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Destructoid review: KamiCrazy

12:20 PM on 01.06.2009 // Brad Nicholson

Fluid Pixel’s KamiCrazy is the story of shipwrecked soldiers, lost in a dangerous jungle. Their only goal is to leave this place, despite its lush surroundings. On the epic journey home, the commander sleeps with one of the major tribesman’s daughters without his permission. The payment required for such a grievous insult is instant-death and ‘zombification’ of all his men. How are the undead (and flesh-eating) KamiCrazy soldiers to get home without their fearless commander?

With your steadfast hands and puzzle-breaking brains, of course.

I actually made the majority of the story up, because I felt as if it needed a little intrigue. The real story of KamiCrazy is much more simple. A bunch of soldiers are stranded in a jungle after a shipwreck. No sleeping with royalty or zombie hordes. Sorry.

But you will need quick reflexes, mainly because the KamiCrazy soldiers run fast and don’t mind falling in spike pits or water. Hit the break for the full review.

KamizCrazy (iPhone, iPod Touch)
Developed by Fluid Pixel
Published by Fluid Pixel

Released on December 29, 2008 (US)

KamiCrazy puts you in the role of a great overseer, responsible for steering tiny soldiers to safety through a small variety of life-threatening obstacles. The game’s design is reminiscent of Mike Daily’s Lemmings.  The notable exception is that instead of adorable creatures, you are controlling crazed, bearded men with white bandannas on their foreheads. KamiCrazy is a title that shows a tremendous amount of promise -- the presentation is superb and the all the necessary mechanics function to some degree -- but ultimately fails as a result of a spotty control scheme.

The objective of the game is consistent. You are to take a specified number of soldiers from the spawn point all the way to the door at the end of one of the 40 levels. The soldiers move quickly, but only horizontally. To make the soldier jump, push your finger onto the screen and upwards. To make him turn around, swipe your finger towards the direction you would like him to run.  

These two simple mechanics form a game that isn’t exactly wildly diverse in terms of puzzle solutions. Every “puzzle” is solved by a combination of these two movements. While there are various life-stealing obstacles to circumvent (such as spikes, the always-tricky water, and arrows), I find the entire experience rather stale. I instantly know the solution as soon as I see the level.

There is some flair to jumping over, under, or around an obstacle. Nearly every level has a few interactive objects that you can manipulate and place before the KamiCrazy soldiers spawn. These objects (switches, springs, or some sort of gravity defying device) have to be placed within a matter of seconds once a level is initiated. The soldiers move fast, perhaps too eagerly seeking an untimely death. These guys are in some serious need of an anti-depressant.

Placing interactive objects can be quite the time-consuming task – and definitely not the good kind. Objects don’t snap into place on a grid, so you really never have a firm grasp on where exactly something needs to be placed – even if you conceptually understand where it needs to be. Millimeter sized mistakes are all too common and frustrating after navigating a particularly aggressive portion just to find you misplaced a trampoline. Something that adds to this annoyance is that the game doesn’t recognize when you have less soldiers than what is required to complete the level, making it impossible to clear it. You have to manually restart by swiping madly at the screen for the menu to appear with the option.

The touch controls add to the problems. The soldiers’ sprites are too small to manage reliably. When they cluster in the more confined space, this problem turns into a nightmare. Attempting to shift the direction of one soldier in a group is a regrettably rough endeavor. The same goes for trying to get one to jump in a crowd. Even when a soldier is isolated, the controls are manically unresponsive to your swipes and pushes.

The vast majority of my time with this game is spent wrangling with the controls, not the soldiers. In the later levels, when the difficulty and timing of the puzzles requires faster action, it becomes a struggle to coordinate movement. The erratic controls also lead to an enormous amount of premature deaths. Nothing is more frustrating and unrewarding than having your gameplay time stolen as a result of the game, not your skill. The control-caused deaths are so frequent in KamiCrazy that I found them to trump nearly everything that the game has going for it.

The art and music are definitely high spots for the game. The palette is full of vibrant colors, all pleasing to the eye. The sound and music are lofty, whimsical pieces. The game certainly has a personality, brought about by a characteristic and pleasing presentation. The animations are a bit stale, but it’s forgivable considering the platform isn’t exactly a processing powerhouse.

KamiCrazy is the kind of title that could have been successful with a bit more polish. As it stands right now, it is a below average game with an interesting concept and a great presentation. But the good qualities are easily wiped away by glaringly bad controls and poor design elements that can’t be overlooked with even the smallest amount scrutiny. The developer is currently working on a patch that will address the control problems that I have with KamiCrazy, but as it stands now, I find it extremely hard to recommend a purchase.

Score: 4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)

Brad Nicholson,
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