As Americans flock to the sandy beaches on our nation’s shores this July Fourth, I will be enjoying all that the oceans have to offer in as much detail that an 8-bit game allows.
Even though JAWS was published by AVGN punching bag LJN, this game received more play in my household growing up than it deserved. It’s a fairly simplistic game, but one that pushes many nostalgic buttons which is why it’s easy for me to overlook its flaws.
24 Hours Is Like 3 Weeks
Although it is based on the fourth entry in the series, Jaws: The Revenge, the game shares its title with the original Spielberg film which used the July Fourth holiday as a critical plot point to keeping the beaches open. That last line is for all the ten year olds reading this who have never seen the movie.
This game never makes it evident what the stakes are. The player just assumes Jaws is bad and sets off to kill him.
In order to accomplish this task, though, the player must first deplete the ocean of its resources by killing multiple boatloads of jellyfish, rays, and baby sharks to collect the sweet sweet shells that the locals apparently are able to parlay into granting the player additional strength. Either that or the shells are used as a sacrifice to the island gods.
However, before the player can start building up their power they have to first get their hands on the Receiver which tracks Jaws by using a stupid beep. Not sure why you need to track him though because if you just sit there he’ll come find you eventually.
Not Like Chasing Bluegills Or Tommycods
As you search for Jaws, you’ll sail between two ports. Even if you have the obligatory number of shells, you’ll have to alternate ports in order to upgrade your power.
In addition to the tracker, you can also get access to a sub which appears once you’ve reached power level 3 or 4. The sub allows the player to sustain an extra hit; if you get hit without the sub, it’s immediate death.
As you sail about the over-world map screen, you’ll frequently (i.e. every other second) get a message saying you hit something, so, obviously, you’ll put on a full scuba suit and dive into the ocean to check it out. This is the main game play and can take part in either the deep or shallow ocean, depending on where you happen to be on the map.
Occasionally the player is treated to a bonus stage; I guess in order to tie it into Michael Caine’s pilot character. The player controls a plane flying back and forth across the screen that must bomb the jellyfish below. The speed of the plane can be throttled to hit the sea creatures below as they take part in synchronized swimming routines. Hit as many of them as you can because I hate the sea and everything in it.
Like A Doll’s Eyes
Once you’ve powered up enough, or if Jaws catches up with you randomly, you’ll need to start harpooning his ass. If you haven’t reached the appropriate level of power, though, it’s nigh impossible to empty Jaws’ Power Meter. Once you get powerful enough to unlock the sub, beating Jaws should not be a problem.
When the Jaws’ power meter is completely empty, the game switches to the final game style where you’ll have to ram the front of your ship into Jaws’ jugular (do sharks have throats?).
This was the hardest aspect of the game for me to master as a kid because I was unaware that there is a button to not only make Jaws jump but to stab the beast, as well. Upon learning that crucial nugget of information, beating this part is fairly basic and becomes a simple lesson in patience as you wait for Jaws to line up with your vessel.
Show Me The Way To Go Home
As Jaws’ corpse drifts to the briny deep, the player is rewarded with a final screen of Michael Caine’s plane flying away, presumably to tap the late Chief Brody’s wife’s hot ass.
Not since Super Mario Bros. has a game ended with such heavy implications of future sodomy.
From start to finish, the game can be beaten in roughly ten minutes. The game does keep score, so if you approach it from an arcade style there might be more replay value there.
I tend to play through the game a couple of times a year, but have no idea what my all time high score would be. For newcomers there’s probably not enough to keep them engaged upon one successful play through.
Growing up, this game was played more frequently by my brother, and it was a large factor for him asking for the NES MAX controller back in the day. Whenever his friends came over, sooner or later this game would be brought up, either to demonstrate his prowess or because of the novelty of never having seen it before.
I have no reservations that my over-exposure to this game as a child is why I look back on it fondly now. For everyone else, though, it’s fun in a bad movie kind of way in that it does enough wrong, as well as right, to make it enjoyable enough for one sitting.