New Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Mr. Nutz Studio
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cart
Players: 1-2
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

There seems to be a huge resurgence in bringing back classic games in one form or another. Whether it’s a new sequel to a classic franchise, a complete remake of an established fan favorite, or a compilation of classic games, the list of releases doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Microids, the company behind some great remakes like Flashback, North and South and Toki have returned with a remake of Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja. While it’s a decent release on the surface, the more you dive in, the more you wish you were just playing the original.

Joe and Mac is an arcade platformer/action title originally created by Data East. Two cavemen, Joe and Mac, must rescue cavewomen that had been taken by a rival tribe. They venture off with nothing but their fighting skills and weapons they find while fending off dinosaurs, mutant plants and of course, rival tribesmen. The main goal is to reach the end of the stage where you will fight a giant boss. Once the boss is defeated, you rescue one of the cavewomen and move to the next stage.

I am happy to say that Microids did not change much of the gameplay and everything form the original game is here, this is where problems start to show up. The entire game has been given an HD upgrade, with every sprite redrawn and reanimated. The playfield has also been redrawn and extended for a wider viewing range with some added foreground graphics making some of the platforming a little difficult at times. The wider range also allows for more enemies on the screen at one time, so dodging attacks can be a headache even if you have mastered the original. The new animations also make for some issues when attacking and jumping.

Movements have to be more precise than you may be used to and will result in many deaths and retries, keeping you on the same level for a while. One thing that seems to be different from the arcade original is the Hunger/Life meter. This meter will deplete as you take damage and also runs down if you aren’t constantly picking up the food that appears randomly. This was present in the original, but now it seems to be incredibly unforgiving with how fast it depletes and regenerates.

Enemies seem to do more damage now and restoring your energy takes much longer than before. While these adjustments can and will be annoying to seasoned players, they can be overcome with practice. Others that haven’t played the original may be able to play through the stages a bit easier but will still find a huge challenge.

The stand out here is the incredible graphic upgrade. As stated before, everything has been redrawn and reanimated to look sharp and colorful. You do experience some frame drops here and there (especially with 2 player co-op) but it’s nothing that will take you out of the game. The sound meanwhile is a bit on the unbalanced side. The background music and some effects and seem to be much quieter than other sounds. For example, some waterfalls are super loud and completely muffle the music, while other sound effects are sometimes loud and sometimes are so low that you may miss them. Even with the slight balance and frame issues, everything does look and sound nice. Control is very tight and responsive. I had no issues pulling off moves and controlling my character. The only issues came from the slightly unbalanced gameplay or a mistake on my part.

New Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja just barely passes as a decent remake of the original. Making gameplay mechanics fit the new visuals better and fixing sound problems really needs to be top priority, possibly with a few update patches. The Hunger/Health meter also really needs to be adjusted as not to deplete as fast as it does here. It’s definitely not horrible overall, but also doesn’t live up to the fun factor of the original. If I had to break everything down here, I would say this release largely feels unfinished. In it’s current form, it’s good, but it can, and should be, much better. I would recommend waiting for a few quality patches or a price drop before diving into this one.

Note: Microids provided us with a New Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+