Community Game Brief
Contributed by David K. Ginn, who runs the science fiction and television review site The Basestar
Employee: “I’m sorry, but I’m leaving so I can focus my attention on designing a community game for Xbox 360.”
You : “Fine, get out of here, you goddamn hippie. Don’t let the door catch your dreadlocks on the way out!”
A month later, you receive an e-mail from said employee, and the exchange goes like this:
Former Employee: “I forgot to tell you, the name of the game I’m developing is Adventurer Pets HD.”
You: “Holy shit. All you had to say was, ‘I’m leaving to work on the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of.'”
Yet, when you pay 200 MS points for Adventurer Pets HD, you regret your forgiving attitude towards your former employee’s abrupt departure. See, Adventurer Pets HD should, as the title suggests, make you so happy that you’re left in a daze. Instead it’s one more example of the unoriginal, unplayable fodder that threatens to undermine Community Game’s potential for innovation.
Some of that fodder is obvious from the cover art alone, but others, like Adventurer Pets, try to trick you with neat concepts, cool titles and artful avatars in the marketplace listings. In the era of NES box art, no one really believed that Simon Belmont was going to be six feet tall, and they didn’t believe that the maps and characters would really look like a Boris Valejo painting. This isn’t the eighties, though, and even by community game standards, Adventurer Pets HD is a real bait-and-switch.
The graphics and gameplay are on par with the cheapest of flash games, and the promises of adventure are left unfulfilled as the characters die from patrolling enemies whose only real offense is the fact that you don’t have enough control to maneuver around them.
You choose from one of four badly drawn pets, each anthropomorphized with a hearty dose of anime aesthetics. The pets lack any distinct attributes that could give them unique advantages in varying situations. I was disappointed most of all that the bunny didn’t jump any higher or further than the other characters. He was just drawn differently.
The power-ups are barely usable, and overall Adventurer Pets HD seems closer to one of those annoying “Punch George W. Bush and win a PS3!” ads than anything else. There is a multiplayer mode, but you need to unlock the full game for it, and I highly advise against that.
Maybe others, lacking a twisted love for absurdity, won’t look twice at the game. Good for them. There is an organ in my body that makes me rent movies like Die You Zombie Bastards (real), and All Giant Spiders Must be Fucking Killed (dibs!). If you have that organ as well, try Weapon of Choice instead. If you’re looking for nomenclature-related absurdity, try Shoot the Rocks (my personal candidate for best title of the year).
Price: 200 points
Go to Xbox Live Marketplace
Community Game Briefs are short but informative impressions on the ever-expanding Community Games catalogue on Xbox Live. These are not full reviews. The verdict comes in three flavors: AVOID, TRY, or BUY. Anything can be awarded an AVOID or TRY rating, whether I actually buy it or only sample the demo. You can be assured that any game awarded the BUY rating has been purchased and played extensively.