If you've ever seen Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, or if you grew up in California during the 80's and experienced the dialect of skater boys, valley girls, surfer dudes and other "extreme" social circles, get ready to be totally annoyed by this bogus game's dialogue dudes!
Totally Rad actually began life in Japan as a game called Magic John for the Famicom in 1990. That game featured John, an innocent kid with a winged hat that learned magic from Mr. Pong, and must now use his magic to save his girlfriend Yuu, who was kidnapped by a bunch of circus clowns. The gameplay of Magic John is exactly the same, the only difference being the looks of John/Yuu and their dialogue.
Here's what Magic John and Yuu look like:
Someone at the Jaleco of America office with a passion for surfer dude lingo REALLY wanted to change things up for the North American release of this game, and Totally Rad was born. The game now featured regular dude Jake, righteous babe Allison, and a gnarly old magician named Zebediah.
The introduction page from the Totally Rad manual:
As you can probably tell, while Jake and Allison got their Totally Rad makeovers, Mr. Pong is still exactly as he was in Magic John with just a name change...and is now creepy as hell because of it.
Here are a few scenes from the opening sequence of Totally Rad:
The gameplay of Totally Rad is pretty straightforward as compared to other run n' gun platformers of it's kind, with a few differences. Jake has the ability to use several different magic tricks at his disposal. He also jumps like Samus from Metroid. Some of the enemies provide a challenge, and level design is tricky in spots due to the relation of enemy placement, resulting in cheap hits. Mini-bosses show up throughout the levels, and a giant, bodacious boss awaits you at the end of each level.
The first level has Jake running around the city after being attacked by an unknown enemy that looks like Master Chief straight out of Halo:
And then the first Mini-Boss:
But Jake's got bigger problems, as Allison has been like kidnapped or something and taken into a Circus tent, where a bunch of creepy ass clown dudes await!
But killing this thing doesn't get you anywhere, as Allison is still in need of saving.
The next level takes you through the rough part of the city, into the sewers, and up a skyrise.
Eventually you'll drop down and meet Boss #2, Mr. Anus Eye:
Once you kill Mr. Anus Eye, Allison is saved. But wait! There's more?!?
Level 3 starts out in a forest and quickly descends into the underwater depths.
The third boss might be the most normal looking one of the game. It's just a whacked out fish, dudes. But Jake's hungry. Like, Fish Tacos anyone?
Act 4 takes Jake deeper into the underground, where the evil denizens of the caves await.
Survive the caves and you'll get to Boss #4, which is one ugly Undead Cyborg from Hell.
Everything's going hunky-dory so far. But wait...!
WTF!?!?! How the hell did your girlfriend get locked up in a trunk underwater AND learn magic at the same time? Whoever was in charge of this translation must have took some bad acid...
...which takes us to our final act! Like finally OMG! This last level has a futuristic, techno-vibe going for it.
There are a bunch of cool-looking mini-bosses in this last level, but nothing too difficult. Before you know it, the Final Boss of the game will arrive, and he's pretty badass, dudes. His name is Edogy, and he's like some kind of bug-eyed brain controlling a suit of warlord armor, or something.
And that's that. The professor is saved! Most excellent dudes!
But where's Zeb?
Zeb's note reveals that he was one of the people from the underworld, and now that Edogy is destroyed he is going to move back into his old stomping grounds.
Alright, alright. Can we get to the freaking ending already? All this surfer dude talk is boiling my brain...
I didn't really talk magic during this run through mainly because you really don't need it while playing this game. Sure, it can help on some bosses and whatnot, but it's more of a challenge playing without. But since the game was initially all about using magic, here are a few of the powers you get to use:
Fire: Two columns of fire spread across the area.
Water: A giant bubble unleashes havoc within the screen.
Wind: A giant head blows wind at your enemies.
Stone: A bunch of rocks attack the screen.
Eagle: Turns Jake into an Eagle enabling the ability to fly.
Lion: Jumps 50% higher and cannot be hurt while jumping.
Fish: This form allows Jake to swim underwater.
Other magics include a Damage Shield, Stop Time (freezes enemies), and Life Up powers which refresh hit points.
Totally Rad might annoy gamers with it's extremely dated surfer slang, but that's part of the fun of it. It's rare to find a translation more laughable than this one, no doubt about it. This is a cult classic NES game in my book, and well worth a playthrough. If you'd like to check out the full comparisons of the translation differences between Magic John and Totally Rad, please check out The Rad Project.
Here is the original Magic John cover for the Famicom:
And the Totally Rad theme song: