Game: City Connection
Developer: Axes Art Amuse
Publisher: Jaleco Entertainment
Release date: 1985
The 1980s were great for folks who enjoyed playing video games with completely off-the-wall settings and premises.
There was a game that starred two brothers who, upon being turned into bubble-blowing dragons, set off to rescue their kidnapped girlfriends from a skeletal whale. Another noteworthy offering was a text adventure featuring nothing but anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables--with the protagonist being a cucumber knight.
Hell, the cartridge that helped make video games a household name around the world--its main character being a mustachioed plumber who spends his free time eating spotted mushrooms and tossing fireballs at meandering chestnut-shaped baddies with Brooke Shields-esque eyebrows--made its debut during this decade.
In that context, a pithy platformer that puts players into the driver's seat of an unstoppable hot rod and tasks them with painting the streets of various tourist destinations (London, New York City and Paris among them) seems positively pedestrian.
That's not to say Jaleco's City Connection, which began life as a quarter-muncher before being ported to the MSX and Famicom, is a bore. In fact, I'd say it's the polar opposite of that.
Admittedly, it isn't the deepest of gaming experiences. All you have to do while playing it is press left or right on your controller's d-pad to change the direction of your car--like I said earlier, it moves on its own--and hit the A button to make your auto jump. (Oh, and you can collect oil cans while racing about and then shoot them at obstacles by tapping your controller's B button.)
OK, so there's a bit more to City Connection than that. While you're busy aiming your car and timing its jumps, you also have to keep an eye on the road before you. This is because sharing the pavement with you are police cars, spikes and cats. Run into any of them and you lose one of the small handful of lives given to you at the game's onset.
If all of that sounds kind of ridiculous, well, it is. It's also surprisingly enjoyable--and even rather addictive. Basically, City Connection is one of those old games that's easy to stick into your Famicom, play for a few minutes, bop your head to the brilliant backing tunes and then return to the rest of your day.
Which I guess may sound disappointing to folks searching for another title to add to their "games are art" discussions. Plenty of titles, old and new, fit that description, though, so my suggestion is to forget about that for the time being and accept City Connection for the simplistic fun it ably provides.
See also: previous 'Great Gaymathon' reviews plus 'Manual Stimulation (City Connection)' and 'Nice Package! (City Connection)'