|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Acquire||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NIS America||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It all sounds really great on paper, but in practice it doesn't work very well, and the penalty when things don't go as you planned is a quick death. The problem comes when more powerful creatures are needed to repel the increasingly powerful goody-two-shoes invaders. A rather precise sequence of events needs to happen in order to summon powerful creatures, which can be an extremely daunting task when you don't have direct control over the creatures in the cave. All you can do is crack open the blocks and maybe suggest the right direction for them to go and hope for the best. Sometimes you'll get lucky, but when the difficulty is as punishing as it is in Badman, you'll need a lot more than a little luck to make it through these stages.
I definitely applaud the team at Acquire for developing a wholly unique gameplay system, but there's another glaring fault. As interesting as it can be to watch an ecosystem in its full glory, the player doesn't play that much of a role in its creation. All you do is dig the blocks and watch it all happen. Not only is it boring at times, but during the rare occasion when everything goes right, you don't even feel like you did something right but rather just got lucky. They have to be lauded though for supplying the player with all of the necessary tools for success. There are a load of great tutorials which help a great deal in helping you to understand the complexities of the ecosystem. And the controls are perfectly serviceable to the task at hand. They're simple, but they get the job done.
Adding to the intense difficulty is the fact that each story mode campaign involves the creation of one continuous dungeon. The whole point is that if you fail, it's because your dungeon was poorly made. Therefore, if you fail, you have to start all the way at the beginning. Because it simply would not do to have you continue playing with a dungeon you already know is flawed, fail once and it's all over.
It doesn't help that there is no multiplayer whatsoever. I know this is a budget title, and gamers can't always have their cake and eat it too, but in this day and age I don't think it's too much to ask. I think it would have made for a really cool ad-hoc mode if one player was the dungeon builder and the other player was the would-be-hero coming to smite the dungeon lord. It would have added a lot to the replay value, and offered some respite from the punishing single-player.
Badman is ultimately a game that will only appeal to those gamers who will be able to fully appreciate its wonderful sense of humor and intense difficulty. This is quite simply a game that will be very difficult to enjoy if you weren't gaming in the 80s and 90s. It's a game that is at times difficult to enjoy, but always easy to appreciate when it comes to humor and ingenuity.
CCC Freelance Writer