Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics Review

Check out our video review:

After beating the first game, we were itching for more prehistoric action so we figured why not give Joe & Mac 2 a shot. Developed and published by Data East, Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics was released for the Super Nintendo in April, 1994. Jeremy and I teamed up to play it and it is a bit more involved than the first game.

The story opens with a caveman named Gork stealing a crown which belongs to the Chief of Kali Village. Joe and Mac set out to retrieve the crown by using seven rainbow stones which are acquired throughout the game. That’s pretty much it.

You can play the game solo or a with a friend and then there’s the two player Super mode where both characters can attack each other. Both characters can walk, run, jump, duck, and attack enemies with their clubs. There are two power-ups you can collect – a spiked club and axe. Both of them fire projectiles. You will lose them if you die or complete a level. When you get hit, you lose health, but can restore health by eating food. Some foods will grant you the ability to spit a limited amount of projectiles. In some levels, the duo can ride on animals and while that’s cool, these moments are short-lived.

Joe & Mac 2 is an action platformer so there’s a lot jumping and smacking enemies around. The gameplay feels a bit more fluid than the gameplay in the first game and the hit detection is improved as is the platforming. The game is quite short and there’s no difficulty modes. You’ll navigate through a jungle, valley, swamp, snowy mountain range, and a volcano. You’ll be jumping over gaps, climbing up vines and ropes, sliding on ice, and trying not to die. The game can be rather difficult. In fact, the snow level is just a bitch.

The game includes a map screen which allows you to play through the levels in any order you want. Fallen enemies can drop food and stone wheels which act as currency. They can also be found in the levels. After beating a level, you can navigate the map screen or visit Tiki Village where you can interact with NPC’s. The game uses a password save system and the village is where you can see your current password, get tips, and look through a telescope to see your character’s homes, and Gork, himself. You can also purchase items like meat, a melon, flowers, and you can pay to remodel your home. You can visit your homes or huts at Kali Village at any time and if you spend money on remodelling, you’re home will be decorated with new items. When you buy flowers, you can give them to a woman and if she likes them enough, she’ll become your wife. If you give her flowers again, there’s a chance she’ll produce a kid. The flower thing is random which is kind of annoying since you can waste a lot of stone wheels. There’s no guarantee the women will marry you or produce children. However, you can replay any already completed stages to obtain as many stone wheels as you want.

The levels are broken up into multiple areas and there are checkpoint statues scattered around. If you die when playing solo, you’ll respawn at the last checkpoint statue. You will have to watch out for some hazards like a giant pteranodon that can send you flying across the screen, an avalanche, lava, spikes, and fire. The levels are populated with all sorts of enemies. You’ll engage neanderthals and some of them can actually block your attacks. You’ll also have to deal with pteranodons, fish, and some other creatures. Some fire projectiles, some rush you, and at the end of each level are giant bosses and with the exception of the final boss, they’re all pretty easy to take down.

Joe & Mac 2 does look a bit better than the first game. It’s well detailed and this time around bosses aren’t just heads on balls. There’s great parallax scrolling going in the backgrounds and the sprites are well animated. We thought the music in the first game was better. Honestly, we didn’t notice most of the music here, minus a few tunes. They’re upbeat and whimsical but there’s nothing spectacular. The sound effects are pretty much on par with the first game and on the technical side, we experienced the frame rate dip once but there were no major issues.
We did enjoy our time with Joe & Mac 2 but ultimately, we like the first game better. It just has more charm. Joe & Mac 2 plays a bit better but something’s off. It’s very short, the marriage and children aspect feels kind of tacked on, although it does kind of affect the ending, and the currency and village stuff feels pointless. It’s as if the developers were trying to do something different but the game just doesn’t reach its full potential. It probably would have been just fine without the village stuff. Also, riding on the animals feels pointless. Fun but pointless. If they get hit, they’re dead, and you don’t get to ride them for long anyway. Furthermore, there’s no difficulty modes. Once you’ve beaten the game, there’s not many reasons to come back.

Ultimately, we feel Joe & Mac 2 could have been better. More levels could have done the game wonders. There’s a few features that don’t really add anything to the experience and it just feels like a one-and-done kind of game. That’s not to say it’s terrible because the gameplay is solid. It just needs more. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll probably enjoy Joe & Mac 2 but it’s not the sequel we were hoping for. But Congo’s Caper might be, although we haven’t played it yet. If you think this looks interesting, check it out but you might want to lower your expectations.

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