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Cliffhanger (NES)

Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Kyle Palkowski (226)
Written on  :  Jan 09, 2011
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars

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Average platformer yet astoundingly faithful to the film.

The Good

What I liked was just how incredibly faithful the game tries to be to the movie. The soundtrack is comprised of 8-bit renditions of sections of Trevor Jones' robust score for the film, including the famous Cliffhanger theme. Situations and gameplay elements are taken straight from the film, among them burning money to regain health and warmth (represented by one bar, and both of which go down if you stand still too long), snowboarding using a henchman's corpse, the final showdown on the Bitker Ladder with Qualen and a level taken from a deleted scene where Gabe climbs an ice wall. Also, the controls are easy to pick up (with the exception of a few of them, as I'll report later). You also get a nice variety of weapons: your fists, knives, guns, stones, and dynamite, to name a few.

The Bad

The graphics REALLY needed a lot of spit and polish. It looks almost like a Commodore 64 game ported to the NES. The snow is nothing but white splotches with gray fragments thrown in, the Rocky Mountains look more like the peaks in South Park, the henchmen look incredibly generic and Gabe looks more like Patrick Swayze than Sly Stallone. I know it's an NES game, but they were doing better graphics with great gameplay by 1993.

The controls are a bit sluggish, but the major problem is unless you have the manual (or the time to experiment) you don't know a few vital ones. Sure, you have Start to pause, B to punch/kick/use current weapon, A to jump, and down to duck, but those are easy to find. The harder ones are not self explanatory: Up+left or right starts you running after a few seconds so you can do a flying leap to another platform (wondering what those boots you pick up in the first level do?). Without knowing that, you can't reach the plane in the third level and get the plot moving. Up+B when your fists are selected allows you to kick, which you can normally do when jumping. Down+A goes through your weapons. Like I said, not really self-explanatory and could have been implemented better.

The Bottom Line

Not a pretty looking game, but a decent platformer that's not a bad way to kill a few hours and rewards you if you're a fan of the film. Once you find those obscure controls, Bob's your uncle.