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A game that deserved better: Deadly Creatures (Wii)

(Fair warning: Deadly Creatures features (haha) a lot of close-ups of creepy-crawlies, particularly those of the arachnid kind. If spiders and arachnids in general scare the piss out of you, you might want to skip this blog over. They also tend to gore each other a lot and I'm hardly passing up the chance to post an image (or three) of a scorpion performing Fatality-esque killing moves on various creatures. You have been warned, though I doubt it's necessary, as you Dtoiders tend to be made of stern stuff. The third image in this post might feature regularly in some of your nightmares, depending on how squeamish you are, though.)

(Second warning, thar be some spoilers.)

I still wonder how this game got off with the 12+ rating, sometimes. Most 12-year-olds I know would be scared out of their minds playing this, just because of all the beasties running about.

Like so many (oh so many) good Wii games, Deadly Creatures is pretty damn underrated. It's a 3D action platformer in which you play as either a scorpion (who shall be referred to as Steve) or a tarantula (who shall be referred to as Tim), alternating between the two each chapter. It wasn't a particularly long game (you'll likely get through the Normal difficulty in a couple of hours), but it was still pretty good. I got it for half-price alongside Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars (my pick for best Wii game of 2009 and, currently, best Wii game in general. Look forward to that game's blog entry at some point in the future), which was pretty good as I got more than I paid for. It didn't sell at all well in the States or Europe and Austrailia (to my knowledge, anyway), which sucks as it really deserves more love than what it got. I'm somewhat enraged that the likes of this gets passed over by the major portion of the Wii's audience. It's understandable (small children, mums and old grannies would be terrified beyond belief by the protagonists, never mind the enemies and bosses. By this point you're probably wondering how it plays (if you haven't fucked off to read a review or a FAQ or are doing something else), so let's get on with it.

As mentioned, Deadly Creatures is a 3D action platformer game in which you play as Steve the scorpion and Tim the tarantula. The game has a lot going for it. The graphics are pretty well done (for the Wii, mind), all the animals and creatures move more or less exactly as their real life counterparts do. Gameplay differs a bit between Steve and Tim, which is something I'll get to in a bit. Combat comes down to smacking buttons to attack enemies or guard, with some Wiimote-swinging thrown in for good measure. As you progress, new abilties become open to you, with more powerful moves requiring a fighting game-esque button combos (combos that I can't pull off because I am horrible at that sort of thing) to pull off, with satisfying results. Combat is fairly good, if tough if you are for some reason incapable of pulling off the better moves (I blame RPGs). The game will put up a fight, too, especially on harder difficulties. Just like in God Of War, if you get killed at a certain segment a few times, the game will offer to boot the difficulty down a level to let you progress.

In fact, that's probably one of the better ways to describe Deadly Creatures: A toned-down God Of War with Kratos replaced by Steve, and occasionally Tim. It's nowhere near as tough and epic as God Of War, but the gameplay similarities are there. Quick Time Events are a part of gameplay (but then what action game nowadays doesn't feature them?), with finishing moves starting them up with gory results if you succeed. Well, there are finishing moves if you're playing as Steve, as Tim doesn't have the sheer power (or the appendages) to match him. It's satisfying killing your enemies this way, as you know that when Steve murders the shit out of a creature by ramming his stinger through its head or tearing its wings off and slamming his stinger right through its chest that the thing on the receiving end is well and truly dead.

Yes, the two creature protagonists (if you can call them protagonists) aren't clones of each other in gameplay! The basic combat is more or less the same, but there are a number of differences between the two. As some of you may have guessed, Steve is the bruiser guy that just smacks shit out of his way whereas Tim is the speedy fragile guy that leaps at you from a distance. There is a noticeable difference between the two playing styles. Tim is far faster than Steve, being able to dart around most enemies and keep up with the speedier ones. Tim can also jump around like a maniac if you need to start spastically dodging for whatever reason. However, in terms of fighting all he has is his agility and his fangs, which while not necessarily weak, just aren't as strong as Steve's mighty pincers. Odds are you'll be leaping around the area when facing enemies, occasionally leaping close enough to strike with your fangs. Steve, on the other hand, is slower than Tim and cannot jump, but what he lacks in agility he makes up for in several ways. For one thing, being armed with pincers and a tail means Steve has a lot more moves at his disposal, and he can just bitchslap enemies out of the way with a shake of the Wiimote. Steve can also use his pincers to block, which is pretty helpful. It does mean you can sort of play Punch-Out!! with your enemies; only instead of dodging attacks, you just stand there blocking and then striking.

The major area where the two differ are the finishing moves. Steve, being the scorpion reincarnation of Kratos, can tear his opponents limb from limb in a gory, somewhat-over-the-top sequence of QTEs. If you succeed in pulling them off, Steve will make his opponent his little furry/scaly/insect...y bitch and murder them. Fail, and the opponent gets away. But you can still just run to them again and start the sequence again, provided you don't kill them first. Before you can perform a killing move, the enemy needs to be inches from death. It's really satisfying and it never gets old seeing Steve slam a wasp into the ground, then lift it up into the air only to tear its wings off and hammer it to the ground with his stinger. I love that one in particular.

Believe it or not, there is actually a story in Deadly Creatures! And it isn't told in the regular way, either. There are few cutscenes in this game; most of the plot info is discovered by hanging around the two humans nosing about the desert region Steve and Tim inhabit. You will see them in the distance, or hear them talking above the ground as you crawl through tunnels. It's an interesting way of delivering plot details; if you want to hear some tidbits (and foreshadowing involving scorpions and ghoulies), hang around whenever you spot or hear the humans. If you don't want to, move on. The story isn't particularly complex (two guys hear rumours about gold in the desert and go look for it), but it's interesting enough considering how Steve and Tim get involved. I won't spoil it, but let's just say that one guy gets some swift, karmic stabs to a particularly sensitive area. There's another element to the story, and that is the rivalry between Tim and Steve. The two lock...well, the two run into each other early one and let's just say that a blooming, slightly homoerotic friendship is not forged. Eventually, Steve starts following Tim in what is either a quest to off the only thing to either match him in combat or a quest to find a fuck-buddy, and this gets them involved with the other plotline about greed and treasure and stuff. Not only does Tim have to deal with Steve stalking him, he has also has several unfortunate meetings with a particularly vile, determined rattlesnake. The story won't be rivalling the epics of JRR Tolkien but it gets the job done and it did hold my interest.

Now that I've gushed for a bit, it's time to point out where the game fails. It isn't anywhere near perfection (only SMT: Digital Devil Saga (1+2, they're essentially one game) and FFIX has achieved perfection in my eyes), to be sure. One of the things you're most likely able to notice is that enemies will get stuck in all manner of things. I've had one of those thorned lizard things get stuck in both a wall and the ground, leaving only its armoured spiky back for me to hit, which is obviously a stupid thing to do. Sometimes your waggles of the Wiimote just will not register, and when this happens during one of the QTE where the consequence is death, you're fucked. The game is, as mentioned, pretty short, and if you aren't as inept as I am at inputting a sequence of commands quickly, you'll likely have little trouble with the game and will just breeze through it in a number of hours. Despite the trouble I had, I still had the game's story beaten in about six hours.

Overall, Deadly Creatures is quite underrated. The fact that it didn't do nowhere near as well as THQ wanted in order to justify a sequel saddens me, as I would certainly love to see what those smart gits that made this game would come up with next. It's a fairly original 3D platformer with decent combat and graphics, with nice voice-acting (provided by Dennis Hopper and, IIRC, Billy Bob Thorton) too. I would recommend you find it cheap like I did, because it is a rather short game. Rent it, if you must.

Good god, I went on for quite a bit, didn't I?
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About SirRichardone of us since 2:59 PM on 10.09.2009

Hailing from the north of Ireland, I'm a dude that really loves RPGs. My first game was Super Mario World at the age of 4 (in 1998, lawl), and since then I've been playing games. Everything I could play, I would, even if it meant I wouldn't be sleeping for weeks (damn you Resident Evil). It wasn't until a few years ago that I properly started keeping up with the industry and that my tastes developed (insert your dirty joke here. I know you all imagined one, I can't be along in thinking one up upon reading that).

Mostly I lament the fact that Europe will get shafted on games somehow, be it waiting for ages for games to arrive, to not getting the goodies that other places get, to just flat-out not getting games at all. My favourite genre being the RPG, this means that I find this sort of thing a lot, particularly if the game is involved in some way with Atlus, who I'd worship as much as anyone else if they just arsed themselves enough to create a Europrean branch to let me and many others in on the obscure game love and Atlus love.

My blog posts will be about whatever I feel like, probably Monthly Musings most of the time.

Now playing: Nothing, actually. Haven't had a new game in a while...