Insecticide. Not a remarkable game by any standard but a unique one with a good team, Crackpot Entertainment, behind it. With the co-director of Curse of Monkey Island and many other Lucasarts alum on this title there was certainly some interest in it for me. But before we get too far into expectations what is Insecticide? Insecticide is a strange mix of adventure, shooter, and platformer. What comes out is generally decent looking but with enough odd quirks to warrant a the odd uncomfortable stare. Each section of the game is conveniently divided into chapters that either focus on adventure gameplay or on a mix of platforming and shooting. Does it work? Erm.....sort of.
Set in a distant future were humans have devolved into shadows of their former selves and what is left of the world is run by insects, Insecticide certainly does put forth an interesting setting. The story follows Chrys Liszt and Roachy Caruthers, two detectives with the Insecticide department of the 17th Precinct. One day they're called in to investigate a murder at the Nectorola Company. Nectorola is the corporate giant of Troi, the insects biggest city, and as such controls most of the city's interests. The death of one of the supervisors to the CEO had occurred under strange circumstances, or rather an animatronic bee bludgeoned the bug to death, so Chrys and Roachy were called in to investigate. They make a connection to a low level arms dealer and procede to corner the suspect in a small diner. Unfortunately the suspect goes ballistic and is suddenly kidnapped by a squad of what appears to be robobugs. This leads to betrayal, surprising revelations and a thoroughly decent story. It's totally weird and ridiculous. But it works so I've got no guff against the writing.
The art style is also strangely reminiscent of Psychonauts. While only one character, albeit the main one, resembles the character designs the whole world happens to scream Tim Schafer. This isn't a bad thing at face value but it certainly makes life a lot tougher for Insecticide. When your game reminds people of Psychonauts, especially in a way that many people would call copycat, you've suddenly got sky high standards to fulfill and Insecticide falls far short. Despite this unfortunate issue of lookalike Insecticide thrives in atmosphere. The noir theme works well in the dark alleys of Troi and the mix of green and black works as a good contrast. The voice acting is equally well done but unfortunately is only used in cutscenes. Overall Insecticide isn't reinventing the wheel but what they've done with the NDS hardware is fairly spectacular.
The adventure sections of the game work well. Unfortunately they are short, relatively easy, and they're not very many of them. To add to the pain the other sections just...don't work. The platforming often times resorts to a dreaded "leap of faith". The other mechanics that are introduced fail to be incorporated into the gameplay enough and really fail to add to the experience. The shooting becomes difficult and the game tends to scream for a cover mechanic that's nowhere to be found. The lock-on system is useful but when locked on all you can do is straddle which makes it far to easy to fall of the path to certain peril.
What Insecticide tries to do is admirable. The idea of a fully functional adventure/shooter is a heartening idea but unfortunately the team succeeded in only one aspect of gameplay. Maybe it's not the developer to blame but the hardware. Maybe the NDS just can't handle a third person shooter. I don't yet believe this. While it may be difficult I refuse to believe that it is impossible to execute the third person shooter genre well on the DS. In the end Insecticide is a forgettable game only made more disappointing by the glimpses of genuine fun shown throughout the game.
According to the Nintendo fact sheet Pajama Sam: Don't Fear the Dark, Freddi Fish in the Kelp Seed Mystery, and Spy Fox in Dry Cereal are all making in appearance on the Wii in the coming three months. The retail price is rumoured/confirmed to be 20 dollars for each game.
Although I would rather see new adventure from these series it is nice to see these creative adventures brought back into the public eye. Of course it would probably be better to see each adventure packed with its' sequels for a slightly higher price. But, meh, I consider this a good thing. Humongous is kinda shit now, and maybe if these titles sell well they might think "Oh fuck, maybe people like creativity and not our shameless rehash of Backyard Football each year."
While Lucasarts may have long given up on their adventure series of old, the fans they
attracted back in the early 90's haven't. While most of us just continue to replay the old
ones other, more audacious, die-hards have actually taken it upon themselves to develop
sequels to their beloved series. Unfortunately, or for some people fortunately, many of
these games are being developed in Germany. To the non-adventure game obsessed
portion of the gamer community (read all) Germany has been and is one of the major
markets for all adventure games. But moving on here's a small list of the more promising
Day of the Tentacle 2:
The website seems to be down for this particular Germany based game. The
trailer can be
found on youtube though. The game features hand drawn graphics and a new story based
in the familiar setting of Maniac Mansion. I'm not sure how long the website has been down
but the game looks as though it is coming along nicely. I'm not the biggest fan of DoT but
that doesn't mean that I'm not excited for this one.
Zac McKraken 2: Between Time and Space:
This impressive game was developed in Germany and was released in April. So far there is
no english version but this really is an impressive effort. It's in 2.5D and promises to have
over 50 different locations. I think it's pretty heartening to see so much effort go into a
nonprofit fan effort. You can learn more about Zac and download the game at their
Indiana Jones and the Fountain of the Youth:
FoY is a sequel to my favorite game ever, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. This is the
only english fan made game I'm going to write about here and you'll see why. A quick look
at the website presents a lot of
promise. The artist working on the game produces work that looks absolutely identical to
Fate of Atlantis. The story follows right along with what you'd expect from Indiana Jones
and their self-released demo shows a whole lot of progress.
Lucasarts has long confirmed work on an internally developed Indiana Jones action-
adventure game. Plot details are scarce but from what has been said and shown we do
know that it does not follow the plot of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The only in-game footage that Lucasarts has shown is a fight on top of a cable car in San
Francisco and considering how old this is (E3 2006) and that is was really just a demonstration
of the Euphoria engine I think it's pretty safe to say that that particular sequence may not be
in the game. Therefore what could the plot be? I'm personally pulling for them to revive the
unfortunately dead Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix. Phoenix was originally supposed to be
a sequel to the critically successful Fate of Atlantis but was cancelled due to restraints
preventing distribution in Germany. The plot can be found
over on MixnMojo.
But in short the plot revolves around the search for the Philosophers Stone and the Germans
attempts to reanimate Hitler. I know it sounds a little...out there, but really the plot description
makes it sound pretty decent. Over course this new game isn't going to be like the adventure
games of old but the plot should still work fairly well.
I'm hopeful that this game will turn out well. I know Lucasarts has failed pretty hard recently
but there's still a little part of me that holds them in pretty high regard. I mean, shit, as long
as George Lucas stays away from the script it should be pretty decent.