Therefore, when informed I was reviewing a puzzle game, certain preconceptions as to what I’d be facing were already surfacing. The nucleus of making such a game should be simple, right? You have unremarkable graphics combined with an addictive sound track and game play that’s not only uncomplicated, but makes you want to play it until your eye sockets bleed. When it came to Tetris, I used to play it so much I’d dream of blocks during the night and wake up with a raging headache.
So after playing this game, the question keeps circling in my head. How did Oxygen (the developers) get this so wrong?
The basic game consists of a board with 54 squares on it with both teams of hedgehogs (four on each side) on one side of the board, and a bunch of random pictures on the other. The object of the game is to move three of your Hedgehogs from one side to the other. Sounds simple enough right? Perhaps…we’ll get to that in a bit.
The graphics are every bit as uninspiring as I expected, but I can live with that. What I found really bizarre were the animated hedgehogs that show a visual representation of how well you’re doing on the top DS screen. Often, these guys seem to bear little representation to what’s actually taking place. I can be winning (or at least I think I’m winning) and my hedgehog will look like it’s ready to commit suicide. One move later, it’ll switch to looking like it’s won the national lottery.
In terms of sound, it just comes across as lazy. You get a little, quaint track when you’re messing about with the confusing menu system, however; once you hit the actual game there’s no background music to speak of. For what it’s worth, you get a little tune during the process that selects the hedgehog you can move and the hedgehogs themselves making irritating sounds every time they move.
Now we’ll move onto the game play which is where things really start going wrong. From the Oxygen website: “Hurry Up Hedgehog! game play dynamic is based on the popular board game Igel Ärgern” Popular huh? Popular with who? If this board game is so popular then why the hell have I never heard of it? I’ve heard of Snakes and Ladders, Checkers, Ludo…even Buckeroo (all of which, incidentally, are superior to this) but Igel Ärgern? Anyone?
For those of you like myself who’ve never heard of it, here’s Oxygen’s explanation of the game:
“The basic rules are easy. The game consists of three parts:
- A lane is selected in which a hedgehog will move forward. This is called the active lane.
- You have to option of moving a hedgehog from your own team sideways one space into the adjacent lane.
- You may then move any hedgehog one space forward along the active lane.
You turn ends once you’ve made the forward move. The first team to get three hedgehogs home is the winner.”Sound easy? It should be, but just reading this irritates me. Puzzle games are supposed to be intuitive and having played it without the instruction book, I’m already confused just by the menu system. Why is anyone pretentious enough to put an option on the first menu screen to show the credits? Not only that, but if you click it by accident like I did, you can’t skip the damn thing. On the positive side, any poor souls who actually buy this game will know exactly who to hunt down to get retribution.
‘32 different ways to play’ the back of the box screams. Very impressive, until you realise what these options are. You have an option to allow hedgehogs to push each other forward or to the side if they land on the same space or alternatively allow them to all get stacked on top of each other. I bet each and every reader just wet their pants at such an exciting option! I do like the ‘doping option’ though. Not because of what it does, just purely for the fact it insinuates that you’re injecting substances into hedgehogs in what is meant to be a family game. I hope I don’t need to point out why this is really, really wrong.
There are actual problems with the game itself, in addition. Sometimes you’ll have a lane selected that no one can actually do anything with. Would it have hurt Oxygen to have used their intelligence and have the selector ignore lanes like that to speed the game up? You’d be shocked how many times this happens. The game will even select a lane that you should be able to use, but for some unknown reason you can’t. I’ve had situations where I’ve had all four hedgehogs on the brink of victory, only for the computer to come back and win because I just can’t do anything. Frustrating? It’s almost enough to make you want to hunt actual hedgehogs and kick them up the arse just to make sure they remember how to move in a forward direction. On the other hand, why blame innocent creatures? I think the developers deserve the boot in question.
Oxygen should really question what they are doing. As far as this being a kids game, a child is never going to have the patience to learn how to play it and any adult in the world would never even look beyond the packaging – so who are they selling to? And more importantly, who was ever going to enjoy it? I popped into Game to see how much they were selling it for and not only was it not on the list of stocked titles, it’s not even on the list of games getting released. The store staff were not terribly kind when discussing Oxygen, either.
This game would be fine given away with a packet of cereal, but for £19.99? It’s £19.99 too expensive.