Wednesday, December 19, 2007

James The Christmas Zebra

(This is the second of two reviews today. The first can be found here.)

There are times when I ask myself if I'm far too hard on what are essentially simple little games designed to kill some time. Looking back on the games I've reviewed over the last few months, it's not like any of them were completely, utterly, totally awful, right? (Well, maybe Bomb.) As a gamer, I have a right to be entertained, but developers have the right to make their games without jerks like me ripping their hard work apart.

But then I play a game like James the Christmas Zebra, one of my favourites, and I have to ask myself, "Why aren't these other games as enjoyable as this?"

And the answer is, "Because they're shit, and I do have a right to rip them to shreds, so fuck you." Or something like that.

Anyway, onto the review. James the Christmas Zebra (best title ever) is a remarkably fun game that first appeared a year ago. It proved so popular that the developers, The Super Flash Bros., have made new additions to the series, sending James to the circus, to the beach, and even into space.

The premise is absurd, but then that's what makes it so great. You play the titular James, a zebra who can catch stars from the sky and swing from them.

Just like that. You have two minutes to run and swing your way around the playing area, collecting cookies "because they're yummy."

You need to avoid the puddings, because 1) they're fattening, and 2) they explode, taking points with them. At the end of the game, the Newgrounds tank appears. James hops in and drives away.

No, seriously.

After which you can submit your high score, play again, or go back to the main menu. My advice is to head back to the menu, because once you've played the main game, two mini games will be unlocked forever! They're equally as fun, i.e. lots.

In Long Jump you attempt to fly as far as possible on the strength of a single swing. The idea is to hit cookies to keep going and avoid the puddings which will slow you down. It takes a little practice, but once you have the hang of it you can achieve a decent score.

In Time Attack James needs to get from one side of the playing field to the other in the shortest time possible. But watch out for puddings, as each one you hit will add a couple of seconds to your time.

These mini games compliment the main one without detracting from it. Indeed, they're great little games in their own right. The graphics are cute without being nauseating, and the controls are simple yet effective. It's obvious that the developers had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve, and set about doing so in the simplest way possible. the result is a game that looks great, plays like a dream and is incredibly good fun. If you enjoy James the Christmas Zebra, then check out the other games in the series, as they're equally enjoyable.

OK, that's my one nice review of the year done. Normal service will resume in 2008. Happy holidays, and I'll see you in the new year.

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