December 3, 2011 6 Comments
Bah, humbug. I hate Christmas themed games. For every Johnny Platform Saves Christmas, there are a dozen horrible yuletide offerings that are more akin to getting a lump of coal in your stocking. And by coal and I meant tumor, and by stocking I meant breast. Seriously, they turned Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the cherished childhood classic, into a Wii game. Is nothing sacred? Hollywood already turned Santa Claus into a self-centered twat using the Tool Time guy, and let us not forget that Will Ferrell played an elf in a movie whose title I forgot. Both those movies spawned some Grinch-like video games, although I’m guessing neither one of them were as bad as the Grinch Dreamcast game my father got me as a gag gift when I was eleven. A dick move on his part for sure, especially after I put so much thought into my gift for him: new brake lines for his car that he could install as soon as he found out that I cut the old ones.
Elfsquad7 sent a shiver down my Scrooge-like spine, but that was based solely on my memories of Jingle All the Way and the smell of the Santa Claus at the Standford Shopping Center. Well, I suppose Peppermint Schnapps is kind of Christmasy. Anyway, going off the screenshots I was expecting something more like a platformer. Instead, it’s more like a gallery shooter with some light hopping and bopping thrown in. Playing as a helper of the jolly socialist thingie, you hop around a small stage, shooting various presents that rain down on you. After a couple of shots, the presents become wrapped and you have to collect them before they bounce off the screen. To clear a stage, you have to get a set number of wrapped gifts before the time limit runs out. You can also unlock items between stages in a shop. Well, thank God they didn’t forget to include all the commercialism aspects of the holidays. ‘Tis the Season!
Elfsquad7, despite the horrible name, is a decent game. It’s not spectacular or anything, but it’s playable, fast paced, and kind of fun. The whole game only takes about ten minutes to play through from start to finish. That doesn’t sound like it’s long enough, but the game is designed with family co-op in mind. I only played one round using the local-only multiplayer, and I realized that ten minutes is perfect. Any longer and things were bound to get stabby. Up to four players can come along for the ride. I don’t even know the names of that many people, so I dragged my father, Whatshisface, into the game with me. Probably not the best idea since this is a game aimed at children, but I have to work with the tools I have. Now I consider my old man a relatively smart guy, but for the life of me I couldn’t get it through his thick skull that every time he walks too far away from me, it tended to make the screen scroll off of me. Thus, I couldn’t see what I was shooting at. This went on the entire game, with me doing the majority of the work and him just wandering around aimlessly like a five-year old. Perfect!
There’s three difficulty settings in Elfsquad7. Easy mode is suited for people playing alone, while I believe that the medium and hard difficulties absolutely require multiple people to finish. The game controls fine, although I found using the butt-stomp jump to be difficult to pull off accurately. The graphics and music are pretty well done. My biggest complaint is that the game often freezes up for a second or two, usually completely at random. It’s as if you’re watching a scratched-up DVD. It was noticeable in single player, and at times highly annoying in multiplayer. Not as annoying as my Pops was, but it needs to be looked into.
I still liked Elfsquad7. It’s a neat little distraction for fifteen minutes, and it’s priced accordingly. I think with four people it might get maddening trying to keep everyone on-screen, especially if you’re playing with young children or their fat, balding, 62-year-old Cuban equivalents. It’s well done ascetically and I’m sure children actually will enjoy it. The controls could be smoother and the choppiness (which I’m sure will get patched out) is irritating, but as a game it’s just fine and it’s worth your money. In fact, you probably should buy it. If it doesn’t sell, the developer is threatening to make his next game be “Zombie Fart Doctor vs. the Obese Ninjas” and.. you know what, change that. Nobody buy this.
80 Microsoft Points are now certain to be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the making of this review.
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