TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Adventures of Mighty Max’ is a mightily frustrating relic of ’90s toys
Sometimes there just isn’t any way to sugarcoat the truth or lessen the blow of playing some truly terrible games. Thankfully, most of the time, I am not subjected to such atrocities, but once a year, against my better judgment, I play some of the most awful games ever developed in the history of video games. At this point, after several years of doing this, I almost consider it a PSA of sorts to all of you reading to stay as far away from these abominations as humanly possible.
That being said, we begin with the dredges, the very basement of the Sega Genesis, with a game that invokes such fear and trepidation that even the most devoted Sega fans cannot defend or accept this huge blemish in the library of Genesis games.
“The Adventures of Mighty Max” (Sega Genesis, 1994)
Back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, there was this phenomenon with taking your standard toys and shrinking them down into tiny sizes (which I’m sure really made parents thrilled when they paid for what would probably be lost within a week). Micro Machines was the first to popularize this with tiny sizes of known vehicles, but Polly Pocket would corner the girl market with what looked like makeup cases that would open up into tiny playsets of equally tiny figures and accessories. Not to ignore the boys, Mighty Max was created with a similar mantra in mind. This was further emphasized with a cartoon show that I am almost certain nobody watched, so do you have this all in your head now? This was a game based on a cartoon show seemingly no one saw which, in turn, was derived from a toy line that was infamous for kids losing pieces or nearly choking on them.
The only reason I didn’t start this review off with a terrible rating is because this game at least tries to trick you into believing you’re playing something good with some decent tunes to start. The title screen music and all that plays before you actually start a level has that mischievous NES “Silver Surfer” vibe to it, in that you think to yourself, “Oh, this is pretty good,” not knowing that this will be the first and last time you say those words while playing this game.
Action platform games in the ‘90s were infamous for creating little 16-bit versions of what a licensed character was supposed to look like, and while Mighty Max and his friends look as they should, there’s not much detail to go on, and since all three characters are pretty basic in appearance (I suppose for easy-to-grasp, overall appeal), it truly doesn’t matter what they look like. The levels also look pretty bargain bin – nothing terrible, but nothing you weren’t seeing in other platform games at the time. “Mighty Max” is just a bland game, and graphically you can see that. You see the lack of effort. You feel the quick cash grab vibe that you know is nauseatingly permeating the toy line as well. This game is soaked with the “Eh, the little brats will bug their parents for this, so who cares what it looks like?” aura.
Now I’ve played some games over the years with stiff controls, but there are stiff controls and there are stiff controls, and “Mighty Max” falls into the latter category. Whether you are throwing items or jumping over precarious chasms, nothing feels right. Nothing feels like countless other action games do. This is really the icing on the turd cake here, folks. Everything comes back to this. When you find yourself bored from the simplistic puzzle design or wondering why such useless extras were even put in the game, you are then reminded that even if those weren’t such an issue, you’d still be dealing with some of the worst controls in the history of the Sega Genesis library.
If that’s not enough, you will also find yourself wondering at times just what the heck it is you’re supposed to be doing or where you’re supposed to be going. I love games that encourage exploration, that reward you for your bravery of wandering off the set linear path, but “Mighty Max” does not reward you, and it is never a fun time doing so. Instead, “Mighty Max” takes great joy in giving you free reign to wander around like an idiot, with only clunky controls and bland environments in which to do it with. You don’t want to roam around but, at times, you have no other choice… well, except to turn this damn thing off. In most cases, I would have done that by now, but I am a professional, so I must trudge on.
Somebody get me some mighty Tylenol.
As I was practicing the video game equivalent of slamming my head against the wall until it hurt, I also took the time to read some information about this game, and what gets me – and this is a real kicker – is that one of the top complaints about this game wasn’t the sloppy controls, unimaginative levels, or the worthless power-ups, but the fact that the game didn’t tie into the abysmal cartoon show enough for those who purchased it hoping for that to happen. To those out there who list this as one of the reasons they stay as far away from this stink bomb as possible (and trust me, you should), realize that’s not entirely true.
The show was terrible. This game is also terrible. That’s a pretty solid tie-in if you ask me.
Copies of this perfectly good drink coaster will cost you 3 or 4 bucks, but wouldn’t you rather something from McDonald’s instead?
Ugh. I love this gig. I love this gig. I just keep repeating that to myself as I begin this arduous journey through the filth of retro gaming.
Next time on Turn to Channel 3, we hop over to the Super Nintendo, which would normally make me a pretty happy guy, but when you’re reviewing a game about asthma and the proper care regime for it, well, you know you’re just walking from one nightmare into another. “Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus” is the next steaming pile coming to you next week.
Until then, for the sake of my soul, game on!
And help me!