Do you know about a game called Mole Mania? It's an addicting puzzle game for the original Gameboy where you play as Muddy Mole who goes on a quest to save his own family from the evil farmer Jinbe. I wanted to own Mole Mania, but never got the chance to do so due to wanting other games instead. I briefly remember playing the game long ago, but that was a rental at a video game store that no longer exists today. Mole Mania was never popular and part of that could be blamed because it came out near the end of the original Gameboy's life cycle. Even Nintendo Power tried to promote the game when it was close to being released in their magazine, but that didn't seem to do any good.
I had a friend who was a Gameboy enthusiast. He went by the name of Jessie. He would collect Gameboy games as a hobby. Most of the games that Jessie owned weren't even played by him at all because he only wanted them for collection sake. He was determined to own the entire Gameboy library, so I decided to check and see if he owned Mole Mania. Luckily enough he did. I went to ask if I could borrow the game, he agreed since the game wasn't all that rare. One thing I noticed upon getting the game was that the sticker on the cartridge was almost completely white except for the sprite of the Old Mole who was a character in the game. I figured the game was from another country because of this. It was common back then to have an alternative label for older games depending on the country they were produced in.
The Old Mole was a character who helped Muddy Mole by placing various signs that gave the player hints to the game. He would also appear in places called rest areas where he would have a big heart ready that would fully restore your health. This was useful when you were low on health from the enemies. He would sometimes act like a jerk, but he was a helpful character for the most part.
I made it home and hooked up my SNES. I heard that playing the game on the Super Gameboy gave the game some color and a unique border related to the game. I inserted the cartridge into the Super Gameboy and hit the power button.
The game began and things seemed normal except for the title screen. Jinbe and the Old Mole were absent. I haven't played the game for a while and even I knew things seemed a little off. I came to the conclusion that this was probably because there were differences between this version and the American release. I went to the menu only to see there was one file instead of two files. I chose to erase the previous file and start a new game.
The opening began with Muddy Mole's family enjoying the outdoors. It was very much like the original introduction. Soon enough, Muddy Mole's wife began to panic and order the kids to go back down the hole because Jinbe was going to arrive or so I thought.
Instead, the Old Mole appeared. Muddy's wife blocked the hole and the old man not being pleased about this, got out a hammer and was about to whack the wife with it until the screen faded to black. I was laughing my ass off at this point. I know this may come off as surprising to people who haven't played Mole Mania, but in the original opening, Jinbe who was supposed to show up instead of the Old Mole would get out a hammer and knock the wife out of the way with it, so he could capture the mole children. I don't think you can get away with having a male character acting abusive towards a female nowadays, especially in a kids game. What was really funny about this was that this was obviously a hacked version of the game and that the people responsible for it were too lazy to animate the Old Mole hitting the wife with the hammer. It was a very lazy job overall. I will admit however that it was interesting that the Old Mole was going to be the main antagionist this time around.
When the screen faded back in, Muddy Mole arrived and saw a note left by the hole. When he noticed his family was gone, he went to read the note, this is what it said.
"I'm so lonely. Nobody visits this old mole anymore."
What was interesting was that this was one of the things that the old mole would say upon talking to him in the later levels of the actual game. I was beginning to feel a little interested in the game because I thought the person who had hacked this game would add in new levels. Sadly, upon selecting the first stage, it looked to be the same level that was in the original game. You could only access the first level at the start of the game, but after beating that level, you could access all the stages except for the final level which required you to clear all the other levels first.
Mole Mania was an interesting puzzle game. It played in a 3rd perspective just like the older Zelda titles. There were many different rooms all of which required you to guide a steel ball to a door in order to break it down and make it to the next room. You could also bury underground which you were required to do in order to make your way around the levels. You had to be very careful where you digged because digging would leave a hole behind and you couldn't get the steel ball past any of the holes in the game inless you were on the hole itself and threw it from behind. It was really one of the more interesting puzzle games to exist.
I played the tutorial segment guiding Muddy past the first few rooms. Everything at this point played just fine. There were still enemies that Muddy would have to deal with by throwing something at them whether it was a steel ball, cabbage or barrel. I was wondering who would replace the Old Mole in the rest areas that you would find after clearing enough of the puzzles. Sure enough, I played up to the room before the first rest area in the game. This is where things began to get a little strange. I went to read all of the signs in the room after clearing it. All of them were the same in which they gave hints to the player. After reading the last sign, I noticed the room was filled with holes.
This was probably a weird glitch or else it was some kind of dick move that the hacker decided to leave in. I left and reentered the room and sure enough, the holes were now gone. I then solved the puzzle and moved into the first rest area in the game. I was interested in seeing how this area would change due to the Old Mole being the antagionist now. When I entered the room, it was empty.
There wasn't even a wagon that contained a big heart. The only thing that stayed the same was the Old Mole's theme playing. This theme would play whenever you entered any of the rest areas as he was normally presented in those rooms. If you talked to him, he would give you the big heart and sometimes offer advice.
I left the room and continued to make my way through the level. I went to read more of the signs which only resulted in more holes appearing in that room. The holes even appeared in tiles that were impossible to dig through. I had to leave and enter the room again in order to continue. After the same incident kept occurring in various rooms, I decided to ignore the signs and try to finish the level. I made it up to the split pathway
I decided to head north and was surprised a little by what I saw. While most of the level was the same as the original game, the room that contained the bonus stage for this level was different. It was a big empty room except for the middle that had a lot of spikes completely surrounding a star in the middle. There seemed to be no way of reaching it and it was impossible to dig through the spikes. The star would bring you to a bonus area where you would face off against Jinbe. The goal was to get all of the cabbages into the hole before time ran out and it was a little frustrating. Jinbe was fast and if he managed to hit you with his hoe, you would lose five seconds on the clock. You could stun him by throwing one of the cabbages at him. If you managed to beat Jinbe, you would get 20 points which was needed to get 100 percent for that stage. After trying to reach the star in the middle a few times, I gave up and continued on with the game.
I made it past the next couple of rooms and was ready to go up against the first boss of the game who was known as Kangaroon. I cleared the last door and entered the door leading to the boss. What happened was a letdown.
Instead of facing the boss, I was taken to the stage clear screen. The game had skipped kangaroon and I wasn't happy about it because I enjoyed facing off against the bosses due to the catchy boss theme that would play.
After getting out of the stage clear screen, I saw that all of the other levels had disappeared. I was still restricted to level one and at this rate, I almost had enough of this terrible hack. I wanted to turn the game off, but I wanted to go back to level one and see if there were any new gimmicks that I didn't even know about. I figured there was something else I had to do in order to open up the other levels in the game.
I went to visit each room again with all of them being the same except for the bonus room. When I reentered that room, I noticed that all of the spikes were now gone and I could access the star now. This was very strange, I guess I needed to clear the level first? I didn't hesitate and stepped on the star tile to be teleported. Where I was teleported to wasn't a bonus stage, but another room that also wasn't in the original game.
I was taken to what looked to be a cemetery. There were tiles in this room that weren't even in the original game. There were nine tombstones in here that were lined up together. Besides the tombstones, the area was empty. I looked around noticing that there was no exit in the room. The only way back was to step on the star tile that was also in here. The music playing was also new. It sounded like a depressing melody. It was like something horrible had happened in the game and I wasn't aware of it yet. It didn't take long until I noticed that I could inspect the tombstones. Upon bumping into a tombstone, I noticed that it worked like reading a sign in the game. The first tombstone read
"R.I.P Albert Mole
I read the rest of the tombstones from left to right. The second one read...
"R.I.P Ralph Mole"
"R.I.P Charlie Mole"
"R.I.P Wes Mole"
"R.I.P Tiffiany Mole"
"R.I.P Garen Mole"
"R.I.P Abby Mole"
"R.I.P Scarlet Mole"
I was beginning to feel a little disturbed as it felt like these tombstones weren't just placed here to interact with. I decided to check the final tombstone. What it said was something I didn't expect.
I was shocked at this. What kind of sadistic person would put this in the game? I knew I could dig in this area, but I didn't want to. I didn't want to see what was under beneath those tombstones. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. I saw that the star tile was still there, so I stepped on it and got out of there as fast as I could. I realized that the Old Mole was probably responsible for all those deaths. What kind of sick mind did he have?
When I left the cemetery, I noticed the theme for it was still playing. I wanted to confront the Old Mole for all the horrid things he did. There was no way he was going to get away with what he did. Soon enough, I found him after entering the first rest area again.
When I entered the room, I noticed all the exits to the room were sealed off and I was trapped in there with him. The music changed to the theme of the Old Mole. He was standing right by the fountain without the wagon that he would usually carry around. I went to go talk to him. This is what he had to say.
"They're all gone. I got rid of them. They never paid me any visits! You never paid me any visits you ungrateful rat! Now we're the only ones left!"
The conversation ended. The Old Mole had gone insane. He claimed that he didn't play a big role in the original game, but you would see him in every single level in the game, so he had a much bigger role then any other helpful character I knew in past games. Did he want a bigger role then what he had? Is this why he did all this?
I went to go talk to him again.
"It's just you and me now. You're stuck here with me forever."
I talked to him yet again after that.
This time, he didn't even say anything at all, so I went to bump into him one last time.
"Woo you ungrateful mole! Just wait til I get my claws on you!"
While he was saying this, disturbing music began to play. The music felt like I was playing a game based off a horror movie. The Old Mole would also act this way in the original game if you talked to him too many times, but this time, it was even more unsettling.
The screen faded to black and there was no game over screen, but just an empty blackness. I heard the sound of my character squealing like he would if he took damage in the game. The horrifying music stopped playing to my relief. Thirty seconds later after looking at the black screen, I heard crying from in the game. Was this the crying of the Old Mole who was now lonely? The crying at this point was non stop and looped endlessly. There was no way to progress past this point. I shut the game off feeling like I had to show off what I found.
Later on, I invited my other friend over and showed him the game I had experienced. I erased the previous file and played through it with him watching. Nothing changed at all and the game ended the same way it did last time. Even he felt disturbed by whatever message the game was giving.
I went to return the game to Jessie. It's gonna take a while before I can pick up anything involving Mole Mania again. I'll stick to other puzzle games for now.