Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure is an ancient shareware DOS game – it’s actually so ancient, it’s slightly older than me. It features Cosmo, a green alien boy with a full head of red hair.

It’s a pretty nice platformer, taking place over three episodes. I remember it quite fondly as a game I played a lot as a kid, and it’s now available through GOG, so I’ve been quite excited to play through once again!

The Plot

The game features Cosmo (surprisingly), a little alien lad with sucker pads for hands and red hair. He’s green and spotty. As a kid, my older sister convinced me that him being spotty meant I had been poisoned by something in game and Cosmo had become sick. This is, of course, completely untrue.

Cosmo and his parents are on their way to Disney World for Cosmo’s birthday. Their ship is hit by a comet and they have to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet. Cosmo wanders off on his own exploring and, upon his return, he finds his parents are missing! There are large footprints leading away from the ship – they must have been captured by a horrible monster who’s going to eat them! (Right?).

A quick rundown of the episode-by-episode events (spoilers for those who want to experience this gripping story for themselves): at the end of episode one Cosmo falls down a big pit and gets eaten by a horrible monster. Fortunately, in cartoon-style, Cosmo traverses the inside of the monster and escapes (it is left to the player’s imagination how that happens). At the end of episode two, Cosmo comes across a city that he believes his parents are being held prisoner at!

Anyway it turns out Cosmo’s parents were in no danger whatsoever and the whole adventure was a huge waste of time. Some blue alien called Zork saved them, repaired their ship and sent out a search party for Cosmo. Cosmo and his family then go and have a wonderful time at Walt Disney World and Cosmo has the best birthday ever.

The Gameplay

Well this game is almost 30 years old, plus it was designed to run on DOS, which wasn’t exactly a system made for running games. As such, the game can seem a bit clunky. It has a very low frame rate in order to support parrallax backgrounds and it’s resolution is a tiny 320×200.

Considering that, it looks pretty great once you get used to the horribly low frame rate! Cosmo’s jumping feels really good, there’s slopes to walk up and down, boxes to jump on and a handful of different enemies to jump on.

Cosmo has sucker-pads for hands (they actually look like plungers, I think), so he can cling onto walls. This means he can scale vertical walls too. Some later levels have slippery walls which makes this mechanic a little trickier.

You also come armed with bombs – you can place a bomb and after a few seconds, it will detonate. This can blow up various obstacles, but also enemies. Although rarely useful, they make a few of the tricker levels more manageable.

Hell

I do have a gripe though – level 10 in episode 2. This level is absolutely horrible and definitely the most unfairly difficult level I’ve played. It’s full of enemies, and every time you try to attack an enemy, you end up getting hit by a different enemy! It’s a horrible climb to the top of the level – I cheated to get full health and bombs at the beginning of the level, which admittedly wasn’t very useful. The only way I even beat this level was by dying at the end, but since the death animation involves Cosmo turning into an angel and floating upwards, angel-Cosmo must have hit the level end trigger and finished the level for me!

The Levels

I think the level design in this game is really good. They seem to be set up to allow you to “speed through”, but with lots of tucked away secrets and things for people who want to explore a bit more.

In each episode, there’s two hidden burgers which will permenantly upgrade your health, so if you’re prepared to hunt around, then you can pick those up. I found one in the first episode and both in the second episode (the second one involved basically jumping off a cliff and hoping there was something there). You can even find “Duke Nukum” (yes, they spelt his name wrong) in episode 2, which I only found out about a couple of days before writing this!

Some levels form little mazes or puzzles, which are quite nice to get through. They involve pushing switches and things to activate mechanisms or lower doors.

The levels I like least are ones that are absolutely full of enemies. The designers went totally overboard at times, and these levels I just sped through because I didn’t want to take the time to kill all the hundreds of enemies.

Overall

Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure is a nice little nostalgic platformer that’s worth checking out – if anything, it’s worth checking out to see what life was like as a PC gamer in the early 90s. The levels are nicely designed, encouraging exploration, but allowing more casual players to “speed through”, and there’s some funky little tunes to listen to whilst you play.

Just make sure you save the game so you don’t lose your progress. Press F1 (obviously) to pull up the pause menu, where you can save your game to return to later!