Joe & Mac (Super Nintendo) Series Review

Joe & Mac (Super Nintendo)
Cavemen themed platformers were all the rage in the 90s!

Caveman themed platformers seemed to be all the rage during the 16 bit era. I just don’t get it, Was it because they had weird outfits or beat each other up with clubs

Did the box art really stand out that well among the crowd at your local blockbuster? Some of the most popular caveman games being the Joe and Mac series.

Today you’ll find out which ones of these games are worth playing today.

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Joe and Mac

Joe & Mac (Super Nintendo) 1

The first entry, Joe and Mac is an arcade port of the 1991 arcade released by Data East. Boy the voice actor sounded really pumped up to make you want to play this game.

Joe and Mac remind me of the three stooges right off the bat in the opening menu screen. You get to play in either a one player, two player or the two player super game. The two player super is bit of a gimmick a gimmick that lets you beat each other up in a deathmatch 1v1 style game.

Joe & Mac (Super Nintendo) 2

The opening level is nice and bright. You get to attack and jump and if you hold up and jump you can jump slightly higher. This will come in handy at later points into the game. You can also roll which adds a nice touch to the controls. The enemies are set in a prehistoric setting. From cavemen to paradactyls.

You can pick up weapons along your way that are grey. These power up your basic attack with bones or a wheel, a boomerang, or even a flame shot. As you pick up different weapons, you can cycle through them by pressing the select button. This is very useful during boss fights or hard to reach enemies.

Joe & Mac (Super Nintendo) 3

The settings are extremely colorful, from the mountains in the background to navigating through the volcano or the ice stage

The levels are very short and the core gameplay is centered around the boss fights. I had a good laugh at some of the cool animations the bosses make when they get hit. You get to fight boss after boss after boss!

Although why does the elephant boss lose it’s tusks and trunk when you’re about to finish it?

When you die, you float around as an angel allowing you to pick a safe spot in order to spawn.

Overall I would recommend playing the original Joe and Mac today! It’s very simple to pick up and play and is rather short overall. You can finish it in less than an hour.

Joe and Mac 2, Lost in The Tropics

Joe and Mac 2, Lost in The Tropics

Joe and Mac 2, Lost in The Tropics was actually the third release in the series but I’ll get into that a little later.

This brought a bit more of an adventure game element to the series by allowing you to pick a stage to complete within the overworld.

You can also go to the town where you can spend the currency that you’ve picked up during the stages to let you buy things like health pickups or even buying flowers to get a wife and start a family.

You can also ride on dinosaurs while they shoot at enemies or spit at people after eating a strawberry.

Joe and Mac 2, Lost in The Tropics 2

As you navigate through each of the levels, after each boss you’ll receive a stone. Collect all seven and you’ll be able to enter the final area of the game by heading over the rainbow.

The game ends in a boss rush prior to the final boss as a lot of games in this era displayed a similar structure.

I prefer Joe and Mac 2 over the original Joe and Mac since the additions don’t take away from it’s core gameplay. It’s an extremely fun to collect the wheels from each stage, spend them at the town and choose which level you want to play next.

Congo’s Caper

Congo’s Caper 1

As a bonus, there’s actually Congo’s Caper which is actually the real Joe and Mac 2 in Japan. The North American Joe and Mac 2 is actually the third release in the sequence in Japan. Confused Yet? Yeah I thought so too.

Anyways, Congo’s Caper is almost a spinoff of the Joe and Mac games here in North America. You can see the similarities where you use a club to attack the enemies however the gameplay is much different.

Congo’s Caper2

When you see the enemies and bosses, you’ll immediately see the references to the original Joe and Mac games. Apart from those few things, nothing really stands out.

When you hit an enemy, you can push them forward causing them to hit other enemies while rolling.

The rolling mechanic almost feels like a gimmick like on the first boss stage where you can only hit the boss by rolling an enemy into the dinosaur.

You can also jump on top of their heads for a massive boost. I felt like this was only useful for finding secrets and not for anything else.

Congo can also swing from branches but this doesn’t add much to the gameplay.

If Congo gets hit, he’ll turn into a monkey as like his final form before dying. They might as well have made him shrink like in Super Mario if there was no gameplay differences.

Congo’s Caper 3

One more huge blow to Congo’s Caper is there’s no two player mode that made Joe and Mac extremely fun to playthrough in the first place.

So yeah, Congo’s Caper is just not a fun game at all. It’s definitely nice to know that there is another game in the Joe and Mac universe on the Super Nintendo, but this one I would steer away from. Stick to the first two Joe and Mac games for a great platformer experience on the Super Nintendo.

If you like Joe and Mac, check out Johnny Turbo's Arcade Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja on the Nintendo Switch!