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Yogi’s Great Escape Retro Review (Atari XL/XE)

Better than your average bear!

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UK budget label Hi-Tec Software are most famous for their acquisition of the lucrative Hanna Barbera license. They spent years milking this for everything it was worth, using pretty much every character they had ever put in a cartoon, including such as luminaries as Hong Kong Phoeey, Ruff & Ready, Quick Draw McGraw and Top Cat. Yogi’s Great Escape is one of several games they published featuring everyone’s favourite picnic basket poacher: Yogi Bear. This is also one of the few titles that Hi-Tec choose to convert over to the Atari 8-bit computers. So are we dipping our hand into a big pot of honey or have we just caught ourselves in a bear trap? Let’s follow Yogi into Jellystone Park and find out!

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Yogi’s Great Escape is a platformer where the basic idea is to try and escape Jellystone Park before the strict time limit runs out. It’s actually based upon a full-length made-for-TV feature film of the same name, but the video game does use a slightly adapted story. The cassette inlay tells you that another winter has passed, and it’s time for Yogi to wake and begin his annual hobby of relieving innocent campers of their yummy picnic baskets. A few days into the season, Ranger Smith receives a disturbing telephone call informing him that Jellystone Park must close and all the animals are to be moved to the zoo (why we don’t know, perhaps it was ISIS?). Yogi hears the news and he secretly decides that the only way to avoid being sent to the zoo is to escape from Jellystone Park. When Yogi goes missing, a tracker and his faithful old dog are brought in to help with the search. Yogi’s Great Escape is split into six stages, If you take too long on each level, Ranger Smith will come to capture you and send you packing to the very place you are trying to avoid: that accursed local zoo. There are also various hazards and obstacles that must be avoided, including moving platforms, bear traps and falling branches. Along the way, you can collect bonus items such as picnic baskets – and also some handy extra time to help you complete your mission.

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I am generally not a fan of platformers anyway, but I found Yogi’s Great Escape incredibly boring. All you do is jump across platforms until you get to the end of each stage. There are no enemies to avoid, no variation in the levels and no excitement either. If you are expecting something akin to Mario or Sonic then you will be hugely disappointed. Yogi’s Great Escape also looks utterly horrible with its overly brown colour scheme and poor animation. I understand Yogi is a brown bear, but not everything needs to be brown, especially when it’s based on a colourful cartoon! It’s just as rubbish in the audio department too, with nothing more than some very minimal and highly annoying sound effects. While Yogi’s Great Escape is not completely terrible, it’s just not exciting enough to warrant any long-term attention. You are better off going to the local park for a picnic yourself – it’ll be far more exciting.

Final Verdict: 2/5

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Available on: Atari 8-bit (Reviewed), Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga ; Publisher: Hi-Tec Software ; Developer: PAL Developments ; Players: 1 ; Released: 1990 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: N/A

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