M&Ms Shell Shocked

So, we’ve had ourself a nice, refreshing glass of 7-Up, and now it’s time for something to wash… wait. What’s the opposite of ‘wash it down’? Dirty it down? …Wow, I’m getting way sidetracked.

Anyway! M&Ms. What person hasn’t, at one point, downed a bag of the things, whether in original, peanut butter, or even, if you’re feeling wild, pretzel form? We’re not talking Smarties, and we’re not talking those wussy alien food Reese’s Pieces. I mean the real deal original M&Ms. Point is. Like any candy with anything close to any sort of popularity, M&Ms were part of a series of many, many commercials. No, not commercials about people eating them and talking about why you should eat them.

That would make too much sense, y'see.

Basically, around the turn of the millenium, they made a ton upon ton of commercials about anthropomorphic M&Ms going around doing things. In the picture, you can see Red, the angry one, Yellow, the stupid one, Blue, the “cool” one, and Green, the “sexy” one. Yes. A sexy M&M. I’ll let your mind dwell on that one for a while. (There’s also apparently an Orange one that appeared since I stopped watching TV entirely, and apparently he’s the “crazy” one. Yeah, I don’t know.)

So you might be asking right about now “So, wait, they’re a bunch of anthropomorphic candies who advertise their own kind for human consumption. Isn’t that just a little disturbing?”

And the answer would be yes!

According to this commercial, the M&Ms are completely and totally OK with the consumption of themselves. Very… VERY…OK with it.

Also, they killed Santa.

So, to get to the point, the M&Ms were part of a ton of merchandise. This would include video games. More video games than you could possibly imagine. You may or may not already be aware of the terrible kart racer for the Wii, the game where you’re always constantly “APPROACHING THE SOUND BARRIER” even though everybody is moving at about 5 miles per hour.

But as it turns out, they made several games before that. True, none of them were actually made in the 90’s, but the way I see it, terrible food-based games are eternal. So, without further delay, let’s chow down on…

Trust me, this makes the game look way more exciting than it really is.

Released in 2001 for the Playstation 1, back when it was pretty much on its way out, and quick and easy shovelware like this wasn’t helping the poor thing at all.

This is Sony's way of gently saying "WHY THE HELL DO YOU STILL HAVE A PS1"

The game was made by Simon & Schuster Interactive. The actual company itself appear to be a book publisher, so why don’t we take a look at Mobygames and see what else they came up with?

…Oh dear, this isn’t a good sign. About the only thing most people will recognize on its list is I.M Meen, the edutainment game about poorly animated pedophile and Youtube superstar… I.M Meen. Also, bull shit, Mobygames, they did NOT make EVE Online. Get out. The developer’s a company called Boston Animation, who may or may not have made Darkened Skye, a Gamecube and PC title that’s basically a huge ad for Skittles, but at least had the kindness to be self-aware about it.

So, in this game, you take control of Yellow, the ‘dumb’ M&M. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have used Red, since he’s basically the ‘leader’ of the bunch (you know him well), but I’m not an advertising executive. And thank god for that.

The game starts with an introduction about Red and Yellow going on vacation to… somewhere. But then it turns out that Yellow left control of the factory to the M&M Minis. The Minis, as the advertising represents them, are basically a horde of tiny, insane M&Ms. A horde of tiny, insane M&Ms that are tearing apart the factory where so many of their siblings are sent for human consumption.

Pictured: The TRUE heroes.

So, you, as Yellow, are basically sent in to crush what’s basically a rebellion of people who DON’T want to be eaten alive. So you start the game, open up the first level, and you get this:

...Well, I wasn't expecting that.

So, the first three levels are basically you driving around in a jeep, trying not to ram into things. It wouldn’t be that hard, except the road curves around so much you get like a half second to see whatever’s coming towards you. We’re not talking Battletoads hard, but the fact that even brushing against an obstacle will kill you doesn’t help. Also, take note of the position of the HUD elements. This will be important later.

Each of the first three levels are basically driving, and it’s not really that fun or exciting. There’s nothing to really dodge besides cars and motorcycle gangs, and you don’t really get anything in the way of power-ups. Besides the crates that lay over the road that give you Minis when you pick them up. …So, wait, if these Minis are already packed into neat little crates like this, what’s the problem?

See this cow? It's animated better than anything else in the game.

So after three levels of that, you end up going to the next ‘world’ of the game, the factory where the entire game takes place. Once you get to this area, the game becomes a platformer, and…

Oh... oh dear.

“Woah there,” you say. “Just because you’re in a cramped corridor with a character who uses a spin attack to dispatch enemies doesn’t mean ANYTHING.” You’re totally right! I’m sure it’s just a total coincidence, or it would be, except for the fact that literally each and every thing, no matter how minor, is stolen straight from Crash Bandicoot. Yellow jumps the same way, breaks the same boxes, and the Minis you collect fly into the same corner of the screen as the exact same way as the fruit from Crash.

Yellow doesn't even have the deceny to explode into tiny pieces if you touch that green box.

The game is… well, functional, I suppose. There’s nothing out and out broken about it, but it’s definately not GREAT. For one thing, they’ve based everything off of the FIRST Crash, so Yellow can jump, spin, and that’s kind of it. No sliding, no unlockable moves, and those cool time trials and fancy collectibles are RIGHT out. The only thing that you can collect besides the Minis for extra lives are pieces of M&Ms formula. They take you to a bonus stage. An incredibly long, difficult bonus stage where you can run out of lives and get kicked out. …It’s kind of hard to screw up a bonus level THAT badly, but Simon & Schuster found a way.

The issue is that nothing really works as well as the games it’s trying so hard to rip off. Deaths are common because the game barely ever gives you power-ups to take another hit, and oddly enough, the game seems to have a control issue where if you mash the spin button, Yellow will eventually just refuse to attack entirely. Also, you have to MASH the buttons if you pause the game to unpause it. It’s entirely possible this is an emulation fault, but I’d have a hard time believing it.

And you know how Crash had interesting, if not entirely hard bosses who would taunt you as you progressed and hyped you up for the fight at the end?

Cortex this is not.

To be perfectly honest with you, I only played about two out of eight worlds into this game. But it’s just so boring and outdone by so many other, much older games that I see no point in continuing with it. I seriously doubt the game chanes as you continue on, and all that you would be missing is more ‘hilarious’ banter between Yellow and Red, who constantly bitches at him over everything.

Oddly enough, this game was released a year after the original PC version, titled M&Ms: The Lost Formulas. The PS1 version is missing the slightly better graphics and different level design of its PC counterpart, but do you know what else it’s missing?

MATH PROBLEMS.

So, yeah, the M&Ms game isn’t worth playing at all, unless you’re so desperate for a Crash Bandicoot game you need its inbred Taiwanese knockoff brother. The M&Ms would go in to star in more games than they really should have, none of which were very good. AT ALL.

Man, I’m hungry after eating all these M&Ms. You want to go pick up some McDonald’s?

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