Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Game Review(s): Bowja

In case you can't tell, "Bowja" is a portmanteau of "bow" and "ninja."

Bowja is a short series of short games (less than a full afternoon's worth of gameplay) that admittedly are pretty much aimed entirely at children. And there's nothing wrong with that. (The games are Bowja, Bowja 2, Bowja 3, and the "Bowja 3 expansion," which probably takes place earlier than Bowja 3. Not that the order is important at all.)

The games are scored entirely by how long you take to complete them, because they are actually puzzle games framed as action stories. Enemies aren't really foes so much as puzzles to be solved. All the games have virtually identical gameplay (you click around until you solve the current puzzle).

You use a bow to help solve these "puzzles," often even when it would be the height of absurdity to do so.

Case in point:

Yes, this is a scene in the game.

It almost ends badly, by the way.

Bowja is a surprisingly tough little guy, and takes on all kinds of ninjas and robots and junk. Surprisingly, arrows have little effect on enemies most of the time. This guy, for instance, despite being an ordinary dude, just grumbles at you if you hit him with an arrow.

If you hit that random object behind him with an arrow, though, it breaks, and distracts him...

...and he makes a much easier target. All pretty simple stuff, and great fun for a kid, since it's impossible to actually lose the game. It just takes longer. (That's not to say the games can never be frustrating, or that they present no challenge-but multiple playthroughs tend to be rather less interesting than the first.)

Your goal in this scene, by the way?

Grabbing a giant robot to pilot.

You might think that the game would have trouble being a puzzle if you get to smash stuff at will.

Granted, this has a small element of truth to it...

...but it really doesn't make that much of a difference. You still have to use the same methods, just on a different scale.

And there's always a bigger robot.

At the end of each game, Bowja proclaims "bye-bye" and waves.

This is hardly epic or anything, but they're packed with charm, and there are worse ways to burn an afternoon. They're pretty much perfect games for younger children.

-Signing off.

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