New Joe & Mac somehow manages to make the classic caveman adventure worse

16 bit era platforming was in a whole other league of its own.

If you think there’s a few too many FPS on the market these days, there was almost a new platformer dropping every week for the SNES and Megadrive.

Of course there were some stinkers. Some forgotten gems too. And some that got a bit overshadowed because they launched at the wrong time. You could sort of put poor old Joe & Mac in that category.

It launched in the SNES early period, so of course it had some seriously stiff competition with absolute bangers like Super Mario World, Super Castlevania, and more.

Data East did all they could to push the game and it did build up a cult following over the years, but when people talk about fond platforming memories from that golden era, it’s not one you expect to see in the roundups.

Which is why it was such a surprise to see the original game get a reboot through Microids and randomly drop last week. But here we are with New Joe & Mac, a reimagining of the original 1991 caveman platformer, with new visuals, modes and sounds.

And as far as the game is concerned, this time the competition is pretty slight on the platforming front. All the attention is on strategy games, horror shooters, and racers right now, so surely the game will finally get its time in the sun, right?

As it turns out, not so much. See, I actually quite enjoyed Joe & Mac on the SNES. I appreciated its spin on a very popular genre, it had a distinct look that made it interesting, and I thought it was quite a well-presented, balanced game.

But despite the visuals looking better than ever, closer to the Toki and Asterix remakes, somehow, this reimagining has made the game 10x harder and much less enjoyable.

Enemies are far too overpowered, devouring a 1/3rd of your health in one hit. There’s often too many crowding and boxing you in, which makes it difficult to get around, get out of the way or get any form of attack going. Your characters move like they’re walking underwater and there’s a frustrating lag in control response times that always makes you feel half a second behind where you need to be.

Also, for some reason, you now starve if you don’t eat, so your health bar is always depleting unless you’re stuffing your face. Which is a terrible idea, frankly, because even when you do eat, it barely makes a difference anyway.

It’s the most bizarre thing. I just don’t get how Mr Nutz Studio and Microids somehow made this game worse. Because if I’m being completely honest, as stunning as these visuals are, I kind of preferred the original look?

As a solo player, this is so hard to make any sort of progress. At least having a co-op buddy to help can ease the burden a little bit but you constantly feel like you’re on a timer, you have limited mobility and the enemies are unrelenting, coming at you from in front, behind, up and even below. It’s exhausting.

Then if you somehow make it through the hordes, you’ll have a boss battle to contend with, none of which are especially easy. It would help if you could select your weapons like in the original game, but instead the weapon you picked up last is the one you use, so you’ll have to wait for it to deplete until you can use another.

As for the sound design, it’s all so quiet and mute. Even with the volume up, it’s so difficult to hear what’s going on. And even when you can, it feels soulless, with a barely discernable cute little jingle in the background and occasional grunts and groans from enemies.

I’m really disappointed. The game seems to have managed to lose the sense of humor it had and feels quite devoid of anything. At the very least, it does seem like Microids have big plans for the game with further modes coming in 2023, including Training, Boss Rush, and Speedrun, as well as additional levels in the Extend mode and leaderboards.

But at the rather eyewatering £30 pricetag, you kind of have to ask why this wasn’t in the game at launch. Because if you don’t have a friend to play locally with you – since there’s no online co-op – and you can’t make progress, you’re stuck with a game you’re just going to get more and more frustrated at. These modes and features might have gone some way to helping with that.

My advice? Do yourself a favour. Get Switch Online, download the SNES app and play it there instead.


New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja doesn’t match up to the charm of the original, despite the beautifully created art. The gameplay is often frustrating and unbalanced, new mechanics included make the experience unnecessarily hard, and it’s quite barren for its price tag. With enemy pathing and aggressiveness really over the top, and the remixed sounds barely audible, you might be better served sticking with the original despite the extensive support coming post-launch


+ Lovely art
+ Lots of free content coming in the future


– Sound and Audio is too quiet and rather empty
– Unnecessarily difficult and overly hard with frustrating mechanics and enemy frequency
– Much of the game’s original charm has been lost
– Future content should have arrived at launch for the pricetag

New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja is out now on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch

Played on PlayStation 5

Code Kindly Provided by Microids

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