Monday, February 1, 2010

Game Review: Cartoon Hero

Today's game that I'll be raking over hot coals-er, reviewing-is called Cartoon Hero.

First, though, I want to note something about the site I played it on.

Games like these are often distributed on literally hundreds of sites. If one isn't working, just go to some other site and there it'll be. (I would have used Free Online for this, as it's the first place I found the game, but it's been working pretty spottily for the past half a year.) Today, for this review, I used a site called Flashrolls, which nicely lacks advertisements in one's face. However, there was this rather odd disclaimer...

"Tortious?" I don't think that's a word. Also, what in the world do they mean by that?

They might be referring to legal action, in which case this game might be in trouble, because it's got a rather questionably familiar image on its menu screen.

Of course, the game itself looks nothing, and I do mean nothing, like this, so if they just hired an artist to do a quick bit of art they'd be fine.

If they were trying to say torturous, on the other hand, then they're in trouble. Because this game is really, really annoying.

Granted, it's a fighting game, which is neither my cup of tea nor my bag of chips, but things already look ominous in the explanatory screen at the beginning: One of the "combo" maneuvers appears to be pushing the same button simultaneously.

Of course, that's not how it works, and the game explains how it works if you play it, but it's still confusing.

The game gives you a choice of playing either a team of three colorful losers or one gray-wearing cool dude. You should go with the cool dude, because he's much better in every possible way. No, really, he is.

If you're insane enough to start with the colorful guys, you'll probably notice that you only actually seem to have access to one of them. If you want access to one of the others, it's quite simple to swap them out: The C key changes your "weapon," i.e. tags your current guy out. The first time I played the team, I had a lot of trouble because I kept hitting C accidentally, my dude ran away and another one jumped in, and it just happened over and over and over again.

But as I've already stated, they're lame. (For instance, the yellow guy is so slow you can barely use him.) I'd rather go with "solo infiltration," whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. Apparently being solo involves having drills for hands, but whatever. (And in case you're curious, in this case the C key involves the hero swapping out his drills for... more differenter drills. Which aren't that different at all.)

Anyway, like most fighting games, the levels are populated by suicidally stupid mooks. These guys have itty-bitty drills for hands; since the first boss also has drills for hands, it gets kinda repetitive. They've got three strategies: Run suicidally right into your attacks and die; try to jump over your head and/or kick you inna face; and stand behind you while poking you with their little drills.

Considering how pathetically weak they are, they're horribly irritating. They probably wouldn't be, except that the controls are clunky. While they're well-arranged on the keyboard, your character has all the reflexes of a drunken cactus, and so your guy will sit there swinging for a full second or so while you're trying to turn around, or he'll take a second to start a leap which you needed that second in order to leap over an attack. In the second level, there's a mook with a ranged attack who's even more irritating. (Also, it's a bloody hard game to review, because there's no pause button. I could generally only take one screenshot per playthrough.)

(I'll take a moment to mention the graphics: They're very boring, but they're also very functional. Sure, it doesn't look particularly cool or anything, certainly not compared to plenty of other free games out there, but it never glitches and it never bugs.)

Later, you fight the boss, which is a turtle with, you guessed it, missile drills for hands. (This is hardly a spoiler; he shows up in a cutscene at the beginning.) Like a lot of fighting game bosses, unlike you and the mooks, he can continue attacking even when being pounded. Which is annoying. (I really don't know why anybody likes that kind of fighting game, which you might be able to tell. Even without that being the second time I've announced the fact.)

Eventually, you'll reduce his life bar to nothing, and the game will tell you to press C twice. When you do, it'll be the only time in the game that the team guys shine: They all show up and shoot him.

The other dude just shoots his drills at the boss. I guess when all you have is a drill...

Then, surprise surprise, the boss grows into a giant even though you just vaporized him. Neat trick if you can pull it off, I suppose.

When you play as the team, you get this colorful robot. It is actually the main reason why I label the team useless, sadly: It is also a lame robot.

His only basic attack (which, since this is a fighting game, you need to use frequently in order to build up his "combo meter") is a slow, rather weak punch with a very short reach, and he's so darned SLOW in every possible way. So is the boss most of the time, but he can also move very quickly when he's using his boss moves, so if you take this route, you're pretty much dead. (Unless, perhaps, you're a much better gamer than I am.)

No, leave the colorful guys alone. If this game teaches you anything, it's that it's better to be a dark loner with drills for hands than part of a team.

Anyway, here's the other guy's robot.

While he's slow and awkward like the other one, he's not quite as slow and awkward, his special attacks don't completely stink, and his punch is stronger, faster, and has great range, since he actually launches his drills a short distance when you swing.

Needless to say, this is the only way I've ever made it past the first boss. If you get this far, he demonstrates that drills are awesome by turning his drill into a mile-long lightsaber.

Sadly, that's probably the only cool part of this game, and it takes a lot of work to get there.

Even worse, the second boss is nearly invincible.

If you think my performance there was bad (look at their health bars), I hate to admit it but that was by far the best I ever did against that boss. Sometimes, I didn't even manage to land one hit.

It wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for this Bokosuka Wars style game over screen...

I beg to differ, Cartoon Hero game over screen. I beg to differ.

-Signing off.

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