Thanks to QuByte for the review code
Title: QuByte Classics: Radical Rex by PIKO
System: Xbox One
Release Date: 09/08/2022
In this dual pack of Dino platformers by Beam, you take control of the Radical Rex in two adventures to save his girlfriend: one from an evil wizard, and the other from an evil group of mammals! Pretty simple stuff, as Rex was yet another attempt to join the 16-Bit Mascot craze.
Yet again, as the previous QuByte releases, we have the same UI, clunk and all. Slow menuing, no bonus features, and the same basic border/screen options, with nothing added at all. This means for the Game Boy title here, the stuttering that plagued The Humans in that compilation unfortunately makes a big comeback for this compilation, which utterly wrecks the presentation of the aforementioned Game Boy Title.
For the games themselves, Radical Rex on Genesis looks fine enough, being your typical, western platformer from the time, with Rex sporting a wide variety of goofball animations for him to do as you guide him on some zany adventures. The audio on the other hand, isn’t so great, and it’s not just due to the usual problems with western Genesis composers, but rather due to poor emulation of the sound in general.
Being familiar with this game via Evercade, I was able to immediately notice some sound cues and channels weren’t playing as properly as they should, or even at all in some instances. Mainly parts of the intro, the end of stage voice clip (which is either very quiet or completely absent in this port), and general sound effects just all sound off, along with the Music not sounding quite right. It isn’t the worst Genesis audio emulation I’ve heard, and I only noticed it in this game since I played the port prior to its reissue in Qubyte Classics, but it definitely shows a lack of polish on the emulation front.
The Game Boy title on the other hand, is a complete mess, and not even due to how it was originally made! The in-game sprites are small and cute, the level designs look basic enough and the animations here are basic, but this port of Baby T-Rex (The Game Boy name of this version) is completely hacked to death in such a weird fashion. The title screen is completely absent, and starting the game just dumps you to a loaded save state that jumps after the title screen to player select, which also scrubs the Baby T-Rex text at the bottom. (causing an unpleasant black bar when you pick a game mode)
It’s such a laughably half-assed attempt to avoid the original game’s name like the plague, making me suspect that Piko does not own the rights to the Baby T-Rex name, but rather than editing the ROM to make up for that, they just hacked up the original ROM to skirt around it, leading to a very sloppy presentation. You even lose the intro cutscene due to this, as it was only on the title screen!
Of course, there’s that aforementioned stuttering. What I originally thought was just Humans breaking apart at the seams due to how it was originally made, unfortunately continues onto this Game Boy emulation, and I don’t know whether it’s due to the hacked up ROM or bad emulation, but I’m blaming the latter here, since it’s a similar issue as it’s far, far more obnoxious here in a game where reflexes come into play. Anytime the screen scrolls horizontally, the HUD shakes and trembles, and you can see shimmering across the display every time this happens. Every. Single. Time. Since this is a platformer where you mostly move around, you quickly realize why this would look atrocious, and I honestly hope they patch this ASAP, since it makes playing Baby T-Rex next to unplayable here, along with another thing that was made apparent in this reissue…
New Qubyte Classics title, same routine: Two versions to choose from at the start with no bonus materials or any kind, and the presentation notes I just mentioned. Both games are rather different here, so let’s do a fun comparison!
Baby T-Rex (Game Boy)- The original version of Radical Rex, known for being reskinned an absurd amount of times all over the world. Here in the US, it was reskinned to be based on some cartoon Dino movie called We’re Back! A Dinosaur Tale, but this is the EU original, kind of. The aforementioned hacks made to this ROM to avoid mentioning the Baby T-Rex name is still rather strange, but upon getting into the game, you have a basic mascot platformer, with a jump and attack button.
The Rex’s attack comes in the form of stones that float in the air, which he can throw at enemies to defeat them, as he cannot jump or kill them otherwise. You move, you platform, you attack, and you reach the end of each stage as you continue to make your way toward the Magician. A pretty generic platformer that does nothing too terrible or nothing that great, crippled here by atrocious input lag.
In Jim Power, I noted how that appeared to be suffering from some annoying input lag, with how heavy the NES game felt, but I didn’t have another port or prior experience to compare it to. With this game however, even with no prior experience for this GB port, I absolutely could sense how horrendous the input lag was, since there would be many a time in which I’d try to jump from the edge of a platform, only to just walk right off it like a moron. Even trying to do slower, more careful jumps, movements felt super sluggish, and the whole experience was way, way more unpleasant than I know it would have been on original hardware or even a more competent emulator, taking an otherwise average platformer into an absolutely miserable experience, especially with the aforementioned shimmering.
Radical Rex (Genesis)- This is more or less a reimagining of Baby T-Rex, ported to the Genesis after a SNES version with less than stellar level design came out, and the core concept is similar, even if a lot of it has changed up since the monochromatic adventure. Now Rex can breathe fire, and increase his firepower by collecting flame icons dropped by enemies or hidden throughout the stages. He even has a roar move that hurts everything on the screen, which you can also charge up in a similar fashion. Lastly, he can do a laughably poor kick attack, which is really only useful for finishing off enemies after roasting them alive.
With the shift away from collecting stones to throw at enemies, Rex is a faster beast here, and I honestly enjoyed the few stages I dabbled into on my Evercade when I got the Piko Collection on that, so I was pretty familiar with this port going in, which is why it upsets me to note that yes, this too suffers from input lag, and it’s equally as annoying when you mess up a well timed jump or slip into lava thanks to this issue.
Otherwise, this game is handled better than Baby T-Rex, outside of those sound emulation issues I also noted, so if they manage to hopefully patch up the input lag, you have a pretty goofy B-Grade platformer with some funny animations, along with puzzle themed bonus stages for you to dabble in every now and again, which I do find fun enough that I will fully complete this… On my Evercade, where I don’t have to worry about a mistimed jump. As much as I wanted to make progress in this port, I just couldn’t stand the input lag driving me insane after a couple of stages. It’s that bad.
For the first time, we have a QuByte Classics release where neither of the included games I can deem bad or low-quality, since both of them are decent platformers at their core and would be worth a safe, no-brainer recommendation at this price for retro platformer fans, if it wasn’t for all the emulation issues plaguing this release.
The abhorrent input lag, which you’ll definitely feel on this release moreso than any other QuByte Classic so far, completely drives me up the wall and ruins the experience for me, especially when it comes to the Game Boy version, which also has you dealing with horrendous shimmering and a shaky HUD, leading to what should be a simple pair of platformers getting much more difficult than they have every right to be.
There’s also the sound emulation woes for the Genesis version, though that isn’t nearly as bad as the aforementioned input lag. Which, when you also combine with the slow, clunky UI for bringing up save states that has not been improved one bit since the start of the year, makes playing through both of these games here an absolute slog.
This whole package is honestly a shame too, as if everything I noted was cleaned up, with quicker UI for saving/loading, reduced input lag, and those emulation issues all ironed out, I could definitely give this Qubyte release a solid recommendation and say it’s worth your time! Sure, Radical Rex is not really a hardcore classic by any means, but both titles are an interesting look into the mascot platforming craze of the early 90s, and for the pricepoint this wouldn’t be too bad of an investment to have a few afternoons of fun with. Unfortunately, emulation issues and input lag make this pair of Dino adventures not worth it for now. Here’s hoping they give this Rex the restoration his fossil deserves!
I give Qubyte Classics: Radical Rex by PIKO a 4 out of 10.