Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Plankton Life



Regular readers will notice I did not post a review on Sunday. The reason for this is because I was involved in the Film Racing Grand Prix, which asks that you write, shoot and edit a short film in less than 100 hours. You'll be happy to know that we did it, and if you'd like to check out my weekend's labour, you can watch the video (entitled "One Season Tent") here.

But anyway, you didn't come here to watch hastily-produced short films - you came here to read my rants about shitty flash games! So without further ado, let me tell you all about Plankton Life.

Forget everything you know about evolutionary science - Plankton Life tells you how it really goes down. In this game you play a smal green plankton, and it is your job to evolve into a multicellular being, with a spine and everything. To do this, you eat little coloured balls called Evos (they might just be called little coloured balls, but hell, let's call them Evos.) You collect the Evos while trying to avoid fish and maces.

I shit you not. You have to avoid fucking maces.



There are hundreds of them, too. Where are these maces coming from? Is there a vindictive fisherman in a boat somewhere dropping medieval weaponry into the sea? I could have let that pass if it was easy to outmanoeuvre the maces, but you have almost no control over your character. The easy option is to use the mouse, so you can click and drag the little sucker around. But here's the problem: if you hit anything - and I mean anything, from the fish and maces to the edge of the fucking screen - the plankton will start bouncing wildly from side to side, getting attacked by everything in its wake.



Mace to the face! Ouch!

Perversely, your character is even less responsive when you use the keyboard. What kind of alternative reality must this game come from, where using the keyboard is harder than using the mouse!?

The pause button is your best friend in situations like this, and I doubt I would have gotten anywhere in this game without it. When you lose control, simply tap the space bar to pause the game, move your pointer over the plankton, and unpause. Otherwise expect to spend many moments cursing at your screen as the little ball of snot bounces off the walls and out of your grasp for the eighth time in twenty seconds.

But I started getting the hang of things. I was avoiding the enemies, collecting my Evos, a developing fins when...



OK, what the fuck is that? Is that... is that a boss? I have no weapons, no way of defending myself, and now I have to face a boss? Who's bright idea was that?

The boss knocks you one way, and then the other, and the depressing thing is you can't do shit about it. All you can do is sit there and take it. If nothing else, this teaches kids a very important lesson - plankton are the prison bitches of the sea.

Once the giant spiky thing has had its way with you, the plankton makes its way to level two, where it must faces piranahs:



And another big purple motherfucker who pimpslaps you into oblivion.



I could go on, but really there's no point. As the levels progress you get bigger Evos and even egg-shaped things that give you more points, but despite evolving 24 times before I eventually died, my plankton never developed the ability to control his major motor functions. And if you can't control them, you don't deserve a nervous system.

Recently a sequel was released, Plankton Life 2. This has one big advantage over its predecessor - the ability to shoot things.



Yeah, eat my blue lasers of doom, fuckers! Unfortunately, they neglected to improve on the controls, so you'll still bounce around like an ADHD kid whose Ritalin prescription just ran out. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the Plankton games, as a totally new title is available online, similar to its cousins in only two ways - you eat stuff, and it sucks. But that's for another time.

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