25/02/2015

BASKETBALL NIGHTMARE (MASTER SYSTEM)

The closest I've ever been to a basketball nightmare was trying to dribble one between my legs when I was a kid, only for it to bounce up and whack me in the plums. Let's hope that Sega's 1989 Master System monster-dunk-em-up Basketball Nightmare is a less painful experience.


Okay, sure, that's a fairly nightmarish bit of typography, although I feel it suffers somewhat by having that hint of green at the bottom. Without the green it would obviously just look fiery, with the pastel green there's the faint suggestion that it might actually be rainbow-coloured. The logo does at least let you know that Basketball Nightmare isn't a standard basketball game, because serious sports simulations don't generally have logos that look as though they were traced from the VHS cover of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. So, how is Basketball Nightmare different from NBA Live or even Barkley: Shut Up and Jam? Well, as there are no real options to fiddle with or cutscenes to watch, we can get straight into that.


It doesn't look like I'll be playing for the Best Basketball Team Super Trophy or whatever it is they give to best team at the end of an NBA season. This isn't even college basketball, unless that's Hell-Pit Polytechnic up at the top-right. No, this is something... different.


It's still basketball, though! America's Third-Favourite Pastime! Hyper-Netball! You know how it works. Even I know how it works, although that is entirely because of NBA Jam. Pretty much everything I know about basketball is down to playing NBA Jam. As far as I know, Scottie Pippen is still the best basketball player in the world. In any case, Basketball Nightmare is a basketball game. Your goal is to get the ball in the basket more times than the other team. To this end, you can pass the ball between your teammates, you can jump into the air, you can throw the ball towards the basket. You know, basketball stuff. Oh, and your first opponents are a team of goddamn werewolves.


These werewolves can even pull off totally sweet upside-down dunks, because Teen Wolf was only the first wave in a coordinated media indoctrination campaign aimed at convincing the public that being part dog makes a person really good at basketball. Operation K9-DUNK was designed to soften public opinion on the possibility of creating a new basketball league comprised of grotesque Dr. Moreau-esque manimal hybrids. The Chicago Bulls? Now actual bulls, with genetically-engineered opposable thumbs that allow them to grip the ball! The Minnesota Timberwolves? They'll probably win the play-offs, because we all know wolves are great at basketball! The Toronto Raptors? A terrifying experiment that went awry, resulting in several hundred deaths, the details of the incident being permanently expunged from the record!


It's a shame, then, that I'm stuck playing as a team of identical redheaded quintuplets. They are not nearly as interesting as werewolves, but they also don't seem to be inferior to the werewolves, either - they're just as good at shooting, they're just as fast and they don't have the handicap of stopping every few minutes to sniff each other's backsides.


Your team can dunk, too, despite being about four feet tall. This is not as impressive as seeing a werewolf dunk - your players don't flip upside down or hang from the rim or anything - but you do get a rather jolly little cutscene whenever you pull off a dunk, which is nice but quickly becomes repetitive.


Not that I saw my team's dunk animation very often, because early on I realised that shooting from right down in the corner, outside the three-point line, seemed to have a much, much higher chance of success than any other shot. This makes two-pointers, well, pointless, and because dunks are automated and there's only one cut-scene for them, going for dunks doesn't have the "coolness" factor that might otherwise make you want to use them. No, it's best to just go for three-pointers all the time. They're worth more than two-pointers. I'm terrible at maths and even I know that.


With this knowledge, I managed to squeeze a narrow victory out of my first match. The werewolves' captain turns to look at his team's final points total, as if unable to believe that his team of lycanthropes were defeated by five pudgy kids with oversized heads. Operation K9-DUNK is a failure. Now humanity is condemned to an eternity of regular, boring, human basketball.


Next up is Team Kappa. Kappa, if you didn't know, are Japanese river spirits that engage in all manner of hi-jinx from the prankishly mischievous to the terrifying and harrowing, like trying to steal people's souls by pulling a magical ball out of said person's anus. Hey, I didn't invent these myths, I just read the Wikipedia page. There's no need to worry about rectal soul harvesting today, though, because these kappas are here purely to play some b-ball, having cleared a patch of their marshland home to serve as a court, an old toilet seat nailed to a tree making a passable stand-in for a proper basketball hoop.


Kappa are also said to hold a small amount of water in a divot on the top of their head, and if that water is spilled then the kappa is paralysed and may even die. They should be therefore commended for their commitment to the art of the slam dunk, as they risk their very lives each time they go to the hoop.


Perhaps they're all wearing waterproof yarmulkes or something. Anyway, the kappas don't have to worry about their life-water being jostled loose as I try to win the ball off them, because Basketball Nightmare offers the player almost no defensive measures. You can't swipe at the ball and attempt to steal it, and you can't even jump up to block shots. All you can do when you don't have the ball is change which player you're controlling and try to hold up the opposition by standing in front of them. In the vast majority of cases, if you're standing right in their way the opposition player will just keep running into you, unable to get around you and extremely reluctant to pass the ball to one of their teammates. This is what happens when you assemble a squad of monsters - they're monsters, there's no sense of unity or personal sacrifice for the good of the group to be found there.


The next team is made up of hitotsume-kozou, a Japanese youkai that takes the form of a small bald child with one eye. This is another example of Japanese monsters being about as terrifying as a cucumber sandwich - let's not forget that one of the most famous Japanese monsters is a walking umbrella - and the hitotsume-kozou's single eye surely means that they're going to be as bad as basketball as they are at scaring people. No depth perception is going to all but force them to attempt nothing but dunks.


It may look like this demon-child is falling out of the sky, but he's actually in the middle of doing a flip, the big show-off. The somersault dunk is a pretty impressive achievement considering he's wearing sandals, but it does get less and less impressive when he does it every time he gets near the basket. Familiarity breeds contempt, and if a one-eyed ghost child performing a spinning basketball dunk can become contemptuously over-familiar then it must have been really, really overused.


It's a comprehensive victory for the Tokyo Humans, and it brings more valuable data into the plot to create the ultimate basketball player. Elements to include: being tall, part dog. Elements to avoid: cyclopism, wearing sandals. Next!


Holy shit, a team of basketball vampires. Vampires that play in evening wear and top hats. Basketball vampires. It's incredible. Everyone knows that vampires usually stick to sports that use bats, boom boom, I'll be here all week. I bet the Wallachia Nosferatus here have a deep rivalry with the werewolf team. I know there are many things that could have been done to improve the Twilight saga, but few would be more agreeable than condensing the entire series down into one "Dracula meets the Wolfman" basketball game.


Hmm, the vampires look less impressive when you see them up close. They look like they're wearing massive coke-bottle-lensed glasses that are magnifying their eyes, giving them the appearance of dorky kids rather than bloodthirsty creatures of the night. Still, plus points for making your hoop out of human spines, team vampire. It's very "challenge the forces of death for the right to your immortal soul," like if Ingmar Bergman had been influenced by White Men Can't Jump when making The Seventh Seal.


You might think that being a supernatural creature with enhanced agility and reflexes might give the vampires an unfair advantage, but they're no more difficult to beat than any other team in Basketball Nightmare, and that's because the game's AI is nigh non-existent. Once you've scored a basket - and you will if you remember to keep shooting from the corners - then the computer team get possession and they'll try to run to your basket. Unfortunately for them, ninety-five percent of the time they run in a straight line down the middle of the court, which means you can park one of your players there and the opposition will run into them and get stuck, rubbing up against your player like a cat that's just seen you pick up a can opener. From here, several things can happen. Most often, the opponent will stay fixed in place for a good long time before deciding to pass the ball, allowing you run down the clock if you're in the lead. What you really want to do is win possession, but as I said there's no way to steal the ball manually. So what do you do? Well, eventually I figured out I won the ball more often if I moved towards my own basket in small increments, and I think it's because each time you collide with a player there's a small chance you'll steal the ball, and if you keep tippy-toeing back towards your own net that means more collisions and thus more chances for the ball to change hands.
On paper, this sounds like a really bad system for a basketball videogame to use... and it is. It's terribly limited, forcing every game against the CPU into the same, easily exploitable pattern: rub up against the opposition in the hope that you win the ball. If you don't, no worries, because they always go for dunks whereas you can almost guarantee three points if you shoot from the right place. It's really the only way to play the game, too - even if you try not to exploit the system, there's only so much else you can do in a game as basic as this. And yet, despite all this, Basketball Nightmare still ends up being sort of fun. It's simple, but there's a pleasant chunkiness to both the action and the graphics. You just have to stop thinking of it as a basketball game, because it does a terrible job of being that, and embrace it as it's own weird thing.


Game number five is against a gaggle of spooky old ladies. I assume they're spooky, anyway. Everything else has been thus far, so I doubt that I just showed up and challenged the local over-70s church team to a match.


The ghostly grannies can still get some big air, despite their advanced years. Maybe the invention of basketball is what all Japanese spirit entities have been waiting for, centuries spent scaring the odd peasant while they waited for the NBA to get their act together. I hope that's not the case. It's be sad if they'd waited all that time and then a bunch of children turned up and beat them by doing little more than standing in front of them.
The fact that Sega went so heavy on the specifically Japanese monsters makes it all the more puzzling that Basketball Nightmare wasn't released in Japan, or the US for that matter. As far as I can see it only came out in Europe, Brazil (where the Master System lived an extremely long life) and possibly Canada, none of which I would describe as hotbeds of untapped basketball fans or packed with lovers of Japanese ghost stories. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Brazil is bang into basketball, but it seems a strange release pattern for a game of this type.


The Japanese theme continues with the final team, which is composed of tengu demons. I call them the Big-Nosed Sunburned Granddads, because once I get on the court all politeness and good cheer is stripped away by my relentless desire to win. Don't worry, I'll apologise to them afterwards. Hopefully they won't kidnap my team of small boys and tie them to the top of a tree, as tengu apparently do sometimes.


Okay, that dunk looks really cool. That is also the most impressive basketball hoops I have ever seen, even if it does seem a little sacrilegious.


I was rather hoping that, as my last opponents, Team Tengu would be at least a little more challenging than those that had come before, but sadly that was not the case and they fell into the same set patterns as all the others. I did better against them than anyone else, even, because I'd gotten into the groove a little and also realised that blocking them just inside my half of the court meant they'd sometimes pass the ball back over the halfway line, giving away a foul in the process and turning the ball over to me. Fouls in Basketball Nightmare are handled as arbitrarily as every other aspect of the game, with players being penalised for pushing and charging completely at random when they bump into one another. It has to be at random, because there's nothing you can do to cause a foul beyond walking near someone.


With the tengu defeated, Basketball Nightmare's single-player mode is complete: the humans take the Monster Basketball League trophy, because mankind is truly the most hideous monster of them all. All you get for your trouble is pictures of the various dunks as the credits scroll beneath, but as the amount of effort it took to win was minuscule it seems only right that the ending of the game should be so thin.


There is a two-player versus mode, but it makes the frankly unforgivable error of not allowing you to play as any of the monsters. Instead, you're given a collection of palette-swapped national teams to choose from, none of whom come from the Werewolf Kingdom or a Transylvanian YMCA and are therefore utterly forgettable.


Also, Sega seem to have some very odd ideas about what Cuban people look like.
A lack of monsters aside, the versus mode is probably where you would have gotten most of your Basketball Nightmare fun from had you owned it back in the day - playing against a human eliminates the utter predictability of your opponents, which is the game's biggest flaw, and I'm sure you could wrestle some fun from playing against a friend.


Basketball Nightmare leaves me in an odd position - one where I'm not sure if I can recommend it or not. If I told ten people "you should play this" then I'm sure nine of them would come back and say "what were you thinking, this game is rubbish" and I wouldn't be able to argue with them. It is rubbish, especially if you're looking for "proper" basketball game. It's slow, it's hamstrung by a lack of controls and defensive options and playing against the computer is all but pointless... and yet still I had fun playing it. The slam-dunking vampires certainly didn't hurt, but there was more to it than that. Maybe the simplicity drew me in, I can't really say. It's a lot like Super Soccer in that it's a poor recreation of the sport that it's based on, but once you accept it as it's own unique thing then there's maybe a little pleasure in it for certain people. Plus, it has slam-dunking vampires. I know I mentioned that a minute ago. It isn't something you can mention too many times.

21/02/2015

IMAGINE: DOCTOR (NINTENDO DS)

I'd like to begin this article by apologising to my mother, because this is probably the closest I'm ever going to get to having a decent, respectable career. Sorry, ma. Perhaps today's game will offer me a window into another existence, one where I didn't waste my life playing videogames - it's Ubisoft's 2009 Nintendo DS General-Practicioner-em-up Imagine: Doctor!



Imagine: Doctor: that's what I'd have to do when I'm ill if it wasn't for the NHS, so three cheers for public healthcare. Ubisoft's Imagine games are a series of around fifty-or-so simulation titles, as long as you're willing to accept the loosest possible definition of the word "simulation," primarily aimed at girls and covering such topics as babies, wedding design and fashion. I'm told that those are things young girls like their videogames to be based around, which came as some surprise to me - when I was a nipper, girls liked playing Sonic the Hedgehog and Zelda. You know, actual games. Funny how times change.
The Imagine games are probably best-known to a certain section of the gaming public thanks to the time IGN gave Imagine: Party Babyz a much higher review score than the wonderful God Hand, this providing the most concrete evidence yet for the total irrelevance of all human endeavour. If Imagine: Doctor turns out to be better than God Hand, I will eat my own hands. That seems incredibly unlikely, however. There's a decent chance that eating my own hands would be better than Imagine: Doctor.


This is the doctor that we'll be imagining throughout the game, our very thoughts and daydreams giving her agency and purpose. Her name is Katie, but you can call her Doctor Katie. Don't be mislead by her supermodel looks and cheerful demeanour - aside from a few unusual quirks, Doctor Katie is a competent and well-liked physician. She's Medically Blonde, if you will, and as Imagine: Doctor begins Doctor Katie is excited for her first day working at her very own practise. I'm excited, too. We're all excited. I can't wait to get in there and start identifying weeping sores and hacking off infected limbs.


The day gets off to an inauspicious start when, before a single patient has even walked through the door, Katie's assistant Helena manages to give herself a paper cut. Oh, Helena, I spent the whole game half-expecting you to take off your glasses and let your hair down, shocking everyone with the revelation that you really are beautiful enough to be prom queen / the popular kid's girlfriend / a semi-successful catalogue model. That never happened, though, or at least as not as far as I saw.
Because she's such a nice person, Doctor Katie restrains herself from shouting "just put a plaster on it, you dope," at Helena, and instead offers her medical expertise to help Helena with this savage wound. Don't worry, Helena, she'll just take the bill out of your wages.


Here's our first experience of hands-on doctoring, and as expected - and as I'm sure you guessed - it takes the form of an incredibly simple bit of touch-screen manipulation. Using the DS' stylus, you grab the cotton wool ball, dip it in that small bowl of taramasalata and then smear it all over the cut on Helena's... hold on, what part of Helena's body is that? I assumed that this paper cut was going to be on her finger, but that does not look like a finger. It looks far too large. Did you manage to give yourself a paper cut on the thigh, Helena? What the hell were you doing in the filing room? C'mon, Helena, get it together. Don't make me regret hiring you before we've even reached lunch on the first day of work.
That brief introduction to the absorbing world of wound disinfection is enough to solve Helena's problems, and with her out of the way Doctor Katie can see to some patients with actual medical issues. First up: a lady who has to go to the toilet a lot.


See? This is how 95% of Imagine: Doctor works: patients come in and explain their symptoms, almost always in the categories of "feeling generally unwell" and "I fell down like a big clumsy oaf and now my leg hurts." You run a few tests via incredibly basic touch-screen mini-"games" and then give them some pills, next patient, repeat.


For example, here we start by taking the patients's temperature by grabbing the thermometer and moving it slightly to the left until it's stuck under the patient's lip in a graphical display of how lips don't work. That's it, congratulations, task accomplished.


Ye Gods, according to the readings on this Fisher-Price My First Thermometer, this woman is on fire! I'm sorry, love, but I think you're beyond my help. Write down this number and then call the fire brigade for help. It's nine, nine, nine. Got that? Good. Now get out of my office before you singe my tongue depressors.


After getting the patient's temperature, Doctor Katie needs their heart rate, and there's only one way to get it - by going through possibly the most tedious task ever included in what you might generously call a videogame! The little pulse dot travels along the screen, and when it reaches the top of a beat - indicated by a red dot and a beeping noise - you tap the button to count it. This takes about thirty seconds. It's amazing how much regret about the direction your life has taken you can pack into thirty seconds. Turns out it's a lot.
Once you've suffered through this digital equivalent of disinterestedly clicking a ball-point pen in and out  for a while, you're given the patient's heart rate and told to write it down. Thankfully, Imagine: Doctor's handwriting detection worked rather well, although I did have a lot of trouble getting it to register the number eight. I can't blame the game for that, though, because I write my eights with a strong leftward slant. It's just a shame that the patients heart rate seemed to end in eight every single bloody time.


This poor lady has gastroenteritis, so Doctor Katie is prescribing her some Bellyden Sir. I think I just realised that's probably supposed to be a pun on "belly dancer" and I wish I hadn't. Maybe they gave it a jokey name to distract from the fact it says "Heavy DIGESTIVE PROBLEM" right there for everyone to see, as if the patient doesn't feel bad enough already.


Once you've filled out the prescription by laboriously dragging the correct number of pills into the appropriate places on a daily chart, all that's left is to sign the prescription to make it legal. This time I signed it as though I were Doctor Katie herself, but any old scribble will be accepted by the game, so if you want to sign your prescriptions Dr. Dumbass or Josef Mengele or simply by drawing an obscene cartoon of a penis, then have at it. Not that I ever did anything so immature, of course.


Aside from illness, the other thing you'll be dealing with is physical injury. I said that Doctor Katie has some quirks, and one of them is that she apparently does not believe the evidence of her own eyes, her faith in medical science being so absolute that she will not make a judgement on an injury or infection before she takes a photograph of it and then cross-references that photograph with her Big Book of Painful Things until she finds a match. In this example, a man comes in and tells Katie he burned his leg. She then photographs the burn and finds a matching picture of a burn before proceeding. She's either extremely thorough or has zero self-confidence.


"Red Blotch"? That a medical term, is it? C'mon, Doctor Katie, get your head in the game!


Maybe a little makeover will give Katie the self-belief she needs, I thought to myself, and so I stopped by to let her chose a new lab coat. Yes, there's a (very minor) dressing-up element to this doctor simulator. I went with the classic white lab coat over the soothing sea-green blouse. It looks the most professional, after all. I can't have her in a blue lab coat, she'd look like she was there to check the gas meter or something. Hey, Ubisoft, there's a free one for you - Imagine: Gas Technician! Take meter readings, repair boilers, say you'll be there at nine a.m. but don't show up until some time around four-thirty, little girls the world over will love it.


I am not a religious man, but I definitely offered up a silent prayer that this monkey scratch was going to play out like the start of Brain Dead and soon Doctor Katie would be slicing through hordes of bloodthirsty zombies with a lawnmower. Sadly, it was not to be and Imagine: Doctor remained as resolutely dull as always. That is a huge problem with this game - if you'll permit me a moment of crudeness, it's boring as fuck. It's the same amoeba-brained set of tasks repeated over and over again, and because the patients are randomly generated it's often the same set of tasks in a row as you get a run of patients all coming in with sprained ankles as though it had suddenly become mandatory for the entire population to wear ten-inch stiletto heels at all times. I mean, I know this is a kid's game and I didn't expect to be telling people they had terminal illnesses or anything, but mixing things up a little would definitely have helped.



It's also insultingly easy. There is literally no challenge to the game, and no way to fail: I tried wiggling splinters around in patients bodies instead of pulling them out, I tried prescribing the wrong drugs, but you just keep getting another chance to try again. Even when things were impossible I still couldn't fail. Here, for example, you have to say "aahhh" into the DS's microphone to get the patient to open their mouth, and for a long time I could not get the game to register my "aahhh" thanks to the deep, manly timbre of my voice. It doesn't matter, though, because after a while Helena comes in, says "you seem tired" and does it for you. Let's keep that between us, Helena, I don't think our insurers would be pleased if they found out I was letting the receptionist perform some the examinations, no matter how tired Doctor Katie is getting.
So, what I'm saying is this: if you want a medical game that has a difficulty level higher than "it essentially plays itself" then buy a copy of the board game Operation. If you're a big fan of pointless videogame busy work that feels slightly insulting to girls, then play this. No, don't play this, even if that is what you're after, you weirdo.


Imagine: Doctor isn't all about the crushing monotony of running a medical practise, mind you. A small part of it is about the crushing monotony of maintaining personal relationships, mostly focussed around Doctor Katie's non-Doctor friend Sophie. Here's Sophie now, and she's terribly excited because she just opened her new shop! Then she immediately starts feeling ill and has to close the shop the day after she's opened it, and guess who has to get Sophie back on the road to wellness?


Doctor Muggins here, of course. Katie gives Sophie a check-up in scenes so overflowing with dramatic tension that they make The Soprano look like absolute shite, but she cannot complete the tests because she suspects Sophie may have eye problems but she doesn't have access to any optometrist's equipment. Rather than helping her friend out by directing her to an optician, Doctor Katie decides that if she's going to be a doctor then by god she's going to be all the doctors, a veritable Voltron of different medical specialities combined to create the ultimate healer. It's Sophie that suffers though all this, losing money as her shop stays closed due to her poor health, while Katie must level up enough to be allowed to use an eye-testing kit.


Yup, there's a sort-of RPG experience system in Imagine: Doctor, and each time you perform a task as simple as applying a cutesy heart-shaped plaster to a cut you gain more experience. You'd think that after placing one or two plaster on cuts you'd be familiar enough with the procedure that further repetitions would do little to further your knowledge of medical techniques, but I guess there's always something new to learn. And who are we sticking a plaster on today?


Well, now we know what happened to James Sunderland after the events of Silent Hill 2: he managed to escape the nightmarish prison of his own guilt brought to life by the town's supernatural power, he changed his name to Jason and gained a few pounds.


After many plastered affixed and thermometers jammed into mouths, Doctor Katie has become skilled enough that she can collect the eye-testing kit from Doctor Nakamura. Doctor Nakamura believes spiritual exercise is the best way to cure most health problems, so don't visit him if there's something actually medically wrong with you. Zen meditation ain't going to reattach a severed finger.


With the ability to test eyes firmly under her command, Doctor Katie can now find out what's wrong with Sophie in a thrilling minigame where you tap the letters on the sight chart until Sophie gets one wrong. Then you change the corrective lens and do it again until you have the correct prescription. Ghouls 'n' Ghosts it most certainly is not. I've always suspected that opticians aren't real doctors, and this just confirms it. All that training just to say "is it better with lens one or lens two?", I knew it had to be a scam.


But what's this? A new friend? I detect a potential love interest for Doctor Katie. No, not Sophie, the douchebag with the bad facial hair and the strange neck problem where the back of his neck is much taller than the front. You should get a doctor to take a look at that, pal. If only we knew of one...


Tony here may look like an ass, but he doesn't seem so bad. He has the good manners not to hassle Katie into looking at his injured arm while she's on her lunch break, which is nice of him. Having people forever asking you to check out their minor ailments while you're not on the clock must be the number one worst thing about being a doctor. That and all the death and misery, I mean.


"Then I had to rescue a puppy from a burning orphanage, and then I went out for a trip on my private yacht." This is some Mills and Boon level storytelling, only without the proclamations of dewy bosoms and turgid yearnings, because Imagine: Doctor is meant for children.
I'm sorry if this article has left you captivated by Imagine: Doctor's romantic possibilities, but I will never know what becomes of Katie and Tony's fledgling relationship unless there's someone even dumber than me out there who's willing to play through to the end of the game and tell the world what happens. I couldn't take much more of Imagine: Doctor and I only made it to the end of chapter three, but I'd be willing to bet that Katie and Tony end up together in the end, Katie bestrides the medical profession as an implacable colossus of medical knowledge, and Sophie's shop becomes a massive success despite being closed eighty percent of the time thus far. Actually, now that Sophie's got her contact lenses, her shop should be open, right? Let's go check it out!


Forty hearts for a plain pillow!? What a rip-off! I had to see twelve patients to get those hearts which for some reason we use as currency here in Bizarro-Town! Maybe Doctor Katie should have charged money for her service. Oh well, it confirms that Imagine: Doctor doesn't take place in the USA. I should have know after I treated all those people but never had to turn anyone away because they didn't have medical insurance. What a wonderful Socialist paradise Bizarro-Town is, where everything runs on hugs! Okay, as I'm such a good mood, I'll buy a square lamp and an astonishingly ugly clock, which Doctor Katie can use to decorate her apartment.


You know, I wish I hadn't bothered.
It was around this point I had to stop playing Imagine: Doctor. Progress was tectonically slow, and while I know that later on you can gain access to such medical marvels as allergy testing kits and an x-ray machine, the prospect of adding yet more searingly dull minigames to the roster was ironically giving me a headache.


Rarely have I played a game that has so thoroughly matched my expectations of it. I was certain going in that Imagine: Doctor was going to be be a collection of extremely weak click-n-drag minigames presented in the lowest of low-effort ways, with graphics better suited to a Poundland beauty product and music so bland I think it might be literally unmemorable, and that's exactly what it is. It is repetitive to the extreme, the non-medicine bits are somehow, against the seemingly insurmountable odds, even more boring than the rest and there's not even a sense of humour or fun about it. For example, some tasks require you to breath into the DS's microphone, but they didn't make you breath into it to warm up the stethoscope before you put it on someone's back? C'mon, you really missed a trick there, Ubisoft - it's little things like that which can give a game some sparkle.


"But it's a game for kids," some people will say. Yeah, a game for kids you don't like or who have not been good enough to have any fun in their lives. I've said it before, but kids don't want shit games any more than you do, and the target audience is no excuse for badness.
In conclusion, Imagine: Doctor is a terrible game, it is definitely not as good as God Hand and the person who left an Amazon review of it that reads "gives you and (sic) insight to what it might be like to be a real doctor" is either a liar or a fool.

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