Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Robot Wants Kitty

Welcome back to Big Mean Flash Gamer, and after last week's vitriol I'm sure you're all set for awesomeness. Well, I've got it in spades with today's game, a wonderful little puzzle/platformer from our good friends Max Games entitled Robot Wants Kitty.

Sometimes it really is the simplest concepts that make for the best games. Take Robot Wants Kitty, for instance. There's a robot and a cat. The robot really wants the cat. Like, really wants it. But there's a snag. The cat is stuck at the end of a hallway which has been bricked over by monsters. Why did they do that? They're just assholes, I guess.

When the game begins you're not able to do much more than run left and right. You don't even have the ability to jump, so all you can do at first is try to avoid the baddies completely. Fortunately there's an upgrade that gives you a spring in your step not too far away; others are dotted around the large, labyrinthine level and you'll need every one if you're going to rescue that kitty. Better get a move on, though, because time is of the essence and your score is dependent on how quickly you can complete the game. The bad news is that dying adds twenty seconds to your final time. The good news is that you can cut a second for every monster you kill with the laser upgrade.

As if I ever needed a reason to shoot red monsters with a laser gun. But once you've got the laser in your little metallic paws none of the beasties are particularly troublesome, allowing you to figure your way around the many twists and turns of the level as you try to locate keys, upgrade your system and get to that cat.

Which isn't to say Robot Wants Kitty becomes a cakewalk as soon as you have some firepower. You still need to watch your step, lest you fall into a pit of boiling acid or get caught off guard by a roaming monster. But checkpoints have been kindly placed throughout the game to save you having to march all the way across the level to get back to wherever it was you died. Other games should take note of this - it saves time and keeps the player from screaming curses to your good name late into the night.

Don't tell me I'm not the only one who does that because I'm not.

The look and feel of the game is charmingly retro, with clunky 8-bit graphics and a plinking MIDI soundtrack that amazingly doesn't make one want to swallow their own tongue in annoyance. I will admit that if you don't pay attention you can get the controls mixed up; on more than one occasion I rocketed towards an enemy when I had planned to vaporise it. If you ever kicked back on a Spectrum or Amstrad, however, Robot Wants Kitty should bring back fond memories.

Death is naturally inevitable and, to be honest, some areas just set you up to fail. For example, don't shoot at the giant multi-eyed blue blob that spits laser bubbles into the air. Just don't do it. You can't kill it, even with rapid-fire shots. You're just going to piss it off and then it's going to crush you. Likewise, the ceiling decked out in acid-spitting stalactites is just taking the piss. You can get through there with a rocket pack but if you don't figure out the almost non-existent pattern of drops you'll be melted before you ever get close to the other side of the room. And no, you don't have to run through that room, but what are ya, chicken?

Still, it's all worth it when you reach that end game scene and see the robot happily hugging his kitty. Squeezing it ever so tightly, kitty's eyes bulging out of its sockets... um, maybe we should take the kitty away from the robot? We can't? The lasers? Oh, right.

So, yes, Robot Wants Kitty - proving once and for all that even metal men are capable of love.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'd like to try something a little different this week. I know there have been some changes with Big Mean Flash Gamer recently, and I know I'm expected to review a crappy game this week, but I have something else in mind. It's actually a review I've wanted to write for quite some time, and since I can't be bothered to spend any more time looking for something to review I might as well do it this week. Instead of focusing on one single game that raises my ire, I'm going to review an entire website of games - games so consistently bad that I could pick one at random every week for the next year and still have enough to see me well into 2011.

What site could possibly produce so many steaming piles of dung, week in and week out? Who else but

Games2Win have a very shrewd business plan, one that keeps overheads low and income high: just keep making the exact same game over and over and over. And I don't mean games that are similar; I mean the exact same game. If it's a Games2Win title, then it's either about kissing, dressing up or taking photographs. Maybe you have to park a car, but that's as complicated as it gets (and my hatred of parking games should come as a surprise to no one with a brain.) Every new game is simply the last one with a new paint job - it's the equivalent of a shady used car salesman selling you back your own car with a new chassis.

But who cares if the games are all the same? AC/DC have been making the same record for almost forty years and no one gives them crap about it. The difference is AC/DC rock your socks off while these games blow chunks. Oh, they're put together well, but it's still very basic stuff, lacking the spark or ingenuity you find in online favourites. You'd think, after 18,000,000 attempts, they'd at least know how to make a fun dress-up game, but you'd be wrong and I'd laugh at your gullibility.

Another issue I have with Games2Win is its depiction of men and women. They can't decide whether women are shallow ditzes with only boys, shopping and more boys on their mind or evil harpies who tear your heart into pieces while cackling maniacally. Men fare no better; depending on who's coding the game males are either wimpy nice guys (even when they're bad boys) or total bastards. Three-dimensional characters? Games2Win need not such things.

It's actually depressing in a way, because all of their games directed at girls and young women are based around pleasing men, while all the games directed towards guys see you hopelessly debasing yourself for a dream girl (that is, when the game isn't trying to entice you with pathetic attempts at titillation.)

I know, if the games are so bad, I could have just picked one, knocked out a few hundred words and kicked back for the rest of the evening. But Games2Win produce titles of such consistently poor quality that I finally snapped. This is a site that produces more rubbish than Addicting Games and combined and it shows little sign of slowing down. The only word to truly describe Games2Win is ricockulous - that any game site can be so totally devoid of innovation, imagination or fun boggles the mind.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sushi Cat

I don't know what it is about the Japanese and extreme weight gain. I mean, I know compared to some of the things you find in Japanese media, that's pretty damn vanilla, but it's still kind of weird. Ironically, becoming ridiculously fat is the goal of this week's good game, Sushi Cat. A product of Armor Games, who rarely put a foot wrong when it comes to their titles, it's a Flash version of Plinko with the disc replaced by a gelatinous blue cat. This is not as terrifying as it sounds.

Said cat is trying to meet the tabby of his dreams, but through several twists of fate he can never seem to reach her. His solution is to become incredibly fat. No, I don't know what the thought process is there, but it is a cat, so naturally we're not going to understand everything he does. Actually, there are real reasons as to why he attempts to grow bigger, but I just find it more humorous if you think the cat's just weird and his would-be girlfriend is a feeder.

The game is composed of fifteen levels; in which one you must eat thirty pieces of sushi to continue to the next. This is done by deciding a place to drop your cat and releasing him with a click of the left mouse button. Down he tumbles, bouncing off platforms and nomming his way through many a piece of raw fish. I am always amazed at how fattening sushi is in these games. I can only assume it's based on reality, though I always thought fish was a pretty low fat dish. Still, there are other elements that might contribute to the high calorie count...

Big Mean Flash Gamer - where pointless tangents equal good copy.

It must be said that Sushi Cat looks very, very pretty. The levels are grouped together into three separate zones and each zone has a distinctive look. They also have bonuses and obstacles specific to their zone, helping to deflect accusations of repetition and giving the player a real sense of progress.

The cut scenes are also wonderfully rendered and tell a charming tale that starts out cute but actually becomes slightly disconcerting by the end. When the cat loses sight of his love, it's kind of strange that his reaction is to try collecting lots of dolls that look like her. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but... no, wait, that is what I'm saying. That's kind of creepy, Sushi Cat.

Of course, good looks don't mean squat without good gameplay, and here Sushi Cat acquits itself well. This is a game that's easy to learn but hard to master, and especially around the halfway mark there are a couple of levels that might prove difficult. But, in all honesty, this isn't a hard game to beat. If you've got fifteen or twenty minutes you shouldn't have too much trouble completing it. Fortunately there's enough to hold your attention for that long - in the latter levels, certainly, watching your tubby kitty get squeezed, stretched and bounced around is amusing. It's also pretty crazy to watch just how fat this cat can get. I mean, this is one cat who needs to run his ass around the block a few times.

A combination of cute and creepy, then, Sushi Cat tells us that it's OK to become morbidly obese for the one you love. I'm not really sure if that's a message we should be telling our children, but at least the game is fun. If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, Plinko or Tarepanda, you might be a fan of Sushi Cat.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mobster Roulette 2

Apologies for the late edition, folks, but I'm catching up on work and here with a scrappy, crappy game for your perusal (or rather, dismissal.) Coming hot on the heels of its predecessor, Mobster Roulette 2 is that most idiosyncratic of things, a strategy game with no strategy - or fun, for that matter.

It seems you lost $30,000 in a crooked card game and now you've got 24 hours (well, 2400 seconds) to pay it back to the gangsters you borrowed it from. Sounds like hard work, doesn't it? Well, it is, made all the harder by the minimal methods by which you can raise the cash. Mobster Roulette 2 is composed of several mini-games, none of which have had a lot of thought or effort put into them.

The simplest way to guarantee some money is by smuggling weapons across the border, which pays a cool $1,000. The game itself is simple enough: drive your car down a perfectly straight piece of highway, avoiding road signs and oil slicks as well as the cops, and reach the border before time runs out or the vehicle suffers too much damage. As far as driving games go, it's not the worst but I've seen far better, and winning isn't all that difficult. You could easily raise $30,000 just by doing this over and over again, but that would get as monotonous as it sounds, so let's see how else we could make some dough.

Ah yes, gambling - because that's worked so well for us so far. Again, there's nothing mind-blowing about these games. The blackjack game is straightforward and technically fine. It's a perfectly acceptable and adequate mini-game. But I could play far more interesting versions of blackjack online and not have to worry about some time limit coming down on me. Mobster Slots has the same issue - it isn't a bad game, just not a great one either. To be honest I've never seen the appeal of slot machine games online, unless you're working for some kind of reward, so there wasn't much motivation to keep on playing.

Strangely, I had my best success on the roulette table. I was able to guess correctly most of the time and tended to go with safe bets rather than pick a specific number, so I won a pretty penny. I suppose it makes sense that a game called Mobster Roulette 2 would feature a pretty decent roulette game. Perhaps if they'd focused on that instead of a bunch of lame mini-games, it would have made for a better final product. As it is, the roulette is simply good. But whoever runs this casino may want to read up on child labour laws, because the person in charge of the table sounded a lot like a little girl.

There's one other method of raising cash that I can't help but feel was added in the vain hope of causing a little controversy. If you get tired of running guns to Mexico and losing cash at the blackjack table (and you will), you can always grab your gun and just start shooting people on the street. There aren't any consequences for doing it, so grab a 12-gauge and blow 'em away! It's a bit gratuitous, all things considered, and you never earn more than nine or ten dollars per person. As a way of breaking up the tedium, however, it's great.

On the off chance you actually have some spare money, you can spend it sprucing up your home, which is looking remarkably bare; I guess borrowing from the Mob really was the last resort. Why you'd do this and what it has to do with the main plot of the game, I have no idea, but I'm guessing it awards you bonus points at the end. Regardless, it's just an unappealing garnish on a meal that didn't look very good to begin with.

In fact, nothing in Mobster Roulette 2 is very appealing. It's a game that looks and plays in a very workmanlike fashion. It's almost as if the developer released a beta, having not yet added the final touches to make the game more interesting. As it stands I just couldn't be bothered spending forty minutes to find out how it might end. There isn't enough to hold your attention for forty seconds, if I'm completely honest. Mobster Roulette 2 is a functional, acceptable game that holds little appeal and less staying power. In terms of gangster games, this one barely ranks as a common hood.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Robot Unicorn Attack

You know, I'm ecstatically happy that I've started alternating my reviews between good and bad games because I don't think I could have waited until Christmas to comment on the sheer awesomeness that is Robot Unicorn Attack.

Robot. Unicorn. Attack. Jesus Christ. Why did it take so long for this idea to come about? This is what the internet was made for, people! There's no way to objectively examine this game, so excuse me while I figuratively fellate this piece of insane genius for the next 500 words.

Robot Unicorn Attack has you - oh God, do I even need to explain it!? If there's any justice in the world, you've already played this game! You should already know what it's about! But for the three of you who might not be aware of this incredible game's existence, I will try to outline the concept for you. You play a robot unicorn. You have three wishes (lives) that you spend racing across purple platforms, leaping through the air and leaving a rainbow trail behind you. You score points by collecting fairies and running through stars. Meanwhile "Always" by British synth-pop duo Erasure plays on a continuous loop.

It is the most amazing thing I have witnessed in my twenty-five years on this Earth.

There are only two buttons: Z to jump, X to dash. You must dash through stars or you will crash. What happens when you dash through stars? They friggin' explode! YEAH! You travel at the speed of sound, leaving a sonic boom with every mid-air leap. You become a robot unicorn Flash every time you dash. Like Canabalt, another awesome game that received the thumbs up from me, you can't stop running and must continue forward no matter how fast and chaotic things get. But why would you want to stop!? You're a shooting star, leaping through the skies, like a tiger defying the laws of gravity! You're a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva!

What does that even mean? Who cares, it's awesome!

And there are dolphins! Dolphins who fly through the air and are your friends! This game has everything! It even has a violent death for the robot unicorn, exploding upon impact with walls or stars, the robot head flying towards the player. And through it all Erasure continues to play, until you have no choice but to sing along, determined to live in harmony, harmony, OH LOVE with the rest of humanity... just as soon as you have one more go.

But it'll never be just one more. Oh no - you play Robot Unicorn Attack once and you're hooked for life. There's no one thing that brings you back; it's the collective brilliance of everything coming together in one perfect package that makes Robot Unicorn Attack so God damn addictive. Take it as ironic humour or an earnest desire to spread joy into the hearts of cynical gamers.

This is you.

This is you after ten second of Robot Unicorn Attack.

That's how good it is.

Oh God, why am I even writing this!? I should be playing this game! We should all be playing it! Reading such heart-warming motivational phrases like, "Shoot for the Moon!", "May all your wishes come true!" and, um, "Persistence is futile!" Destroying stars, collecting fairies, running and dolphins! This is what all games should aspire to!

Robot Unicorn Attack. God damn...