Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Apprentice

My apologies for not informing you all that there was not going to be a Big Mean Flash Gamer review last week. I was in Michigan visiting my girlfriend. I am now back in Ireland. I am tired, sad and alone. That combination did not bode well for this week's game.

But then I found THIS!!

That's right - it's a platform game based on "The Apprentice." I repeat: a platform game. Based on the hit TV show "The Apprentice." At first, I didn't believe my eyes.

I mean, come on - this is "The Apprentice." Nothing about a bunch of overeducated, self-important, narcissistic children trying to impress an ageing, balding billionaire screams ladders and jumping to me. Perhaps if there were some pitfalls in the game, that could be seen as a metaphor for the emotional and professional pitfalls that beset the contestants on the show. But there aren't any pitfalls, so I'm left feeling confused, and I can't just blame it on the jet lag.

The goal of The Apprentice is to climb the "corporate ladders" (oh, now I get it!) and reach the top floor office, where money, cocaine and a dumb but hot secretary all await you. But your rivals are all trying to reach the top, too, and they'll stop at nothing to keep you from getting ahead. They hope to achieve this by walking around the building a lot and bumping into you.

It may sound stupid, but it's effective. Look as our little CEO-in-waiting struggles on the floor like an epileptic turtle. However, after a little fit, you jump back up and are as right as rain again, and you have more than enough lives to get to the top. No level is more then seven floors high, and since there are only three levels to play, "challenging" is one adjective you won't be using when describing this game to your buddies at the water cooler.

Speaking of water coolers (and that, children, is how we do a segue): knocking them over will not only make you unpopular with the janitor, but give you temporary invincibility. You then have the chance to fight back against your colleagues. Make those underlings squirm! Pretty soon you'll be raking in so much money that you'll be able to buy their lives! They'll be sorry they broke your mug in the staff canteen then!

Anyway, on the top floor is the big office, with fine leather chairs and all the trimmings. Take the time to make yourself comfortable and wonder why, with only three levels in the game, no one took the time to fix this frame, so that you couldn't see the sky through the roof.

And so it goes on, with little discernible difference between the levels, save perhaps for a few more enemies.

Here I am trapped between a rock and a hard place (or rather a sweaty accountant and the office bicycle.) Alas, sometimes you have no choice but to take a hit in order to move further along. As I mentioned before, you have a lot of lives, so it's not like you can't afford to do that, but it is kind of counter-intuitive to what one would normally do in a platform game - try to stay as healthy as possible, you know?

But then, it doesn't matter how many lives you've lost by the time to get to the end. There aren't any bosses to fight, not even in the final level. You're trying to tell me I'm the only one who thinks a ten foot tall fire breathing Donald Trump wouldn't be a sweet boss? I'd take great pleasure in kicking his ass, that's for damn sure!

To be honest, I'm pretty sure Donald Trump would be easy to beat. If I was making a game based on "The Apprentice" I'd use his UK counterpart Alan Sugar. He doesn't take shit from anyone, and he founded Amstrad, which produced the CPC in the 1980's. Those computers kicked ass.

As well as adding Sugar to the mix, I'd... oh, I don't know, maybe I'd make a game that had a little more to do with the actual TV show instead of a lame platformer that just rips off Techno Raiders from Dilbert's Desktop Games. I remember playing that almost ten years ago. This game is actually a step back from that. How is that even possible? If The Apprentice game was a contestant on the TV show, it would be the idiot who gets fired five minutes into the first episode, and who ends up selling his story to any tabloid that gives a rat's ass, before trying unsuccessfully to convince the corporate world that it was just a case of "bad editing." Donald Trump sent ya home with your balls in a sling, kid - your days in this business are over!

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