Joe & Mac aka Caveman Ninja encountered great success thanks to some good stuff, and talented programmers. Two-players simultaneous play, an action filled with comical details and fun "à la Metal Slug", with a pretty good-looking realization for this action taking place in a strange Prehistory featuring dinosaurs. Blue's Journey (aka Raguy) is less popular, although probably having had a lot of players drooling when they saw its screenshots in the press back then. With this match, we'll finally see if Blue's Journey was equaling quality and fun of Data East's hit. Caveman runs on a 12Mhz MC68000-based hardware of fifth generation, just like the Neo Geo, but it doesn't benefit the assistance of a Z80. The resolution is 256x240 while Blue's runs in 320x224. ADK takes a slight advantage on the paper, while respective roms weigh 50 megs for this one against 42 Mb for the title of Data East.
The styles are very different and recognizable, and both graphic works are remarkable. The universe of Blue's Journey is a little wonderland: happy, colorful, voluptuous... The six worlds are varied and most of these are sublime. The backgrounds are often animated and have great relief, it's pretty pleasant to see. The characters are cute as anything else in the game, the only criticism that could be emited is about the enemy bestiary: it's not really impressive and offers a restrained variety, but it's mostly about Bosses of the game, which are disappointing in size and appearance: small and insignificant! Data East on its side make it bigger than life: enormous dinosaurs, mammoths and other huge beasts! Enemies are a bit more varied, although we seen all along the game the same cute cro-magnon guys wearing their leopard suits! Anyway, their design is more successful than its competitor's. There's six stages too in Joe & Mac, as many theaters of prehistoric times, varied and successful: a lot of work has been done on the design, details and colors in the game, allowing Caveman Ninja to win this round.
BLUE'S JOURNEY........... 88%
CAVEMAN NINJA............ 92%
Both games feature nice things, such as successful differential scrollings, numerous and large sprites (especially for Data East's game), effects on the water, beautiful clouds in motion... Blue's Journey have on its side a speed and fluidity significantly higher, with backgrounds that aren't missing animated details; meanwhile, the characters in Caveman Ninja are bigger and have a wider range of moves, but a bit less frames of animation. This being said, the amount of postures, facial expressions, onomatopoeia and small details in the animations of the game is amazing and gives a nice dynamism. In addition, the Bosses are for the most huge and very well animated, whereas BJ is quite arbitrary.
BLUE'S JOURNEY........... 83%
CAVEMAN NINJA............ 85%
Our cavemen are accompanied by endless tam-tams providing invariably great rythm to the action! We must recognize that it suits quite well the action, alas the themes are too few and become quickly repetitive. The sounds range from average to good, and some digitized voices nicely punctuate the game. Blue's Journey appears a good step up of its rival with its greater quality, but its themes are also more diverse, as well as its effects. Nicely fitting to the wonderful world of Raguy, these contribute to the festive and bon-enfant atmosphere.
BLUE'S JOURNEY........... 87%
CAVEMAN NINJA............ 75%
Of course, our competitors don't pack a lifetime worth of a Mario game, but some good ideas play for them. To clear Blue's Journey, it takes to come through four worlds composed of fourteen large stages, in which you can borrow several different paths and discover lots of secrets and useful items. The game can be finished within forty minutes: Bosses are not too hard to beat but the progression is sometimes difficult, with a few hard platform trials! Note the very good idea also used in Caveman Ninja -to choose different ways at certain times. In Joe & Mac, the life is slightly shorter than its rival with thirty-five minutes total to overcome. Besides, choice is given no less than four times between two different branches, having eight possible passages in six courses total. A beautiful range of possibilities! Players can come back willingly to one or another, with their two-players modes and the multiple worlds to discover.
BLUE'S JOURNEY........... 83%
CAVEMAN NINJA............ 82%
Blue's have two hearts for the health at the beginning of the game, but this ability can be improved by getting other hearts all through the levels. There are three different weapons (foil, bomb, boomerang), each with three levels of power. A triggers the attack: the sheet knocks enemies, allowing Blue to catch and launch them, while bombs and boomerangs kill directly. B is used for jumps, note that the enemies can be defeated by jumping on their heads; C allows to change size at will. Once small, no attack is possible, but the character moves faster, jumps higher, and can borrow some narrow passages. The cooperative play is very well thought out: we can help each other to overcome obstacles, and climb platforms impossible to reach when playing alone. Besides, there are various secret places in the stages, shops and houses to explore everywhere. The currency in use in this world is the flower! It's up to you to collect as much as you can, in order to buy the best items or services. Gameplay is rich, controls respond well: everything's all right in BJ. As a detail, we would have liked more impressive Bosses: most of Blue's Journey ones are pathetic, be warned. Caveman Ninja features a massive range of weapons: fireballs, peaks, boomerang, lightnings, wheels, spectrums, etc! As much many eccentric and original arms to discover, plus a few surprises such as tabasco or other treats. Two buttons are used: A for weapon use, B for jump. Depressing A performs a powerful attack, jumping with up hold on the stick allows higher jumps, and jump+down to get on lower platforms. Like in Blue's Journey, you can also kill enemies by jumping on their heads. Our ninjas from the caves have a life bar, and can therefore undergo several enemy attacks before dying. Food is scattered throughout the game: it will allow you to survive your constant hunger (the gauge lowers if you don't eat regularly!) but also to regain life lost in battles. The game is just great when playing two, by introducing real competition between players: whoever scores the more points gets to kiss the girl at the end of the stage! With its simplicity, off-beat and fun game mechanics, and many stakeholders, Caveman Ninja does better than Blue's Journey - that did nothing wrong so far, in this chapter of gameplay.
BLUE'S JOURNEY........... 85%
CAVEMAN NINJA............ 94%
If the ADK's production stands as a good platform game, Data East produced a timeless classic with Joe & Mac, full of fun, with an exotic prehistoric 'comic' atmosphere. Blue's Journey fulfills the contract, the game is tied, its realization not so much inferior to its rival and also has a good life for an arcade game. Caveman Ninja is a golden nugget of videogames, featuring a gorgeous realization and concrete gameplay. This one wins this match: despite a hardware a bit lower, Data East's programmers have made the difference!