MASK is the merchandiser's dream: a cartoon series, comic book, action toys and now a computer game as well. It all fits together so well, that the end result is the sweet music of thousands of cash registers...
Unfortunately very few licensed products turn out to be any good, and MASK, while acceptable enough, isn't gripping stuff. All of the MASK agents, with the exception of Matt Trakker, have been captured by the evil VENOM (Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem) agents and thrown through the time vortex created by the explosion of the time bomb designed by the evil Miles Mayhem. Personally. I want to know why these superheroes were such wimps and let themselves be hurled through holes in temporal reality, but I'm just a crabby old games reviewer and who cares what I think... sassen frassen rassen...
Anyway, this leaves Matt with the awesome task of rescuing all his fellow agents, scattered over four time zones - Boulder Hill (the top secret MASK base that's so top secret that only VENOM seems to know about it), pre-historic times, the far future and the VENOM base. Each section has its own dangers. In modern times Matt and his Thunderhawk are attacked by falling boulders, tanks and Mayhems switchblade helicopter, in prehistoric times it's pterodactyls and snapping turtles, while in the future it's black holes and radioactive waste. Then when you get back to the present and the VENOM base, it's that chopper again plus laser turrets and acid pools and giant spiders and land mines...
While avoiding and shooting these, Matt's also supposed to be collecting potentially useful objects that are lying around for him. These include repair kits, which repair the Thunderhawk again, and bits of locators - collect enough parts, put them together in the right order and your location-finding device will start flashing the direction of the nearest MASK agent you have to rescue. Also dotted about are the masks belonging to the various characters - but you only pick one up if you have rescued the person to whom it belongs. At the end of the game, with everyone rescued, you have to destroy the VENOM base, which looks like a giant snake.
I'd have been happier if the game had been zappier. As an arcade game it's not too hot. The controls feel a bit sluggish, to say the least, and the actual gameplay soon gets rather tedious.
Having said that, I have no doubt whatsoever that this will sell well, simply because there are enough MASK fanatics out there to ensure high sales. But if you aren't a MASK follower, then I'd think twice about picking up this one. There are plenty of better arcade games, and the licensing deal alone doesn't make it worth it.
Disappointing cartoon tie-in that's too slow to provide long term zapping. Wait for MASK 2!