Captain Novolin

This is a guest post by Joshua Galvin a guest writer. Want to write for us? Check out how here!

One thing common in a lot of really bad edutainment games is bad names. Such as Mt. Wayupthar
One thing common in a lot of really bad edutainment games is bad names. Such as Mt. Wayupthar

What better way to promote necessary intake of insulin than through an action adventure platformer? Well Captain Novolin did just that, as the diabetes suffering captain himself you must insure the right amount of insulin is taken at the beginning of every stage. If you fail to do so you are instantly incapacitated as soon as the level begins. This begs the question, why is the fate of the world in the hands of a man too incompetent to monitor his own glucose levels?

As one might expect from the games premise, this is meant to be ‘Educational’, and I use this term loosely as the game teaches you nothing than the obvious ‘don’t eat a lot of sugary things’. During levels you are given the opportunity to answer questions Maybe I’m naïve in my view, but I would think anyone suffering diabetes would prefer to get this information from a qualified doctor, rather than a spandex clad freedom fighter.

As stories go, Captain Novolin hardly transcends the depths of the mind. It would be naïve for one to expect Orwellian portrayals of the social condition in an educational platformer; instead it had gone for the premise of so many other generic Super Nintendo titles. A motiveless antagonist bent on destruction! The evil alien ‘blubberman’, sounding less like an alien and more like two thirds of the American population, has decided to kidnap the mayor of Pineville. Some players may be too traumatised at this pinnacle point in the story to even continue, but things get worse! Blubberman has sent hordes of sugary aliens to thwart Captain Novolin in his world saving efforts. Enemies range from cans of coke that awkwardly shuffle across the floor, to bouncing doughnuts. Their attack pattern seems so sporadic at times; that you would be forgiven for thinking these high calorie treats had sentient minds.

It did achieve it's goal though, those sweets look REALLY unappetizing.
It did achieve it's goal though, those sweets look REALLY unappetizing.

I have already explained my gripes concerning Captain Novolin on a cosmetic level, but control wise the bile rises that little bit deeper in my throat upon its mention. Clunky is not the word, the word that it is I care not to mention. Players will be subjected to frequent cheap deaths as a result lax programming standards. People take for granted just how easy it is to not collide into cans of coke or doughnuts in the real world, but in the real world humans can jump when their bodies tell them to, rather than three seconds after pressing that imaginary control button in their brain.

Captain Novolin is without a doubt one of the more unique examples of a gaming hybrid; part educational, part platformer, all appalling. Education on console platforms has always been a distinct no-no and this certainly closes the book on the argument. Despite my misgivings over the game I’m somewhat divided as to my final opinion, while it is a haphazard attempt to promote diabetes awareness to gamers, I feel its something we will never see again. Only in the 90’s would you ever get a game like this on a home console. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2010’s Wii blockbuster ‘Wii remote insulin injection game’ Captain Novolin 2….or not.

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