Back in 2014, I reviewed CollectorVision’s Sydney Hunter and the Shrines of Peril, a Smurf Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle pastiche for the Intellivision. Now it’s time for Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death, an action/adventure title for the Super Nintendo. CollectorVision is an independent company producing games for modern and vintage consoles, and Sydney Hunter, an amiable Indiana Jones-type adventurer and geologist, is basically their mascot.
In this 16-bit expedition, Sydney heads to the South Pacific and explores the mysterious Sundial Island, home of Mount Doom. Deep within Mount Doom are treasures untold and a volcano god who demands human sacrifice. Tempted by a colorful jewel on a pedestal in a cavern within the mountain, Sydney ventures boldly inside, only to get trapped. You must help him gather treasure, battle enemies, and find his way out.
Armed only with a boomerang and a torch (for lighting the way), Sydney must run, jump, and climb through the various caverns, hurling his weapon at bats, frogs, ghosts, firebirds, snails, and spiders. There are also obstacles to avoid, including green slime, dropping water, and ghost flames (which can’t be killed). Tricky jumps will test your dexterity, and you must tread carefully throughout the game because one-hit deaths are the rule of the day—unless you are playing easy mode, where Sydney can find hats along the way. While wearing a hat, Sydney can take an extra hit.
There are no inventory systems to manage, magic potions to mix, weapons to upgrade, or other such complications, meaning some will find the goings a little light for their tastes. However, others will enjoy the simple, pick-up-and-play nature of the game. I find myself in the latter camp, especially since the game is deeper than it appears on the surface. As you make your way through the caverns, you must pick up crystal skulls, diamonds, and golden idols and carry them to specific places to make your way out.
Graphically, the game isn’t oozing with detail, but it does have a pleasant appearance, with a cute protagonist, nice lighting effects, glowing walls, and rising lava (when it’s time to quickly exit the cavern). From an aural standpoint, the music fits the mood nicely. More importantly, the game is fun, it has solid controls, and it presents a fair challenge.
As icing on the cake, the packaging is top-notch, old-school SNES, with box art by Joe Simko of Garbage Pail Kids trading card fame. If nothing else, the game is a nice stop-gap while we all wait for the highly anticipated Sydney Hunter & TheCurse Of The Mayan for the Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.