Joe & Mac
|Joe & Mac|
Japanese arcade flyer
|Developer(s)||Data East (Arcade & SNES)|
Elite Systems (NES & PC)
Eden Entertainment Software (MD/Genesis)
Motivetime (Game Boy & Amiga)
Flying Tiger Development (Nintendo Switch)
Onan Games (Zeebo)
|Publisher(s)||Data East (Japan & North America Arcade & Nintendo console versions)|
Takara (Genesis version)
New World Computing (North America PC version)
Elite Systems (North American Amiga version), (Europe all versions)
Motivetime Ltd. (Amiga)
Tec Toy (Brazil Mega Drive version)
Flying Tiger Development (Nintendo Switch)
Matt Furniss (MD/GEN)
Mark Cooksey (GB/NES)
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Super NES, Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Amiga, MS-DOS, Zeebo, Nintendo Switch|
|Release||1991 (arcade, PC, SNES)|
December 1992 (NES)
April 1993 (Game Boy)
|Mode(s)||Single-player or Two-player|
Joe & Mac,[a] also known as Caveman Ninja and Caveman Ninja: Joe & Mac, is a 1991 platform game released for the arcades by Data East. It was later adapted for the Super NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Amiga, Zeebo, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
The game stars the green-haired Joe and the blue-haired Mac, cavemen who battle through numerous prehistoric levels using weapons such as boomerangs, bones, fire, flints, electricity, stone wheels, and clubs. The objective of the game is to rescue a group of women who were kidnapped by a rival tribe of cavemen. The game features a health system by which the player loses health over a period of time, apart from during boss battles. A two-player mode is available, and in some versions both characters are capable of damaging each other.
The original arcade version and Amiga, Mega Drive/Genesis, MS-DOS and Zeebo ports have the distinction of allowing the player to select between different routes at the end of boss battles. Also, after defeating the final boss, the players can choose between three exits – each one leading to a slightly different ending sequence.
The game has been ported to various systems, some of which drop the name Caveman Ninja, referring to the game simply as Joe & Mac.
A Super NES version was developed and published in 1991 by Data East. In December 1992, a version for the NES was released. It was developed by Elite Systems and published by Data East. A Game Boy version, released in North America and the United Kingdom in April 1993, was developed by Motivetime and was also published by Data East. Finally, in late 1993, another version was developed by Eden Entertainment Software and published by Takara for the Sega Genesis and TecToy for the Brazilian Mega Drive in early 1994.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version is considered a close match to the arcade version. The Super NES version is a reworked game which features an overworld map used to choose the levels (unlike in other versions where all of them have to be played), which were longer, plus some bonus stages (either in the levels or out in the world map). Some of the weapons are missing and can no longer be charged up. The final boss is also different, and there are only two endings. The NES and Game Boy versions lack the option of choosing levels or endings. Both feature variants of the arcade boss.
Skyler Miller of AllGame rated the NES version two and a half stars out of five and criticized its "unresponsive controls," writing that, "Jumping and simultaneously throwing your weapon, an important move, is often hard to perform." Miller also wrote, "Although the graphics are above average for the NES, they vary from level to level." GamePro wrote that the NES version was colorful but that the graphics "are prehistoric," criticizing the "flat backgrounds and sprites". GamePro also criticized the music, described as "rock-splitting clinks and clanks."
Super Play magazine gave the SNES version of the game a 72 percent rating and praised its colorful graphics, but also wrote, "The snag is that there isn't a lot to hold your interest. [...] the appeal starts to flag after a few minutes. The collision detection is annoying as well, tending to give baddies the benefit of the doubt in any clash of heads. I'm afraid this, coupled with the awkward controls, soon saw me adopting a 'couldn't care less' attitude towards the game."
Brett Alan Weiss of AllGame gave the Sega Genesis version of Joe & Mac three and a half stars out of five. Weiss praised the game's graphics and sound effects, and wrote, "This game features some of the best music ever on a 16-bit system." Weiss criticized the game's two-player mode, writing, "With two players, you might help each other out of a jam from time to time, but you also slow each other down." Sega Visions praised the Genesis version's "bright colors and bouncy sounds," but criticized its controls. GamePro, reviewing the Genesis version, noted similarities to the SNES version and praised the "entertaining" two-player mode. However, the magazine concluded, "It's fun, but this style of game is gradually going the way of the dinosaur."
British television program Bad Influence! gave the SNES version 4 out of 5. Tony Dillon of CU Amiga gave the Amiga version a 78 percent rating and wrote that the game "is a lot of fun to play. Not as complete or polished as Zool, but still a great platform game. Controls are responsive, the graphics are good and the sampled sound is excellent, but I couldn't help feeling that in these times of epic Amiga games, this one is just a little too limited."
Huw Melliar-Smith of Amiga Action gave the Amiga version a 79 percent rating and wrote that the animation of the game's enemies "is pretty good. Not spectacular, but good nonetheless. As Joe & Mac are the focus of attention, perhaps a little more effort might have gone into their creation." Melliar-Smith praised the multiplayer option as being superior to single-player mode, and also complimented the sound effects, but called the music "repetitive and not particularly creative." Melliar-Smith also criticized the unresponsive controls, writing, "It is the gameplay that is most disappointing." Dave Paget of Amiga Format gave the Amiga version a 74 percent rating and praised its "clear graphics and well-drawn backdrops," but wrote that the game "is a bit shallow, your cavemen amble along and the levels are linear and allow no exploration."
David Upchurch of The One Amiga gave the Amiga version a 22 percent rating and called the plot and gameplay "uninspired." Upchurch also wrote, "The colour palettes are garish, and it's often hard to pick out the sprites from the backgrounds. Worse still, everything's so sluggish - the so-called Ninjas amble around like they've been drugged and getting them to do anything quickly (pretty essential for a game like this) is near-impossible. Difficulty-wise, it's paradoxically very hard and very easy." Upchurch criticized the unresponsive controls, but praised the sound.
Stuart Campbell of Amiga Power also gave the Amiga version a 22 percent rating and criticized the game for using "the kind of options screen that you'd have to be a professional semaphore operator to penetrate. I had to spend almost five minutes reading the manual just to work out how to select which of the two pointlessly-complicated joystick modes I wanted to use [...] and I still haven't quite got to grips with how to toggle the music and sound effects." Campbell also criticized the game for "some of the cheap 'n' nastiest-looking graphics seen on the Amiga in recent memory." Campbell criticized the game's poor control system and its "fairly short and tedious" levels, and concluded that the game was "a lump of crap."
Total! gave the Game Boy version a 75 percent rating, praising the graphics, but criticizing the collision detection. The magazine also criticized the backgrounds, which caused the main character of Joe to blend into the environment, creating confusion regarding his location. Nintendo Power positively wrote about the Game Boy version, "Good graphics and animation rival those of the NES and Super NES versions," but negatively wrote, "Background blur while walking is severe, making it difficult to see approaching enemies."
Entertainment Weekly compared the US release to the Japanese version, and wrote of the game's sexual content that "All that's pictured during the initial display is a hut that quickly fades into the title screen, allowing players to commence the cartoony prehistoric action. Data East USA: 'We didn't want kids to see [the Japanese display] and think it was okay.'"
The game was followed by various sequels. The Japanese version of the SNES game Congo's Caper was presented as a sequel called Tatakae Genshijin 2: Rookie no Bōken and featured a new protagonist. The title duo would later return in Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics, which added light role-playing aspects to the series. An arcade sequel titled Joe & Mac Returns eschewed the scrolling action of the original games in favor of gameplay similar to another Data East series, Tumblepop.
Joe and Mac appear in a German Mario comic, titled Super Mario: Verloren in der Zeit.
- "." AtGames. Retrieved on April 19, 2019.
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- "Nintendo Pro Review: Joe & Mac (NES)". GamePro. May 1993. p. 40. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- "Joe and Mac (SNES) review". Super Play (November 1992).
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- Paget, Dave (February 1993). "Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja". Amiga Format. Future plc. p. 89. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
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- "Golgoth to resurrect 'Joe & Mac' series" Mark Langshaw, www.DigitalSpy.com (November 7, 2009). Retrieved January 4, 2015.