Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Digging in the Dirt

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This!? is an unabashedly quirky and satirical game that oozes with creativity and originality at every turn. Unfortunately, this hefty dose of originality is also its undoing as its main gameplay mechanic ultimately comes across as imprecise and undercooked.

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? screenshot

In Badman, you play as a God of Destruction who holds dominion over an unholy cavern with the potential to spawn untold numbers of powerful creatures. The object of the game is to fend off would-be heroes as they attempt to penetrate your defenses and capture the overlord of the cave.

This concept is by far its greatest selling point, and it’s a deliberately satirical look at the opposing side of late 1980s role-playing games. When this theme is front and center, the game flourishes, and anybody who is even remotely familiar with the clichés and conventions of that era of gaming will be hard-pressed not to betray at least a few chuckles. Veterans of that genre will likely find in Badman’s humor a sort of love letter to that time long since past.

The graphics and visual style continue to complement the retro theme of the title. Visuals throughout the game appear in an old-school, big block pixel look that hearkens back to the RPGs of old. Nothing is remarkably good looking, but the smart choice of style provides a continuity through the game that ties much of it together.

The sound effects and music are effective in establishing that tone of the late 80s RPG. However, there are just too few sound effects, and they can start to get obnoxious by the end. Plus, whether or not the music in the game is meant to be a throw-back, you’ll still be extremely sick of heroic fifes and flutes by the time you’re done playing.

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? screenshot

One problem evident in this game is that even though Badman positions itself as a game for people who love old-school role-playing games, the gameplay itself has absolutely nothing in common with those games, except perhaps for its extreme difficulty.

So, instead of continuing the joke with more self-referential humor that extends into the gameplay, we’re given the exceedingly interesting, yet somewhat boring and inexact “ecosystem” based gameplay.

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? screenshot

During gameplay, you control a magical pickaxe that carves tunnels through your cavern. You’re essentially creating one of the dungeons you played a thousand times in old-school RPGs. The catch is that monsters aren’t placed in the dungeon, but are actually grown and manifested through an ecosystem that you help create.

As you dig deep into the subterranean levels, you’ll often crack open blocks that have “nutrients” in them which will result in basic creatures (green blobs) to defend your cave. Those creatures then spread nutrients around to other blocks to create other creatures. Those creatures might feed on the green blobs to grow in power and eventually reproduce. This leads to the development of an ecosystem in your cave.

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.

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? screenshot

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.

Badman features highly pixelated, decidedly low-end graphics that lend perfectly to its retro theme, but they’re nothing to gawk at. 4.0 Control
The controls are simple, but effective. There’s not really that many actions to take which leads to a very simple control scheme. It’s point and click, mostly. 2.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects and music sound like they’re pulled straight from 1988. Amusing at first, but there’s too few of them and they start to grate after a while. The same song over and over gets a little stale too. 3.7 Play Value
The ecosystem gameplay is imprecise and extremely challenging, but it is rewarding when it does work. There’s a lot to learn about the game environment and how everything functions. 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Become the God of Destruction.
  • Tons of great retro RPG humor and satire.
  • Spawn powerful monsters by growing them in a natural selection infused growing ecosystem.

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