Posted by : Luis Zena Dec 18, 2012
This is a very interesting and insightful article by a freelance writer that all of you should read. It's based on the game New Zealand Story. Be sure to check it out even if you have never played it!
By: Lily McCann
The NewZealand Story: A Forgotten Classic
One of the games that people always forget to mention when they talk about classic platform games from the early 1990s is Taito’s The NewZealand Story, which was available for the Amiga 500 and the NES. The plot was nonsensical yet brilliant; you played a small, sneaker-wearing kiwi called Tiki, whose friends had been kidnapped by a large, blue leopard seal called Wally. As the only non-kidnapped kiwi, it was your duty to find your way through scrolling, maze-like levels, rescue your little feathered buddies and secure the release of an attractive female kiwi called Phee Phee, capturing her heart in the process. The goal of every level was to get your character to a cage containing a kiwi, which would then be released and jump up and down flapping its wings with joy.
A Kiwi in a Hot Air Balloon
An entertaining feature of the game was the fact that you could knock the baddies out of the vehicles that they were flying and then commandeer them. This enabled Tiki to fly hot air balloons, ride about the place on a friendly goose and even operate a UFO. There was something particularly satisfying about knocking a large, blue-eared cat that was trying to attack you out of its silver hot air balloon and then using its vehicle to fly about and shoot its friends, especially after you had lost a couple of lives at their hands.
One of the more annoying vehicles to acquire was a flying platform with a spiked chain on the back. It was good for killing enemies but always seemed to end up doing more damage to Tiki than it did to the bad guys because it was very easy to fall off the platform and end up on the pointy end of the spikes. The variety of different vehicles on offer meant that each level could be completed using a range of different techniques and ensured that the game play remained fresh every time a level was attempted. The simplicity of these vehicles was their main strength. They didn’t need any skill to operate; you just got in them and pointed the joystick in the direction that you wanted to travel in. Indeed the simple nature of the NewZealand Story was what made it so endearing. It might not have had the powerful graphics of today’s titles or a multiplayer version that could be played using gaming broadband but still had replay value coming out of its ears.
Having a Whale of a Time
Perhaps the most impressive thing about The NewZealand Story was the inventiveness of the bosses. One of the earlier levels featured Tiki pitting his wits against a large, pink, frozen whale that emitted snowflakes out of its blowhole. In order to kill it, you had to allow it to swallow you, avoid the drips of stomach acid that rained down from the roof of its mouth and shoot at it from the inside until it shattered into pieces, allowing you to emerge from its belly. I don’t know what kind of mind-altering substances the makers of this game were taking but they definitely made for an interesting gaming experience. Another of the bosses was a giant blue octopus that fired bats at you. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
Each stage of the game was vaguely based on an area of NewZealand, with Tiki’s location being shown on a map after the completion of a level. This was another strange detail of the game considering that it was made in Japan but somehow added to its quirky nature. The levels were colourful, well thought out and distinctive, some requiring you to don scuba gear and swim and others seeing you fly about the place on a balloon. The best level was probably the last one, which was filled with posters warning that Wally was nearby, creating the perfect build up to the final boss.
The NewZealand Story was one of the most addictive games on the market at the time of its release, partly due to the music, which many gamers will no doubt find themselves still humming today. The level of difficulty was just right, as it was challenging but not impossible, and the surreal plot and zany cast of baddies added immensely to the enjoyment of the game. The fact that you could ride a goose was also totally awesome and tipped the balance between it being a good game and a classic.