Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Turning an Adult Swim TV show into a video game is neither an easy thing to do or a good idea. Harvey Birdman is evidence of that, mostly because it’s barely a game. This game is just an episode of the TV show where players occasionally choose one of three options. Unlike a Telltale game, these options make no difference to the story. There is only one correct option; choosing the other two leads to Harvey saying something about how it’s wrong and you try again.
As it is essentially a somewhat interactive episode of the show, Harvey Birdman may be at least entertaining for fans of the show. As someone who does not like the show, this game was nothing but painful for me. The humor did nothing to distract from the lack of gameplay. Here’s how a segment of gameplay works: watch a three minute bit, pick something, watch a three minute bit. Repeat. Even L.A. Noire, the game that is impossible to lose, was more of a challenge than this, and, even though the repercussions are scripted and don’t affect the overall story, choosing the wrong answer was more detrimental than it is here.
The film about Guinea Pig spies has a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Letting this modern classic go without a video game tie in would have been a disgrace. Making the game anything other than a tie in with no value would be even worse. The lackluster sales reflect that this is exactly what it was.
The plot of both the film and video game is an evil billionaire is taking over the world by turning all electronics with computers in them into sentient, evil beings. What this means is that every level of the game revolves around fighting waffle irons. The occasional blender or paper shredder pops up, but waffle irons are the real danger here.
There are two key ways to take out the various kitchenware coming at you: ranged and melee. The guns are more powerful, but the aiming system is painful due to the motion of the Wii Mote being picked up too sensitively. Melee is your best bet as it works consistently. The problem is it is weak and close ranged. Not to worry, if it comes to it, there is a dodge system that is incredibly faulty and will get you killed.
It’s finally here. The Jeep only racing game, sponsored by Jeep. It’s everything we’ve been waiting for: a wide selection of cars that all feel the same, lackluster environments, and piss poor controls. To say this is the definitive Jeep driving experience on the Wii would be an understatement, were Jeep known for making cars that are indestructible and are capable of flipping over at a moment’s notice.
Finishing a race in Jeep Thrills is an accomplishment. Not because the AI will leave you in the dust or because the maps are treacherous, it’s because the controls are the worst ever for a racing game: one button for gas, one for brake/reverse, and five for boost. Tilting the Wii Mote steers the Jeep, which sounds like a good idea in theory, leads to more crashes than one could expect. Thrills is terrible at registering the movements of the controller. The only option for steering is over correcting.
Most of the maps have a few different routes to take, and if these maps looked good it might have been worth playing. The problem with the multiple routes is the AI. As with many racing games, after finishing a race, stats pop up telling you about who was which position. Behind that, the AI keeps racing along. On some tracks, if you angle it right, the AI is forced down an alternate path. This breaks the AI. Only one path was programmed into these cars, and being on a new one scares it. The AI Jeeps will attempt to drive up walls and through lakes to avoid being on these tracks. It will never occur to these cars to drive forwards or backwards to a fork in the road. These Jeeps will try and drive up a wall forever. It’s a shame the steering and AI are so poor, as this could have gone down as a mediocre racing game.
“Have you ever wondered what the inside of a Rubik’s Cube looks like?” This is the less than thought provoking question raised on the box for Rubik’s World. The answer is either “a city inhabited by ‘cubies’” or “a father about to beat his child for breaking his Rubik’s Cube,” depending on if you ask a marketer for Rubik’s World or an angry father in the 80’s. The “cubies” that inhabit the inside of a Rubik’s Cube are colored cubes, and, boy, do they know how to party.
Venturing into Rubik’s World will give you a whole bunch of puzzles to solve, all of which involve moving cubes. Some of the puzzles require stacking and some require turning, but none of them are enjoyable. The different puzzles have three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. The easy level is insultingly simple, and the medium difficulty is challenging enough to ensure the Wii Mote will fly out of your hand and through your TV.
Putting aside the awful puzzles and the fact that this is not what the inside of Rubik’s Cube looks like, Rubik’s World has one bright spot: the “create” section. Apparently, the “cubies” have never been outside and are curious as to what things are. By building different shapes, you teach them all what clouds and trees look like. Back in the city, the trees you created line the streets, and the clouds you designed float in the sky. If you’re as immature as I am, penises will be prominent throughout the remainder of this child-friendly game.
Guinness World Records: The Video Game
While playing a game based off a book that lists things to make you feel unaccomplished, lots of thoughts rushed through my mind. The main one was “why does this game exist?” It was a very pressing matter as I sat there waving the Wii Motes like a turtle on its back. Guinness World Records consists of mini games ranging from bad to soul crushingly awful.
The plot of the game is your character is trying to break all the records in the book. All of them. By the way, the character is around fifteen years old, judging from his or her appearance. Having this adolescent get the record for most tattoos felt a little strange; however, the tattooing mini game, which involved waving the Wii Motes at the screen until a tattoo was colored in, was one of the highlights. I use “highlight” loosely, mind you. The highlight of Guinness World Records is still the video game equivalent of breaking off a toe nail.
Guinness does manage to succeed where most games do not. Most video games don’t second as therapy. Yet, while trying to break the record for world’s longest finger nails (done by tracing a looping line and having your character’s nails follow the same path), I was forced to think about all the mistakes I made that lead me to that moment.
Tamagotchi: Party On!
As with many people, I assumed Tamagotchis died many years ago. Much to my surprise, there have been fifteen Tamagotchi video games released, mostly in Japan. The egg shaped virtual pet was a much bigger phenomenon than I remember apparently. There was only one Tamagotchi game released on the Wii, as opposed to the seven that have been released on the DS.
For the Wii debut of this cheap toy, Party On! could not have been more of a disappointment. Well, disappointing for people that expected something good out of a Mario Party rip off starring keychains. Party On! is exactly what everyone else expected. There are many similarities between this and Mario Party (board game, play with three friends, the winner is never decided due to skill); however, the key difference is that Mario Party manages to offer some fun for the people playing by having mini games where everyone joins in. The mini games of Party On! are played solo and offer the exact opposite of fun. This game managed to ruin my favorite hobby of jumping on a trampoline and throwing acorns at squirrels (an actual mini game).
Most people don’t play party games for the enjoyment or sense of camaraderie amongst their friends; they play party games for the plot. Unfortunately, Party On! has an awful, confusing plot. The Tamagotchis are running for president of...something. The winner of the election is decided by who has the most popularity, which is handed out randomly. There are multiple elections per game, and whoever is elected president the most wins the election and is elected president. An election happens about once ever half hour. Players can decide how many elections there are per game, and this number can go up to fifty. For the hard of math, that means the game would last twenty five hours. Over a day of electing key chains to public office and throwing acorns at squirrels.
There are plenty of virtual pet games on the market. None are full blown puppy simulators like Puppy Luv. Also, none are as boring as Puppy Luv. Puppy Luv is all the fun of having a real puppy, but instead of feeling your puppy cuddle with you and lick you, you get a soulless abomination that only stares and never dies.
Pupply Luv offers few ways to play: feeding, training, and playing are all of them. You can take the dog on walks and enter in competitions. The walks are just a badly done movie of a dog skipping and peeing, so that doesn’t really count as playing. The competitions are the exact same as playing and training, just in a different environment. To play with the puppy, use the Wii Mote to give a few commands, such as roll over, sit, and give me my money back for this stupid game. The best approach for any of these is reading the instructions given to you by the game, waving your arms in the proper motion, and then yelling at the game to work.
If your patience is strong enough to stay with the game long enough to have your puppy perform a trick, the narrator will jut in with some great reinforcement for the dog. These phrases are truly heart warming and include “such a cool puppy” and “you’re such a clever puppy.” Wether the ability to roll on the ground deems someone clever or cool has yet to be decided, but this puppy can do that and more.
The Naked Brothers Band The Video Game
Someone, somewhere thought that this Nickelodeon show needed a tie in. Someone else realized parents would spend lots of money buying this game for their children. Further down the line, a game designer saw Guitar Hero was popular and decided to ride its coattails as much as possible. The end result is a fine piece of shovelware that doesn’t resemble a rhythm game or The Naked Brothers Band.
Full disclosure: I have never seen an episode of The Naked Brothers Band. While it may be bold to claim a game doesn’t resemble its source material without having seen the source material, I have a feeling most anyone would agree with me. For instance, the TV show probably has people move and speak. In the game, the characters pick a pose to stay in and a blurb of text tells us what they are saying. This is made almost more unnerving since the characters sway as if they are people attempting to hold a ridiculous pose but can’t do it. The swaying, plus the background moving behind the characters, enforces the idea that at some point in time, these characters were meant to move, but the developers found out that meant work.
But, come on, who’s playing this rhythm game for the cut scenes? The songs are the main appeal. To fans of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, this bastardization of the genre will only remind players of what their lives could have been. Unlike most rhythm games, if one makes a mistake, the song doesn’t falter. In fact, let’s say you’re singing. If you sit there doing nothing and simply watch all the notes go by, the song plays fine, and the crowd keeps on dancing. The Naked Brothers Band teaches children they can coast through life and still be told they’re great.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Why is the only word that comes to mind when playing a game based off of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. This is mostly asked in regards to this game’s existence, but works quite well with every aspect of the game. For instance, why would a game about singing chipmunks have none of their mouths move? Or, why don’t they blink? Or, why did I spend so much time playing this game?
Gameplay in Squeakquel consists of singing songs as the chipmunks on stage during their world tour. All of their hit songs are there, none of which I had heard before or know the name of. In order to sing these songs, you shake the Wii Mote and Nunchucks for different notes. There is no skill involved: constantly shaking the controller works well enough. Each chipmunk has a special, solo bit with a different way to play. The blue chipmunk requires moving the Wii Mote up and down, while the green chipmunk requires moving the Wii Mote left and right.
After playing an amount of time of Squeakquel that, according to the Geneva Convention, counts as torture, I have no idea if you control the singing or the dancing of the chipmunks. The box says you sing with the chipmunks, and the tutorial teaches you how to hit different notes. However, if none of the notes are hit, the singing continues and doesn’t falter. Instead, the dancing begins to fail. The chipmunks start acting drunk: swaying, moving erratically, and falling over. Once they have fully fallen over, the singing still keeps going.
Build-A-Bear Workshop: A Friend Fur All Seasons
It’s almost Christmas. Your child loves stuffed animals and goes apeshit for Build-A-Bear, but you can’t afford another visit to the workshop. There’s only one solution: get this game for a few bucks, wrap it up, and give your child a letter from “Santa” about everything bad they did this year. It’s your only hope in saving money and reminding your child that if they don’t shape up, it’s the gulag next year.
This subtle reminder will definitely work as Build-A-Bear: Friend Fur is the worst game I’ve ever played. That’s not an exaggeration. After booting up the game, the first thing greeting players are two talking stuffed animals, only their mouths don’t move. They look like cardboard cutouts, and their eyes are completely dead. Next, you build your character, choosing from a bunny, bear, or dog. Give the character an animal sound to go with it to finish up the customization. There’s one problem, though: there are no bunny, bear, or dog sounds. I gave my bunny a cat howling in pain. Really, this is the same sound I hear when I break my cat’s legs.
Once your character is created, it’s adventure time. This adventure consists of sailing on the FriendShip and trying to live through a barrage of bear puns given by your friends Bearemy and Pawlette. The goal of the game is to travel to the Build-A-Bear Castle and attend a party. There are a few stops along the way, and you have to find the pieces of the map to get there. One troubling lesson children pick up from this game is that it’s OK to leave dock with a torn map, so be careful and fully explain to your child maritime safety when playing this game.
There are bears to meet and games to play. The games are mostly “shake the Wii Mote up and down” or “shake the Wii Mote side to side.” The bears that give out these games look like card board cut outs covered in cheap felt. Not to worry, the animations in this game are even worse; walking looks like a drunkard riddled with polio attempting to moonwalk. It might be too critical to call a children’s game out on poor graphics and animations, but the developers should be reminded of the half-assed job they did.
Article by Chris Lohr
Chris Lohr is a freelance writer currently in film school. If you’re looking for him to write for your website, manifesto, or Russian bride catalogue, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put today’s date as the subject line and include a picture of yourself. Must be DDD free and willing to host. All Articles by Chris.