Many times, videogames are forgotten for fairly logical reasons. Among those are the games of the past that are left behind due to their intentionally childish content. As the main demographic of gamers grow older, it is only natural that titles like Barney's Hide and Seek Game (which is admittedly a bad example, as I did not enjoy the game even as a child) can not and do not hold up. This is simply because most of us no longer want or need games that teach us basic education, have giant, friendly looking sprites, or holds our hands through the process.
Story: A cruel circus ringmaster has trapped all of the cute animals in the world with the intention of using them in his shows. He has left them in cages to be collected later on, and has entrusted his minions with the keys to his cargo. However, he missed the one animal that has the know-how to free all the others: Rolo the Elephant.
It is up to Rolo to rescue every single one of his animal friends by defeating enemies, collecting keys, and enlisting the help of previously freed animals to progress through all of the areas. He will ultimately face the ringmaster himself to free his mother, who was trapped and taken away first.
Gameplay: Rolo to the Rescue is a platformer/puzzle game not unlike The Lost Vikings, although it is much less deep. You will start out each level with only Rolo in your control. He can jump on most enemies, with dangerous looking objects (porcupines, bombs, etc.) being obvious exceptions. There are also a few power ups that will grant the elephant various attacks and powers. Tall enemies, known as McSmileys, are the ones you will need to pounce on to find keys. You will need one key for each cage.
There are four types of animals that you will rescue throughout the game: rabbits, squirrels, moles, and beavers. After being rescued, the animals will follow Rolo and will act as playable characters. You can switch between Rolo and the other animals through the pause menu. Each one has a special talent that can help Rolo reach places he could not go alone. The rabbit can jump extraordinarily high, the squirrel can climb walls, the mole can dig tunnels, and the beaver can swim across large bodies of water.
A simple example of a puzzle in Rolo to the Rescue involves using beavers to help your party cross water. No other animal, including Rolo, can swim, much less touch the stuff. If you come to a large body of water, you can switch to a beaver and swim to the other side, where you will normally find a raft. You can then activate the raft so that it will float back to pick the other animals up.
The player will need to carefully use the talents of each animal to help Rolo get to other cages and the end of each level. Only three animals can follow Rolo at a time, and if a fourth is picked up, one of the others will leave the group. Because of this, you sometimes have to be careful about who you choose to set free first, as you run the risk of losing a potentially useful animal on one that will get you nowhere.
Once you clear an area of trapped animals, you will fight a boss and move on to the next area. There are also bonus levels to find, where there are points, power ups, and sometimes even more animals to rescue.
If I had ever finished the game as a kid, this ending would have made me drown myself in tears.
The breaking of children's hearts aside, the first few areas of Rolo to the Rescue are very much worth playing through today for their neat puzzle mechanics. It is an obscure title that some seem to love regardless of its graphics, difficulty, and heart wrenching ending. The big, colorful characters may make you feel a little silly now that you are older, but it's a good bit of fun that even adults can enjoy. Under the game's sickeningly cute exterior lies a rather challenging experience.