Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shamrock Streamer

Since it's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, and I am an Irish man, I thought I would do what everybody else is going to do and review an Irish-themed game.

I never said I was a trailblazer.

So, Shamrock Streamer. It's one of those games that require you to follow a set path with your mouse without deviating, thereby discriminating against all those with poorly developed motor skills. But we won't let that ruin our fun when there are other things about this game that can do it just as well.

The goal of Shamrock Streamer is to follow a rainbow path until you reach a pot of gold, which is strange considering one of the characters you can play as is a pot of gold. Surely you should be able to pick that one and immediately get sent to the "You Win!" screen, but alas that isn't the case. The other choices are a range of stock Irish caricatures. We get not one but two leprechauns, a shamrock, a snake (you know, the things St. Patrick drove out of Ireland - despite Ireland never having the climate to sustain snakes) and a trumpet, which I suppose isn't really Irish, but it is green.

Everything is brightly coloured, Shamrock Streamers coming across as a cheap and cheerful little time waster. But it doesn't take 20/20 vision to see that this game has a dark side. I don't know about you, but I find there's something unnerving about a flying leprechaun that eats rainbows and shits out multicoloured shamrocks.

Maybe it's just me.

Obviously, as you fly along, the rainbow path becomes increasingly more difficult to follow. Along the bottom of the screen is an Accuracy gauge that decreases every time your cursor veers off the path. Once it reaches zero the game ends. It's nice to see that the difficulty curve doesn't suddenly explode upwards at any point, allowing you to get a pretty decent score, as long as your reactions are quick and you don't suffer from Parkinson's Disease. I do find it strange, however, that the raindow gets wider as you get further. Usually it's the other way round, but I suppose if you're playing a flying, shitting leprechaun, you want to break with convention.

There's no difference between how any of the characters play, so regardless of who you pick, you'll still be playing the same game, following the same path. The other leprechaun grabs the rainbow with one hand and shamrocks fly out of the other, like some weird Irish stigmata.

I had imagined that the snake would be like the first leprechaun, chewing up rainbows and crapping out shamrocks, but I was wrong - very wrong. The snake actually shoves the rainbow up its ass, then vomits shamrocks all over the screen.

And yes, this is a game for children.

The shamrock isn't quite as bad, but as it's spewing other, smaller shamrocks in its wake, I can only assume this is some sort of asexual shamrock that self-reproduces, releasing its multicoloured spores across the sky. Only in Shamrock Streamer is this concept not incredibly disturbing.

The trumpet I can deal with, though traditionally one would expect notes coming out of it, not shamrocks. But since it's not involved in defecation, religious mutilation or self-reproduction, I'll let it slide.

All in all, Shamrock Streamer isn't an especially bad game, but there's nothing about it that demands you play. Unless you really, really like Ireland or you have a thing for scatology, I'd advise you avoid it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I won't be drinking, so keep that in mind as you spout off stereotypes all day.

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