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Swagman is an action/adventure game developed by Core Design and released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1997.


The game is an overhead action game in which you play as a boy named Zack (his sister Hannah also becomes playable after freeing her), who is trapped in a world of dreams and must defeat the evil Swagman by rescuing the 12 Dreamflights. Level progress is linear and mostly revolves around finding keys to open doors, puzzles that require you to switch characters and make use of their different abilities, occasional platforming sections as well as levels where you enter a mirror world and turn into a monster. After freeing each Dreamflight you fight a boss.

Why It Sucks

  1. Hit detection for both the characters and levels is very convoluted and makes almost no sense- you can stand of the sides of objects that appear to be solid ie. gravestones, it's possible to go out of bounds by accident, you'll take damage from things that don't appear to be touching you.
  2. The isometric perspective is so flat and wonky that not only does it make combat, avoiding obstacles and even basic jumps difficult but items and obstacles will often be obscured behind walls and sometimes it's not clear whether or not there's gaps you have to jump over.
  3. Health refills are rare.
  4. Inconsistent and often unforgiving difficulty.
  5. Enemies are often either unkillable, really small targets to hit, do way too much damage (the zombies in the Boneyard level can explode and kill you in one hit) or the method of killing them is completely unintuitive (e.g. the stone gargoyles also from the Boneyard level, who function like the Boos from Mario- you have to let them chase you until you hear them flap their wings then look at them so they fall to the ground and shatter).
  6. Melee weapons are difficult to aim since the character sprites aren't ambidextrous and they don't swing their weapon right in front of them. This isn't helped by your primary weapon's(a flashlight) lack of range and poor hit detection.
  7. The controls for pushing/pulling objects is awkward (you can't just hold the button whilst facing the object, you have to walk against the object then hold the button) and often only works when it feels like it.
  8. Both characters share the same health bar in spite of having separate bars for magic.
  9. The NTSC version runs at twice the speed as the PAL version, making it twice as hard and the boss-fights virtually unplayable.
  10. Sections of the game that give you zero hint on how to progress. Examples include the garage (you have to push the car instead of pull or the car will block you from going down the staircase beneath and it's difficult to push the car back forward) and 2 extreme instances in the Boneyard level: a secret room hidden inside a gravestone that looks identical to every other gravestone in the level and the level exit (hidden inside the bottom of a statue that you have to bomb open that has no visual clue or indication like the cracked walls earlier in the game).
  11. The game will often never explain to you how certain items and mechanics work and leave you to figure it out on your own due to the lack of item descriptions in the inventory.
  12. The 1st boss battle is almost impossible due to the lack of space to avoid its attacks, being able to damage you just from touching its arms, the little pumpkin enemies that are difficult to hit and a near-inescapable attack where it grabs you and strangles you to death.
  13. To enter the first boss, you must complete a long puzzle. After losing to the first boss you must do the same puzzle again to get back to the boss which will become tedious and annoying very quickly.
  14. Jumping in some of the monster sections is unresponsive due to the uneven level terrain.
  15. Glitches eg. the car from the garage mentioned earlier will sometimes disappear, sometimes when you pick up the speed shoes the game will fill your whole inventory with multiple pairs of them, sometimes the game will softlock on the inventory screen etc.