Friday, August 20, 2010

Achievement Unlocked 2

Plenty of games, from the cheapest Flash programs to the most expensive console titles, have implemented achievements and bonuses as an incentve to keep playing, sometimes long after you've completed the game. This week's good game, Achievement Unlocked 2, takes this concept to its natural result by making a game where the goal is to collect every achievement possible. It's metagaming at its finest as you bounce around numerous levels as a blue elephant intent on gaining every worthless but welcome pat on the back.

The achievements come thick and fast almost from the first go, but there are 250 to collect and they aren't all so easy to pick up. Achievement Unlocked 2 does a great job of expanding on its predeccesor. You're still a flat blue elephant in a large white room, but now you can actually travel to other levels, collecting coins to unlock new areas.

Some parts of the game are downright weird, like the hamster wheel that you have to spin around in and the big button on the roof that lets you flood the floors below. Actually, that last one has a purpose, as there are some spots you can't reach otherwise.

I suppose I'm giving myself an easy week, as there isn't a whole lot to write about. You jump around, you collect coins, you try to avoid and land in spike pits - it's about as straightforward as you can get. There are no enemies, no big bad at the end, no motivation other than to score all of the achievements. But what makes Achievement Unlocked 2 so damn impressive is just how far it's come since the first game, keeping things simple while expanding the title for new and old fans alike. That alone is worth pressing the "Play" button - and yes, you get an achievement for that, too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Axis Football League

In the past I've always had praise for Armor Games, a site that maintains a consistently high quality of online titles. Of course, we all make mistakes from time to time. Nobody's perfect, after all - just look at Idi Amin. And so Armor Games has sadly suffered its own wave of psychotic, xenophobic deportation, by which I mean they're hosting a game called Axis Football League and it sucks.

This is a game that clearly has the best of intentions. In fact, it describes itself as the "first, great online football game," which made me chuckle heartily, as there is nothing great about this title. I guess it looks nice, but if you're a long time reader of Big Mean Flash Gamer, you'll already know that looks can be deceiving. Sometimes that hot chick is really a man and sometimes a pretty game is really a pile of garbage. But only one of those events will change your life and make you ask questions on the concepts of gender and sexuality, and it's not the second one.

I suppose, being someone with little interest in American football, this game wasn't going to appeal to me too much. But hey, there are plenty of sports I don't follow and as long as the game based on it plays well, I can still have fun. Obviously they couldn't use the names of real teams due to copyright purposes (because, you know, the Steelers worry about Flash games stealing their logo.) I decided to play as the New England Volunteers. Wow, that name must strike terror into the hearts of their opponents.

You pick a play to run and then you go to the game screen. Here's where things start to get tricky. I've never seen a game with so simple a control system sound so complicated. I can't even tell you what the problem is; it doesn't seem natural, you don't find yourself slipping easily into the controls like you might with other sports games. I think part of the problem lies with the use of both keyboard and mouse controls. That works fine for me, since I played it on a laptop. But if you've only got one hand to take care of the keyboard buttons while your other is occupied solely with clicking the left mouse button, it would no doubt be a big hassle.

The nice graphics come back to bite you on the ass at this point, too. So determined were the programmers to show as much of the field as possible, we're left with a top down view seemingly from the bottom of the Goodyear blimp (oh, wait, we can't use copyrighted names. Um... the Nice... Month... Balloon.) The animation is fluid, but there's just one problem that would sour my opinion of any football game: I can't see the God damn ball!

I'm doing my damnedest to block passes and take down the other team, but how do I do that when I'm not even sure who's holding the ball? Usually, by the time I know, it's too late to stop my opponents from gaining another twenty yards.

The vast array of plays you can use is impressive but hammers home the feeling that this is not a game for casual fans. I have no idea what most of these names mean and was randomly picking whatever play I thought gave me the best chance of success. Odds are this approach was no less effective than if I'd known what I was doing. In the end, Axis Football League is a frustrating game for anyone but the commited pigskin fan. Even then, I'd probably suggest throwing a ball around with some friends before wasting your time on this well-intentioned mess.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zombies Took My Daughter!

Zombies! As I've mentioned time and time again, I love 'em. While vampires sparkle and wolfmen lose their teeth, zombies amble on regardless, as cool today as they were when George A Romero popularised the modern zombie flick. So a game called Zombies Took My Daughter really can't fail to entertain, and thankfully it does just that.

Your daughter Anna is trapped somewhere in an infected city. Mutated ghouls roam the streets; you've got 36 hours to search for Anna and get her to safety. One of the coolest things about Zombies Took My Daughter is that the game map randomly changes every time you play, so you never experience the same levels twice. It also means that, no matter how experience you gain, there'll always be new surprises and challenges waiting for you.

The game features an abundance of mêlée weapons and firearms. While it's always satisfying to cave in a zombie's head with a Ming vase, however, my advice to find a shotgun and keep it fully loaded. The shotguns may not have much range but they make up for it with pure stopping power, taking down numerous ghouls in one shot.

You're not alone in the abandoned city. While the zombies are a given, you can also rescue other survivors, who will then help you clear out an area. This will save you ammo as well as reduce the risk of getting hurt. Dying is something you definitely don't want to do often. Every time you go down for the count, you lose two hours. Considering it can take one or two hours to reach each new destination via the subway system, that's time you can't afford to lose.

Thankfully, there are ways to cut down the search time. Examine dead bodies and you may find evidence of where Anna hasn't been spotted, eliminating numerous spots around town (and making one wonder how Anna got so popular that everyone in the city seemingly knows her.) There are also quests that you can complete, gathering a certain amount of supplies to eliminate a whole block from your search. These supplies aren't always in the easiest to reach spots, but then that's part of the challenge and the reward is definitely worth it if you want to get in and out of the city on time. Convicts are on the loose, and taking them down can earn you money you'll need for rope ladders and energy drinks.

While it's not the prettiest game in the world, Zombies Took My Daughter still has a certain charm. It's the sound effects that really get to you, though - hearing an undead mutant's pig squeal as it tears into your flesh isn't something you'll forget easily. It must be said that there's something very unnerving about watching a gang of zombies race towards you like you were slathered in BBQ sauce and you have only a crowbar with which to defend yourself.

Zombies Took My Daughter is a frighteningly addictive game - hell, I stopped writing this review at one point to have another go at it. If you platformers, shoot-'em-ups, puzzle games or zombies (or all four), then this is the game for you. Grab your hatchet and your AK-47 and take to the streets!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ice Bike

Oh man. You may notice the extreme lateness of this review. I guess I'd just been putting this off. Not for any real reason, if I'm honest. Ice Bike isn't an awful game. It's not particularly good, but it isn't rage-inducing. If anything, the game doesn't incite any emotion whatsoever.

Let's face it: that's far worse than pissing people off. Surely your goal should be to cause some kind of reaction in the player, right? Not so much here. It's a shame because Ice Bike is actually a pretty well made game. You drive a snowmobile around a course in the shortest time possible and everything looks pretty nice.

Nothing jumps out at you, true, but it's perfectly adequate. That's the best way to describe Ice Bike - a thoroughly adequate game.

The graphics? As I've noted, perfectly adequate.
The controls? Turning can be a little slow, but otherwise adequate.
Difficulty? Well, there aren't any penalties (you can't even really crash) and you're not up against a time limit, but the tracks get a bit longer and more twisty, so I suppose it's... adequate.

You see my problem here? How do you review a game that has nothing out of the ordinary? There's nothing about Ice Bike that makes it memorable. It just kind of sits there, like that ornament your aunt Brenda bought you that one time she was on holiday in Cypress and that you never notice until it's time to clean the living room. Why would you bother playing a game like this?

Maybe if you like snowmobiles, you'll get something out of it. But then, depending on where you are in the world, you could just drive a snowmobile. It reminds me a lot of a scene in an old episode of The Simpsons. Bart, forced to stay in school while everyone else goes to the chocolate factory, has to help Principal Skinner seal envelopes. Skinner suggests that Bart make a game of it, seeing how many he can seal in an hour, then trying to break that record. To which Bart replies, "Sounds like a pretty crappy game."

Ice Bike is that crappy game. The only competition is yourself, and I don't mean you have to overcome some inner demons to achieve success. You ride around a course, you see how quickly you did it, then you try to do it faster. Since all of the course are unlocked from the beginning, there's no incentive to beat your record. You do it just because, for want of a better reason.

In a world where there are great games and awful games, Ice Bike ranks somewhere right in the middle. Neither good enough to be a fan favourite nor bad enough to cause waves of gamer rage, it sits on the Information Superhighway like a petrol station you only stop at if you need to stretch your legs, quickly forgotten as soon as you leave.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doodle God

Like many people I picked up Peter Molyneux's literal God sim Black & White. The concept of being a deity - choosing whether I wanted people to worship me out of love, respect or fear; raising and training a monster to carry out my godly duties and occasionally eat someone - really piqued my interest. After years of Sim City allowing you to just be mayor, here was a game that allowed you to be the ultimate divine being!

Which was great, except it eventually got a little boring. You see, being a god in Black & White was a lot like being the mayor in Sim City. You did an awful lot of resource gathering and general day to day problem solving, interspersed with the odd monster battle or, if you were bored, people throwing (which, of course, you couldn't really do if you wanted to be a nice god - as if anyone cared about that.) I never played the second game because it apparently took all the things that were fun about the first one and made them kind of suck, but my memories of Black & White remain a few hours of fun, then an ever increasing urge to do something less godly and more fun. I will say, however, that it makes Old Testament God's regular mood swings a lot more understandable. You'd raze a city to the ground too if Geoff from Crop Gathering kept bugging you about the annual reports.

Anyway, this week's game puts you back into the position of god without having to worry about all that administrative stuff. Doodle God simply focuses on the fun part of being the Creator - namely, creating stuff. It's an intriguing little puzzle game that asks you to make a myriad of items by mixing and matching different elements. Starting with earth, wind, fire and water, the goal is to create 115 brand new elements (though the word is used loosely - I don't remember seeing "tree" on the periodic table."

It's a disarmingly simple concept that's easy enough to get sucked into but tricky enough to keep you guessing as you mix up different elements, branching out from the original four to develop more advanced items.

The graphics aren't much to write home about, but then a game like this doesn't really call for anything flashy. Instead, things are kept clear and simple: two columns of elements, pick one from each column and watch them smash together to make something new. Most of the early elements are pretty obvious, but as things get more complicated the combinations become trickier to discern.

Fortunately, you can ask for a hint every now and again that helps point you in the right direction. It's definitely needed, as is some serious lateral thinking. It allows for a nice mental workout, but not one that will leave you screaming at your monitor.

All in all, Doodle God is an intriguing little puzzle game that your Creationist cousin will love. Little touches like the inclusion of a quote by famous figures make for a classy title, and the ability to download the game as an App means you can create the Universe on the move. A wonderful little game.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


As long time readers will know, I'm a big fan of sniper games. There really is nothing more satisfying than watching the head of someone you've never met explode due to a bullet fired from 300 yards away.

Um... anyway, you'll also be aware that when I come across a crappy sniper game (and I've come across many), I like to point it out for ridicule and abuse. What can I say? I'm an jerk like that. That brings us to HeadShot (yes, all one word, and yes, with a capital "S" in the middle, bringing to mind some 90's EXTREEEEME superhero.) The plot goes pretty much like this: with gang-related crime tearing the city apart, the mayor has hired you to secretly kill off all of the gangsters in town. Legal issues aside, what makes the mayor think one guy with a sniper rifle can eliminate all the gangs in his city? If the police and elected officials can't stop the crime wave, what makes him think this one sniper can? Is this guy The Punisher, or something?

Starting the game, I was instantly reminded of another, better sniper game, simply called The Sniper, and set during D-Day. This isn't really surprising to me, as HeadShot is a carbon copy of The Sniper, save for a few missing touches, such as the realistic twitch of the sniper scope, the ragged breathing of the man behind the rifle and kickback after every round. HeadShot has none of these elements and the rather plain, uninspired graphics as well as the basic gameplay doesn't make up for it. It's perfectly serviceable, but "serviceable" just doesn't cut it when a game two years older than yours is five time better.

Also, can someone tell me what's going on with some of these gangsters? What the hell is this guy doing? Is he breakdancing? Is he praying? Some of the characters take the most laughable poses that shooting them in the head is less like execution and more like saving them further embarrassment.

Not that you should really bother aiming for the head. You may be surprised to learn that a game called HeadShot awards you bonus points for shooting gangsters in the head. But no matter how carefully you aim, nine time out of ten a head shot won't register, so it's really not worth the time and effort.

Definitely not the time, anyway. That's another thing that grinds my gears: the time limit on each level. Level one has you searching for five Latinos (oh, that's another thing - all the gangs are handily split up into distinct racial minorities) in an eighty second time limit. Certainly not impossible, though it may take one or two attempts before you spot all the gangsters. But how about when you get to level three and have to shoot 25 "Afros" in the same amount of time? True, that many makes it more like shooting heavily armed fish in a barrel, but there's always going to be those one or two that are hiding behind a wall, or the gun won't load fast enough for you to nail every single one. And what happens when you start to panic and miss shots? That's more time wasted. Why no one thought to increase the time limit in relation to the number of targets, I can't say, but I have the sneaking suspicion they were just too damn lazy to do it.

HeadShot is a bog standard sniper game brought down by unimpressive visuals and stupidly short time limits. I'm sure the guys who made it are really proud, but the guy who makes Tactical Assassin won't be losing any sleep over them.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Exit Path

All right, I'm starting to get back into the rhythm now, this week reviewing a game that turns the rock all the way up and the suck all the way down. Exit Path is a fun, fast platform game that presents us a tale of a lone individual trying to achieve freedom in a cold, oppressive world.

OK, so it's hardly the most original of concepts, but let's give the game a chance. It sports a very pretty look, with a somewhat stylished, simple layout that's functional while retaining a certain sense of style. True, nothing particularly jumps out at you, but it's a good, consistent look that fits the game's plot.

What really impresses, though, is the gameplay. The animation is fluid and dynamic, with our hero racing through numerous violent death traps in an attempt to escape. What makes things more interesting is the use of the "Flow," a meter that allows you to move at supersonic speeds for a small amount of time. Used effectively, the flow can shave seconds off your time. But if you don't watch your step, you could end up meeting the business end of a flying axe, which makes the game much more frenetic.

Don't worry if you do end up tasting a laser beam or getting crushed by a spiked platform. There are checkpoints on every level to save you the trouble of going through the same obstacles again and again. Plus, like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, death in Exit Path results in time reversing to the last time you weren't being mangled by a giant circular saw. It's a nice little touch and, while we wouldn't miss it if it wasn't there, it's a good example of the effort put into making a high quality game.

Completing levels and collecting caution signs opens up a bunch of options for customising your character, including everything from paper bags to bunny ears. But if you want more, or if you're just tired of the single player game, Exit Path contains a sweet multiplayer option that lets you face off against four others in a race through a number of unique levels. I'm not really one for multiplayer games, what with my general misanthropy, but Exit Path makes it so simple that it's not surprising to lose a lot of time trying to outdo others in a series of high speed contests.

All in all, Exit Path may feature plenty of things we've already seen before, but it's a finely crafted game that offers plenty of entertainment. If you're looking for thrills and speeds through a technological wasteland that seeks only to eviscerate you, then Exit path is the game for you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oil Spill Cleaner

Here I am once again, finally slipping back into my regular schedule after starting a work placement a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I'm ready to write a review this week. So, is it good game or bad?


Well, that's depressing. And with that in mind, I decided to subject myself to a game based on the most depressing news story of the last month, that of the unending oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yep, Oil Spill Cleaner is a light-hearted (at least, I think it is) little arcade game that I think was trying to transmit an environmentalist message but that got too caught up in upsetting people deeply. Crude oil is flowing into the Gulf at an alarming rate and, in a move that will surprise no one who watched the response to Hurricane Katrina, you and you alone have been given the job of cleaning it up.

Your little boat is equipped with a vacuum designed to scoop the oil out of the water and you work eight hour shifts, between which you can buy upgrades. Above all, you have to stop the oil from reaching the Louisiana coastline, where it will destroy the natural habitat of the animals there and result in those photos of oil-covered seagulls that make my fiancée cry. I will say that Oil Spill Cleaner plays pretty well, but it's no more complicated than having the boat follow your mouse pointer around the screen. It isn't exactly pretty, either. Maybe games that look like they belong on an Atari 2600 are in vogue right now, but in my view the retro thing should be done lightly. At the very least, upgrade your graphics to Commodore 64 level, guys!

The ship upgrades are all effective, I suppose, but what annoys me is how one can't skip an upgrade level, even if you've got the cash. You've got to buy each upgrade in its correct order, which sounds like a waste of money to me (but then, I'm not a government official or the vice-president of a multinational corporation, so what do I know?) What really grinds my gears is that, with every level, the oil spill naturally gets faster. So all you're really doing is keeping pace with the oil. You never really get an advantage over it - in fact, it's pretty depressing to clear up a section of water just to see it turn black again almost instantaneously.

In the end, sometimes you just have to approach the oil in the same manner any self-respecting D & D gamer approaches trolls and kill it with fire. This is actually a lot of fun, but it costs you 10,000 points a shot, so know when to use it - usually when you reach the point of total boredom.

Yes, that would be Oil Spill Cleaner's biggest flaw: for all of the frenetic bouncing back and forth, scooping up crude oil to help save the turtles, the game is remarkably dull. Every level is simply the same slog for 96 seconds, just a little faster. And as the game goes on, you start to understand how those dealing with the real oil spill must feel when they watch millions of gallons of black death seep into the ocean. You never, ever get ahead of the spill and you'll never, ever finish cleaning it up. It's only inevitable that oil will hit the coastline and then you'll have to focus on cleaning that mess up, too. I don't know if this game was supposed to educate or entertain, but it did neither. All it did was make me flail angrily and curse the folly of man. I'm pretty sure video games shouldn't do that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Destructo Truck

So here I am, lucky enough to have a few pretty darn good games over the last few days, and thinking about which one I should review for this week's Big Mean Flash Gamer. Tough call, really; adventure, action, puzzles - I've played a pretty wide variety this past week and been thoroughly entertained.

But only one of those games allows me to drive a lorry down a ramp and crash it into a never ending line of buildings. That game is Destructo Truck.

Destructo Truck gets points immediately because it reminds me of the always wonderful Indestructo Tank series. But while those games have you driving along, merrily smashing into enemy aircraft and vehicles, Destructo Truck eschews any meaningful narrative or in-depth character development and instead focuses on building bashing goodness. It's a bit like when Michael Bay told the screenwriters of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to remove anything that slowed down the pace or gave a hint of character development. Except Revenge of the Fallen was shite and Destructo Truck rocks your socks off.

Still, I expect Mikey boy would appreciate this game. It taps into something that I believe all men have, which is the innate desire to burn things and jump on stuff. All that Destructo Truck asks of you is that you drive as fast as possible down a long ramp, sail off the end and then sit back as your truck barrels through building after building, creating the longest "Smash Streak" possible to access power-ups and bonuses. With the salvage from destroyed buildings you can purchase upgrades for your truck, even redesiging the chassis and body of the vehicle.

That's really all there is to it. In that regard, Destructo Truck probably doesn't have a lot of replay value. But there's something deeply satisfying - even cathartic - about watching a bright yellow truck smash its way through 57 buildings and businesses before rolling slowly to a stop. It's the same reason a game like Burnout is so popular: all the thrill of a grinding car crash straight out a Bourne movie but without the annoyance of serious injury or insurance claims.

Controls are simple - the right arrow to accelerate and the Space bar for everything else. Upgrade rockets, your engine etc. and watch the truck roll trough buildings like they were made of paper. Can't get much better than that! The graphics are exceedlingly simple, but then nobody's playing this for its remarkable visuals. Everything does the job just fine, so while it doesn't win any awards for innovation, one can't fault Destructo Truck for focusing simply on getting the fundamentals right.

Destructo Truck is big, dumb and lots of fun, so it gets a thumbs up for that. It cares little for your serious Earth, revelling instead in a ridiculous concept. and can't help but entertain.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Human Centipede: The Game

No. No, no, no, no, no. No. Sorry, but no.

I refuse. I refuse to accept this. My eyes are sending me messages but my brain is flat out ignoring them completely. This isn't happening. Jesus, if you're reading this, please come convince me that this isn't happening.

No one would have done this. No one is such a sadist nor such a masochist that they would do this, and certainly not take any kind of pride in this. So, no. This isn't real. There can not possibly be a Human Centipede game.

Oh, God damn it, there is! Why!? WHY!? What kind of monster would do this to the human race? For those fortunate few who have no idea what Human Centipede is, I will try to explain in ways that don't lose you IQ points. Human Centipede is a film about a mad German doctor who decides to create - yes - a human centipede by sewing people together in a messed up conga line, sewn anus to mouth.

There's a trailer; I'm not linking to it. I want you to stop for a moment and consider that someone out there sat down and wrote a script called Human Centipede. That writer then sold that script to a producer who clearly sat back and said, "You know what? I'm gonna take a chance on that centipede film." A director was hired, a director who was serious about working on a film about people who get their mouths sewn to someone else's ass. A cast was brought together, a crew filmed it, it was edited and then released to the world. And now there's a game. A game based on Human Centipede.

My God.

Thankfully, the game differs slightly from the movie. You play the doctor and unfortunately your creations have turned against you. Who knew that if you forced people to survive on the waste of someone else for the rest of their miserable lives, they would get upset? Anyway, it's time to grab a gun and get shooting before your mockery against nature comes back to kill you. All the while you'll need to avoid police officers as well as cars and other items that fall down the screen towards you.

I get the 8-bit look that they're going for, but the bare game screen doesn't do much to capture one's attention. I guess the image of people crawlling down the screen like a deleted scene from the movie Freaks was arresting enough. All the same, there isn't much to say about how the game looks.

There's even less to say about how it plays, either. The controls for Human Centipede are functional but the gameplay is flawed. Firing is especially problematic; you usually have to wait until a shot has hit a target or disappeared before you can fire another. There's not rapidfire options here, which makes the game a far more difficult prospect. The enemies continue to move faster and faster while you remain at the same speed. There's nothing wrong with a challenge, I know, but this gets very frustrating once you get past Level 4.

Maybe I'm being unfair, as I was going to be biased against this game from the moment I first read the title. But you know what? It's Human Centipede - what other reaction was I supposed to have!? This is a crap game based on an offensive film - not offensive in that I'm disgusted by the concept (though I am) but offensive in that this piece of crap got made while I'm still trying to get producers to pay any attention to me! Human Centipede is everything that's wrong with film, the movie business and the human race. Human Centipede: The Game is like a spit in the face after being kicked in the balls.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Enough Plumbers

Hey, you! Yes, you, the person who isn't my fiancée (thanks for the hits, baby)! You always loved Super Mario Bros. when you were a kid, right?

Sega player? Oh. Me too.

Hey, whatever! What I'm trying to get at is that the Mario games were and remain a perennial favourite of retro gamers. Something about the totally ridiculous concept of of an Italian plumber jumping around a weird, brightly coloured mystical realm in search of a kidnapped princess just struck a chord with people. Well, if you liked guiding one plumber across platforms and pitfalls, you're going to love doing that with fifteen plumbers! Or at least you will if you play Enough Plumbers, a game that combines puzzles, platforms and genetic cloning.

Plenty of games let you create copies of your character and have them carry out tasks to overcome obstacles, but I haven't seen many that have you controlling all of the clones simultaneously. Herein lies some of the challenge in Enough Plumbers. It's up to you to reach the flag on every level, which usually involves creating and sometimes sacrificing clones in order to cross pits and remove walls. Taking its cue from the Mario games by which it is clearly inspired, Enough Plumbers has a bright 8-bit look, simple controls and plinky-plonky MIDI music that you can thankfully mute if it gets too annoying.

This paragraph break is so I can post the above screen shot. Allow me my indulgence; watching the hero take a Superman pose and fly off to the next level can't help but raise a smile.

What helps Enough Plumbers break up the monotony of repetitive jumping, dodging and cloning are numerous power-ups than can help or hinder you if used at the wrong time. Become metal and smash through bricks, down fizzy cola and inflate into a human balloon, or eat mushrooms and experience wild hallucinations where everything is topsy-turvy, left is right and right is left! And while I may be exagerrating the extent of that last power-up's abilities, at least it's a more accurate depiction of what can happen than the Mario games ever gave us.

Just because you feel ten feet tall, doesn't make it so, man.

I will say one thing about this game - it can be a damn struggle to get through. Good hand-eye co-ordination is a must, as is a certain amount of lateral thinking. Even then, sometimes luck just doesn't go your way. Trying to complete the same level again and again is always stressful, but there are some puzzles here that can't help but raise your blood pressure tenfold.

The above level is a perfect example. I need to guide one plumber across the platforms and hit a number of buttons while a second plumber floats perilously close to rows of flame. To make things just a little harder (because hey, why the hell not?) two jumping assholes are also in the way. Maybe you'll manage it on your first try, though the more likely scenario is keyboard smashing and language that would kill a Pope. Fortunately there is a walkthrough for those puzzles that leave you simply dumbfounded.

I don't even know what to say about the final boss. He looks a bit like a cross between Mick Jagger and a gargoyle, and he shoots blue flames that turn you to stone. Difficult to beat, yes, but like everything else in the game there is a strategy to defeating him.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed Enough Plumbers. It's clever, it's fun and it's challenging without being totally unbeatable. It's the type of game that'll help you easily kill time while also pondering the contribution of gold coins to scientific experimentation.