Building the Perfect Beast
So, you saw Igor in the theater, had a good time, and don’t want the fun to end? Well, SouthPeak Interactive brings us the movie tie-in, aptly entitled Igor: The Game. Will it offer a fun fix of gaming on the go, or is this a Frankenstein’s monster?
Igor DS is a strange bird; it’s part Super Puzzle Fighter, part Puzzle Quest, a bit of “collect `em all” thrown in, and then gift wrapped to match the recent movie release. You play as Igor, of course, and you’re on a quest to find your gal, Eva – one of your creations. Although Igor is assistant to evil scientist Dr. Schadenfreude, Igor also likes to dabble in a little bit of god-play himself. However, Igor falls in love with his creation, and when Eva is tricked into running away with jealous Schadenfreude, Igor must battle his way back into the life of his freakish girlfriend.
The game begins by walking you through a few of the basics, but it’s not long before you’re thrown into the thick of it. The premise of Igor: The Game is battling a monster you’ve created. You’ll start out your adventure at the recycle plant, where you can access body parts to create a monster to use in battle. Your ultimate goal, however, is to win the annual Evil Science Fair.
When at the recycle plant, you merely scroll through a list of body parts, select the ones you want, and then head off back to “the laboratory.” Once there, you can create your monster (or create your own monster parts) by selecting the various parts you’ve collected or created. Once your creature is in full physical form, the last step is to brainwash it. You’ll play through a timed puzzle event, and depending upon your level of success, you’ll be allocated a certain amount of hit points (HP) for your latest creation.
Igor DS is pretty light on story, and, the game does a poor job of directing the player through the adventure. Again, you do get some basic instruction on how the mechanics work, but the lay of the land is confusing. You’ll move about the region of Malaria (cute, no?) by way of a 2D overworld map. Using the stylus, you move Igor to any of the available locations; clicking on your present location will call up a menu of options. There are key areas such as the laboratory, hardware store, and recycle plant – as well as other unmarked areas where Igor can pit his monster against other random freaks that inhabit the land – but the overworld interface is very finicky. Simply moving Igor around the map and calling up menus is a chore.
Once you do manage to enter a battle area, however, you get down to the nitty-gritty of the game. The top screen is where you’ll see the battles take place, and the touch screen is where you’ll engage in actual gameplay. Like Tetris, colored power blocks fall from the top of the touch screen – though only two blocks at a time – and you’ll need to match the colored blocks. There are also round orbs that randomly fall, and by matching them up with the corresponding power blocks, you’ll charge up attacks for your monster. There are four attacks – left and right punches, and left and right kicks – each linked to a particular colored power block. Once your attack is sufficiently charged, just tap on the highlighted attack button to initiate the blow. Additionally, as you progress through a battle, you’ll fill up your monster’s evil meter. When the meter is full, you can unleash a special attack by quickly dialing in randomly assigned attack signatures displayed on the top screen.
In execution, it’s a fairly straight-forward gameplay idea that, for the most part, works. Since you’ll be controlling the movement and direction of the falling power blocks with the D-pad and A-button while simultaneously initiating attacks with the touch screen, combat is a bit awkward. But if you can get past the clunky controls and figure certain things out for yourself, there is definitely some fun to be had here.
It’s fun but hard. You’ll really need to utilize the special attacks during most battles in order to come out victorious. However, the game gives you no clue as to when an enemy is close to fully charging an attack, nor are you privy to the enemy’s stats upon first entering a battle. So, it’s often unclear just what you’re up against from start to finish. There seems to be a bit of luck involved, and not being able to anticipate your opponent’s next move makes the gameplay feel a bit like a slug fest – sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. Still, the puzzle element is simple fun for folks who enjoy games like Puzzle Quest and Tetris, and the overall battle formula for Igor DS comes together nicely.
That said, the game is only skin deep, and what you see within the first few minutes is pretty much what you get the whole way through. You’ll have to do a lot of grinding in order to get enough gold to buy recipes to make body parts, as well as collect the necessary ingredients for those parts in order to build a monster who can take on the game’s ridiculously over-powered opponents.
The actual game progression is quite short, but the game holds you back with its arbitrary level of difficulty. So, if you’re okay with doing the same types of battles over and over…and over again, Igor DS might be your kind of game.
On the presentation front, the game is something of a nightmare, which fits the theme of the game just fine but stymies gameplay in grand proportions. The dialogue offers a few tongue-in-cheek tidbits, but the whole affair comes off as lifeless and cheap. What’s worse, however, is how the game leaves you to figure out most aspects of the adventure on your own. It’s got a slapped-together presentation that is sure to leave most players feeling gypped by the time and energy (and money) they put into the experience.
The graphics are decent but nothing more. The top screen battles are 3D, but the monsters and environments are plain, and there’s very little variety of either. The 2D overworld has a nice art style, even if it’s almost impossible to distinguish key destinations, but Igor animates poorly as he moves about the map. The music is fitting, but you hear the same few themes over and over throughout the adventure, and the sound effects are sparse, lending very little to the overall presentation.
Igor: The Game is about as inspired as its name. The combat mechanics, though a bit awkward, work and offer a fair bit of fun, but that will only take you so far. The game is ultimately built upon the one element, and it gets old fast. There is both a single-card and multi-card multiplayer offering, which consists of battling friends, and that may offer some replay value for the game. However, Igor DS feels like little more than an imperative handed down by number crunchers to churn out merchandise associated with the movie; it’s a functioning monster, but it has no soul. If you’re looking for a mildly amusing puzzle adventure, “The Game” might be worth a rent, but your money is likely better spent going to see the movie a second time instead.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
It’s not a bad-looking game, but the 3D graphics are bland, and Igor’s sprite animation while exploring the overworld is poorly rendered. 3.0 Control
Though the controls are simple, using the touch screen and buttons simultaneously is awkward. Additionally, you’ll have to take your eyes off of the puzzle area when initiating special attacks during combat. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Fitting themes, but little variety. The sound effects are sparse, and there is zero voice work. 2.5
The combat is enjoyable if you can get past the clunky control set-up, absurd difficulty, and terrible presentation. Underneath the dressing of collecting monster parts, Igor DS is really a one-trick pony.
2.6 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.