It was the early ‘90s, and a simple red dot wearing gloves and dark shades had captured the hearts of soda drinkers across the country. Known simply as Cool Spot or Spot, for short, he was the mascot for 7UP, the “Uncola,” but soon, he would join the ranks of Mario Mario, Luigi Mario, Echo the Dolphin, and Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game star. Yes, I played Cool Spot, the 1993 Super Nintendo (and later Sega Genesis) platformer. Specifically, I played Cool Spot on acrcadespot.com, like, just the other day. Let’s talk about it.
The premise is simple, if a bit hollow: Someone has captured all the Cool Spots and locked them in cages, and you (another Cool Spot, presumably the coolest Cool Spot) must save them all by collecting “cool points” in the form of non-anthropomorphic red spots. We are never told who kidnapped your brethren, but I can only assume it was some sort of evil ska genius judging by the black-and-white checkered pattern on the cages.
The game opened with Cool Spot surfing in on a liter of 7UP. How cool is that? This was pretty much the highlight of the game for me. Then, I got my mission: Find the locked-up Cool Spots. As Cool Spot, you can jump, walk, and throw soda bubbles at enemies. You can climb up the occasional rope. That’s about it. Great. Easy. Let’s do it.
Level one (“Shell Shock”) opened to reveal a beach. I guess 7UP could be a beach drink. It certainly explains Cool Spot’s cool perma-shades, though not his white gloves. The music was eight-bit reggae—like the sample track on a new keyboard—because we’re on the beach, I guess.
Immediately, I was set upon by beach flies and hermit crabs whose shells I bubbled off to reveal little crab bodies dressed in boxer shorts to hide their little crab privates. Eventually, I made it past the enemies using my signature technique of jumping and speeding headlong into unknown danger while shooting bubbles at nothing and everything at once. I made it to a place in the level where one must jump up and leap from balloon string to balloon string. And then, after I-don’t-want-to-say-how-long spent trying, I gave up.
I was angry—angry at Cool Spot. Angry at Virgin Games. Angry at myself because I couldn’t make it past the first level of a basic platformer—and a celebrated one at that. This game was ranked 88th in Complex’s list of the top 100 SNES games. They called it, “pretty enjoyable!” That means it’s on me. I used to be good at video games. Now I’m an old mom, yelling at a soda mascot on a screen, begging it to jump to the right balloon and screaming when it instead falls directly into a crab claw. It’s not the image I want to put forward.
But even though I gave up on playing the game, I was still curious about the remaining levels. So, I watched a few play-throughs. It turns out, I didn’t miss much. The remaining levels take place in such exciting locations as a pier, inside a wall, and amongst blow-up toys (that one is pretty cool). You continue fighting creatures like clams, bees, inch worms, and mice wearing striped shirts and red gloves, until you reach the final level. There, you battle…more crabs and dragonflies until you win and are rewarded with the credits.
Sporked isn’t a website about gaming. We’re a website about food and drinks. So I will rate this game as it relates to my field of expertise and ask myself: Did it make me thirst for 7UP? That first shot of Cool Spot shredding onto the screen atop a huge, green bottle of 7UP was appetizing. But that’s where it ended. In a video game starring a product mascot, I actually wanted more product placement. Let’s see Cool Spot chug a bottle of “Uncola” when he finishes a level. Let’s save some parched prisoners with cans of 7UP. Let’s hop from ice cube to ice cube in a fizzy pint glass of soda. Just writing those sentences made me crave 7UP more than playing the game. So, because this game made me confront my age and because it failed to make me buy the product, I’m giving it: 3/10 Sporks.