This kusoge will teach you to close your eyes and say to yourself, "This just doesn't happen to me"
Licensed games are kind of a low hanging fruit in terms of kusoge, and I have no shame in picking them. They have always, always been random. Either you get a developer who loves the property and tries to do it justice, or you get someone who just releases games out of contractual obligation. That's why on the one hand we have Batman on the NES, which is awesome, while on the other hand we have Predator on the NES, which is the video game equivalent of having a drink of Hot water.
Then there are those games that fall in between. They're not awful, someone on the team obviously had some affection for the license, but somewhere along the line something was missing. Maybe it was talent, maybe it was vision, or maybe it was corporate interference. The Tick on SNES and Genesis is one such game. It's not all bad at first, but dig too far under the icing on top, and you end up eating sand.
I'm a big fan of The Tick. I read the Ben Edlund comics, watched the cartoon, watched the live action series, and watched the other live action series. I watched it as a child, and it had an even bigger impact when I relived it in my young adulthood. It's an excellent parody of superheroes, highlighting the most ridiculous aspects of the genre with the help of endearing characters.
The video game is a beat-'em-up. I don't know, that makes sense to me. What else would it be? The titular character is tall and nearly invulnerable; it has limited options for conflict resolution. The subject matter is sandwiched somewhere between 90s cartoon and Edlund comics, which is a little awkward. The 90s cartoon had some success, but comics are a small niche. So that means you might not recognize Chainsaw Vigilante, Caped Wonder, or Paul the Samurai.
When I say it's a beat-'em-up, I mean it's a conveyor belt style similar to Final Fight. Where it differs is that it has right side scrolling levels, a kind of interesting power-up system, and that's about it. There's no multiplayer, which is a bit of a pain since I love my co-op beat-'em-ups. It's also a little weird because The Tick is rarely a solo superhero.
At this point you might be wondering what's so bad about this game. If it's a generic beat-'em-up featuring characters I love, it should at least be a shrug, right? Let me ask you a question: what is the proper length for a treadmill beat? If you think of games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or Double Dragon, you'll probably get to the answer in 1-3 hours. Perhaps less. Long enough to install a mandatory elevator level and that's about it.
The Tick took me somewhere in the 6 hour realm to complete, and it doesn't have enough content to support that runtime.
It starts off quite promising. There's a good variety in backgrounds, and the playstyle changes just enough to keep things interesting between levels. However, it doesn't take long before you realize that his levels are just a tad too long. Then you will find that they are a bit too identical. Then you will understand that you didn't really survive that plane crash and you are now in hell.
I hope you really love or really hate ninjas because you will defeat a lot of them. Different colors of them in slightly different flavors, of course, but so many. Granted, maybe in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games you fought an awful lot of Foot Clan, but they added robots for good measure. Here you are stuck with ninjas until it switches to multi-colored Idea Men. Then there are the clowns, which I mean could be ideal or a complete nightmare if you're a coulrophobe. Finally, you find yourself fighting aliens which, I don't know, to me they look a bit phallic. I'll let you decide if it's just the fruit of my dirty mind.
If there's one place the game shows mercy, it's towards the end. While ninjas and Idea Men seem to never stop coming, clowns show up in fewer tiers and aliens in fewer than that. The game also adds new set pieces throughout its runtime, so it's not completely the same throughout. It's just that all the unique aspects are buried under the fight against identical enemies on the streets of the city. The music isn't terrible. It gets a bit repetitive, sticking to the same jazzy sound the series has adopted, but it's listenable.
Plus, if you're a fan of the show, you'll be glad to see plenty of cameos. This includes those mentioned above from the comics, but also American Maid, Sewer Urchin and Die Fledermaus from the cartoon. Many of them happen when you pick up a power-up that puts you back to back with another hero. It's not the most exciting mechanic, but it helps break up the monotony and showcase the other characters.
The game throws a weird boss at you, but they're so sporadic and their design is absolutely frustrating. For some reason, you can't combine them, so the whole fight boils down to feeding them one attack at a time until they stop rising. It's a bizarre design, completely removing the impact feel of battle and reducing it to a slap fight. I am honestly appalled at the severity of these fights.
It's perhaps remarkable that this game was developed by Software Creations, the same developer behind Carmageddon 64. I swear I didn't plan this. I'm as surprised as you are.
You might wonder if a mediocre game can really be kusoge. I'm not sure, I don't make laws here. However, I would ask you to try something for me: see if you have the patience to break through the ninja levels. If you succeed, tell me how you feel.
If too much of a good thing can be bad, The Tick shows what too much of a mediocre thing can be: it's excruciating. It's like a Groundhog Day scenario where every time you leave your high school math class, you walk straight into the same high school math class. It's like being trapped in a dentist's waiting room for hours and they only have about fifteen of the same issue of People Magazine. Eventually, you just start to look forward to the pain of reality, because anything is better than a few extra hours of being doused in inanity.