Cosmic Spacehead

Graphics: 2
Sound: 2
Control: 4
Depth: 3
Overall: 3

Cosmic Spacehead

By: Codemasters
Released: 1993

I've been dying to play this game, as well as the rest of the Codemasters games, from the day I found out they won't work on a standard US Master System. Or a Power Base Converter. But it will run on a Master System II.

So, after laying out way too much money to pick up a Master System II on eBay I finally got a crack at it. It turns out "crack" is pretty accurate, since it looks like that's what someone was smoking to play this game on a US system. It does play but the background colors and sound are seriously broken.

And yet, the game was oddly alluring. Considering the extreme limitations of the system, I was pleasantly surprised how usable the control system is. A fairly rich point and click adventure works much better than you'd think with only a control pad and two buttons.

The platforming sections are also a decent diversion. The early ones are way too easy but if you stick with it you'll be adequately challenged. I also appreciate that completing the platform sections unlocks them, so you can move freely without the play getting redundant by retreading the same ground. Nice touch.

The puzzles aren't hard at all. Maybe I'm good at puzzles, or just a good guesser, but I worked my way through most of the game pretty quickly. On the other hand, if I want to be challenged by a puzzle, I'll fire up a current gen system. This one I can enjoy for the fairly quick pace and the genuinely charming writing.

The surprising thing is that the story grabbed me enough to play a couple of hours on the NTSC system with the blinking backgrounds and awful sound. That was intriguing enough for me to do something I rarely up an emulator.

And...the sound is still terrible. But you can turn that down, it really doesn't contribute to the game. You don't need it to play. The proper graphics are serviceable...not annoying but nothing spectacular. Good enough. What I do like is that the cursor movement is fast enough so that you don't feel like you're spending all your time pointing at things, but not so fast that you miss things.

This is by no means a must have title on the Master System. But it is a brilliant example of tuning games for the consoles of the time. And it is a fun romp. Completists will of course have to have this title, but if you're a fan of the point and click adventure, it's worth owning for an interesting take on the genre.

One more point of interest, there's a two player mini game called "Pie Slap". The premise is silly, it's basically like the old Atari Combat game with pies and a more tank like control scheme that adds to the difficulty and interest. It's not something you're likely to fire up more than once.

- Eric Ruck