Thursday, December 14, 2017

Knockoff Console Corner: Famicom NES Titanic Game

It's finally time to introduce this segment! I've literally been waiting YEARS to introduce this particular fascination of mine, and now, it's time to take a look at my bootleg/knockoff game and console collection!

I've already shown my interest in knockoff brick sets several times on this blog, and I'll continue to be collecting them and showing off said collection whenever I can. It's just fascinating to me when unofficial producers and distributors of unlicensed Lego-ish products show just as much creativity in producing relatively original ideas and models as the more mainstream and actually legal companies.

...Sometimes even more, depending on how "out there" their ideas of how to execute a certain concept are.

 And then there's the world of knockoff games and consoles. As with knockoff brick sets, there's also an underground community for creators and publishers of unlicensed games, mostly focused around the Famicom, Genesis, and Game Boy systems*. Some of these developers are teams of fans who hack their favorite video games and put a new spin on them, and others are surprisingly prolific actual unlicensed game companies that are still around and making and distributing these games to this day!

*...Yes, in the year of the Xbox One, PS4, and the rebirth of virtual reality, we're still getting games for consoles over 30 years old.

The same thing that fascinates me about unofficial brick sets is what attracts me to knockoff consoles and games: the creativity and weirdness. I LOVE to find and dig up these ideas and executions that actual game companies would NEVER attempt, due to not having the license and/or it clearly being beneath them. I love to see how games from later systems would work on older consoles(and even vice versa in some cases), how other developers would tackle the characters and mechanics of popular game franchises(often to humorously botched results), and even how actual original homebrews for these older systems work.

And, in the case of knockoff consoles(including Plug n Play systems), I love to see what kind of gimmick they include to make them stand out. Usually, it's as simple as copying the design from a newer console and giving it a few tweaks, but sometimes they DO come up with some inventive and even innovative ideas to take the original hardware to a whole new level and push the system to its limits! ...It's not often, but it's welcome when it happens.

That's why I've dedicated myself to hunting down and collecting as many of these games and consoles as I can find! What you're seeing right here isn't even my complete game collection, and I don't think there's enough space to show off all the Famiclones and other systems I've amassed! In fact, at this point, I might actually have most of the games that I seek to collect! I'm still missing a few titles(which are exceptionally rare and likely out of print, so a flash cart is probably my only hope), but I think I've collected most of the titles worth collecting.

 What I mean by that is that there are a few games and game types I don't really deem worth adding to my collection. As with brick sets, I'm not interested in collecting straight-up ports and re-skins of already existing games. Oh, you took two minutes and replaced James Pond with Nemo from Finding Nemo? ...Well, it still plays like James Pond, so why don't I just play that instead?!

The exception being demakes(or even the occasional remake) of existing games. These had to be programmed from the ground up and adjusted to work on different hardware than originally intended, so some creativity and innovation is at play here to admire.

That also means multicarts(unless they contain original games and ports) are right out.

I'm also not interested in demakes of fighting games. I really can't stand most regular fighting games and trying to play through clumsy and broken demakes of games I already suck majorly at just instantly gives me a headache. I do have a couple(mostly due to their inclusion on multicarts or being interesting enough to even get my attention), and we will be looking at them sometime down the road but I don't want to actively seek out any more...

 Finally, I'm not interested in the countless fan hacks of Sonic, Pokemon, etc. I don't care that you added Sonic to Streets of Rage or that every human sprite was replaced with a Pokemon with new dialog about how Professor Oak has trapped everyone here and cruelly experiments on each one until you stop him. If the game still plays exactly like the game it was originally with the exact same level layout and mechanics, I'm still not interested. You have to try pretty hard to convince me your game is different enough to play through...

Besides those certain categories, I'm pretty open to any bootleg or knockoff. Most of my collection are platformers, but I also have some RPGs, some puzzle games, and even rhythm games. I spent the last few years building my collection, and I'm ready to spend the NEXT few years showing them off and reviewing each one.

And that FINALLY brings us to the subject of today's review. I had originally planned to first review the console I was going to play this game on, but, seeing as how this game ties into a certain anniversary this month and considering my inability to keep a regular schedule, I figure we should tackle this game now.

With that, I bring you: Titanic, the Famicom game!


Name: Titanic
Developer: Dragon Co.
Release Date: 2005
Genre: Platformer

This year marks both the 105th anniversary of the Titanic sinking and the 20th anniversary of James Cameron's epic masterpiece of the same name. 105 years since man's pride and emphasis of comfort over security took its toll on over 1500 people, and 20 years since Cameron gave us the first billion-dollar movie by featuring a classic romance set against the splendor and eventual tragedy of this event.

Now since I already took up enough of your time with the opening, and this isn't going to be the only Titanic-themed thing I feature this month, I'm not going to go into much detail about the impact both the event and the movie made that still resonates today. However, I will say that the unforeseen critical and financial success of the movie surprisingly didn't lead to much "official" spin-off merch and material.

 Sure, it skyrocketed the Celine Dion "My Heart Will Go On" hit to the chart-topping, multi-million selling fame it still has to this day, and encouraged James Horner to not only release a soundtrack of the movie, but ANOTHER soundtrack, called Back to Titanic, full of original material and "could-have-beens." ...But when it comes to spin-offs actually based on the movie, most of it is decidedly UNofficial.

There's the thankfully-forgotten Asylum mockbuster unofficial sequel "Titanic II."

There's the extremely funny "Titey" animated parody from Saturday Night Live

Then there's the infamous, universally hated, Italian-produced, NOT a parody "Animated Titanic Trilogy", which not only features some of the worst animation ever put to film, but also some absolutely appalling concepts and blatant ripoffs from other movies that basically "Disneyfy" the actual event and turn it into nothing more than a fairy tale. ...I mean, even more than the blockbuster movie did.

And then there's what we have today. An unofficial Famicom/NES game based on the movie. ...Yes, seriously, this exists.

Of course, it's not exactly that obscure anymore, given that a much more popular and wealthy YouTuber featured it a few years back. ...He didn't actually review it, but he featured game footage and acted like a total spaz! ...Which counts as reviewing nowadays, I guess. ...Just call me old-fashioned...

However, this isn't even the only bootleg Titanic game, as there are at least THREE games made for the Famicom/NES that all bear the Titanic name! The second is another title JonTron featured in his video: the beat-'em-up "Titenic" game

And the third is the even lesser-known "Titanic 1912" RPG. Unfortunately, due to their obscurity and infamous rarity, I've never been able to find a physical copy of either one. There do exist ROMs of both, so I intend to play them both when I get a flash cartridge, since I prefer to play games on physical hardware.

 Heck, I was lucky to find THIS Titanic game, and for a decent price! The thing about bootleg and knockoff games is that you never know where they'll turn up nor how long they'll be there. This game in particular took me about a year to find a listing for, and after I bought it, I never found one again. ...Now if I can only have the same luck with the Famicom Super Mario World or The Lion King V...

Being a knockoff game reproduction, the art and general design can vary from cartridge to cartridge, depending on who manufactured it. Mine has a low-res image of either a screenshot or artwork of the Titanic(the quality's too poor to tell), with the nonsense serial number "Nj048".

But, as JonTron has shown us, there also exist cartridges with promotional stills from the movie. Just whatever pops up first in Google Images, I guess...

When the game is booted up, the first screen informs us it was published by Shenzhen Nanjing* in 2005.

*At least, I assume that's what it says. Running it through Google Translate gives me the more literal "the South Crystal science and technology."

Shenzhen Nanjing is one of the more prolific pirate game producers and distributors, mostly creating games for the original Famicom since 2002.

They're most famous for their RPG demakes, including the cult classic Final Fantasy VII and Pokemon Yellow NES ports, both of which are known to English-speaking audiences thanks to fan translations(and the unofficial physical distribution of said translations by overseas manufacturers.)

 Surprisingly, they're still around to this day AND have an English website. ...However, if you're looking for bootleg Famicom games, you'll be disappointed, as they now only advertise a line of PSP knockoff consoles. Not even a link to where you could purchase said consoles...

The game itself was actually developed by Dragon Co. ...Not that it tells you that on the actual game, as I had to look it up on the Bootleg Games Wiki. How THEY got the information, I'll never know.

Dragon Co. was a game developer founded around the late-90s that lasted until the mid-2000s. During that time, they made a handful of platformers for the Famicom and shooters for the Mega Drive/Genesis, most notably the infamous Famicom game "The Lion King V: Timon and Pumbaa".

Yes, the one where the characters commit suicide if you get a Game Over! ...I NEED this in my collection!

Dragon Co. closed down around 2006, with most of their titles and resources being acquired by Nice Code Software, which you might know as the developers for 99% of all titles contained on cheap Plug n Play games. ...That is, if you're a loser like me who obsesses over these types of consoles. ...My life is a joke, isn't it...?

The game actually starts with a splash screen filled with Chinese text. This time, we're told:

"A 11 will not sink luxury cruise ship. No maiden voyage to the men and women who love each other during the crisis is coming, you need to escape."

Google Translate, how we love thee.

While I can't find evidence of a cartridge with an English translation existing, there DOES exist a translated ROM of the game, as seen with this screenshot from a YouTube video, which is probably what JonTron used in his video. It basically says the same thing, only much more coherently. The "unsinkable" Titanic is off on its maiden voyage, two lovers meet, and a crisis occurs that you must escape from. ...Of course, being Titanic, I think we would have guessed that...

 And here's your title screen! ...A blurry, digitized version of the Titanic ship against a white background. With the title written in the Arial font. They sure know how to drive home the excitement and tragedy of such a historical event, don't they?

One thing I CAN give them is that there's a pretty decent remix of My Heart Will Go On as the title music. It's a slightly sped-up 8-bit version of the song with an electronica backing beat, making it much more upbeat and "house" than the mellow ballad of the original. ...Nothing like groovin' to a techno remix of a love song to while thousands die in the Atlantic waters!

The game gives you the choice between Jack or Rose. ...Considering the outcome of the movie, you'd think Rose would be the better choice here. But, since I wanted to know how they would interpret this choice, I went with Jack. ...Who has a bit of blood on his name. ...Subtle...

But, before you start, you're greeted with ANOTHER splash screen of text and badly digitized Jack & Rose in the corners. This time, Google Translate tells us that they're saying:

"Do not give up, do not be discouraged! You must be able to leave here!"

Which is mostly what the English translation says as well, so yay for consistency! Also, this is the last original screen of text in the game, so I won't be forcing any more literal translations upon you.

...Still, that's a pretty odd way to start the game. The way it's positioned and phrased, it looks like one character is shouting it to another, basically telling Jack/Rose "We may be on a ship that's sinking, but you're on your own! I'm leaving you for some reason, even though the movie had us rushing to save each other and then being together until the very end! Good luck with that! I'm sure we'll meet again sometime later!" ...Nothing on Earth could come between them, huh?

So by this point, you're probably wondering: How DO you make an NES game based on a real-life event AND a realistic romance movie? ...Well, surprisingly, they pulled it off convincingly, if you can believe it! ...I mean, as convincingly as you could make a knockoff platformer based on an event where the only major villain was a block of ice.

Level 1 starts you off in the cargo hold of the ship, where Jack/Rose has just emerged from the sex-scene car.


 ..No, seriously. What else could that be? ... I take umbrage with this, as I really don't like it when they start a game at the climax.

The game plays like a typical platformer. Move from left to right, avoid all obstacles and hazards, and get to the end of the level. ...And that's basically it. Just get to the end without getting killed! This is a platformer simpler in execution than the first Super Mario Bros!

The simplistic nature of the entire game is made even more simple by the fact that most of the levels are almost insultingly short. I literally beat the first level in only 1 minute, 11 seconds, and even then, I was goofing around, trying to pick up collectables! I kid you not when I say this entire game can be beaten in under an hour. Heck, under HALF an hour if you know where you're going! A game based on a nearly FOUR hour movie can be beaten in the time it takes to watch the typical YouTube review of Titanic! Isn't it ironic? ...Don't ya think?

But with that out of the way, I will say to the game's credit that the graphics are actually REALLY good. ...At least, for a knockoff game. Like most of Dragon Co's library, the animation is very fluid, with a high number of frames for character sprites and a few of the enemies and other hazards. It genuinely looks like they went the Prince of Persia or Karateka route and rotoscoped someone for Jack's animation, and that's always impressive to see in a cheap knockoff! So even though the length of this game is also comparable to those two, at least they additionally copied the main selling point of those two games as well. ...Twenty years later...

Heck, the frames that they put into Jack lifting himself up make Super Ghouls & Ghosts' version look like the Odyssey 2 Popeye animations! ...Where all characters were replaced by single pixels...

And they were apparently SO impressed with how well they could animate climbing, that they made TWO variations! ...However, that leads us into another problem with this game.

The controls feel... Weird. Not necessarily bad, but never like you have complete control over the character. Again, it's like early games with a high frame rate like Prince of Persia or Karateka, where so many frames go into a character performing an action, you have to tap a button a second before the action has to occur. It's all technically responsive, but it takes a while to orient yourself to the delay and action combinations. Thankfully, the platforming is relatively casual, so you're rarely put into high stress situations where lightning-fast reflexes are crucial. So it's nice that there's no additional stress on top of having to deal with the FREAKING BOAT SINKING!

However, one flaw I CAN'T forgive is how difficult grabbing onto ledges can be. The first time playing this, I genuinely thought the game was broken or there was a glitch somewhere because no matter how many times I jumped at a ledge, Jack wouldn't grab on! I'd just keep getting killed by the rat at the bottom*!

*And isn't that the most dignified death for half of one of the most romantic couples ever on film? Jack getting killed by a RAT while the Titanic is sinking! ...Suddenly, freezing to death holding onto a raft sounds much more dignified...

 But after some experimentation, I found that you need to hold UP and jump to grab onto a ledge! ...Why wouldn't that already be the default? Why else would I be jumping against a wall if not to grab onto the ledge above?!

Again, going back to something like Prince of Persia, having to push another button to grasp onto a ledge made sense. You're running through a maze of hazards with multiple levels of floors and selective grabbing is required to latch onto the edge you want and avoid ending up impaled on the spikes below.

 This, on the other hand, is a straightforward platformer. Run right, jump over stuff, sometimes jump up on a ledge and run left until you reach high enough to run right again, and try not to get killed. It's pretty obvious what you'll be grabbing onto, so having to push two buttons at once for something that should be automatic just adds an unneeded layer of difficulty and stress to what is otherwise a simple game! I don't need to hold a button to hold onto ledges in Spelunky, and I shouldn't have to here either...

So after you've run past the rats, electrical shocks, and rolling barrels that make up the hazards of Level 1, you get to the edge of the screen and head on to Level 2.

...Right after the post-level intermission, which features the Titanic either sending out signal flares or fireworks, followed by Jack/Rose giving you the exact same advice you got at the beginning of the game! ...Get used to this screen, as you will see it EVERY time you complete a level.

Level 2 puts you in the... Engine Room, I guess? It's a completely blue level with a lot of pipes in the background and steam clouds are blown in your face. Your guess is as good as mine.

This is where slight variations to the typical "run right and jump" platformer start appearing, as at several times, Jack/Rose will need to climb up different machines and head left to take an alternate path to the exit.

This is required, as at several points, spikes line the floor, so going around is the only way to make it through alive. ...As alive as you'll remain while the Titanic sinks, anyway.

 The most annoying part of the level is where you'll need to stand in certain areas to avoid being crushed by these pistons. However, the angle is so skewed, you can barely tell if you're in range of being hit or not! Even standing in front of these blue dividers doesn't always guarantee safety! I hope you're patient, since there's a lot of these and finding the right spot is a matter of trial and error...

Heck, the ship's so out of control, even the levers are trying to kill you! ...And that brings me to my next good point about this game: Its relative realism.

 So far, the obstacles have been things like rats, electrical sparks, barrels, steam, cracks in the hull, machine spikes, pistons, and levers. All of which are presented as legitimate hazards(though with some a little exaggerated such as the rats), and yet all fit the realistic Titanic setting of a ship in 1912! Not once does this game ever feel the need to pull something fantastical like deckhand ghosts or evil mermaids or steampunk robots or anything overly fantastical that you'd expect from a fictionalized game version of a true event! I can believe that all these things would be legitimate threats for someone trying to rush from belowdecks to the lifeboats above while the ship is sinking and in absolute chaos! So despite the strange decision to make a platformer based off the Titanic movie, I have to applaud them for keeping a realistic setting, yet still making it as fun and challenging as if there WERE fantasy elements in this game!

 You know, unlike Titenic and its "flying eggplant", or whatever this thing is...

So after navigating through this quick maze of spikes and pistons and avoiding the haywire levers and steam baths, Jack/Rose runs towards the end and into

Level 3, the Boiler Room. ...Ok, I wasn't able to find a comprehensive diagram of the Titanic(at least not one that gave me a straight answer), but shouldn't these levels have been in reverse? We start in the Boiler Room and work our way to the Cargo Hold? Because, how it looks here, Jack seems to be running deeper into the hold instead of, you know, trying to get AWAY from the sinking ship! Come on, Jack! You still got Inception to do in about a decade!

This section almost makes me take back what I said about the game having a sense of "realism", since the obstacles here are self-propelled wheelbarrows, Sorcerer Mickey's coal shovels, and huge furnaces that spit burning masses at you. ...But it's still stuff you'd expect to see down here and it's a platforming video game, so I shouldn't attack it too harshly. ...I'll still attack it, being a nitpicky internet critic, but not without cause for once.

It's probably also worth noting that Jack has no form of attack in this game. All he can do is run past and jump over hazards in his way. ...But, like I said, he has to deal with electrical sparks, furnaces, barrels, and spouts of water, so there's not exactly anything TO combat. And even if there was, he's more worried about getting off the ship before it takes him with it, so he'd likely try to jump over or avoid anyone trying to kill him anyway...

Again, unlike some versions where Jack has time to punch out every passenger and crew member he comes across...

There's not much to this level. Just run right and avoid everything thrown at you until you reach the end and


Level 4, the Access Hatch(?). ...Quite easily the most frustrating part of the game.

The fact that the ship is rapidly sinking and breaking apart is most apparent in this level, as the goal here is to get Jack/Rose to the top of the hatch while trying to dodge broken rungs and outrun the rapidly approaching water below... It's not easy.

This is where the flaws in the controls and the game's strange platform detection mechanics become frustratingly apparent. For starters, to hoist himself up, Jack has to stand right in the MIDDLE of the ledge above him, then jump and push Up at EXACTLY the right time to grab on! ...It breaks nearly every gaming instinct you have, as you'd THINK doing this would just lead to Jack smashing his head on the platform above, when you actually have to know that he'll phase through the platform AND magically transport him to the edge, from where he can then pull himself up. ...Are we sure Jack isn't already dead?

And don't think you can outrun the water by doing everything as fast as you can. No matter how fast you run, the top of the water will ALWAYS remain above where your HUD used to be, so you'll never be able to buy yourself some time to think! If you want to avoid treading water for the rest of your life(which won't be too long afterwards), you'll stay on your toes and keep Jack running and jumping!

I've always wondered where Rayman Legends got its inspiration for the Infinite Tower Challenge...

 Not to mention that it's one of those trial-and-error levels to figure out where you need to go! As you're never given time to think, you're never given time to explore, either. You just have to know which ledges to grab onto and which ladders to climb, otherwise, you're dead!

Also, the collectables in the alcoves are a trap. If you try to run in, grab them, then run back out again, you're instantly sunk. ...Quite literally.

Easily the hardest part is at the end, where absolutely precise timing and jumping between ladders and platforms is required. If you don't jump from EXACTLY the right point, press the Up button at EXACTLY the right time, and you miss the area even by EXACTLY one degree, you fall into the water below and lose a life.

With all this in mind, it's no surprise that this is the level where you're going to die

 And die

 And die

 And die

 And DIE! This level will deplete your life bank in SECONDS! And when you reach Game Over, you're treated to an animation of


 ...I'm not touching that one...

 I love how the text is in the background layer, though. Normally, the text is in the foreground, as it's simply an overlay over footage actually happening in the world of the game. When it's in the background like this, it gives the impression it's actually part of the world, that the Titanic is actually sinking in front of a large, floating text box! If only the passengers could have formed a human pyramid to reach up and hit Start! Sure, it would have begun either the voyage or the sinking all over again, but at least they'd be prepared for it!

...Ok, I already gave the impression I wouldn't make any tasteless jokes about the actual tragedy, so that's my first and last one. We now return to the fictionalized story of the already fictionalized Jack and Rose already in progress.

After a LOT of trial and error(for this game and its ridiculously short levels, at least), Jack finally reaches the upper-rightmost corner and escapes the hatch, leading to


Level 5, Third-Class Corridors. Here, the game resumes a mostly normal run left-and-right style of gameplay, with no other timed levels, so compared to what you've already been through, it's smooth sailing from here on out!

The goal is right back to getting to the end of the level on the far right, while dodging falling light bulbs, electrical shocks, even the FLOOR is trying to kill you at this point!

Did this suddenly become the movie Bloody New Year, where literally EVERYTHING tries to kill the protagonists? ...Nah, even this game doesn't sink to that movie's level...

At this point, you're probably wondering how to regain health and earn extra lives, since you've likely made it through the previous level with only 1 or 2 remaining. ...The answer's not exactly what you'd think.

 Your life is represented by these three hearts. Evey time you get hit, you lose a heart. Standard stuff.

So that means that collecting these hearts replenishes your health, right? ...WRONG!

Every heart collected adds to the Life Preserver counter. Collect 25 to get an extra life! ...Get it? Because they're life preservers? So they're helping to preserve your life? ...And other jokes from before time began?

Instant 1-Ups can also be attained by collecting "Heart of the Ocean"s scattered across the levels. So no, there's no way to actually replenish health.

However, there's no real reason to even collect extra lives, as the game features unlimited continues, which start you right back at the beginning of the current level with the Life Preserver count reset. The only real loss is that the game does employ checkpoints for certain points, and continuing means starting the level over. But because each level can be completed in under 5 minutes, this is more of a slight annoyance than an actual problem, so additional lives aren't required to get further in the game.

Anyway, to break up the monotony of just running left and right, this level introduces the new mechanic of going up and down stairs, where collectables can be found. It's relatively pointless, but it's nice that they bothered.

 But in one certain room towards the end of the level, you come across the grating put in place to keep the third-class passengers down there.

...So Game Over? You're stuck in third-class where nearly every single passenger died slowly and painfully to let the second and first-class passengers escape on the lifeboats. There's no way out now, so Jack/Rose is inevitably going to die amidst the crowd of immigrants, right?

NOPE! Your goal as you begin Level 6, Further Down the Corridors, is now to find the key that was stashed somewhere in the hull to open the gate up! ...Yes...

And here I was, expecting him to simply rip through the gate like it was paper! But I guess finding a spare key that, for some strange reason, is down here with the passengers who are desperately trying to escape, is the less messy way of handling things! I guess they just didn't try hard enough to escape if that was always an option! This isn't a mutilating of history at all, is it?!

 This level plays mostly like the last, with Jack running down the corridor, avoiding falling ceiling fragments.

As well as a spectral spinning ax that can quickly spell your end. I'd comment more about its inclusion, but we just saw that the gate that kept the third-class passengers trapped could always be opened with a key, so nothing surprises me anymore...

Here, Jack must explore all the rooms below, getting a faceful of broken pipes, as he tries to find the one that leads to the room where the key is hidden. It's almost impossible to avoid getting hit by the spouting water, so unless you're actually trying for a "No Continue" run of the game and you need to stockpile your lives as high as possible, I'd recommend NOT running into every room you see. ...Unless you're reviewing the game like I am. Very stupidly.

Eventually, you find the entrance to the other room, which takes Jack to

Level 7, Flooded Quarters. The first swimming level of the game. Jack has to swim through this flooded portion of the ship(which hopefully everyone already evacuated...) to find the key to the grate and get out ASAP.

This level does add a bit more variety the the movement range, as you need to guide Jack over and under obstacles to find the key, including doors, bolts, floating baggage, and electrical sparks.

And no, he never runs out of air, able to stay in the freezing cold depths of the water indefinitely. ...Maybe Jack was just off his game when he finally caught up with Rose in the movie?

Heck, he's invincible to the point he can withstand electrical shocks. UNDERWATER! ...Well, I guess I shouldn't expect any less out of the guy who went fishing in Wissota Lake FIVE YEARS before it was created! Maybe he and the guy who can do the Kessell Run in 12 parsecs should get together sometime?

The key is located all the way to the left of the level, then it's just a matter of getting back to the doorway you started from.

Unless you're convinced you need that Heart of the Ocean on the right side, just grab the key and go.

Level 8 and Level 9 are backtracking levels as you just head back down the corridor in the opposite direction to get back to the door. Nothing to really report here.

...However, Level 9 starts you off at the BEGINNING of the level, instead of where you exited! ...I guess they didn't want you to start the level, turn the corner, and enter the door, which then brings up the question of why they even included the level again?! ...Guess we'll just add that to Jack's list of mad skillz: Good at cards, great at fishing, spits like a king, can remain underwater forever at subzero temperatures and yet survive, and bends the rules of space and time just for a challenge. Chuck Norris, eat your heart out.

So you unlock the grate(I still feel unclean having to point that out...) and it leads straight through all other cabins and rooms right to

Level 10, Main Deck. We're coming up on the endgame here, as now Jack must find a lifeboat so he has his true love can be reunited. ...At least, I think that's what the goal is...

I say that, because there are certain points where Jack passes people running about aimlessly on deck. ...You can't interact with them in any way, but they're there, doing... Something, I guess?

Well, at least ONE of the band members is still hard at work, playing "Nearer My God To Thee" as everyone runs around in a panic. ...Keep up the good work.

The captain over here needs all the help he can get to calm the passengers down through his megaphone.

Heck, the lifeboats haven't even been launched yet! They're still hanging on the side of the boat, just swinging around for Jack to run and jump on! ...Are the passengers actually dancing, the musician playing some sort of hoedown, and the captain shouting square dance instructions to them?!

GUYS! There are cracks in the hull, ice blocks slipping around on deck, miniature icebergs blocking off most of the exits, and a rapidly approaching wall of water from under third-class! I'd think it's time to put your hootenanny on hold and get off the boat!

There's no giant octopus to save you in THIS version!

Anyway, this is another maze-like level, where you need to navigate across the decks to the leftmost part of the screen to find... Something. Rose? A lifeboat? Blood diamonds? I have no idea.

It's also very easy to get stuck right off the bat if you don't know that you can climb up these thin, barely-visible ropes. ...Seriously, I thought these were background objects the first time I played this...

And by this point, the ship is in such terrible condition, there are spike pits and gaping chasms everywhere! ...Nobody notices this?! NOBODY?! ...Fine then. Enjoy your prawns and lobster before you're eaten by sharks!

At least you'll be taking the cousin of the Rapping Dog with you on the way down!

Finally, Jack makes it to the other end of the boat. ...Where we see the ship has actually cracked in half!

Oh, it gets better.

Because Level 12, Underwater, the FINAL level of the game, starts you off right next to the sunken ship! ...Oh...My...God... This is so horrible, it's absolutely wonderful!

...Except this technically means the journey up to the bridge was entirely pointless, since Jack still waited around long enough for the boat to crack in half and sink! And, seeing how he's immune to oxygen depletion and intense cold, he's completely fine swimming around in the near-Arctic Ocean! So really, he could have waited around after the sex car scene and gotten to this point in about the same amount of time! There was nothing to be lost! ...I guess Jack just needed to up his god-level Olympic marathon workout...

Jack's final mission is to finally be reunited with Rose, but he must swim the freezing waters full of sharks, turtles, and jellyfish to do so. ...But considering the crap he's already been through, this is a breeze for him! ...And for you, since it's just a swimming level where you need to make your way to the right.

A few times, the water's blocked by ice floes, so you'll need to climb over the ice to continue swimming. And they included a "slipping" animation, so even at the end, their attention to detail is stunning!

Though be careful. The background lightning isn't happy you made it this far...

Before you can find Rose, you need to find an Oar, hidden next to the last iceberg and guarded by a particularly grumpy jellyfish. ...Why you need an oar when the RMS Carpathia will be along shortly, I don't know. Especially since Jack could probably pick up the ocean, put it in his pocket, and let everyone ride on his shoulders home at this point...

Also might as well grab that last Heart of the Ocean before surfacing. Rose will need it to throw in the water about a hundred years later.

So Rose, who was the only one smart enough to grab a lifeboat before the ship sank, and Jack the demigod run into each others' arms, finally reunited.

And so our game ends with our two lovers kissing on the rescue boat, knowing that nothing will ever separate them again. THE END.

...That's riiiiiiight! Not only did the game take great liberties to betray the actual Titanic's sinking, but it went out of its way to betray nearly all fundamental aspects of the movie! Forced happy endings for the win!

And yet, we never got to see the Titanic and the iceberg in a sword fight to the death! ...What? It wouldn't have been any more out of place than anything else we've seen...


Design: The cartridge picture is pretty basic, just a digitized painting of the Titanic or a similar ship as the label on the front. As far as I can tell, there's no actual box for this, so I can't give it any points for packaging. If you were to see this lying around, you probably wouldn't know it was a game about the Titanic, nor really anything worth picking up. ...Though it's more than likely that if you're getting this game on a cartridge, you're not getting it for the cartridge artwork...

Controls: The controls are clumsy, but actually higher-end for a knockoff game on an old system. Jack/Rose goes in the direction you point him in, jumps when he's told, and comes to a complete stop when a button isn't pushed(save for Jack's sweating/spitting idle animation.) As I've pointed out several times in the review, controlling these characters is very similar to playing Price of Persia or any other game with a large amount of frames in the character animations, as you'll have to account for a slight delay while the characters move, but it's nothing unmanageable if you know what those games feel like. The major problem is the "ledge grasping" mechanic, as having to push Up and Jump at the same time is not only unnecessary, but difficult to pull off in time to grab the ledge above. This alone can lead to a lot of cheap deaths in later levels, especially when when quick platforming is required in Level 4... So while not the most fluid controls I've ever used, they work, and I can say they're not the worst I've ever tried. At least I'm not playing with a freakin' touchpad again...

Graphics: The graphics are REALLY good for a knockoff game, as well as Famicom/NES games in general! Again(what is this, the fifth time I've brought this up), it's done in a very smooth, rotoscoped style like Prince of Persia or Karateka, giving the sprites some of the smoothest animation I've ever seen in an NES game. I guess you could argue that the frame rate is a bit inconsistent, since some movements(like hanging and hoisting up from a ledge) are much more fluid than other actions, and the sweating/spitting idle animation is quite jerky, but I'm just impressed they put that much work into ANY of these animations, as they ALL look professional and higher quality than most other games! I'm also impressed with a lot of the backgrounds.  For a lot of levels, they didn't just take a square and slapped a repeated texture on it, like with most Plug n Play games I've seen, they actually designed a whole layout for each level, with varying background items and animations! The Engine Room of Level 2 is probably the best designed background of the game, with the amount of boilers, pistons, lights, pipes, etc. they put in! Sure, later levels like Levels 5, 6, 8, and 9 fall back on repeated textures, but it makes much more sense since they're hallways for mass-produced cabins, as opposed to he same machines repeated over and over again. The sprite work for the other hazards and such also aren't that bad, with enough detail given to most of them that you can tell what you're looking at. Admittedly, the animations of everything besides the characters are a little jerky, but since they put so many frames into Jack/Rose, I get the sense they did that on purpose to avoid slowing the game to a crawl. ...But in case you think I'm giving the graphics too much credit, the coloring is a huge issue. For some reason, most knockoff and cheaply made games have a thing for solid, ugly colors like light blues, browns, pinks, oranges, greens, etc. As such a lot of the game looks very murky and dark, especially with the first few levels and their solid browns and blues for most of the backgrounds. I understand it more with older, cheaper cartoons, since they could probably only afford a small number of colors to work with, but when they create something with a COMPUTER, it just boggles my mind why they chose THESE colors when their paint program probably could have come up with a better fitting color in two seconds! Still for a knockoff game, it's probably the least disgusting layout I've come across and each level goes by quickly enough that you don't have much time to be nauseated by each color scheme, so I can say I've seen much worse. ...So, as you can tell by the wall of text that is this category, high marks for the amount of work put into the graphics!

Music & Sound: There's an impressive amount of music for a knockoff game contained here. We have the obvious addition of the techno-fied version of My Heart Will Go On, which, despite its simplistic 8-bit structure, does sound good and gives you the impression that this is actually going to be based on the Titanic movie. ...But besides that, a lot of it just sounds like your typical knockoff game soundtrack, where they just strung a long string of random beeps together in some sort of melody, put some bass behind it, and called it music. I will give them credit that there's a different track corresponding to each "area" of the ship(belowdecks, hatch, third-class, deck, and ocean), and they bothered with Game Over music, but none of it sounds like it matches the situation at all. All of it is forgettable and blends together, so you can never tell one track from another. ...It's no Mario overworld and sewers, is what I'm saying. As is also common with knockoff games, there are no sound effects, save for a generic beep when picking up items and discovering things like a locked door. There's not much that requires a sound effect, since there's no method of combat and there aren't any obstacles you need to listen out for to prepare to dodge, but SOMETHING to break up the monotony of the background music might have been nice! A bzzt for the electricity, a low rumble for the barrels, maybe some occasional alarm sounds to emphasize the catastrophe and that you'd better make it to a lifeboat ASAP! Maybe there wasn't enough space with all the animation and different sprites they had to cram into what's meant to run on primitive hardware, but something to emphasize the emergency and atmosphere of the ship would have really helped. In other words, you're not missing anything if you just mute your TV while you play...

Gameplay: This game plays REALLY well! Each level is different, with its own set of hazards that correlate with the area, and its own layout that requires a different way to get from A to B. Most of it isn't just "run right, don't get killed", there are certain goals that must be met to get to the end of the level. Sometimes, it's as easy as climbing the right platforms and avoiding the traps, sometimes, it involves staying ahead of the rushing water, and sometimes, it's a matter of finding an item to unlock the exit. Each level finds its own way to keep gameplay varied, whether it's its unique set of hazards, its upward scrolling, or its swimming sections, so most levels feel fresh and new(besides where you obviously have to backtrack to unlock the gate...) It genuinely has a sense of variety and even passion, like they took the concept of a platformer and pushed to the Famicom/NES's limits, giving us a different experience with each level! ...Of course, that said, I wish the gameplay was a little more expanded upon. It is EXTREMELY linear and short, with each level lasting about 3 minutes or less if you know where you're going(and can overcome the clunky controls.) I really would have liked it if they included some secrets or alternate ways to progress through levels and overcome hazards. Cheat codes, Easter eggs, branching paths, cutscenes, unlockables, secret areas, SOMETHING to expand upon the experience of playing the game and making it worth coming back to! As is, it's a fun tech demo. I just wish they could have included something to heighten the immersion and made it less solely about getting from A to B.

Replay Value: Again, it's a game that can be beaten in under an hour. Even half an hour if you master the jumping and know exactly where to go. And like I mentioned, once it's beaten, there's nothing to come back to, as it's exactly the same game every time. I guess you could try playing as the two different characters and see the different animations for each, but that's something I know can get old REALLY fast. So unless you're doing one of those speedrun "Titanic Beaten in 5:27" videos, this is a "play once" type of game.


As a knockoff game, this one sits in the top tier. The graphics are really good, the gameplay has a fair amount of variety to it, and the idea of a platformer being based on the Titanic movie is just too strange a concept to pass up! And strangely, they DO make it work, designing each level with both the movie and the time period it takes place in in mind and creating hazards and layouts that match! The controls can be annoying, but for most of the game, you do have enough time to acclimate yourself to how they work, and the levels aren't long enough for being sent back to the beginning to become an annoyance. ...That said, it IS a game based on both a beloved film AND a horrible tragedy, so I can understand how it could offend people(especially since I even had a freakout at one point...), especially with how it trivializes the tragedy(the Game Over screen is literally the ship sinking!) and how it changes a number of elements for seemingly no reason, such as having the boat completely sunk and Jack and Rose being the only survivors! As someone who's seen the Animated Titanic Trilogy, I can say that there have been WORSE changes made to the story, but that doesn't gloss over that they turned a disaster into a cutesy platformer. ...Still, if you're willing to look beyond the insulting depiction of both the event and the movie, and maybe want to go into it just to make fun of how insensitive it is, it's worth one playthough. ...Namely because, like the actual Titanic itself, there's little to go back to.