Joe & Mac NES Review

Game: Joe & Mac
Published on Fri Oct 20 2023

That goddamn carnivorous plant!

Joe & Mac is one of the games I had as a kid so it got plenty of playtime, though I never actually beat it until adulthood. In fact I'm fairly certain I never even beat the third boss, which is easily and by far the most difficult - a huge, round, carnivorous plant which spits out little baby plants and has a pterodactyl flying in randomly. Basically the entire screen becomes a death trap, and getting too close to the boss he just sucks you in and spits out your skeleton - instant death. To this day it remains unfair unless you pick up some speedrun strats that only seem to work for me half the time (and get me inst-killed the other half).

Beyond the boss plant of doom, the game is actually not too hard, and pretty short. There's some boss repetition (colour swap means a whole new boss, yeah?), but I like the designs overall. Especially the last boss which is a fun weird human dino hybrid thing. The only REALLY tough normal enemy is the archeopteryks, which is a bird and moves really fast; they just appear at the worst times on the last level and can put you in a rough spot for the final boss encounter.

I'm still working on some of the retro achievements, but they're all entirely doable. At first I thought there was one for beating the game without taking any damage, which would be insane, but it's just for beating it with no deaths, which is entirely doable with a little focus. Beyond that the toughest ones are those which require beating stages without taking OR doing damage, which one level at a time isn't so bad really.

It's an enjoyable game, if a bit short, and if not for that one boss. But it does in a pinch if you want a fun, quick challenge. Three Joes and two Macs out of a fireball.