lesser gaming companies sticking around. And one of
those companies was Mindscape, which gave us some pretty terrible
licensed games like The Terminator, Conan, Days of Thunder, and the
choice of review this week, Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
You know a game is bad when even the advertisement doesn't want to show
So, is this game bad, or am I just giving the cap more slack? Let's
review this thing and find out.
The game doesn't start off with any version of either of the Captain
Planet themes. But this weird sounding techno tune that comes off
extremely muddy on an 8-bit console. The NES wasn't an audio master, but
most games knew how to take what they had and could make some great
chiptunes. This fart techno is definitely not one of them.
The game was developed by Chris Gray Enterprises. Not too much other
information can be found on them other than that they made B.O.B, as
well as the Infiltrator games.
You start each level with a mission briefing from rather derp eyed Gaia,
as well was what villain you face in each of the game's levels. In the
first level you're dealing with Hoggish Greedly, who's trying to drill
for oil in national parks. Oh boy, we get to play as the Planeteers and
kick pollution's behind. So, maybe this game is platform based, or maybe
a top down action title?
Or, it can primarily be a scrolling shooter. Okay then.
The game is broken into two different gameplay styles to use both
Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The Planeteer mode is a shooter where
you have to fly the geocrusier and destroy any oncoming attacker in
sight. And your main weapons consist of the powers of the rings like the
show. Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and heart. Yes, even Heart is an actual
attack in this game.
You move the Geocruiser with the D-Pad, shoot with the A button, and can
turn it around with the B button. Start cycles the weapons, while Select
pauses. I've always hated games that do that. Select usually makes more
sense when it comes to cycling weapons, and start is an obvious pause.
Each of the planeteer's powers do a different ability. Wheeler's fire
shoots a dinky little fireball, Gi's water shoots a tiny wave that
moves... in a wave (Ha). Linka's wind turns out the most useful as it
acts as a shield that destroys oncoming enemies. Kwame's earth brings a
rock that barely gets much momentum as it just drops. And Ma-Ti's heart
ability will save animals and other creatures below you.
All in all, this would be a fun concept, if everything else bout these
areas didn't suck.
The controls on the ship are annoying. The ship descends and ascends way
too fast, making it easy to end up in a poor position as enemies near
you. And this game's poor hit detection means that you'll be killed even
if you're an inch or two above or below an enemy. And because most of
the weapons are terrible, or sometimes don't even work, you'll get
slaughtered before you switch to something good. And the kicker is that
you get hit once and you die.
Also, the meter on the top is a shared power meter for all your
abilities. And they can deplete fast, meaning that you also have to
conserve the weak as is abilities you have. In the end, you're pretty
much using Fire.
So, the first level is pretty basic. Try to survive all the stuff being
thrown at you and defeat these three walking tanker enemies, while
avoiding every shot you can. Because if you do, getting game over will
be almost inevitable. Eventually you'll make it to a landing pad, and
finally you can be Captain Planet.
And I will admit, this isn't a bad looking cutscene.
And there's Captain Planet in all his 8-bit glory. You move him in all
directions with the D-Pad, punch with A, and transform into the element
chosen with the B button. Levels pretty much break down to Captain
Planet having to avoid the pollution and using the different planeteer
abilities to avoid certain pollutants. Once again, the bar above is how
much of it you can use, but it also doubles as your life bar, and if it
runs out, then Captain Planet dies.
These levels aren't as bad as the geocruiser levels, but still lack any
real fun factor to them either. You need to use the different elemental
abilities to help you pass further in each stage. For example, you'll
need to become a tornado with wind to get through one area, but need
earth to be a boulder to break through obstacles in your way. But these
will be useless if you don't have much energy to keep them used. And the
game sticks a knife in your further by intentionally lowering your
energy over time. You can earn energy back from power ups, as well as
invincibility, but that often requires using up energy, which makes
Not to mention that it's really questionable how much damage you can
take at a time, making things even more inconsistent. Also, the game
offers unlimited continues and passwords to help you move forward. But
even that wouldn't stop someone from throwing their controller in
frustration and agony from this game. Hell, on my own, I couldn't even
get past the first Captain Planet stage without finally tapping out.
Sorry Gaia, maybe you should have went with Superman or somebody more
So, after giving up, I watched a walkthrough by a YouTuber named
AqualungGameReviews, and surprisingly things don't get much better.
You'll have to drive the geocopter to shoot more enemies, as well as
carry elephants with the heart power to destroy missile launchers, while
avoiding all the enemies that just make the game more frustrating.
Another chopper stage where you have to destroy tanker trucks before
they pollute the water, a terrible sub level. As well as more awful
Captain Planet stages. There are five levels, broken into two stages
each, Planeteer and Captain, and they get progressively worse.
That's all there really is to say about Captain Planet and the
Planeteers. It's one of the worst licensed games on the NES. Poor
controls, high difficulty, and at times it gets cryptic as to what
you're supposed to do. Not to mention horrible sound and graphics (save
for the whole transformation scene, which does look okay). I bought this
game for cheap once many years ago, and it was one of the worst
experiences in gaming I ever had. And revisiting it just shows much much
worse it got. But then again, I should have known a crap cartoon would
get a crap game.
And when you sit down and think about it. Considering that this game was
made out of biodegradable plastic, and lord knows what other pollutants
were involved in making it, it feels rather hypocritical that this
"environmentally conscious" game even exists. And even more ironic is
most likely many copies of this game are in landfills where they