Morphin Reviews: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Xbox)
Well, my review series is undergoing a slight rebrand. I'm dropping the whole "Morphin at the (insert place relating to medium in question here)" thing in place of the simpler and easier to keep track of "Morphin Reviews," with the original reason for that name being rendered moot considering Crimson Lionheart is back to using this site. Also, my ratings system will be changed to a simple 1-10 scale. No stars, no fake IGN quote, just a rating and that's it. It's just so hard to keep track of all the quotes and converting the scale rating to stars. But I assure you, the Mane Cast at the end will NOT be going away. So with that out of the way... let's begin.
A lot of you are familiar with the "retro gaming review" format that's been going around the Internet for quite some time now. And every reviewer has a console with which they have the most fond memories of. The Angry Video Game Nerd has his NES, JonTron has his Super Nintendo, Caddicarus (for the uninitiated, think JonTron, but British) has his PS1, but for me, it all goes back to the original Xbox.
At the time this baby came out in 2001, Sega had just left the console market, and everyone thought that America would never be able to make a successful console again after what happened with the Atari Jaguar. So to see this black behemoth burst onto the scene with Halo as its primary trump card was just insane.
"I can't see me lovin' nobody but you... for all my LIIIIIIIIIIFE..."
But I didn't know any of this at the time, because I was only six years old when we got it for Christmas of 2004. By that time, Halo 2 was already out and the 360 was only a year away. It was the first home console I had ever played (my first console PERIOD was the Game Boy Advance), and GOD DAMN was it enjoyable.
One of the earlier games I had for it was A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the movie that came out around the same time which was based on the book series of the same name.
A movie tie-in game...
For those who don't know, A Series Of Unfortunate Events is a book series detailing the life and times of three children by the surname of Baudelaire, whose parents died in a fire and they end up taken in by their uncle, Count Olaf, who's got to have... MONEY!!! More specifically, the Baudelaire money. And now the three orphans have to do a ton of crazy stuff to survive.
So 's gon' be one o' THOSE days, innit?
Sounds like an interesting game, right? Let's find out.
Now, I know almost nothing about the books or film apart from the latter starring Jim Carrey, so I'm going to see how this stands up on its own.
So right off the bat, we get a narrator who sounds like he's been spending too much time on TV Tropes. Once we get to the actual game, we see graphics that are about as detailed as Resident Evil 2, complete with an eye-pleasing color palette made entirely of BROWN.
Controlling your character is an interesting exercise in frustration, in that moving the left stick sends them running faster than Rainbow Dash on crack cocaine. You can't really get precision control thanks to how slippery and sensitive the movement is. Controlling the camera simply amounts to rotating your view left and right, and it can barely keep up with your movement thanks to how fast they're going
In this game, your goal is to find things lying around Count Olaf's mansion and turn them into devices that can pretty much solve all of your problems for you, which I admit is an interesting mechanic.
So the first thing we're going to make is what amounts to a portable punching device, and we're going to be using it to beat a rat infestation to death. To do this, we need a boxing glove, a spring, a coffee can, and a broom. To get the broom, we need to go through a ventilation shaft as the baby, and here I was expecting it to be a bit more like Die Hard in a mansion, but no, instead, we get a baby sliding on steam pipes at the speed of sound.
You have to time your jumps carefully to avoid falling into pits or getting hit by steam. When you die, the narrator will make some sort of sarcastic remark, a la King's Quest or similar adventure games from the MS-DOS era, which is kind of a nice touch. In fact, throughout the tutorial, the narrator is prone to snarking at levels that dwarf the likes of Professor Snape. I suppose they're trying to make it feel a bit more like the source material this way.
So anyway, now we're through that mess, and... wait, was I just asked to bite through metal pipes?!? Okay, we all know babies like to bite things, but at that age, their teeth are still developing, so unless you come from the planet Krypton or something, trying to bite through metal as a baby will lead to some very high dental bills down the road, to say the least. But, eh, it's just a game, I'll roll with it.
However, whenever you're supposed to use the action button (i.e. the B button), a little icon pops up on screen every single time as if the game assumes you have the attention span of a goldfish with Alzheimer's and ADHD. It's kind of insulting and patronizing, especially from a game that is full of snark and genre savvy humor such as this.
Now we've got the broom, so we're just putting the device together. It's simple, really. Rotate the piece and press A when the little X pops up, rinse and repeat three times until you've got everything in place.
So now we've got our punching device, which we use to punch rats (and presumably, other enemies) with.
Then a box just falls out of the sky. I have no idea.
I should mention that attacking feels quite gratifying, and your punches have a definite force behind them.
Also, I just now noticed that the right trigger lets you enter a first-person perspective. Kinda like Metal Gear Solid... only, y'know... meh.
And now all the rats are dead, and now we have to kill spiders with some more noodle implements.
And then some guy with two hook hands shows up, and now we have to fight him with the punchy thing, I guess?
So he's chucking barrels at us like Donkey Kong, and we avoid them and hit him once and then...
We hit him once, and we beat him.
You see, when a minor antagonist gets a cutscene to himself, and you have to fight him, I expect some kind of challenge. I want to feel like I earned defeating him.
Also, I have to point out that the voice actors were taken directly from the movie itself, which is another thing it has going for it. But while Jim Carrey is deliciously hammy as normal and the two older children are obviously teenagers, so their voice acting is forgiveable, nearly every other performance, with the sole exception of Tim Curry as the narrator, feels a little bland in terms of delivery.
It was around this point I gave up on the game.
Overall, I found this game boring, to be honest. The invention mechanics, sarcastic narration and voice actors from the movie are all good things going for it, but a patronizing interface, slippery controls, and anticlimactic enemies make it a chore to play through. Not exactly bad for a turn-of-the-millenium movie licensed game, but it's still no Spider-Man 2.
And now, the Mane 6+1 give their thoughts:
Starlight Glimmer: This game doesn't bring much new to the table, and what it does bring to the table may be welcome and refreshing, but it's not enough to save it from the bargain bin.
Twilight Sparkle: The Series of Unfortunate Events... uh... series... isn't really meant for an interactive medium, and is better suited for cinema or literature. It had some creativity, but apart from that, it got very monotonous very quickly.
Rarity: Ugh, the color selection is EYE-SEARING!! Though I must admit that the Count Olaf character was quite charming in his delivery.
Applejack: Uh-huh... why am ah playin' this again?
Rainbow Dash was fast asleep on the controller, causing Pinkie Pie to (correctly) assume that the game wouldn't be very fun, and leave. Fluttershy wouldn't even touch the game once I moved Rainbow Dash off of the controller, because she took one look at the cover and booked it. Once Rainbow Dash woke up, the only thing I could get out of her about the game was the following:
Rainbow Dash: If your whole motivation for having me play that was boring me to death, then mission freaking accomplished.
She then left the room to play Mortal Kombat X with Applejack. I can't say I blame her.
FINAL RATING: 5/10@Tyro The Fox: I need to watch your livestreams more often.
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