Jaws: An NES Revenge Revisited

Last month I discussed and possibly even lionized Clockwork Aquario, the adorable arcade action game resurrected over two decades after Westone reluctantly canceled it. I’m glad to see that Strictly Limited Games has made good on their promises of reissuing the game, and they’re offering Clockwork Aquario as a basic Switch or PlayStation 4 release, an elaborate special edition, or an Ultra collector’s edition with every kind of bonus trinket short of a Huck Londo punching puppet.

All of the editions seem to be selling fast. That might not bode well for casual buyers, but it’s comforting to think that so many people care about this lost little arcade adventure from 1993—or at least that the scalpers who make up a good chunk of the limited-edition customer base assume that so many people would care.

Seeing a Westone creation so elaborately revived puts me in mind of another game from the now-defunct developer’s catalog: Jaws.

Jaws for the NES is sometimes labeled Jaws: The Revenge by mistake, and at other times it’s lumped in with some of the worst things on the system. That’s also a mistake. Jaws isn’t a defining moment in Westone history, but under the right circumstances it’s an interesting game.

Publisher LJN played it vague with the movie connection, though the game lands closest to the most recent Jaws: The Revenge. The player sails a small map, going between two ports and spearing sea creatures in random encounters. Jaws looms near all the while, and once you’ve upgraded your power levels and gained a mini-sub, you can damage the giant shark enough to bring about a first-person duel wherein you must spear Jaws with the prow of the boat. That at least is straight from Jaws: The Revenge, though there’s no sign of Mario Van Peebles inexplicably surviving a shark attack, Michael Caine collecting a paycheck, or the creature itself violating all known shark biology by roaring.

In fact, Jaws is more intriguing if you take it as a completely original game. With no storyline or initial directions to introduce things, you’re left to infer that your scuba-outfitted character is an instantaneously loathsome psychopath.