New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja review (PS4)

Microids has been bringing back classic games and franchises for a while now, and after the successful re-reboot of XIII there is now an updated version of a cult classic from the early nineties that started off in the arcades but subsequently received ports for nearly all the popular consoles and home computer systems of that time – here’s our look at New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja.

Developed by Mr. Nuts Studio, New Joe & Mac sees the titular characters return for another outing on today’s systems, and follows a similar path as Toki, which Microids released a few years ago. As with that game, New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja keeps the gameplay of the original intact while adding a cartoon-like visual layer to it.

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That means that the original arcade experience returns, offering a 2D action platformer that you can tackle either solo or with a friend in co-op mode. And while Joe and Mac aren’t all that ninja-like, the prehistoric theme does set you up for some confrontations with extinct creatures (even including dinosaurs, as creative liberties were clearly taken) on your quest to rescue your tribe’s women. The prehistoric theme also carries over to the game’s weapons – something the game has in common with its contemporary, Prehistorik.

That particular game was developed for home computers though, whereas Joe & Mac was originally made with arcade machines in mind. That means that, once you master it, Caveman Ninja is a very short game, that can be completed in about half an hour. Getting that good will take a while though, and on your first few tries there will be quite a few moments where the game will catch you off guard. Memorize where and when the enemies and dangers pop up, and things get easier. On the plus side, as an arcade game, this one was also designed with two players in mind. This doesn’t just make the game more fun to play, but also makes the campaign a bit easier to get through as it doesn’t get harder despite having a bit of extra help.

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New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja also features a secondary mode to play that makes the original arcade levels a bit longer, but the gameplay itself doesn’t really get mixed up by this. Additional modes (including a boss rush) are coming in a post-release update, but would have certainly been welcome at launch as well. This is a game that’s fairly low on content and the main draw for fans would be the audiovisual overhaul.

This is why we mentioned Toki for a reason – some of the people behind that game also worked on Joe & Mac, and the style is somewhat similar. We liked it, but that’s going to be a matter of personal preference as well, and we also know that the art and animations in a game like Cuphead are better than what’s on display here. With its lack of (new) content, this one doesn’t wow, but fans of the original who are interested in seeing it with a new layer of paint will enjoy what’s here.

Score: 6.3/10

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