To say Sony Imagesoft had a spotty record on the Sega CD is an understatement. For every Mickey Mania in their catalogue there were one or two Cliffhangers or Frankensteins. Based on the license and the early images back in the day, I totally assumed Hook would be more like the latter than the former.
Hook is based on the 1991 film of the same name, where a grown-up Peter Pan must return to Neverland in order to rescue his children, who have been kidnapped by Captain Hook in an attempt to lure out the aged hero and exact his revenge. The film was a lot of fun and featured an incredible cast – Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins and Dustin Hoffman as Hook.
Hook on the Sega CD is actually a port of the SNES/Genesis cartridge, which means that it’s basically the same game but with the added bonus (?) of full-motion video bits, real voice-overs in the story scenes, and redbook audio.
But first, the game play itself. This is actually a very competent action/platformer. It doesn’t move fast enough to be all that exciting, but it’s still solid. Peter can run, jump, fly (with a bit of pixie-dust) and take out attacking pirates and wildlife with his sword (won from Rufio in the first level).
The visuals aren’t bad, either. They’re a bit generic, but I actually kind of dig the art style of the various characters that inhabit the world. They definitely don’t look like something the artists at Core Designs (who are credited with development) were churning out back in the early 90s.
And that’s because Core actually did the port. The game was originally designed by a short-lived Japanese studio named Ukiyotei. Founded by former Capcom developer Kenshi Naruse, the company’s best-known games would probably be Skyblazer (SNES) and Spawn (SNES). It also did a few SNK ports in its short time on this, including Neo Geo Pocket ports of the Metal Slug games.
The video included in the Sega CD version is nothing to get excited about, featuring short, grainy movie clips and low-framerate CG bits, and the voice acting is downright awful. But the music…wow! I believe the entire score is lifted directly from the film, which was composed by John Williams, so of course it’s amazing.
So Hook ended up being a very pleasant surprise when it was released. I went in expecting absolutely nothing and ended up with a game I thoroughly enjoyed. Hook is totally worth checking out.