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Sega Genesis/Capcom

The basic premise sounds simple enough. Your friends went to hide, but they can't find their way back, so you must dutifully find them and escort them home. However, as the game goes on, you find yourself in increasingly strange, dangerous places like a forest and underwater. This brings a sense of urgency to the game, as you don't know how long your friends will be able to survive underwater before drowning. Realize this: the white-knuckle, lightning-fast gameplay is far from easy. There are many well-hidden doors, nooks, and crannies. Rote memorization won't help either, as the positions are randomized each game. The day I finally beat this game I celebrated because it took weeks of nearly nonstop play to get there.

Barney's Hide and Seek is comparable to a visual orgasm. The masterful use of the digitization process sets a new standard for Sega Genesis developers. Amazingly, the developers managed to avoid the dithering that often plagues the technique. If I didn't know better, I'd say this game was for one of the high-powered systems of today. This photorealism ensures a gripping experience for the player. You will feel like you, too, are living the harsh, gritty reality of the protagonist, Barney.

At the same time, the game's audio manages to be unspeakably beautiful and soul-crushing. The melancholy score accompanying the game perfectly expresses the meandering, uncertain mood of a game in which you must constantly explore the unknown, never knowing where you'll find your friends. It is truly the work of a tortured genius. It is unfortunate that this digital Beethoven's name is probably lost to time.

The sounds in the game are also amazing. You'll feel like you're really Barney, exploring strange beaches, looking to find your friends.

Wisely, this game's developers carefully streamlined the controls to make sure that despite its unfathomable complexity the game is still easy to learn, albeit hard to master. The A button is the action button and the directonal pad moves Barney around. Some may balk at this and wonder how it's possible to enjoy a game that can be played with one button. To them I point out Columns, Tetris, and a myriad of other great single-button games.

This is a game you will play over and over until you beat it. Even after you do, you may still feel the urge to conquer the best again. Buy it today. You won't be disappointed. This game has it all, and then some.

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