Saturday, June 11, 2016

2: Here On Gilligan's Isle








Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip
that started from this tropic port
aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
the skipper, brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
for a three hour tour.
A three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost.
The Minnow would be lost.

The ship’s aground on the shore of this
uncharted desert isle with
Gilligan,
the Skipper, too.
The millionaire and his wife,
the movie star,
the professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan’s Isle.


This is what you get when you start up the 1989 Nintendo video game, Gilligan’s Island, along with an 8-bit rendition of the theme–instrumental only–while the faces of the castaways fade onto the screen. Going in, you would think that Gilligan’s Island would be a decent game. Maybe something like Mario Bros. meets Pitfall. What? Oh, it’s a problem solving video game? Sigh. Okay.

For whatever reason, Tina Louise (Ginger Grant “The Movie Star”) didn’t agree to Nintendo using her 8-bit likeness but it probably had to do with Louise never really liking the show. She apparently thought the show was stupid, that she would be typecast and fought with star Bob Denver. But I’m sure no one fought during production of this game.

Each “episode” has some semblance of a story but the castaways do send Gilligan and Skipper on some mundane tasks as well. Between gathering wood for shelter, searching for Mary Ann, finding pieces of a stone tablets and finding Mrs. Howell, you are also sent to collect nuts, books, wedding rings and swimsuits. I guess being shipwrecked has paralyzed everybody except Skipper and Gilligan below the waist. The game is separated into four “episodes” and each one starts out with the castaways standing around what I assume is where they buried Ginger after the storm that shipwrecked them passed and talking about what’s going to happen.

Each “episode” has some semblance of a story but the castaways do send Gilligan and Skipper on some mundane tasks as well. Between gathering wood for shelter, searching for Mary Ann, finding pieces of a stone tablets and finding Mrs. Howell, you are also sent to collect nuts, books, wedding rings and swimsuits. I guess being shipwrecked has paralyzed everybody except Skipper and Gilligan below the waist.

Enemies in this game are not really dangerous but really annoying. Your only weapon is punching and you can really only punch the natives but the hit detection is so bad, you can’t really tell if you are doing anything. Enemies include snakes, rats, warthogs, jaguars, monkeys, bats, birds, bouncing rocks, falling rocks and Gilligan. Yes, Gilligan can be considered an enemy in this game but I’ll get to that later. Tripping can also be considered an enemy but it’s mostly just time consuming.

The problem with the enemies is that they tend to come out of nowhere, they respawn and are never the same so you can’t plan a strategy, you just have to sit there while it happens to you. Another problem with the game is Gilligan. On the show, Gilligan was never a huge help and he’s exactly the same here only as an unplayable character controlled by the A.I. Occasionally, Gilligan falls down a hole or is chased by a native female who loves him or just wanders off to the opposite side of screen you are on for no reason at all and you have to go find him, use a rope to pull him back or just go on without him. The problem with going on without him is that it reduces your time to only two minutes and even if you can finish the level within those two minutes, no one will talk to you without Gilligan so finishing the level without him is impossible because Mr. Howell asking you to retrieve his swimsuit hinges on Gilligan being in the cave with you.

So after you run errands for everybody, someone give you a club so that you can battle the end bosses. The first episode ends with Skipper battling a gorilla while Gilligan watches.

The second episode ends with a headhunter, who returns in the fourth episode when you have to rescue Mrs. Howell.

The third level, for some inexplicable reason, has a bear as an end boss because apparently this version of Gilligan’s Island has them shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Northwest and not the Pacific Ocean.

The fourth level’s main end boss is a giant skeleton because why the hell not? If you have less than full health, do not even attempt to defeat the skeleton because you will be clubbed repeatedly and ultimately die and when the Skipper dies, everyone else apparently dies too.

The thing is, Gilligan’s Island isn’t a terrible game but it’s tedious as hell and there’s no real reward. When you complete a level on Super Mario Bros. you jump on a flag, run into a castle, points rack up and sometimes fireworks happen. When you complete a level here, something happens to render what you did pointless. When you build the shelter, you build it too close to the beach and become surrounded by water. When you find a stone tablet that could help get you home, Gilligan steps on it and breaks it. When you finally collect all the pieces from the tablet, it turns out to be a carving that Gilligan did. I mean, seriously, they didn’t notice that Gilligan freaking signed the damn thing?

When you defeat the skeleton, you are given one wish which the castaways want to use to wish themselves back home. They send Gilligan away to retrieve some fruit while they make a wish. Somehow, it’s not really clear, the wish granter hears Gilligan wish for a mountain of ice cream and a giant ice cream cone appears in the lagoon because shut up and watch the credits.

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