Review: Igor: The Game (Nintendo DS)

Igor: The Game
Developer: Legacy Interactive
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Genre: Puzzle/Fighting
Release Date: September 19, 2008

When playing a movie based video game, one has certain expectations. First and foremost on that list is mediocrity. Not far behind, is the idea that the game will be highly derivative of another game. In those regards, Igor: The Game doesn’t surprise.

However. . .

Igor does surprise in the choice of game it emulates. One would expect a DS game based off of an unpopular children’s animated feature to be rip off classic platformers. One is less likely to expect such a game to reinvent Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.

Upon starting the solo mission of Igor, one is subjected to a series of captioned drawings introducing the story. Our main character in Igor is, naturally, Igor who is an “Igor”, the game/movie’s term for the hunchbacked assistants to mad scientists. Igor, in theory, works for Doctor Glickenstein, whom I imagine is similar to Dr. Frankenstein only more frugal.

Apparently, Igor is a mad scientist trapped in an Igor’s body. Rather than go through the requisite hormone replacement therapy and reconstructive surgery, Igor up and decides to start inventing things. His prize creation/love interest is Eva, a lady-monster who looks to be assembled from the parts of deceased linebackers.

In order to win Eva’s affections or save her from kidnappers or something, Igor has to win a series of tournaments wherein he battles his monster against the monsters of mad scientists. (None of these monsters appear to be pocket-sized, which is probably why Lucard is not reviewing this game.) Aiding Igor on his quest in a re-animated rabbit and a brain in a jar.

So after sitting through cut-scenes (which provide noble attempts at humor), the game begins. But wait, we don’t have a monster! So, we send Igor to the recycling center to collect body parts, needing a torso, head, right leg, left leg, right arm, and left arm. You get to choose from a large selection of. . . ONE of each of these things. After fighting through a counter-intuitive menu, we collect each of these parts and send Igor back to the laboratory to put them together. After constructing our beast we are prompted to “brainwash” him, via a timed game similar to Columns or Dr. Robotnik”Ëœs Mean Bean Machine. This thing charges up the monster’s hit points; more combos in the puzzle game equals more power for your monster.

Now that our monster is charged up we are free to have Igor travel around the map screen., but most of the places are still locked. Occasionally, we experience RANDOM MONSTER BATTLES! Slime monsters, Fungus monsters or what-have-you will “attack” randomly at certain locations. It’s not really a big deal, because these fights can be ignored. If the duel is accepted, the game segues into battle mode: a puzzle game remarkably similar to the brainwashing technique.

Here’s how it works: You see the monsters with their respective hit points on the top screen. On the bottom screen is the puzzle game. Colored blocks fall down in conjoined pairs that can be rotated. There are regular blocks and burst blocks. Regular blocks of the same color can join together to form larger blocks. When a burst block touches a block of the same color it destroys all adjacent blocks of that color.

So, pretty much just like Puzzle Fighter.

But it is a bit more complicated than this thing. In addition to the puzzle game, there are six other sections on the bottom screen. There are four gauges that represent strikes: one for the left hand punches, one for right punches, one for left kicks and one for right kicks. These gauges correlate to the colored blocks. I.e. destroy a bunch of yellow blocks, and you fill up the left kick meter which is also yellow. One a gauge reaches a certain threshold you can tap it, making your monster perform the appropriate attack. The more the gauge is filled the stronger the attack will be.

But it is a bit more complicated that just this thing. There is also a “evil bone” meter. When this thing is full it can be tapped with the stylus, prompting you to tap a sequence of four attacks. You are given five seconds to do this, all the while the blocks in the puzzle game are still dropping.

If you can keep track of all this and beat your opponent, you’ll get some money and maybe some spare material for making new parts.

There is one more box to tap with the stylus whilst battling: your potion box. You can buy potions at the map’s hardware store. Then if you go to your contextual menu, you can equip one of these for subsequent battles. The potions have a temporary effect on your opponent or can recharge your monster’s hit points.

Now, the hardware store also sells RECIPES. You need these recipes to create new arms, legs, heads or torsos for your creatures. These new parts will change your appearance, and vary your stats ever so slightly. Buying the recipe is not enough, though. You will also need the raw materials. You can’t buy the raw materials, you earn them semi-randomly by beating monsters. Some monsters will drop vines or slime or fungus and so on.

It’s a pain in the buttocks.

Say you want to build a vine monster. You need to beat an enemy or two to get enough money to buy the recipe. You see that you need 16 vines to make a vine body part. So, you wander around the map battling monsters until one of them drops some vines. Problem is: they only drop 4. So you wander around battling monsters until you are able to beat 3 more monsters that will provide you vines. By this time your monster is, most likely, flashing red. You need to repair. So go home to the lab, right? Nope, you got to go to the recycling center, and select each part to be repaired individually. The menus are counter-intuitive, and it took me a long time to figure out that the proper procedure for repair. (Thankfully, repairing your monster’s original recycling center parts is free.)

So your monster is repaired, and you have 16 vines. You go back to the lab to build you some vine monster and realize that you only have enough vines to make ONE part. If you want a monster that is all vines, you got to get 16 vines for EACH part. That means you need 96 vines. That means you need to find 2 dozen of the right type of monsters and win 24 fights with them just to make a vine monster, a monster which isn’t even very powerful. These battles can be long and the meters will fill up unpredictably, and very often the opponent has more hit points that your monster.

So you decide to nix the whole vine monster thing and enter the first tournament with a monster who has one vine arm, a slime head and stock everything else. Your stats haven’t changed noticeably. The tournaments work, well, almost exactly the same as every other battle in the game save that these guys don’t drop anything but money.

You win a tournament, and a couple of more areas are unlocked.

After the first tournament, you unlock a pickle shop from which you can take on side quests. On these side quests you . . .
. . .

. . . wait for it. . .

BATTLE monsters in exactly the same Puzzle Fighter style as everything else in the game. The only difference is that now you have to go to the pickle shack to pick up your modest monster battling reward.

The next tournament is pretty much the same as the first tournament, only with 10 tougher opponents. Since it’s freaking time consuming to minimally upgrade your monster, you might be best off just strategically using a potion during these fights. So you’ve got to make block combos fast, remember to strike when those meters are full enough, hit your combos as soon as it’s ready, and keep an eye on everybody’s hit points, because your unsprayed monster will take damage like a baby.

If you battle enough, you’ll eventually unlock a shop where body parts can be bought and sold directly. WHY DO I HAVE TO UNLOCK THAT THING? Can’t that just be available from the beginning? Just don’t offer me the best parts until I do X, Y or Z! Or make the best part really expensive.

Cripes all Friday.

The whole game is maximum effort for minimal reward.

Graphically, the puzzle stuff looks fine. How badly can you mess up blocks in this era? The monster battle animations are clunky and choppy and out and out ugly. Although, you won’t be paying attention to the top screen during a battle, as there are 8 things to keep track of on the bottom screen.

In terms of the sound? Well, it’s there, but you won’t notice the music on the default levels. If you turn up the music levels full blast in the options menu, it will be loud enough to hear. The music is surprisingly nice once it can be heard.

Finally, I will also note that this is the only game that has crashed my Nintendo Dual Screen on multiple occasions. Accepting a random monster battle has frozen my poor little DS Lite 4 times in the past week.

The Scores:
Story/Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Below Average
Sound: Enjoyable
Control/Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Good
Balance: Poor
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal: Poor
Miscellaneous: Below Average
Final Score: Mediocre Game

Short Attention Span Summary
Igor: The Game is a mediocre puzzle game, buried in a sea of complications. It makes customization a chore. It’s the sort of game where if your monster is damaged you have to repair it six times to recover its health. monster one part at a time. Menus are hard to navigate. I would not recommend this game for the under 7 crowd as it is far too complicated. Young children will only be frustrated.


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