July 23, 2011 2 Comments
Parody games are all over the indie market like some kind of horrible sick-inducing thing whose name escapes me. Some of them, like Breath of Death VII turn out to be quite okay. Most of them simply exist to compensate for a lack of talent. Plague falls somewhere in the middle. Well, the bottom of the middle. It can easily smell the shit piling up from where it sits is what I’m saying.
Plague is a side-scrolling shooter that borrows heavily from Contra and lampoons everything else. You play as a group of computer thingies out to stop the spread of a computer virus through various video games. The story is told tongue in cheek style, which might have been a poor choice because if you hold your tongue in your cheek you could begin to gag a little. The dialog tries way too hard and the humor seems forced, like when a spoof of Luigi shows up and talks about bitch-slapping the princess. I guess this is somehow supposed to be funny, but it’s hardly original. Myself and every other Mario player out there have fantasized about him just chucking her needy ass into a lava pit and hooking up with Bowser.
Oh wait, that was just me?
Once you get rid of all the bad writing you’re left with a functional but bland Contra clone. You run, you jump, you shoot stuff. There’s a large variety of weapons, some of them themed from other games. There’s a gun that shoots stars Kirby style. There’s a gun that shoots Lemmings. There’s one that shoots asteroids that break apart into smaller asteroids. I’m pretty sure that gun was inspired by Pole Position. Most of the guns function well, and some of them, like the Portal themed one, work really well. Others, like the freeze gun, are practically worthless.
I had big issues with the difficulty curve. Around level 3-3, it seemed like every single enemy suddenly had the ability to kill me in a couple of shots. This, combined with the fact that every part of the stage seemed to be vomiting out green snot that drains your health away meant that I was dying practically before the level loaded. I almost gave up, then I remembered that I was a girl and that Women’s Lib has been out of vogue for a couple of decades now. So I embraced my vagina and set the difficulty to easy. And this did help, a little. I guess. Not really actually. By the next level, which was themed after Warcraft (because by God there’s a game that hasn’t been made fun of enough) I gave up after about ten seconds and legged it for the finish. A sad moment for me, for sure. But sadder for the developer, because my strategy worked.
I think most of the levels were designed with co-op in mind, and that’s a problem. There are way too many enemies for one person to handle most of the time. There was nobody around when I played Plague so I didn’t experience it using the option. I’m not sure I could have convinced my friends to give it a try. It would be a tough sell. It doesn’t look bad and it doesn’t necessarily play bad. But Plague manages to be less than the sum of its parts. Everything about it is good enough to be functional and nothing more. It’s a Toyota, that’s what it is. It’ll get you there but you won’t have a good time riding it. People desperately looking for a modern Contra who already burned through Hard Corps: Uprising might enjoy this one. Everyone else should avoid it like the oh fuck these jokes just write themselves now don’t they?
80 Microsoft Points should have been vaccinated in the making of this review.