This rather obscure game from Imagic, despite the silly box art and silly name, is quite good. Now this is a game that couldn't be made for the Atari 2600. Only the Intellivision's beefier hardware could handle all of that horizontal scrolling, though I think it would have done well on the Colecovision as well. In this game you play as Clarence, on half of a recently shipwrecked couple who washed up on a tropical island, Doris the other half of the couple is swiftly being dragged away by the barbaric Beach Bruiser. It is your goal, as Clarence to chase the Beach Bruiser, across the beach, through the palm forest, and even past an angry active volcano spitting wads of molten rock onto poor Clarence's head. All this culminates into a confrontation on a rickety rope bridge, where Clarence proves his masculinity and throws a gigantic man to certain death at the bottom of a ravine. The wonderful full color manual really explains it best, not the words... the pictures, the top of each page of the manual has a picture that details the story of the game perfectly, if you haven't seen any of Imagic's Intellivision manuals you really need to fix that since these things are works of art. Same thing goes for the controller overlays. But... Could it be!?! the games graphics are just as good as the manual? If I didn't know any better I'd say you're lying to me... But I do know better.
This game looks great! I can't and won't deny it. All of the colors are rich and vibrant which really sells me on the whole tropical island thing. The map screen is fantastic, both as a utility and as pure eye candy. Every stage is easily distinguishable from both the background and foreground elements. Each zone has a distinct background, the beach has the rolling green forested hills, the forest has the iconic palm trees, the volcano has perhaps a few too many volcanoes, and the final bridge stage speak for itself, it looks fantastic. There are also a small variety of foreground obstacles, each zone has it's own specific obstacles. The beach zone has giant clams, and in higher difficulty levels there is a snake that will pop up and attempt to trip you up. The forest has a pesky primate flinging coconuts at Clarence's melon, the thing actually looks like a monkey which was very difficult back then. The volcano zone has pools of lava that when stepped in do not melt you, there is also falling lava that will also only trip you up when it splats on your head. The Beach Bruiser looks very much like the Beast from Imagic's Beauty and the Beast which was a Donkey Kong clone also on Intellivision, the real question though is why? Why not model the baddie on that dude from the box art, that would fit much better than what we get in the game, but despite this the game still looks great.
The sounds are acceptable, there is a pleasant jingle that plays when the game begins, and a rendition of the famous bit from 'Pictures at an Exhibition' by Russian composer Modest Mussgorsky. Otherwise the sounds are various bleeps and bloops, and a bit of fun with the Intellivision's sound generator. Not too bad let it pass.
Gameplay is where this game suffers a bit. Tropical Trouble is a side-scrolling runner type game. In each stage your objective is to reach the far right of the screen to advance to the next stage of the zone, there are three zones with two stages per zone, with the bridge section at the end. Each zone gets progressively harder with more obstacles in your path to trip you up, if you trip up too many times and the left of the screen touches Clarence, you lose a life. The real problem is the controls, movement is not fluid, it feels like you're snapping along a grid wherever you move, and in later stages where your path is incredibly narrow the game is pretty much rendered impossible. The controls do not break the game you can still get decently far in the game is your reaction times are up to snuff and if enough handkerchiefs are dropped in your path. Handkerchiefs are this game's version of the Starman in Mario, invincibility for a brief moment. In earlier stages getting a hanky basically gives you a free pass in later stages they are a gift best not wasted, but also best not misused, since you don't want to get stranded in the middle of a large patch of lava pools. The controls are mediocre but adaptable.
Despite all the praise I've given in this review, I would still not recommend buying this game, it's about ten to twenty bucks on Ebay for a loose cartridge, and prices vary wildly for boxed copies. If the game controlled smoother I would recommend this game wholeheartedly, but if you can find a copy cheap enough go for it, there is a chance you won't regret it. I designate this game to the collector zone, I recommend that only collectors buy this game at the current prices at least.
I think that since this is a game about chasing things, it needs some good chase music... How about a nice cover of Running In the 90's, running is in the name so it should do the trick...