Author: Mr. Saturn
What, never heard of this game? I don’t blame you. Despite my playing it in the mid-90s on a rent, I thought it was just a fever dream where my brain had cobbled together memories of other unmemorable platformers on the SNES. Heck, this game doesn’t even have a walkthrough on GameFaqs as of this review. That tells you something. Of course being unmemorable doesn’t necessarily mean the game is bad. Is Harley’s Humongous Adventure bad? Honestly, I don’t think so. When I picked this up for cheap in January of 2013, I wasn’t expecting much based on my memories. What I got was a fairly solid platformer, not a hidden gem by any means, but more like some loose change you happened to find in the couch cushions.
If there one thing we loved in the ’90s it was EXTREME things. Everything seemingly had some sort of EXTREME variation on it from EXTREME sports to Extreme Ghostbusters; everything was EXTREME! *Insert EXTREME explosion here* And Harley’s Humongous Adventure is no different, well at least where Harley is concerned. Harley is an EXTREME super kid genius, like Dexter but with more attitude. He wears a green jump suit, sports a nifty pair of shades, has a “H” shaved into the side of his EXTREMELY spikey hair, flies around on a jet pack and breaks the laws of physics with his experimental shrinker machine. As things tend to do when one has an experimental shrinker machine, an accident occurs and Harley is inadvertently shrunk to the size of an insect and the shrinker explodes into many same-looking pieces. Bummer. Not only that, mutant insects have stolen the pieces of the shrinker for some reason and Harley needs to get them back if he ever wants to return to his EXTREMELY normal size.
Harley’s Humongous Adventure is for the most part a fairly straightforward platformer with some slight exploration elements thrown in. In the 12 or so stages outside of the 3 boss stages, your goal is locate the part of the shrinker machine located at the end of each stage. While most of the stages all feature multiple paths, there is usually only one true path and lots of dead ends. However those dead ends usually have some sort of item you can get for weapons or extra lives, so exploration isn’t a total waste. Also most stages aren’t timed so explore your brains out. For a little variety there is an auto-scrolling tank stage and a 90 second air duct maze but they only show up once per in the game. The boss fights all feature the same giant rat monster who through the course of the game gets more and more mutilated by Harley, losing limbs and the top of his head before the final fight. That is one EXTREMELY tenacious rodent.
The weapons at Harley’s disposal are standard shrunk character fare. Your main weapon will be pins that you hurl at your enemies in a straight line. There’s also a green ball that bounces around after throwing in a short arc, rubber bands that act like the pins but bounce off walls, and tacks that after thrown in a short arc bounce in mostly unpredictable patterns. Lastly there is a firecracker weapon that while strong takes so damned long that is pretty much worthless. Harley is also capable of throwing all weapons upward to make taking out overhead enemies easier. Harley also comes across fuel for his rocket pack which is useful in finding secret areas and the occasional cutting off large sections of the map. A parachute also comes into play in some sections for long falls making it easier to dodge the enemies on the way. Finally Harley has a set of wall climbing suction cups that only comes in handy in one particular stage but are always available to you.
Controls are for the most part good. Harley accelerates pretty well and can run for extra speed. His jump is quick and not floaty at all. He lands sharply with little extra movement which makes landing tight jumps much easier. Speaking of his jumps, they are hilarious looking. I’m not sure what he is doing but it looks like he is attempting to squeeze something in mid-air.
Things aren’t all perfect though. While Harley’s jump is good, you only have one height to jump at. This makes the occasional pinpoint jumping a little more complicated and creates problems when attempting to finesse around enemies. Harley’s ability to control trajectory after the jump makes up for this to an extent. Finally Harley, while fast, tends to outrun the camera a bit making it quite possible to run into enemies before you even realize they are there. So often you have to perform some very timid progression to avoid a cheap hit or sudden pitfall.
Visual Concepts (the developers of this and games like Clayfighter & Claymates) sure loved themselves the claymation style. And honestly it looks pretty good still. There’s a good mix of pixel art and claymation all done in bright colors and large sprites with personality to them. Things move smoothly and the game isn’t unnecessarily cluttered. So good job overall.
The music in the game is mostly rockish sounding which more or less fits with the general EXTREME theme of the game and while not particularly catchy, won’t have you annoyed with them after a few deaths. Sound FX are pretty much generic and standard. Nothing special.
Harley’s Humongous Adventure is a game that few people remember and fewer people played. But yet it is still a very solid platformer with some amusing gameplay elements and generally fun experience. It isn’t Mario or Sonic but it is better than Bubsy. And it is cheap. Cart only cost me $2.68 on Amazon, so even if you don’t like it, you won’t be out too much. Give it a shot if you are feeling the need for some EXTREME kid scientist action.
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