(Note: this review is an abridged, edited version of a review originally posted at 3DO Zone. Since that site gets almost no traffic anymore, I thought I'd share it here.)
Montana Jones is a Japan-exclusive licensed release based on an anime series that lasted for a year, with 52 episodes total, and got localized into a ton of different languages. Set in the 1930s, it looks like a hybrid between a furry version of Indiana Jones and a show like TaleSpin. All the characters are big cats, though the female protagonist, Melissa Thorn, is basically human except for a cat nose.
This 3DO game is clearly targeted to kids, though it's not edutainment as such. After an intro with animation from the show and clumsy CGI, Montana Jones presents you with a world map consisting of seven locations marked in English: Peru, San Francisco, Tibet, "Soviet", and so on.
Select one, and you get a Mission Impossible-style briefing from an old-time gramophone. Naturally, it explodes at the end. The briefing is in Japanese, as is all the voiced dialogue, but it's pretty easy to figure the game out even if you don't speak the language.
Next you fly from Boston to the place you chose, and complete a sequence of tasks that are more or less the same for each location. First is some simple point-and-click work that has you nose around until you trigger an action sequence or a minigame (more on this later). The presentation is very basic with no visual flair, though the voice acting seems competent.
Then you search for the treasure in that location. Sometimes these are first-person mazes, with cheap-looking CGI of Montana; at other times, it's more of a point-and-click adventure. There's no penalty for messing up, so you just have to persist until you find the right path.
After that, you get 1-3 side-scrolling platformer levels, ending in a boss fight. These are very short and basic, with bare-bones animation and a low frame rate. The controls and collision detection are pretty sketchy.
You have a health bar that looks like a gas gauge. Touching enemies, falling into pits, or running into falling objects will damage you. Getting hit by a falling object sends you back to a checkpoint. If you end up low on HP, you may see Melissa waiting for you in the next area, and you can regain health by kissing her.
Between the 2D platformer levels, you sometimes get 3D action sequences in which you run down a tunnel, being careful not to hit the walls. The gameplay is simplistic, but it's the only thing in the game that makes use of the 3DO hardware. The twisting hallways look nice and scale smoothly, though only at 15fps. It reminds me a tiny bit of Galaxy Force on the Saturn.
Before each boss encounter you get a short CGI with its name and stats in English. These bosses are giant robotic animals -- a polar bear, a dragon, a "mechanic mole", etc. Since you have no attack, you have to run to the end of the level while dodging the boss. At the end you either duck or jump to a higher platform, and the boss runs past you and crashes.
Between levels you can save to 1 of 5 slots. The weirdest thing in the whole game is this save screen, with totally inappropriate "dark ambient" music that sounds like howling voices -- and when you confirm your save, it emits a horrible scream! What the heck is going on there?
Finish the seven levels, and you unlock the game's eighth and final level, a platforming stage. Complete that, and the credits roll in English.
As mentioned earlier, you can find minigames along the way: Whack-a-Mole, the Tower of Hanoi, a sliding-tile puzzle, a skeet-shooting game, a driving game, and a weird encounter in San Francisco's Chinatown where you get a fortune cookie. None of these minigames seem to matter at all.
In fact the whole game feels lazy and phoned-in, and on a technical level, Montana Jones is like something you'd find on the CD-i, not the 3DO. Only the tunnel sequences have any technical flair.
Maybe the Japanese dialogue is really funny -- who knows -- but I think Montana Jones is just shovelware, poor even by the low standards of kids' games. The platforming would be weak even if it were a Flash game, and the FMV is sparse and often looks bad.
If you want to sit down with a 3DO game and know you'll win, you could give Montana Jones a whirl, since it only took about 2.5 hours to beat (in two separate sessions, eight years apart!). Otherwise, don't bother!
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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ActRaiser wrote:I love reading about obscure games. Nice write up. I'll never play it but it was a fun read. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with it.
Thank you! Yeah, Montana Jones is unlikely to end up on anyone's radar unless you're specifically interested in obscure Japanese 3DO games, but I thought there ought to be something out there on the English-language web about it. Too bad it's such a weak effort but at least it's relatively painless!