Not all ideas are created equal.
Our good friend ROB has chosen Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man for today’s entry, and I have to compliment the random robot for this choice. I can tell you that, with absolute certainty, I purchased this title as a cheap, used cartridge, and the only reason I picked it up was because I confused it with (Nintendo Power’s coverage of) Metal Storm. “This is that cool NES game where you could switch gravity, right?” I asked myself as I wandered over to the cash register. I was wrong. I was very wrong, and I’m pretty sure I played this game for all of six seconds before dropping it back into the collection and then proceeding to play… let me guess the timeframe here… probably Final Fantasy X-2. No need to play another weirdo NES game where I can’t even successfully beat the first level, time to get back to being a pop-star/world savior.
And there Low G Man sat for quite a while before ROB pulled it off the shelf for this article. This led to the very unusual situation of playing a 27 year old game that created zero feelings of nostalgia, and, more importantly, I had no idea how to play. I initially figured that this was no more than a NES game, so it can’t be that complicated, and I’d bang out a few levels before the hour is up. But an hour quickly escalated to two, and, before I knew it, I had beaten the game, hopefully having uncovered all the secrets and tricks to this low gravity man’s adventure.
… Or at least figured out how the damn combat system works.
Low G Man has an amazing jump. LGM can jump to the height of the screen (and even powerup further from there), and I guess he earned his title through these miraculous ups. However, his jump is kind of… useless. Don’t get me wrong, you wouldn’t get very far in the LGM world without the ability to scale giant robots or be a human elevator, but this is not a Mario situation wherein our hero bops his way to a better future. Jumping is strictly there for traversal and dodging, which… makes sense? I mean, if he’s got the jump powers because he’s using some manner of self-anti-grav unit, then I guess the impact of boots to a head wouldn’t involve much force. Way to think it through, Low G Man producers!
So, in order to properly defend himself, LGM is equipped with a stun gun. That’s good! We’ve got your basic NES freeze ray here, and it works on Samus Aran rules (not to be confused with Ice Slasher rules): an enemy robot (or alien) is frozen, turns blue, and may be used as a platform at will. Bonus: this also means the frozen opponent doesn’t deal contact damage while frozen. By the time of Level 1’s boss, you’ll also be tasked with the Metroidian goal of freezing a few lesser adversaries so you may successfully scale a vertical shaft. All pretty straightforward to start, though with one glaring flaw: the stun gun does absolutely zero damage. Nothing. Frozen or not, an opponent will never die from simple stun blasts. So what’s a Low Gravity Man to do? Whip out a kick ass spear, of course!
LGM has got a spear, and he knows how to use it. Wait, scratch that, he knows how to be a dragoon… and that’s about it. Likely due to the severely lacking number of buttons on the average NES controller, LGM can only utilize his spear in an upward or downward direction. Not coincidentally, LGM also cannot shoot his stun gun straight up or down, only side to side. In a way, this couples amazingly with his crazy jumping skills, as we wouldn’t see a real “moving” Kain Highwind until that one Dissidia game, and dropping spear-first into a foe is always going to be fun. On the other hand, the antagonists of this world almost always move (and attack) horizontally, and the best LGM can consistently do is plink away with his lame stun gun, wait for the freeze to take effect, and then pull off the leaping spear “finishing move”. It’s kind of fun when there’s one enemy on the screen, but it’s ambiguously suicidal when the place starts filling with murderous robots (and this already happens during the first stage). And, while it can be fun once or twice, stun-jump-spear is basically “normal action gameplay, but with extra steps” when you get right down to it. That can get old across fifteen separate stages crammed with bad bots.
But it’s not the worst idea, right? It’s easy to give a NES game a lot of flack, but the brave men and women of the 8-bit console generation were pioneers working with tools that would nary impress a caveman. Four buttons? Three if you don’t count the seemingly mandatory pause? That barely allows for a second offensive option, so it’s no wonder this feels clumsy. But like how Mega Man X revolutionized weapon switching with the L&R buttons, a “next gen” Low G Man could actually make this idea work. It’s not about freezing and spearing, it’s about utilizing long distance attacks to “soften up” an enemy, and then using a close range maneuver to finish the job. There’s some meat on those bones! That could be a really interesting way to switch up the typical run ‘n gun gameplay of most 2-D action games. Get a director who has been making videogames for a solid couple of years, introduce some modern technology, toss in some dashes that make the whole process faster, and maybe…
Nah, screw it. Not gonna work.
Low G Man, there’s a reason nobody revisits your gameplay. Sorry.
FGC #320 Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man
- System: NES exclusive. There’s not a Master System or Commodore 64 or whatever version? No? Okay, just checking.
- Number of players: This Low G Man is an island.
- Other X Connections: Some enemies ride hovercars or tanks, and you can snag a vehicle for yourself. Not unlike in Metal Slug, all the vehicles have limited “fuel”, and they’ll self-destruct pretty quickly if you’re not paying attention, but it’s always fun to suddenly wield a gun that actually does damage.
- Favorite Powerup: Low G Man also has a host of sub weapons available. They’re not so great, because you have to earn them from quickly lost enemy drops, and a loss of life will lead to a complete loss of all sub weapons, but… they’re there? Whatever. You get a boomerang, and that’s the quintessential NES weapon, so I’m happy.
- An end: In a shocking twist, the Low G Man finale, which can only be viewed after beating the game three times, advertises the “upcoming” GI Joe game:
Well, I mean, I guess it was a pretty good game.
- Did you know? Low G Man was developed by KID, a development company that primarily seems to be responsible for a buttload of visual novel games (which can only be measured in butt-based measurements). But they’re also the deranged minds behind the Playstation 1 Pepsi Man game, so they get a pass from me.
- Would I play again: Naw. Throw this one in the pile of “interesting, but not really enough fun” castoffs.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… WarioWare: Touched for the Nintendo DS! It’s Wario touching time, everybody! Please look forward to it!