GenreQuest: 3D Platformers – Part 16

Hello, hello, hello and welcome (no this isn’t QI) to another edition of GenreQuest, my mission to play every 3D platformer in existence. This week we have a couple of obscure games and even one based on a famous TV show! Let’s get started.

 


Evil Twin: Cyprien’s Chronicles

It is not often that you come across a game where the overall style and tone are so appealing to you that it overrides all of the negatives that the game has in store for you. That may have somewhat given away my opinion on this game, but trust me the flaws are relatively minor and the style of the game makes them worth looking past.

Evil Twin: Cyprien’s Chronicles is a story about an orphan and his imaginary friend, but despite what it sounds like, there’s nothing sweet or innocent about either the imaginary friend or the orphan. You play as Cyprien, the titular orphan, who finds that after being a sour-puss at his own birthday party all of his friends have gone missing, including his Teddy Lenny. You must then go on an adventure to Lenny’s homeland, Undabed, to save Lenny and defeat the evil master.

The storyline of the game is pretty basic and feels similar to games like American McGee’s Alice series, with which this game shares a lot of themes and styles. This game looks incredibly dark and dreary, which is interesting considering that it comes from a time when games were usually quite bright and colourful. There are splashes of colour here and there throughout the game, but they mainly serve to highlight the weirdness the game holds throughout.

The characters are all stunningly odd looking, like the strange elephant creature that guides you through the levels, the enemies that split down the middle so their head splits in two like those enemies from Silent Hill, and the alchemist who is a weird amalgam of a childhood wizard drawing and a triple pack of padlocks.

The music is another standout, actually adding a lot to the game which is something you don’t tend to see in the PS2 era. It was more of a PS1 thing to have memorable or stunning soundtracks because the visuals weren’t good enough to support the games. By the time the PS2 was in common usage, graphics had begun to improve so more focus was put into them than the music, therefore, soundtracks had a tendency to suffer. (Note: there are still some stunning soundtracks from this era, they just tended to be rarer). Evil Twin manages to have a soundtrack that is enjoyable even without the game and sounds like something that belongs in a movie or TV show with creepy themes.

Level design is pretty good, with everything looking suitably grim and disgusting, as well as quite huge considering the console’s usual limitations. Even though the actual size of the levels might not be too big, everything feels huge which is more important; there’s a constant sense of a world beyond where you are currently exploring.

Having said all of this, there are two main issues that plague this game. The first is the camera which has a tendency to flip around in odd ways and put you off of jumps. Other than that, the game also decides to lock the camera at odd times, meaning you can’t see your way across certain obstacles. The second issue is the controls which tend to be a little difficult at times. The actual jumping and moving around is pretty smooth and easy, but the combat really lets it down. You have two main moves, shooting balls of light and jump slamming into enemies. The issue is that these attacks are very difficult to actually hit anything with, meaning that combat is a bit of a joke.

Overall: The style and music of the game more than make up for its shortcomings. It’s worth playing just to experience the world and characters that inhabit it.

Score: 70/100


 

Frogger: The Great Quest

This one is odd. Frogger has changed a few times since its initial inception back in the Atari days. On the PS1 the series became a bigger version of its old-school self, simply being the gameplay of the older game spread around a huge world. Now for some reason when we transitioned to the PS2, we ended up with a 3D platformer that bears no resemblance to the old game whatsoever.

The story (yes, there’s a story) follows our hero Frogger, who overhears two kids talking about the story of the princess and the frog, and decides to set out on a quest to find a princess to kiss him and turn him into a prince.

The gameplay is…fine? I suppose. The running around works fine, but the jumping is very slippy, you end up overshooting about 80% of the jumps that you try to make. The worst part is probably the swimming, which you do far too much of for my liking. Like with many underwater controls in games, you feel like your control over the character is tenuous at best, and that he takes every button press as a vague suggestion as opposed to a command.

The combat also leaves a lot to be desired, mainly consisting of spitting green phlegm at different arrays of bugs and fish, although you do fight other animals as the game progresses. You don’t really have any other attacks, although you do get magic gems that apparently do a variety of things. Having said that, I haven’t actually gotten many of them to work offensively, only managing to get bonuses to jump and movement speed and things like that.

Visually the game looks quite good for a PS2 game, everything is very bright and colourful matching the light fantasy style that the game seems to be going for. All of the characters are relatively well designed, and manage to look like the things they are supposed to be. Even Frogger looks like an anthropomorphic frog, which is a good thing really.

The level design is fine for the most part, other than the fact that there’s too much water as I mentioned before. The levels do also tend to be a bit claustrophobic and linear, leaving practically no room for exploration in much of the game. There are a few sections that are a bit more ‘hub’ like, but when the game does use these to open up for exploration, it tends to end up with you getting lost amongst the maze-like twist and turns.

Musically the game is bland but inoffensive. The music and effects in the game are just sort of there because the game would sound strange without them. Interestingly the game is fully voiced and most of the voices actually fit quite well, and there’s little to complain about with most of the actual voice acting talent on display here.

Overall: A bland and somewhat boring game characterized by too much swimming and slippy jumping controls. The story is basically just there to furnish the designers with an excuse, and the fact that this game comes from a series based on a frog trying to cross a road is just absurd.

Score: 40/100


 

Futurama

This is a game I’ve been meaning to try out for quite some time. It belongs to an era of video games where there were too many to try all the ones I saw, but I kept seeing more and more of video games as I started hanging out on the internet more often. There were many games that were based on TV shows or movies that I just never got round to trying, and this is one of them.

Futurama is based on the show of the same name for those of you who’ve been stuck in a hole in the ground for the past 20 years, which stars Philip J. Fry as a man who is frozen in time and sent 1,000 years into the future.

The story of the game follows his adventures as the evil robot tycoon Mom takes control of the world, and the protagonists Fry, Bender, and Lela must escape the Earth to try and save the world (sort of), and so their epic quest begins.

The first thing that you begin to notice as you play the game is the fact that all of the graphics actually look like the TV show did, without that tendency to come off as creepy and weird. It’s one of the only games based on a cartoon show that didn’t come out looking worse for the ware when transitioned to 3D, a fate shared by a lot of other popular video game tv show crossovers (Family Guy game, I’m looking at you!).

The humour of the game is also pretty spot on, with most of the jokes seeming like something that came directly from the show itself. This includes a cutscene the first time you die which explains how the lives system works that includes the use of a giant toaster called the re-animator. The world is also filled with tonnes of tiny details like the lockers in the first area that fill the world with either a little bit of character or in some cases references to specific episodes of the show.

At first the gameplay seems like it’s going for a puzzle/collect-a-thon thing, with Fry being tasked with finding a certain number of tools before the level can end. However, the second level is a run through mutant infested sewers with a laser pistol, and unfortunately it doesn’t change from the pew-pew “arrrg” theme for quite some time. Most of the levels consist of mainly running around and killing things with lasers then jumping around different obstacles for a while, at least for the first third of the game where you can only play as Fry.

Luckily, the game actually controls really well. The jumps are smooth and easy to land, and you don’t tend to have an issue with running too fast or slow when walking towards the camera, you feel in control the entire time that you’re playing. While moving around the world, you do still have to collect things like hidden nibblers and bundles of money mainly just for the sake of collecting things.

Thankfully, the gameplay varies a bit more when you get further into the game, turning into something akin to Crash Bandicoot or Jak and Daxter when you play as Bender, and a basic 3D brawler when you play as Leela. Both of these styles of levels are also accompanied by the 3D platforming that you find basically all throughout this game.

The music is good but that’s mainly because it’s just the music from Futurama, and they don’t get extra points for using what they already had going for them. Honestly, it’s Futurama, you didn’t come here for the music, you came here for the show.

Overall: A fun game based on a funny TV show. It only suffers from minor annoyances like a bit of repetitiveness and glitches, but the jokes and fluid gameplay make up for any of its shortcomings. If you’re a fan of Futurama and video games, you owe it to yourself to try this. 

Score: 80/100