Super Brain Eat 3

PlayStation Mobile is to the Vita what Xbox Live Indie Games is to the Xbox 360.  Whether that’s a good thing or not is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.  I wasn’t around for the early stages of XBLIG, but based on what I hear from my buddies Ryan, George, and Justin, the early days were nowhere near the desolate wasteland that PSM is turning into.  Looking at the slate of recent releases, nothing really has caught my fancy for it.  But then again, nothing really caught my eye on iPhone either.  My Vita has been getting a bit dusty though.  Nothing like my Wii U, which currently wears the same amount of dust as your average mummy.

Again, nothing looked like an attractive purchase, so I just sort of had to guess what might surprise me.  So I bet on Super Brain Eat 3.  Probably because it was only 49¢ and I’m like one of those people on their first trip to Vegas who eases into the experience by playing on the wussy tables.  You know, the ones typically occupied by silver-haired old ladies who try and fail to mask the stench of looming decomposition by coating their bodies in musk oil?  Yea, it was like that.  The game was developed by a dude named Thomas Hopper.  He’s the most prolific PSM developer, with six titles on the platform.  I already reviewed one of his, Super Skull Smash GO!  It was a decent little retro platzzle (I got “punisher” into the lexicon, and by gum, I’m going to get “platzzle” in it too), but it had a few problems.  I felt perhaps the game was too married to the retro concept, to the detriment of the controls and physics.

Saying Super Brain Eat 3 is a bit ugly is like saying water is a bit wet.

Saying Super Brain Eat 3 is a bit ugly is like saying water is a bit wet.

I hadn’t played any of Thomas’ other games.  Skull Smash was easily his best looking title, in that it seemed like it would be fun from screen shots, which is really all you have to go off of on the PSM marketplace.  But what gave me cause to worry is that he was perhaps too prolific.  Like maybe he rushes through development too quickly on titles.   Thus, I set my expectations low for Super Brain Eat 3.  And who knows, maybe I set them too low, because I really did have a good time with it.  It’s a Pac-Man style maze game.  Eat brains, avoid ghosts.  You can get special potions that allow you to fire at enemies, or grant you the ability to destroy ghosts by coming in contact with them.  It also features spikes and various other traps on the floor, plus you have to return to the starting door once you eat all the brains on the stage.  Oh, and SBE3 is needlessly gory, with lots of blood splatters as you pick up the brains.  I’m guessing the aim of the developer was to invoke a Doom-like atmosphere into a Pac-Man style maze title.  Personally, I wish he had gone with a different theme and had a more Namco-like 80s skin on this one.  I believe gaming has evolved past the era where gore sells.  Retro is in, and on a platform where developers are struggling to sell on the same level that XBLIGs are, developers really need to do everything in their power to make a game stand out.  Going off screen-shots (which is all you can do on PSM.  No trailers, no demos), Super Brain Eat 3 looks like it would be boring and awful.  A potentially devastating first-impression, like beginning a first date by spelling out your name in Morse Code using armpit farts.

Having missed the era where 4/5ths of games attempted to be like Pac-Man, I’m not as burned out on these type of games as some of my readers seem to be.  Super Brain Eat 3 is genuinely fun and mostly a well-designed title with lots of great ideas at work here.  Sure, the AI is completely brain-dead.  Fitting I suppose, since they are ghosts, which means they’re dead-dead.  They’re so dumb that it should hurt the game, but because they’re vulnerable to the spikes on the floor, you can manipulate them into killing themselves.  I love it.  It takes a potentially negative aspect and makes it beneficial, rewarding, and hilarious.  Enemies that are somewhere off-screen are marked with indicators on the screen’s edge, and you’ll often see them just randomly die.  It never stops being funny.  It also explains how they ended up as ghosts in the first place.

You get a pretty decent amount of levels in Super Brain Eat 3, plus there’s actually two free level packs coming soon.  I would still give the “best game on PSM” nod to OMG-Zombies! or Cubixx, but I think the best value on the platform firmly belongs to Super Brain Eat 3.  It’s only 49 cents.  Nobody would have faulted the developer for releasing those level packs as spinoffs, but he’s giving them away!  Super Brain Eat 3 is not perfect by any means.  The control is a bit on the loose side, which sometimes led to me going a step further than I meant to.  My biggest gripe, and it’s so rare for me to harp on this, is the graphics.  The game looks bad in screen-shots, and only slightly better in motion.  The environments are sterile and there isn’t any variety in the settings.  The level packs look like they will ease that a bit, but not by much.  There are lots of greys, stark reds, and pale greens.  The game itself isn’t boring, but the graphics almost make it feel like it is.  The graphic style does occasionally get in the way too.  The retractable spikes on the floor, for example, are the same color as the floor is.  In a way, it’s heart breaking.  It would be like having an amazing script for a movie and then finding out they’ve cast Ashton Kutcher in the lead and all the monster effects will be done using Play-Doh.

It's ironic that the spikes don't stick out.

It’s ironic that the spikes don’t stick out.

I alternated between thinking the game was rushed or thinking the developer was lazy.  Do you know why that sucks?  Because it drowned out the thoughts of how talented the developer was.  Super Brain Eat 3 is a good game, but it doesn’t look like it will be.  I had six friends who own Vitas (I think this represents 8% of all Vita owners world-wide) look at this title in the store.  They all agreed it would be a bad game.  The trailer did nothing to diminish that thought.  It looks sloppy.  It looks ugly.  It seems to yell “I will be a terrible!”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I promise you, Super Brain Eat 3 is worth at least a buck.  It’s unquestionably worth $0.49.  Which I believe is about double the game’s art budget.

Seal of Approval LargeSuper Brain Eat 3 was developed by TACS Games

$0.49 also couldn’t stand the out-of-place, generic metal sound track in the making of this review.  Developers, you really need to select better music for your games.  Cheap plug: we had an interview on this very site with award-winning composer James Hannigan that discussed that.  Give it a read.

Super Brain Eat 3 is Chick Approved.  And no, apparently there is no Super Brain Eat 1 or 2.  That’s another bone-headed development decision.  I’m guessing it was done to be funny.  Instead, it makes it seem like there’s a whole series of games that got no attention, possibly because they were no good.  How could a game that is so good not get one thing right artistically?  Horrible name.  Ugly graphics.  Very enjoyable game.  You should get it. 

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

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