Conceptually, Illuminator is rather interesting, and in the hands of a company such as Taito it just may have ended up as something decent. Sadly, as we're talking about a product of Active Enterprises, it instead came to be as a bearable yet poor game in a sea of moldy ass.
What we have here is a single screen platformer where you have to constantly dispatch foes in order to keep the screen lit. If you go for more than a second or two without a kill, the lights go off, leaving only the level layouts and sporadically appearing shadows visible. For the first few levels, it's actually a fast paced and fairly entertaining little game. The introduction of the bat enemy further in, however, degrades it to a frustrating hayride of bullshit. When you can see them, the bats serve well to ramp up the game's challenge, but once the lights go out? Expect many unavoidable deaths from those bastards, as they move fast and have a tendancy to spawn right next to you when you can't see them.
I suppose it doesn't help matters that regular enemies sometimes generate in places that make clearing a level impossible, or that you can't survive anything but the absolute tiniest falls.
So yes, it is one of the lesser evils of the cart, but even so your time would be better spent on the internet, looking for a really boss Ratfink picture to tattoo on your body.
Having grown up in the age of Micro Machines, I'm sure that I might have been able to convince myself I liked Evil Empire as a child, what with it's mini sized hero and villan characters. But as I aged, my eyes cried "Mutiny!" and no longer serve me the way they used to. You know those vision charts? I once read the bottom two lines as "ball sweat bonanza," which coincidentally is what Evil Empire would smell like if it had the ability to expel stink.
Aside from the tiny characters, Evil Empire is basically a game of collecting the countless 1-ups that litter the stage, which affords you the opportunity to play, play, play until you can play no more. Random, out of place deaths and unfair enemy placements also make another stunning appearence, and this time they're here to help destroy your eyesight forever. If you needed another reason not to play Action 52, that's a damn good one.
Whatever might be interesting to write about Lollipops's gameplay I've already covered in reviews for similar games. It's sound, however, is worthy of note. In level three, the music and effects glitch out, and the combination of the two never fails to make me extremely drowsy.
It's like Active Enterprises was trying to hypnotize it's players. Perhaps if I allow myself to go under it's spell, we'll gain further insight into what the company was about... zzz...
BORN IN THE U-S-A
Shocking! It looks like we can add bigotry and song parody authoring to the long list of Active Enterprises' flaws.
October 12, 2001
What a week this has been, my dearest diary! On tuesday, a new transfer student started at school, and we became fast friends. Her name is Tarantula, and she is a very pretty girl with an eye patch. And get this! Even though she is 17, she already has to wear dentures! I'm flattered that someone so mature has taken interest in me.
Tomorrow is saturday and Tarantula wants me to spend the afternoon with her lighting off Black Cats behind the Arby's. How could I ever resist such an invitation? Maybe if things go well, I'll even get to hold her hand!
And the good news does not cease there. In one of your older brothers, diary, I recorded my dreams of a certain video game cartridge called Action 52. As you might guess, it was an unheard of 52 games strong, and oh, how I desired it! But when it came down to the wire, my funds were short and I had to let go. But just on thursday, I downloaded a "ROM" of Action 52 at the exact cost of $0! Could it be that all of my dreams are finally coming true? We'll see. I'm going to give it my first attempt after dinner, so I'll let you know how it goes!
October 15, 2001
Diary, something is wrong. I spent the whole weekend playing Action 52, and I feel funny, as if my soul has been tainted by a dark cloud. Tarantula called me on saturday. I told her I was sick and that she should stay away from me if she knew what was good for her. I followed this by exclaiming that she might want to stick her Black Cats "where they fit." I'm not really sure what those words really mean, but hearing them come from my own mouth scared me.
I did not go to school today, as I felt I might be a threat to the other students at this point. The next game on the list is Non-Human, and hopefully it will be my salvation. Pray for me, dear diary, for I am in danger.
October 20, 2001
I see It when I close my eyes. I see It when I open them. If I'm ever blessed with an hour or two of sleep, It the subject of every nightmare.
My clothes were starting to stink so I burnt them all. Don't want to offend my tormenters, that sadistic 52. My door has been barracaded, yet I can still hear Mother quietly weeping outside. She would not want to see what I've become, so this can only be for her benefit.
The fish in my aquarium have provided adequate sustinance over the past few days, but they shall soon run out. The water is far from clean, but it's something to quench my thirst, at least.
Tarantula, I'm sorry. So, so sorry.
October 25, 2001
the fish are gone and i've run through the water too. i find myself sucking the moisture off the rocks lining the bottom of the aquarium, but i still feel life fading away. the cheetahmen taunt me from behind their glass barrier, a sly snicker that burns like poison. at the end of the day they get to go home and eat, they have lives, while mine has been burnt nearly to ashes in their pursuit.
i guess it's only been thirteen days but if i were to survive the damage done would last a life time. i should be thankful, then, that survival is the last thing on my mind. so weak i hold the controller in my hands, hoping that each button press brings me closer to the last.
i have to go now. IT is calling for me.
November 1, 2001
mash mn came out yestrday to hlp clebrate halowene. he fed me it was grey not rely sure wht it food is fod anyway. glad to eat. ha he was wering this cstume so fun and also funny
my body brns hot sometimes also it feel cold im not even real sur im stil alive. i hear sound outsde the door is it satan? redy to sleep for n eternity or two if yu cath my mening
anyone reading this pleas dont come aftr me im alredy gone