Lady in Wading (Playaround)
As far as I can tell nobody really knows anything about the publisher of today’s game, and the only thing I can find is an essay blocked behind a $36 paywall so that ain’t happening. Playaround is an oddity, instead of taking the hint from Mystique’s predictable end they decided to go full speed ahead, buy the rights to the Mystique titles, and program several of their own. Playaround recycled the box design, the manual design, and even the leather cartridge cases that Mystique used, which has led some to believe that they are the same company, they most assuredly are not. The only thing that Playaround did differently, was introducing the concept of double ended cartridges to the adult games market, which was comprised of only themselves and several dudes living in their parent’s basements. Each double ended cartridge had a game for both the man of the house and the woman of the house; unfortunately this is where Playaround got lazy. Instead of programming an entirely new game for each cartridge, they simply recycled their existing games and changed around the graphics, usually it was a simple role reversal. Jungle Fever is the same game as Burning Desire, Beat ‘em & Eat ‘em is the same as Philly Flasher, Bachelor Party is the same as Bachelorette Party, Knight on the town is the same as Lady in Wading, and Cathouse Blues is the same as Gigolo, again with the roles reversed. Thankfully Playaround didn’t package the two same games in the same cartridge so you at least got two different games in each box as opposed to the same game with a few different graphics. Playaround did release one more cartridge, but only in Europe for obvious reasons, you may have noticed that Custer’s Revenge was notably absent from the list of games, that because it was sold in Europe as General Retreat/Westward Ho! In the version for ladies it’s Custer who’s tied to a cactus and honestly he should just be left there. As you’ve probably already seen from the title of this review we’ll be looking at Lady in Wading today, so let’s just jump into it.
This game has very simplistic graphics, except of course in the obvious places. The game’s environment in incredibly simplistic, consisting mainly of thick purple lines, the moat is an odd teal color, though it looks more blue on actual hardware, and the background is just plain black. The actual character and enemy sprites are a bit more impressible, the alligator is large and fairly detailed, the giant bird is thoroughly menacing, and the butt-munch creatures are absolutely terrifying. The lovely lady herself is quite voluptuous her assets bounce with every step, though I do think she has chicken legs. The man isn’t as good looking as the woman, though he is still extremely detailed, and that wicked grin on his face just screams debauchery. The one thing that I feel should have been changed is the stupid hats that both the man and the woman are wearing; it makes look like coneheaded aliens, which I find to be rather disturbing.
Lady in Wading and by proxy Knight on the Town have very few sounds to speak of and the ones they do are so unremarkable that they almost don’t even warrant talking about. Believe it or not though you’ll hear a very familiar noise being played when you jump because Playaround just straight-up stole the jumping noise from Donkey Kong and used it as the jumping in here, that’s just dirty. The rest of the noises are just standard beeps and boops, there’s nothing particularly irritating about any of them, but I wouldn’t blame you for pressing the mute button or turning on some music, or perhaps just playing a different game.
Conceptually this game is rather interesting; you must construct a bridge toward your overall objective while avoiding obstacles, you will encounter more obstacles as the bridge grows longer. Despite the concept being sound the execution is poor, the first issue you notice is that you move slower than an anemic snail, but thankfully there is a workaround to that which is jumping but that’s also screwed up. Instead of jumping in a parabolic fashion like most other things, here you jump with corners, you go straight up move forward very quickly and drop right back down again, also you’d better be facing the direction you want to be jumping in the first place because you’ll fly full speed off the end of that bridge if you aren’t careful. You’ll be forced to deal with three enemies on your quest for sausage, the alligator which will attack you from below, the butt-munch monsters that will attack you from the rear once you pass the halfway point, and the bird that drops flaming turds on you and the bridge. If a flaming turd hits the end segment of your bridge you’ll have to place it since it gets burned away, thankfully the bird is not active in the standard game setting and can be activated with the difficulty switches. This game further manages to screw itself up by removing any urgency whatsoever, you don’t have lives, and you don’t have a time limit, all you have is a score that quickly grows larger, I guess the goal of the game is to reach the end with the lowest score, but frankly I couldn’t care less, you can just throw yourself off the end of the bridge to get back to the bricks faster and you won’t be punished for it. If you do fall off the end of the bridge or get hit by a fireball or butt-muncher, you fall into the moat where an alligator will eat out fair maiden’s assets and the moat turns red, how gruesome, in Knight on the Town the bloke loses his sausage, much to everybody’s dismay.
All in all this is a shallow repetitive game that won’t hold your attention for more than a few minutes, if that. The graphics are subpar and the sounds are stolen from better games, this thing is just a disaster. If you for some reason feel the urge to own an actual cartridge of this or any of the other Playaround titles prepare to pay dearly for them. I haven’t seen a loose cartridge on Ebay in a dog’s age but it seems there is a new wave of boxed copies. The only NTSC copy of Lady in Wading currently on Ebay will cost you 300 dollars though one did sell a short while back for 40 dollars, that’s one lucky buyer. Honestly I can’t find a single Playaround game, box or no, for under 100 bucks, though I honestly don’t know why you’d want one of these in the first place. Just go to Esty and buy the reproduction cartridges since you’ll be able to buy all of them for the price of one. If it isn’t already apparent Lady in Wading as well as all the other Playaround titles go straight to the Collector’s Zone… Good riddance…