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SummaryUnderrated. In some ways better than Jill of the Jungle
The GoodWell designed maps with glimpses of tough to reach areas make Vinyl more of an exploring game than a traditional platformer like Jill of the Jungle.
The addition of collecting red orbs is a nice improvement over Jill. There is an end-of-level counter of how many of those red orbs you could have gotten, so you know if there was a hidden area you missed.
Colorful graphics with some interesting enemies.
Smooth, fast animation.
The BadGraphics and story are like a grotesque mockery of Jill of the Jungle.
The hyper-sexualization doesn't work. It is neither humorous nor titillating. I'm not saying this from a prudish perspective. I think some games, like Leather Goddesses of Phobos, have succeeded at it. Vinyl Goddess of Mars did not.
The game doesn't handle the red orb collection as well as it could have. It's as if the programmers ran out of time. If you save, quit, and restore, your red orb count is increased, so you don't know if you actually found all the hidden areas or not. When you beat a level, you're shown how many orbs you could have gotten, but there's no way to go back to the level and try again.
The overworld ought to mark levels where you've collected every red orb and let you re-enter any level that you haven't fully beat. But, instead you are always forced to go to the next level. Which makes it completely pointless and a waste of time. Why even make people navigate an overworld if there's nothing you can do?
Perhaps a minor complaint: In what world's physics does a person have momentum only when touching the ground? Mars, apparently. If you try to turn around and run the other way on the ground, you'll keep sliding forward for a bit. However, if you jump up, you can reverse direction immediately.
The Bottom LineVinyl Goddess of Mars is a fun platformer, similar to the much more famous Jill of the Jungle. While it is inferior in story and more difficult to play, Vinyl outshines Jill in graphics and level design, making it a worthwhile game to try.
While I loved Jill of the Jungle, I currently prefer Vinyl. Vinyl's red orb collecting mechanic makes it a fun game for exploring the map — you are informed at the end of each level if there was something that you missed. (Tip: use the "Save Game" feature in the overworld, as there is no other way to go back to try again.)
A very well respected reviewer here on MobyGames, Tomer Gabel, has a useful review which points out many of the flaws in Vinyl Goddess of Mars. And he's right about the flaws, but I respectfully disagree with his conclusion that Vinyl is "funless". There actually is a fun game hidden beneath these tawdry trappings.
Admittedly, Vinyl's initial weapon is extremely hard to use. This is not like Jill where jumping and throwing magnetic daggers can do all sorts of trick shots. While frustrating at first, one can get used to it. I think the designers may have made the choice to nerf Vinyl's offensive weapons to add extra challenge. Note that they also limited the number of daggers that can be thrown and even included a nearly useless weapon (flaming oil) which can only be thrown diagonally and bounces in inconvenient ways. The designers clearly took the weapon limitations into account when designing the level maps. Later on in the game Vinyl finds shurikens and fireballs which work much more reliably, but would have made other levels too easy.
The enemies in Vinyl are also much more difficult than in Jill and have some tricky attacks. (E.g., the weird man-legs in a diaper wearing a mask that tramples you as soon as it sees you.) Sometimes it seems impossible, but you can avoid getting hit by moving cautiously and looking ahead. Use the up and down keys to look at the levels above and below. (Tip: jump to the diaper guy's platform just as he turns away from your direction.)
My biggest gripe with this game is that I am embarrassed to be seen playing it. I only originally gave it a shot because I wanted to play Jill of the Jungle, but I'd already beaten it too many times.
But, now that I've played Vinyl Goddess of Mars, I'm glad I gave it a chance.
Side note to modders: This game would be more fun if someone edited a few superficial things, particularly the protagonist's character sprite and the main menu screen, to be less sexualized. I also suggest that the screens of text with the abysmal plot be chucked or replaced with something better like a message saying, "A WINNER IS YOU!". (The name "Vinyl Goddess" can stay, just make her a 1980's DJ putting the needle on the record and pumping up the volume. She'd be the "Vinyl Goddess of M|A|R|R|S".)