Diet Go Go
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Arcade
  • Developer:
    • Data East
  • Publisher:
    • Data East
  • Released:
    • 1992
Score: 70%

This review was published on 08/09/2017.

Diet Go Go is a coin operated arcade game developed and published by Data East in 1992. It's the sequel or spiritual successor to Tumble Pop, another coin operated arcade game developed and published by Data East in 1991. A version of Tumble Pop was also released for the monochrome Game Boy handheld later on, but it's completely different from the arcade original. All of these games are heavily inspired by Bubble Bobble, a classic arcade game made by Taito that originally came out in the late 1980s. Diet Go Go also takes some inspiration from Dig Dug, another classic arcade game from the early 1980s by the company that created Pac-Man, Namco. Unlike Bubble Bobble and Dig Dug, however, Tumble Pop and Diet Go Go weren't big hits in the arcade scene. That's perfectly understandable, because neither game is particularly outstanding. They're not particularly bad, either, though.

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As the radically short intro sequence reveals, this game actually has somewhat of a story to it. The mysterious mad scientist from Tumble Pop, who has also appeared in various other Data East games, returns to cause some chaos. He does this by swooping in from above and dropping free food for the masses. This isn't an act of benevolence, however, as the food is scientifically engineered to cause everyone to get horrendously fat in a matter of seconds. Now the rest of the world finally suffers from the same rate of obesity as the United States of America. Predictably, the outbreak of this new obesity pandemic causes the whole world to panic. Two young heroes were sent in to combat this fat frenzy: a slim boy and girl wearing what appears to be aerobics gear from a 1980s workout video. As the game's title implies, they will put the whole world on a strict diet, or something.

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Action is viewed from a side perspective and there's a focus on platforming, which comfortably fits this game into the platformer category. However, the screen never scrolls, so the game isn't classified as a side-scrolling platformer. Anyway, the first player controls the boy, and a second player can jump in at any time as the girl for some simultaneous cooperative action. Aside from walking, ducking, and jumping, your characters are able to attack things by throwing projectiles, of which they have an unlimited supply. Similar to inflating enemies in Dig Dug, these projectiles will fatten up foes, eventually causing them to float up into the air like balloons. At that point, a simple nudge will cause them to bounce all over the screen, defeating any enemies they crash into before bursting into rainbow colored stars. This whole process is surprisingly fun to do, especially since many stages have bumpers that further facilitate the bouncing around of fattened foes. Ironically, this flies in the face of the game's title, seeing as how you're making people fat instead of putting them on a diet.

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Like Bubble Bobble and many other arcade games from the 1980s, every stage is exactly one screen tall and wide. As is usually the case for these sorts of games, the goal of every stage is to kill all of the enemies. Felled foes generally drop collectibles in the form of diamonds, rubies, and crystals, all of which give you more points. Points may be pointless, but every arcade game has to have them. However, in addition to instantly killing you on contact, enemies will sometimes toss food your way. Unlike Bubble Bobble and most other games, you're meant to actually avoid collecting the food, as it'll make you fat and eventually result in your demise if you eat too much. Your character's obesity can be reversed if you collect a mysterious diet drink, though. This game teaches the kids some really good life lessons.

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In addition to the countless collectibles, enemies will sometimes drop power-ups when defeated. These power-ups include projectiles that fatten enemies faster, skates that increase speed, sparkly barriers that grant temporary invincibility, and bombs that briefly allow your projectiles to instantly kill foes. There are also coins that, when collected, activate a slot machine that's perpetually perched on the top of the screen. If the slot machine matches three of the same symbol, you'll be showered with precious jewels and power-ups. Matching three sevens sends you to a bonus stage where you'll be able to get even more goodies. Because coins appear often and the slot machine frequently matches stuff, you'll be swimming in cool prizes. While it might make things a little too easy, the slot machine adds to the cathartic feel of the game.

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As with Tumble Pop, a map screen allows you to pick the world you want to start from, but you're unable to influence your path after that. Every world contains a varying amount of stages depending on how far into the game you do them. The later a world is tackled, the more stages it'll have. Some worlds aren't selectable at the start, though. As expected, each world also ends with a boss battle. The map screen is basically the same one from Tumble Pop, just with a few modifications. Not only that, but there are many other assets borrowed from Tumble Pop, like certain power-ups, collectibles, and even sound effects. As a result of that, Diet Go Go doesn't entirely feel like a new game. This comes off as rather lazy, like the developers simply repackaged the same game and sold it under a new name. Still, everything does look and sound nicer than Tumble Pop.

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It's a bit lazy, but Diet Go Go isn't bad. The game's at least enjoyable to play for a little while due to its quick pace and simultaneous cooperative capabilities. Given how expedient the game is, it doesn't overstay its welcome, ending well before it gets repetitive. It would certainly get repetitive if it was any longer, though, because things never really evolve beyond what's introduced at the outset. Also, Diet Go Go won't make anyone go on a diet.

Word Count: 1,019

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