Jelly Boy 2
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • Game Freak
  • Publisher:
    • Sony Music Entertainment
  • Released:
    • JP Canceled
Score: 75%

This review was published on 01/06/2016.

Jelly Boy 2 is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Game Freak for the Super Famicom. This game is the sequel to another Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom game, which was released in Japan as Jerry Boy on September 13, 1991, and North America as Smart Ball in March 1992. Jelly Boy 2 was going to be published by Sony Music Entertainment in Japan sometime around 1994, but got canceled. How am I reviewing a canceled game, you ask? Well, that's because a beta version of the game leaked online around a decade after it was canceled. There's also a translation patch available to change the language from Japanese to English. Despite never being officially released, the game is practically finished, as it's fully playable from beginning to end. The game is actually fairly decent, too. Jelly Boy 2 is an amazing improvement over the first game. As irony would have it, the better game is the one that got canceled.

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The fanciful setting of Jelly Boy 2 is an amusement park known as Jelly Land, similar to Disneyland, except with more jelly. I hope you're not jelly. Our story begins with five kids and their pet dog going to Jelly Land to have some fun. Upon arriving, they encountered a sinister looking jester who used mysterious magic to transform them all into differently colored slimes! Furthermore, the jester kidnapped nearly everyone and trapped them all at various points in the park, leaving behind only a single boy named Marine. With the task of saving his friends now falling onto his gelatinous shoulders, Marine has a full adventure ahead of him. All of this can be gleaned from the game's intro sequence, which quickly sets up the story without resorting to any dialogue. The plot also eschews the convolutions of the previous game, going instead with something much simpler. That is the ideal method of storytelling for this type of game, as it doesn't waste any of the player's time with unimportant info dumps.

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Resembling one of the blue slimes from the Dragon Quest series, Marine has access to a full range of unique slime related abilities. He can slither along the ground at walking and running speeds, jump despite not having any feet, go down narrow pipes, and climb walls and ceilings by sticking to them with his goopy body. Most enemies can be used as makeshift platforms if jumped on, but doing so won't hurt them. Instead, Marine can stretch himself upwards and flatten himself on the ground, both of which will harm enemies if they're touched. Also, Marine is able to shoot ball-like pieces of himself at enemies as harmful projectiles. This attack functions like the balls of the last game, but unlike those, Marine has an unlimited supply of these. The catch is that there's a short wait time between firings, so you'll have to resort to other attacks while you wait for your balls to replenish themselves. The removal of ball ammo streamlines the game while the wait time maintains balance. The controls are also much nicer this time around, with the momentum abnormalities of the previous game having been fixed here.

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Most worlds conclude with the rescue of one of Marine's buddies. This isn't purely for plot purposes, as rescued friends will become playable characters. Once at least one friend has been rescued, you'll be able to switch characters prior to starting a stage. There are six characters in all and they all share the same basic slime related functions that Marine has, but they also each have an exclusive ability of their own. Marine is the fastest, Mint can use her barrette as a boomerang, Carm can fall through certain platforms, Ed can lay explosive goo, Sienna the dog slime can use his tail to hover, and Yolk can perform a devastating dash attack. Unfortunately, being that the game was left unfinished, Carm lacks her talent as a fast swimmer, making her mostly useless. With the exception of Carm, these varied abilities give each character certain advantages and disadvantages during different stages, though you'll always be able to beat every stage with anyone. Additionally, there are exclusive places only some characters can access, like how Ed can use his explosives to break blocks that most others can't, enabling him to explore uncharted territory. The sizeable cast of playable characters is one of the game's main standout features.

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As can be seen in the intro, the whole adventure takes place within the confines of Jelly Land. There's still plenty of variety in the environments despite that, though, as each area has a distinct theme. For example, you've got a prehistoric jungle, a pirate infested ocean, a space world, and even a setting that mashes cowboys and ninjas together. You honestly won't even notice that you're in an amusement park half the time. The vastly improved graphics also help everything come to life, resulting in colorful visuals that are a delectable treat for the eyes to feast upon. Those vibrant colors are put to good use with the cartoony art style the game has going for it. Basically, everything looks really cute, including the ferocious enemies. Don't think the cartoony style means there's a lack of detail, though, because every sprite, background, and foreground in this game is loaded with detail. Unless you hate cutesy stuff, you'll love the way this game looks.

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While the individual stages are linear, the game will open up after completing the first area with a world map that lets you pick your next destination, giving the overall structure a slice of nonlinearity. The stage design is a lot more focused in this game when compared to its predecessor, so the layouts are more straightforward. Fortunately, that means there are less convoluted mazes to worry about, though some still manage to make their way into this game. The stages are designed to test your slimy abilities, which results in you having to occasionally stick to walls and ceilings to either avoid obstacles or get to new places. Sticking to the ceiling is particularly fun, as it creates some very unique game play, like hanging beneath a bridge to avoid oncoming traffic. It's those abilities that separate this from other generic platform games, because you aren't simply running and jumping. One especially neat stage has you exploring the interior and exterior of a pirate ship using pipes embedded in its hull. The stages in Jelly Boy 2 do a mighty fine job at being mighty fine.

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Every area or world is divided into five separate stages, with a mid-boss usually appearing somewhere in stage two or three and a main boss at the end. The mid-bosses are typically a series of regular enemies that'll bum rush you, whereas the main bosses are big baddies with attack patterns. The main bosses will generally pertain to the theme of the stage they're found in, like the prehistoric world having a tyrannosaurus as its guardian. One of the more memorable bosses is a ninja that summons forth a giant robotic frog to ride around on. This guy takes up over a quarter of the screen, so you have to crawl along the walls and ceiling to avoid his girth, creating a fun fight that makes good use of the game's core mechanics. There's some humor here, too, as the mechanical frog will toss the ninja about as a projectile, causing him to tumble around the room in a comical manner. Another boss has you firing foreground cannons at pirate ships in the background, which is pretty rad. Not all the bosses are this good, but collectively, they're a decent bunch.

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Besides saving your pals and thwarting evil jesters, you also have some optional stuff to grab in the form of upgrades and collectibles. Like The Legend of Zelda series, you can collect four heart pieces to make up a new heart container, which permanently increases your maximum life gauge. The main collectible of importance, however, are the mysterious black puzzle pieces. If you acquire all of the puzzle pieces, you'll get a chance to fight the true final boss and see the best ending. Tracking down the collectibles isn't at all frustrating, because you've access to a stage select that cuts down on the amount of needed backtracking. A lot of the secrets are found by revisiting certain stages with different characters, utilizing their special abilities to access special places. As a result of that, you'll need to have rescued everyone in order to find everything. This adds a tiny bit of replay value to the game without being excessive. It's ultimately a small thing, but still cool.

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When it comes to good sequels, Jelly Boy 2 fits the bill. Considering this game was never finished, it has a surprising amount of polish. The graphics, music, controls, stage design, and bosses are all way better than the first game, with countless other improvements all around. Many of the awkward game design choices from the first game have also been corrected here, making everything more streamlined. You even have a plethora of new playable characters with unique abilities, further adding to the game's depth. Plus, there are even a few optional collectibles to add a little more to the game's length. Jelly Boy 2 makes all the right moves. It's a shame that this game never saw the light of day as a real release.

Word Count: 1,581

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