NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja Review thumbnail

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja Review

A classic de-evolves

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS5 on 🍖

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja is also available for PS4 and Nintendo Switch

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

Data East's most iconic franchise has returned with the remake NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja so let's see if it lives up to the original.

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NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja screenshot 1
The physical goodies are cool, that's for sure

What is Joe & Mac?

Joe & Mac debuted in arcades back in 1991 but it's more likely that you remember it for its Super NES port. Either way, it's one wacky old-school action platformer where you try to rescue your tribe's cavewomen from dastardly kidnappers. Along the way, you'll battle rival cavemen, dinosaurs, and even bees on your way to bring back each bodacious cave-babe to where they rightfully belong. It's silly stuff that's even more fun with a friend via co-op play and the experience has been adapted here for modern audiences but does it do the original justice? For now, check out my review of the original arcade version thanks to the Johnny Turbo's Arcade release for Switch: v1d30chumz 35-172-230-154

Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja Review

A fresh coat of paint

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja has been completely visually recreated but I can't help but feel that it looks like a cheesy flash game with its Saturday morning cartoon style sprites. In fact, the sprites are very mechanically animated which makes character movement seem more robotic than natural which is kind of a bummer. With that being said, I enjoy the environments which are lovely, detailed, and unique as to make each stage stand out. Aside from updated graphics, this version also contains a campaign that features extended levels to add replay value which is nice but let's explore whether it's actually worth playing or not first.

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja screenshot 2
After I catch this bee on fire and eat some oranges, I'll deal with these cavemen

How could it be less fun?

Now, the original Joe and Mac is a zany co-op funfest that I highly recommend and both that and this remake share the same simple controls where you run and jump while using a variety of weapon pick-ups to take out enemy forces complete with a charge attack that you can wind up. However, whereas the original had tight and responsive gameplay, NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja is incredibly floaty and disconnected. For example, you'll often take damage without knowing from what or where, attacks don't feel like they actually connect, and jumping around can be a huge pain as you hover and take unexpected damage. I hate to say this but clearly, the original has much better gameplay which is surprising because this is essentially the same game so how did they make it so much less fun? 🤯

Try not to rip your hair out

For one thing, NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja is an absolutely brutal game. You take damage from almost everything and with such disconnected gameplay, you'll often wonder just why the heck your health meter went down. Even though the stages are short, they'll often take a very long time to complete due to the fact that you'll play them over and over again while crossing your fingers that you'll do it next time. In stark contrast, some parts are brain-dead easy such as when you figure out that you can stand in a certain spot during a boss fight and you won't get hurt. Having to figure out tricks like that doesn't make for a fun game; it's just irritating. Heck, as of writing this, not even half of players beat the first level according to the trophies and that's just ridiculous.

More nonsense

First, let me mention 3 things that I enjoy about NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja: there's a good variety of levels and bosses which can be quite memorable, the weapons are fun to experiment with, and you can play cooperatively with a friend. On the downside, even these fun elements present a huge step back from the original. For example, there is no hot sauce power-up that makes you invincible and the co-op mechanics have been removed completely. Specifically, you could stand on your friend's head then pick them up and throw them around in the original but you can't do that at all here. Also, the bosses' health meters were much smaller in the original and are needlessly inflated here just to make the gameplay even more irritating; gee, thanks. 😐

NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja screenshot 3
Fun fact: stand here and you won't take any damage

As a fan of the original Joe and Mac, I must say that NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja is a huge disappointment as it features frustrating difficulty, floaty gameplay, and it's even missing some core elements that made the classic arcade game stand out as special.

  • + Memorable variety of stages and bosses
  • + Weapons are kind of fun to experiment with
  • + You can play co-op with a local friend
  • - Absurdly high degree of difficulty that's sure to frustrate more than entertain
  • - Gameplay is floaty and feels disconnected
  • - Robotic animation / missing mechanics
2.7 out of 10
Gameplay video for NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja thumbnail
Watch A.J. play NEW Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja
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