Friday, October 22, 2010

Game On: Let's Play 1.05 - Super Troll Islands

Game: Super Troll Islands
System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Millenium Interactive
Publisher: American Softworks Corporation
Player: Charles “Chack” Ackerman

Game Overview

Platformers were plentiful on the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, as were licensed games from “hip” 1990’s fads. One of those happened to be Trolls, small plastic figurines which bore jewels in their belly buttons and had large tufts of oddly-colored hair. It just so happened that when Trolls and platforming collided, they created this game: Super Troll Islands.

The plot is thus: a dark mist has covered the otherwise playful, peaceful islands on which four Trolls loved to play. In order to save the land, these Trolls decide to work together and destroy the mist which clouds up their otherwise content lives. There does not seem to be much else, scenario-wise, but when it comes to selling toy-based license games, plot is the last thing on developer’s minds.

The main purpose of the game is to colorize “windows” of the world, usually two platforms and two ladders creating a box. By colorizing these windows, the mist opens up within that space; once every window has been “opened,” the mist breaks apart, revealing the landscape and one very happy sun! Enemies do impede on this mission, however, and in order to defeat them, the Trolls must throw cupcakes at them in order to eat and vanquish them. Not only that, but each of the four Trolls have their own special abilities: Green can get hit one more time, Pink jumps extra high, Blue can dive underwater, and Red runs faster than the rest. Unfortunately, if one dies at a pivotal point (say, diving underwater or in need of a large jump), it might be close to impossible to finish the game itself. The game’s length is 50 levels, going through five worlds of increasing playfulness, or insanity, if you prefer.

Since then…

The publisher of the game, ACS, had a few decent titles published under its wing for the next generation, including Sanitarium, a point-and-click adventure game in 1998, and even the original Grand Theft Auto from DMA Design, before the series’ publishing continued under Rockstar Games. The Darien, CT-based publisher closed January 2000.

The developer of the game, Millenium Interactive, actually went on to release the game a second time, without the Trolls license and not on the Super NES. The UK developer ported the game engine and just about everything else from it to the Amiga, and rather than use Trolls, the new game used the Mr. Blobby license. Other than that, the Super Troll Islands game never became a series, and perhaps for good cause.

Millenium Interactive was better known for having developed the James Pond series on Amiga and other consoles. When the company started work on a larger project, Sony purchased Millenium, turning it into SCE Studio Cambridge. That project would become MediEvil. As for current releases, Studio Cambridge has mostly helped with LittleBigPlanet for PSP with Media Molecule, and its most recent release to date is the Playstation Move title TV SuperStars.

As for the lead designer of the game, Mike Ball, he went on to produce games for Sony but ultimately left and formed Just Add Monsters in 2000. The company would go on to become Ninja Theory, the producer of Heavenly Sword (published by Sony, no less) and more recently Namco-Bandai’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It is currently producing DmC, a new title in Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise.

Trolls have for the most part dwindled as a franchise, but games using them appeared briefly thanks to an attempt to modernize the product with Trollz. Trollz: Hair Affair for the GBA is the last known release of a Trolls-based product in the video game industry. If there is a newer one, please hesitate to tell us.

The Let’s Play

Chack wanted to play one more game after Star Fox, and seeing this game as it sat on the ground, it seemed like the only logical choice. Having never heard nor seen this game before, the audience agreed to give it a go, despite Chack’s obvious disdain toward the title.

He had never gotten further than “...mid twenties, thirties…” in the game, and it would quickly become apparent as to why that was the case.

As his last Let’s Play for Game On, it was certainly one to finish off, not with a roar but a whimper.


The abject horror of this Let’s Play becomes apparent only within the first ten minutes. The game is totally within the “Should not Record” realm: a boring, repetitive, and altogether jarring experience. Having watched this Let’s Play once after completion, the game is a chore to watch, and I honor those who watch it with us.

Chack never beats the game. Whereas with the previous two games in our “Night of Fail,” some success had been made, this game never seems to become defeated, constantly pouring its hellish giggles and bobbing heads in our wake. The previous two Let’s Play segments were failures due to the player; this Let’s Play failed because the game was despicable.

He made it to Level 25 in an hour. With the knowledge that the game is 50 levels long, I cannot fathom the results had we gone to the end. Having played video games for four to five hours solid and with the night long started, patience was low, and the boredom brought by repetitive music and gameplay made us lethargic by the hour’s-end.

In the end, there is some good humor in there, specifically about how bad the game is. However, the boring nature of the game makes it hard to sit through all at once. Certainly recommended to watch in multiple sittings. To this day I wish we could have recorded more with Chack, especially since his humor worked out quite well. He was too focused on his final semester to work on Game On, and afterwards, he moved on to better pastures. Or Florida. One of the two. Either way, I’m sure this is a send off he will not forget!

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