Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I've said this many times before, and I'll no doubt say it many times again, but I've played some weird games on the internet. Which is not entirely unexpected, since online games sites allow people to produce titles that might otherwise never see the light of day. This is most definitely the case for Porta-Pusher, a game that asks you to knock over as many Portaloos as you can within a set amount of time.

I can't believe I just wrote that. But consider that it comes from the guys at Lawlolawl and it suddenly makes sense.

Yeah, let's do this! To its credit, the game is pretty straightforward (and you would hope so.) You tap the Space bar repeatedly to pick up speed and make the little stickman run. Every time you come across a Portaloo click on it until it falls over. Simple as that. You're still tipping over portable toilets for no discernible reason, but at least it's not a complicated operation.

Empty Portaloos score 10 points, while you get more if the toilet was being used when you knocked it on its side. There's no story behind this game (I mean, where the hell would you even begin?) But I imagine if there was one, it would go something like this:

It's 1987 and Jimmy has just scored some bad acid. Stumbling around the camping area, he begins to hallucinate that the portable toilets are after him. With no other choice but to fight back, Jimmy starts tipping over the toilets before they can drown him in a pool of liquid faeces.

OK, so maybe the game really, really didn't need a story.

And so this is the game, running in a straight line and knocking over every Portaloo you meet, trying to score as many points as possible before the timer runs out. The controls are a bit irritating at first, but you do get used to them, mainly because you have no choice. Having to stop at every Portaloo is a pain, too. It would have been a lot simpler and probably more fun if a player could knock over portable toilets by simply running into them at speed, rather than have to push and pull at them, which can get tedious.

Porta-Pusher isn't just a game, though; it teaches valuable life lessons. For instance, there's nothing more pathetic than a grotesquely fat man trying to pull himself up off the ground...

...And some people will screw anywhere. Don't tell me video games don't have anything to say.

Once time has run out and you've received your final score, you can see how well you've done on the Achievements screen. That's right, this game awards you depending on how good you are at knocking over Portaloos! And you thought it lacked class!

The slogan for Porta-Pusher is "Pushing something over has never been so fun." But having played this game, I can safely say this was no more fun than any other time I've pushed things over. That the things you're pushing over are portable toilets certainly makes the game unique, but that doesn't mean it's any good. By all means, check it out and wonder at what kind of mind conceives an idea like Porta-Pusher. It's not particularly bad, just sort of OK, but the novelty value wears off pretty quickly, as will your interest.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dust 2

My apologies for not posting a review last week, personal issues got in the way. But the doctor says I'm all better now, even if I'm still not allowed near small animals, so let's get back to business!

Having never played Dust, I have no idea how it measures up to Dust 2, its little-desired sequel. What I can say is that Dust 2, a blatant rip-off of Madness Interactive and its ilk, is a frustrating little bitch of a game that hides its shoddy gameplay behind decidedly average graphics in the vain hope that no one will notice its complete and utter pointlessness.

Well, I did.

Things seem promising at first, but then they always do when the developers tack on a customisation screen. Still, it gives you a few more options than the Madness games, but if that's all you're going to add to the mix, why bother?

Half the time it doesn't even look right, so again, why bother? The tutorial puts you through all the steps to successfully control your character, from the basics of movement to advanced weapon use. There are two methods of control, taken from the Madness and Thing Thing games respectively, but since neither option is all that easy to use, nor really appropriate for this game, it makes doing anything a real pain in the ass.

The tutorial also shows you how to perform completely useless tricks like stealing an enemy's weapon. First of all, if they have a gun there's no way I'm going to get to them fast enough to disarm them. It doesn't help that our hero runs with the speed of an arthritic sloth. And anyway, once you've killed someone their weapon drops to the ground, available for you to pick up, so why would I try to steal what I can just lift up off the floor?

But the worst thing is throwing weapons. The mouse controls movement of the hero's arm, so you have to quickly swing the arm while pressing the E button to drop the weapon. This, in theory, will make your character throw his weapon, but in practice only makes me want to throw my computer out the window.

Unfortunately you'll have to learn bullshit skills like this if you want to unlock any of the weapons, which are all available once you complete certain achievements. Or, you know, you could just take them from dead bad guys.

This, to the best of my knowledge, is the entire game. Hero stands in the middle of a room, bad guys come in from either side, lots of blood (or in this case, dust) gets spilled. If this is familiar, it's probably because it's the exact same scenario for every fucking Madness game since the dawn of time!

Did the Madness guys make this game? I don't know, because none of the links on the main page work. If they didn't they should probably call their lawyers right about now. This is such a shameless rip-off.

They didn't even bother putting together a good animation for when you die - all you get is a dust cloud, and your character still clearly alive and swinging his sword around. Death is inevitable, but what surprised me is how quickly it happens. You'll kill maybe half a dozen guys when suddenly it's game over. You can jump around and try to avoid the enemies' weapons to last a little longer, but the numbers quickly pile up and your head is stuck on a pike faster than you can say, "Jesus, this game sucks balls."

And on top of all that, it's bugged to hell. Why oh why are my hero's arms floating in mid air while he hides behind the menu? Options don't work properly, only for you to load the game again an hour later to find they now do. And did I mention that actual playing time is thirty seconds?

This game is a waste of time, and that it's a sequel boggles the mind. How crap must the first Dust game be, if this is the bigger and better version? Why do I care? If you want to play Madness or Thing Thing, then go play those games. Don't settle for glitch-filled rip-off that's only going to piss you off.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Moto Rush

My apologies for the twenty-four hour delay in posting this review. I know my tens of fans around the world were waiting anxiously for another rant at the expense of a poor, defenceless game. If it's any consolation, I was busy with this.

Actually, that's probably zero consolation.

Anyway, since I find myself with bugger all time this evening, let's get right to the point on this one - especially as that will get me away from Moto Rush as quickly as possible. The whole tilty truck/balancing game has been done a hundred times before, so what does Moto Rush bring to the table that's new? Why should you spend your time on this rather than any of the other myriad games just like it?

That's a question with no apparent answer. Unless you count the pitiful attempt at customisation (you can choose whether you play a male or female character, and change the colour of your vehicle) this is in no way different to any other game of its type.

You can play as either a motocross rider or snowboarder; if you want to ride cool stuff like monster trucks and bears, you'll need to win races and unlock them. This is disappointing, as the monster trucks are the only vehicle I really like to play in these games, and where else am I going to have the opportunity to ride a bear like a motorcycle?

Albania, maybe...

There are two modes of play, Timed and Challenge. Since it's always a good idea to get to grips with your vehicle before making a fool of yourself in races, I checked out the Timed mode. The first thing you notice is that it looks decent but unoriginal. Indeed, some of the artwork is downright boring, with little detail on your riders. The second thing you realise is that the controls are as sensitive as a fourteen-year-old emo kid. Since these are timed challenges, it would make sense that you try to complete the courses as quickly as possible, right? But it's hard to keep a steady pace, as going too quickly will send you flying head over feet into the dirt (literally - the rider just keeps falling, as if through the ground itself.)

The snowboarder is actually easier to control, but the same problem remains - because the controls are so sensitive, you'll get caught on the same sections again and again. On the bright side, you have an infinite number of lives, so if you do crash, you can always just try again. But consider how quickly boredom sets in after the eighth failed attempt, losing your balance on the same dirt ramp or snow drift that screwed you the previous seven times.

Challenge Mode is really just an attempt to make you play the same levels twice, albeit with a few minor alterations and the addition of competition. As you can see, this competition consists mainly of carbon copies of yourself, with the occasional ninja or Viking thrown in for good measure. The problems that plague Timed mode are still fully present in Challenge mode, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I had better luck against my clones than I did against the clock, actually winning a few races.

But let's not fool ourselves into thinking this somehow redeems Moto Rush. Despite a few original quirks, it's still inferior to many similar titles. It demands a certain amount of commitment if one really wants to unlock all the vehicles, but is it worth the effort? Having played the game at length I can tell you now that the answer is a definite "No."