Review: It's Pinky and the Brain all over again, minus the whole world domination thing.
Sega's premier sports developer, Visual Concepts, has recently shown that they can break out of their sports shell every now and again to create some truly unique games. The two games that prove this fact are Floigan Brothers and the soon to be released OOGA BOOGA!!! (scared ya eh?) But I'm here to talk all about the recently released Floigan Brothers, a game that has received very mixed reviews so far (one very popular magazine comes to mind), and for good reason, it has its high points with an equal amount of lows. If I remember correctly, the game was in development for quite a long time, three years I think, which means the project started before the Dreamcast was even released. That fact alone probably proves that there was a few difficulties along the way, much of it involving the A.I. no doubt, but all their hard work seems to have paid off, Floigan Brothers provides a rather enjoyable, albeit short gaming experience.
In the game you play the role of guess who? That's right, the Floigan Brothers you genius you, Hoigle and Moigle. Hoigle is the intelligent, smaller brother, while Moigle is the umm? how can I put this nicely? The moronic, dimwitted, fat brother? nice huh? The story involves Hoigle's secret project. Basically it's a treasure hunt, the brothers are in search of the seven parts that are spread out through the junkyard, which also happens to be their place of residence. To make matters worse, the evil Baron Malodorous and his gang of Mercenary Cats, that's right?Mercenary freakin' Cats, are trying to take over your junkyard. You don't think the brothers are doing to sit idly by and let their home be taken over do you? Hell no. Come and enter the world of slapstick humor, ingenious A.I., and puzzle solving that is the Floigan Brothers.
Floigan Brothers contains a relatively unique gameplay system. You have direct control over the character of Hoigle, you scamper around the junkyard until you run into a puzzle, what to do what to do? This is where your younger brother comes into play. Hoigle must use his superior know how to trick his brother into accomplishing tasks that he could otherwise not carry out himself. This is done is a variety of ways, but mainly it has to do with Moigle's overall mood, with the combination of what I like to call the ?emotion pads?. This is probably confusing you, wait a sec, I'm confused too so I'll give a few examples. Punch Hoigle and get him real good and pissed off, then run over to an ?anger pad? and stand on it, he'll run over to you, pick you up, roll you into a ball and then hit you with a baseball bat over up to where an item is that you normally couldn't reach. Neat huh?
Another nifty example exploits Moigle's very common fear of spiders, also known as arachnophobia (that's your psychology lesson for the day). Get your younger brother near a spider and he freaks out and runs away, follow him to his hiding place and there just happens to be a ?fear pad? nearby. Now stand on it and something really mean happens, Hoigle scares Moigle, which results in him jumping into the air, and as he comes back down he crashes down on some boxes that were previously blocking your path, viola, path opened. The game is full of these clever, and most importantly entertaining puzzles that have to be used in order to progress and ultimately beat the game.
Now while the ?emotion pads? are mainly used for progressing to a new area of the game, in order to actually obtain the seven parts to what ever Moigle is working on, you will have to complete a variety of tasks. Each piece has it's own unique challenge, whether it be playing chase with your dog, fighting a bomb war with some mean kitties, or getting your bro to overcome his fear of spiders, this gameplay is easily the most entertaining in the game.
If you haven't noticed already the A.I. in the game is impeccable. It truly feels as if your brother has a mind of his own. When he gets bored he starts to play with his yo-yo (the toy you perv), when he's hungry he'll beg you for some food, and when he's happy he usually wants to play game. Unfortunately, you end of playing way too many games. The mini game aspect of Floigan Brothers serves one purpose, to gain points. Moigle has his trusty pen and paper ready to jot down scores, these scores are mainly used to buy or teach your brother new abilities that you must have in order to complete the game, so you can plan on spending a good majority of your time playing these games. They are not necessarily ill conceived or appalling, but it's the fact that you have to play them a million times over, needless to say it gets old. These include the classic games of tag, hide n' seek, and catch among others.
And that all basically sums up the gameplay, complete some non-challenging puzzles, some fairly easy tasks, and play a bunch of minigames, there is a lot of baby-sitting your brother along the way too. Even though the game isn't challenging at all, it's still quite enjoyable. The problem is the rate at which you can complete this game; skilled players can easily complete the game in a couple sittings. Plus, the characters themselves are probably more entertaining than the actual gameplay; they'll catch you laughing on a number of occasions, mainly due to some top-notch voice acting. Which is somewhat of a change for Sega, they are notorious for some horrible voice acting in their games, but with Shenmue and now Floigan Brothers, I'm happy to say things are looking up.
The incredible graphics help out the cause as well. Each of the characters has a nice cartoony look and they animate very well. The brothers place of residence, the junkyard, is full of some nice details too, such as butterflies and birds flying around and a bunch of junk strode about, hence the name ?junk? yard. What impressed me most about the graphics though is the draw distance, you can stand one on end of the junkyard and your brother can be clear across on the other side, and you can spot him easily, all this with no pop-up what-so-ever. Watch out for the camera though, it can easily get stuck behind objects, obstructing your view as a result. Overall the graphics are very solid, but we've seen better on our powerhouse known as the Dreamcast.
Besides the incredible voice acting that I mentioned earlier, the rest of the sound is pretty nice too. The main tunes you'll here throughout the game is some funky jazzy beats, it's not my thing, but it fits with the game well so I'm not complaining. The sound effects are just like the graphics, in that I mean they are very cartoony. If you've ever watched Saturday morning cartoons, then you'll feel right at home with these snazzy effects.
Another problem with the game is that it is immensely lacking in the replay and features department. You are only given two options, a tutorial and the main game. And after I completing the game I had no desire to take it for another spin. There are however planned updates every month, but if these will be worth anything remains to be seen. I don't see them adding anything more than a few new games to play or maybe even different outfits. One more thing to note is that on the back of the case it says you can teach Moigle new abilities and carry them over from episode to episode, I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I am sure that Episode Two will not be appearing on the Dreamcast. You'll have to draw your own conclusion on that one.