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Captain Novolin

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Captain Novolin
Captain Novolin.jpg
Before bed tonight, have a glass of milk, a glass of milk, and a glass of milk!
Protagonist(s): Captain Novolin
Genre(s): Educational
Platform
Platform(s): Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Release: November 1992
Developer(s): Sculptured Software
Publisher(s): Raya Systems
Country: United States

Captain Novolin is an educational platform game based on Novo Nordisk, who is known for producing insulin, developed by Sculptured Software and published by Raya Systems in November 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Plot

Aliens commanded by the evil Blubberman have landed on Mt. Wayupthar, disguised themselves as junk food, and have invaded the nearby city of Pineville. They’ve kidnapped the city’s mayor, Mayor Gooden, who is also in charge of the city’s cache of diabetes supplies. Being a D-list superhero with type 1 diabetes, who better to save the day than Captain Novolin?

Gameplay

Before each level, you’re given facts about diabetes, insulin shots, and checking your blood sugar. You’re also given a suggested meal plan for each level which revolves around a meal such as breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, or a bedtime snack. Rather than collecting all of the food items, you must stick to your suggested meal plan of one of each item so that when you inject your insulin shot following that level/meal and check your blood sugar, you’ll be within the healthy zone marked in green. If you go overboard and collect all of the food items, you’ll either wind up in the red zone, which will cause our hero to look dazed and sluggish or you’ll pass out due to hyperglycemia, or a very high level of blood sugar.

‎Why It Doesn't Deserve a Glass of Milk

  1. Uninspired, Captain Novolin is a class B superhero and he's a diabetic, which is a pretty stupid idea for a superhero. He is a superhero just because he has a high-tech secret lair and a mask. Other than that, it doesn't really have any special powers, and this results in a lot of problems, plus his design is weird and simple.
  2. Poor level designs which don't work with the game's controls and physics, in addition, most levels are quite flat with enemies that are difficult to dodge and with healthy food that Captain Novolin must eat to stay healthy (In a side-scrolling game with sugary enemies that are almost impossible to dodge by the way).
  3. The only thing that can be done is to dodge the enemies since the character has no power, so you can't kill sugary enemies, the only way to kill enemies is using a combo that consists of jumping and crouching, but the game does not tell you, you can also jump on enemies, but most of the time it ends up in Captain Novolin taking damage due to poor implementation of the jump, this makes the difficulty increase in a mediocre way, and the fact some enemies cannot be dodged well or they're completely impossible to dodge makes the game more difficult.
    • Jumping forward is even more delayed than jumping straight.
  4. When the aliens disguised as candy attack, Captain Novolin has to evade them, instead of attacking. And you can't even do it properly. Even with an emulator, this game is incredibly difficult, as enemy movements are unpredictable to the extreme, because the enemies move according to Captain Novolin, that is, if you are walking a cookie jumps and if you try to jump over it, the cookie also jumps, so you can't dodge well or they are completely impossible to dodge, so you'll lose some energy and possibly end up losing a life.
    • When you try to calculate the pattern of a murder donut and walk under it at the right time, you can be sure that it will stray out of its way immediately and fall on you like a ton of sugar. Other enemies attack you at a ridiculous speed and hit you before you have time to react.
    • Other annoying enemies are:
      • The bubblegum monster that shoots diagonal up makes it a nightmare to dodge, let alone kill him.
      • The Candybar monster accelerates when you reach the apex of your jump.
  5. You must pass the levels trying as hard as possible to dodge enemies and not raise your sugar level, counting that most enemies are difficult to dodge, it's very difficult to pass the level without being damaged, and you do not have the opportunity to pass the levels without a target, so you must avoid damage.
    • To add to the insult there aren't any checkpoints in the levels.
    • There aren't many ways to restore your health.
    • If you eat more than one of each food item, you die after reaching the midpoint or end of the level.
      • This is compounded by the fact that there are no checkpoints, so you need to restart the entire level.
  6. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t actually tell you how much sugar any of the given food items are made up of, so there’s a certain level of guesswork involved as far as how much food is “too much” or “too little", this presents itself in the most infuriating way if you should happen to overeat or not consume quite enough food before the end of a level; whereupon reaching the proverbial finish line, you’ll keel over without warning as if you took too many hits. It’s at this point that the game will inform you what mistake you made in terms of food consumption, before kicking you back to the beginning of the given stage with whatever blood glucose level you may have come in.
  7. The music itself is not bad, but sometimes it is very repetitive, which can tire you, the sound effects are almost absent, which is rare for a SNES game. The color palette is also usually ugly and strange with grey tones or exaggerated brightness, which makes the graphics look worse.
    • Speaking of graphics, they are too simple with dark tones that make them look weird (Most scenarios and Captain Novolin are good examples of this) and the lighting can sometimes be overly bright.
    • The sprites of Captain Novolin and the enemies are overly large, this takes up too much screen space and makes dodging, collecting food, and maneuvering unnecessarily difficult.
  8. Control is lousy, Captain Novolin does not jump as he should and has a delay that causes enemies to touch you and Captain Novolin lose consciousness for a few seconds and then regain control from Captain Novolin, besides walking feels weird to control, Captain Novolin runs too slowly, which makes the levels more tedious to complete, also control can cause a lot of cheap kills because of how strange the control is.
  9. There are quizzes in the game, but these are pointless as they don't help you in any way.
    • Between stages you're treated to trivia about diabetes and play a pointless minigame where you inject Insulin to control your blood sugar level.
  10. Speaking of the previous point, another pointless thing is the insulin dose selection since the game will not let you continue until you select the correct level and there are no penalties for choosing a poor value.
  11. The hit detection randomly decides not to work, despite you clearly landing on an enemy's head, Novolin takes damage sometimes.
  12. There are 2 boat sections in the game, which are somehow even worse than the normal sections
    • The jumping with the boat is even more delayed than the jumps of Captain Novolin
    • Both use the same background and same ugly music.
    • Being in a boat only screws you as you are a larger target and it's harder to dodge enemies and food you must avoid.
  13. The character designs are bland, the design of candy enemies consists only of candy with strange and exaggerated faces, the doctor's faces are uncanny and Captain Novolin's expressions are poorly designed and look ugly, especially when he smiles.
    • The final boss has a painfully bad design.
  14. Novo Nordisk decided that instead of including insulin with the game or gifting it to children's hospitals, they charged 60 UDS for the game, aside from the expensive insulin treatment.
  15. The game can be finished in 20 minutes or even less due to the low amount of levels and content in general, yes, an extremely short duration for a Super Nintendo Entertainment System game that costs the full price, it is quite pathetic.
  16. The final boss (and only boss in the game) dies in 3 hits.
    • It's also noteworthy that the final boss is the only boss in the whole game, so you just have to pass the levels trying to keep candy enemies from harming you most of the time.
  17. The very plot of the game itself doesn't make sense, how come the shape-shifting aliens make themselves sugary by transforming into sweets, cereals, and junk food? And how come simply touching these aliens will cause Captain Novolin to ingest large quantities of sugar?
  18. To kill enemies, you have to press down on the D-pad when near an enemy (you don't even need to jump over him), very similar to Fantasia on the Sega Genesis. If you simply try to jump on top of enemies like in Super Mario Bros, you'll end up taking a hit.
  19. Annoying sounds, including screeches that you hear whenever your character does anything that isn't walking forward.
  20. Due to poor hit detection. This only makes things worse in the boating levels where hard-to-dodge enemies appear in pairs and the controls are less responsive.
  21. While it is appreciated that the game is translated to Spanish and French and you can choose either language before playing, in an age where that was very rare in games localized to America, the game was not marketed in Hispanic and French-speaking countries (the United States only) so it is known, so this feature is useless.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The game is translated to Spanish and French and you can choose the language before playing, in an age where that was very rare in games localized to America.
  2. The graphics are decent, despite the color palette and character designs.
  3. The idea of teaching kids how to deal with diabetes funnily was good, though it probably worked better as a comic series or a cartoon.
    • Raya's main aim with their games was that they hoped to give sick children something to play with while they were at the hospital.
  4. The quizzes are presented as simple multiple-choice affairs – usually with at least one “joke” answer for flavor – and reward you with points if you manage to get them correct. Seeing as you’re rewarded with an extra life every 100,000 points, answering the trivia questions correctly is one of the fastest ways to get 1-ups.

Reception

Retrospective reception of the game was widely negative; it was called one of the worst video games of all time. The magazine Esquire included Captain Novolin with their “Dubious Achievement Awards of 1992“, mocking the game's concept and sarcastically preferring “Super Prozac Brothers“. Reviewing Captain Novolin for Hardcore Gaming 101, Charles P. Gill, criticizing its gameplay, graphics, and sound, considered it "so bad that it's really, really funny". Electronic Gaming Monthly's Seanbaby placed it as number 4 in his "20 worst games of all time" feature. Game Informer's Ben Reeves considered it to be one of the strangest corporate mascots to get their own video game.

Videos

MyTwoDogs' Captain Novolin Playthrough Playlist.

Captain Novolin was ranked at number 39

Comments

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