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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I took an impromptu two week break from Big Mean Flash Gamer, but I'm... happy to announce I have returned. And no, I won't be ducking out of the crappy game I should have given you two weeks ago. However, I refuse to give it any more time than I already have, so let's crank this review out in record time as I take a gander at Ninjack.

Or is it NinJack? Jesus, what a pun. Rodney Dangerfield would have turned his nose up at that turd. I can only assume the title comes from the main character's name being Jack and the fact that he's a ninja, though he looks more like a Street Fighter cosplayer from where I'm sitting. The game is a traditional arcade platform affair, with our hero facing off against enemies while trying to gather gold and treasure. Pretty solid concept, but pretty lame realisation.

My problems began almost immediately with that title music. I appreciate going for the old school, retro feel, but good God, that theme is annoying! All the more reason to press the Play button, I guess. You're thrown right into the thick of it almost immediately when some flying ghost thing shoots a blue fireball at you. That's all good, no point wasting time. You have the power to fight back, of course, using the Space bar and directional keys for a variety of attacks. And herein lies our next problem: Ninjack can't fight for shit.

The controls just end up being more complicated than you'd first imagine. You have to hold down the Space bar before pressing one of the directional keys, meaning you can't move and attack. Having to stand there and hope for the best would be OK if almost all your opponents had highly effective ranged attacks. While you have to get close enough to do any damage, then stand absolutely still before striking, these assholes can hurt you from the other side of the screen.

Oh, you've got throwing stars - a whole three. After numerous embarrassing deaths I finally realised that the best strategy is to avoid confrontation whenever possible. Yes, in the arcade game that sees you play a human killing machine, the best way to survive is to run away at every opportunity.

The overall design of the game is packed with flaws. Jumping in tight corners is one of the most frustrating parts of the whole thing - if you don't leap off a ledge at exactly the right spot, you can often find yourself falling back to the platform below you. In Level 2 I came across a phantom platform. Yeah, it looked like it was there, but as soon as I tried to jump on it I sank through the son of a bitch. And to top it all off, the game loves to toss little power-ups and bonuses in places where you have no way of reaching them. A refill for my precious throwing stars sat on a ledge just out of jumping distance, mocking me. Considering neither your health nor your weapons reset between levels, you really need these bonuses.

It all looks pretty, but then people say the same thing about Tila Tequila and she's still a useless waste of organs. By the time you finally figure out the controls, you've already reached the point of not caring. But that's OK - the game's developers clearly reached that point long ago.

Case in point: the third and final level sees you wandering in circles before finally reaching the exit point. Once you've done it, the game... goes immediately back to the title sequence.

That's it? No victory screen? Not even a "You win!"? No, you managed to complete the game and nobody, not even the people who made it, gives a damn. Well, gee, thanks Ninjack. That totally doesn't want to make me toss my computer out the window in anger!

Ninjack is a shoddy, frustrating, pointless little game, its only positive being that it's mercifully short and easily forgettable.