Alright… So I promised that I would never review this game a long time ago in my Ghost Manor review but I feel that I now know enough about the game to give it a proper review. Spike’s Peak makes me cringe; I can find zero enjoyment from this game no matter how much I play it. Right now Spike’s Peak is the only Xonox game I have that I’ve yet to review and there is a very good reason for that, because playing this game puts me in a bad mood, so I must approach this game while already in a bad mood to actually find any drive to play it. I must warn you… This review is going to be remarkably negative and biased towards my raging dislike for this game so if you’re looking for a fair and impartial review then run away.
Spike’s Peak is graphically impressive in places and downright awful in others. Take the opening screen as an example, Spike himself is large and made up of over ten different colors, the mountain in the background shows different terrain as it gets higher and higher, starting green and grassy transitioning into grey and rocky finally turning white with snow, that’s all pretty impressive. Screen two has some impressive elements but starts to show a bit of crap, like the bears which are white like polar bears and also lack a midsection so they are hilariously stumpy. The eagles on screen two are pretty awesome looking and so is the overall layout of the screen with zig-zagging pathways traveling up the mountain. Apart from the strange bears you also have strange lump no.1 and strange lump no.2 these, according to the manual, are caves and canyons but actually look more like tree stumps and boulders, actually one looks like a cigarette butt but we’re trying to be realistic here. Screen three is rather nonsensical, the background is transitioning through colors while a bunch of pixels fall on your head and a (I assume) boulder bounces down a bunch of ledges, there are also several strange spiky green balls which I learned are cactuses. Screen four I feel is the worst looking screen in the game, the pathway is only a line a single pixel in width that also feels the need to be flashing different colors, the abominable snowman looks like an angry panda bear and large white blankets are falling on your head, the screen is just so sparsely populated that is almost looks nonsensical just like screen three. Screen five is the top of the mountain, there isn’t really any way they could mess up a mountaintop so it looks fine, Spike is there looking normal, and one tough that I really do rather like is how the sky transitions from being lighter at the bottom of the screen to being darker at the top indicating extreme altitude.
The sounds in Spike’s Peak are incredibly obnoxious consisting mainly of farts and screams. The little jolly tune at the start raises your hopes somewhat only to have them beat down by screen two; the walking sound is just a constant farting noise reminiscent of Combat while the bears make a noise akin to the sounds of crushing eggs in Alien whenever they’re moving. The eagles in screen two may have the most annoying sound though, just a bunch of screeches that might be somewhat accurate to what an eagle would sound like but it’s so squeaky that it becomes an ear sore. Screen three is just filled with weird noises, first it starts with a sound akin to a rocket engine only to be replaced with several melodical tones whenever the boulder bounces followed by some chirping noises only to be replaced with a constant shrieking noise, I actually became worried that my Atari had stopped working until I played it in the Jr. and the same sounds played. Screen four is just more egg crushing sound effects with a few squawking farts thrown in for good measure. Screen five has what I think is the best sound effect even though it sounds extremely out of place since it is a large segmented explosion noise that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Star Wars game. Overall the sounds are just a bunch of unusual and oftentimes unrelated squeals and screeches that seem to play unbidden and for no real reason, especially in screen three, but what about the gameplay?
This game is unrelentingly hard and difficult to figure out sometimes bordering on cryptic. Screen one has almost no interaction; you simply walk right and are immediately thrust into the pits of hell. In screen two you must avoid polar bears and giant eagles to get to the top of the screen, you can hide in canyons (the brown lumps) by holding down on the joystick while standing in front of them, you’ll most likely walk right past them and get killed though, or you can hide in the caves (the grey lumps) by holding up on the joystick while standing in front of them. Be wary of the bears though, they like to hide in the caves, you’ll be able to see their eyes peeking out from inside. When the eagle is about to appear you’ll hear the squawking noise which tells you to find cover quick, the bears also hide when an eagle is about to arrive, be careful there may be two or even three in a row and if you’re really unlucky you’ll be confronted by one as soon as you enter the screen costing you a life if you’re not fast enough. With a bit of practice you’ll be able to get to screen three every one out of three attempts where you’ll immediately get confused and crushed by a rockslide or thrown off the ledge by the boulder. I don’t know what to do in screen three and always end up losing all of my lives on it no matter what I do, I’ll just try to make a beeline for the top by climbing and I’ll be tossed around by the rockslide and then thrown off by the boulder or I’ll try to jump across the ledges and get stuck on the cacti then thrown off by the boulder. I’ve never gotten to screens four or five so I can’t comment on them but it sounds like screen four is just as difficult as screens two and three combined, and despite it being the final screen you can still die on screen five despite there being no enemies there. The second reason I greatly dislike this game is because of the cold-o-meter, it’s that thing beneath the score, if you stand still for too long or stay hidden for too long it will deplete and you will lose a life and in the case of screen five it will deplete automatically so you better shift your ass over there and plant that flag before you die on the reward screen.
Even on the easiest mode Spike’s Peak is too cryptic and too hard for me to find any enjoyment from it, it also takes too long to reach the difficult bits meaning you’ve wasted a bunch of time getting there only to be beaten back to the beginning of the game due to you losing all of your lives. This game is filled to the brim with bullshit and frankly I hate it. Spike’s Peak is one of Xonox’ most common Double Enders being bundled with Ghost Manor while also being their rarest Single Ender game, you can find Ghost Manor/Spike’s Peak carts on Ebay for $15-20 while the only Single Ender that sold recently went for an eye watering $250 dollars with the manual. So… I would normally condemn a game like this to the Collector’s Zone and for the Single Ender I will indeed do just that, it’s a crappy game that’s all too expensive, but for the Double Ender I can’t do that since it’s surgically attached to one of my favorite games, damn you Xonox!