Release Date: 06/28/01
Thinking back to 2001, I recall the two final brand new Dreamcast titles I bought from retail were Confidential Mission, and this downright bizarre point-and-click adventure game from Xilam. It wasn’t by chance, really, as if you were a child of the late “Ëœ90s, you may per chance recall a very obscure Saturday morning cartoon renamed for the U.S. audiences as Space Goofs (Some of our foreign readers may also have known the series as Home to Rent, depending on your territory). While the series quickly went nowhere, much like other shows of that nature, it definitely has its cult-like status among people from that time looking for some nostalgia. It was a strange and crazy animation birthed out of France in 1996, so it made perfect sense that when the game was announced out of nowhere, Ubisoft would be bringing the U.S. this late Dreamcast title under the series’ original name.
The title, which was also developed for PC, served as a sort of United States “conclusion”Â to the series, which in 2001, came two years after the series stopped airing. The premise of the game sets up the introduction of the series as a whole – a group of five aliens are vacationing in space, when a collision with an asteroid sends their spacecraft crashing into Earth. Conveniently, they crash land right next to an empty home for rent (hence, the U.K. title) and take to occupying the abode until they can figure out how to get back into space. What is thought to be a simple process of repairing a spaceship turns into several years where the aliens remain out the sight of humans, while chasing away potential buyers of the house. The game kicks off just as the genius alien Etno finally pieces together a means to return home, but at the same time, a mysterious evil doctor pinpoints these alien life forms and sends a bounty hunter out for their heads and technology.
Stupid Invaders only offers up the single-player adventure, but this alone will keep players wrapped up for a number of hours. The game’s story elements are ripped straight from the animated series and judging from the dialog and gags thrown, it is evident the developers stuck as close to the series’ original material as possible. Given the lapse in time and the media the game appears on, the game goes a little bit further in fields of raunchiness and maturity than the Saturday morning cartoon and on most fronts, the game does succeed on being funny. The player gets to experience a number of viewpoints as the title switches control between the five aliens, switching up the main character personalities and material to keep the story elements fresh. Even though there is a lack of modes in the game, Xilam packed everything it had into the adventure and it explodes with Stupid Invaders charm.
Contrary to the cartoon, everything in the Stupid Invaders game has been rendered in 3D, however, the graphics sport a heavily-inked look with an emphasis on colors to resemble a typical animation. In 2001, the title didn’t have to fight amongst a crowd of other point-and-click titles as the genre was all but dead, especially to consoles at that time, making Stupid Invaders one of the most detailed adventure games seen for its time. Everything from the characters to the environments look great and animate well, aside from a few hiccups here and there as players navigate through environments and approach certain items. The in-game text and action icons don’t exactly have the same pop and are rather small in size, but, overall, the graphics are a treat for those who appreciate animation.
Thanks in part to the cartoon voice actors reprising their roles in the game, the sound in the game stays true to the source. The rest of the cast is slouch, though, as every character confronted in the title is voiced appropriately, which really makes the interactive segments of the game enjoyable. Outside of voice acting, though, the sounds and music are appropriate to the environment and there a number of areas where the ambient nature of environment is given favor over music, emphasizing the surreal nature of the situations. Through some of the scene changes, there can be an awkward pause in the music or sound effects, but, overall, the audio in Stupid Invaders really sets the tone of the title.
Gameplay and control-wise, there is not much to really explain about Stupid Invaders. Just like any other point-and-click adventure ever created, players use onscreen cursors to navigate characters and manipulate the environment and progress is made by using collected items in the environments or conversing with other characters. Stupid Invaders keeps things simple by limited players to just examing or grabbing items and the inventory allows for some items to be combined. The results leave players with a simple command scheme that is easy to understand due to the different icons used.
Although Stupid Invaders revolves around puzzle solving per the nature of its genre, it does serve as a suitable challenge, mostly due to the obscene amount of ways players can die. There are a number of bizarre ways to perish in the title, making players load their previous save back up. Admittedly, a number of these animations are quite humorous, but when players repeat the same death over and over without any inclination of what they are doing wrong, it can become a tad frustrating. Some of the item interactions can be a little nonsensical at times as well and most of the time it isn’t obvious what players are supposed to do until they die in a trial and error process. Regardless, Stupid Invaders is a suitable challenge for anyone looking for more in the adventure genre and the humorous nature of the title makes the challenge a little easier to swallow.
Given the title only features a single-player story to run through, there is virtually no reason to go back to the title once the player has finished the title. Some may want to experience new dialogs, experiment with different death animations or do a speed run, but it’s hard to believe most players will come back for more. The story is good enough to make players see through to the end and maybe come back after a couple of years has rolled by, but the first playthrough will take up only around four to six hours and if you use a walkthrough, you severely hurt the game’s longetivity as players that know exactly what to do can brush through the title in about an hour.
With the recent resurgence of adventure titles hitting the market, Stupid Invaders is a good title to come back to, especially if you are a Dreamcast fan. It is quirky, stuffed with humor and is a good throwback if the words Space Goofs mean anything to you. The wide span of characters is wholly entertaining, even though there are a few sections where the point of view is needlessly switched for an extremely short time and the presentation definitely makes the cast stand out.
Story/Modes: VERY GOOD
Balance: ABOVE AVERAGE
Appeal Factor: VERY GOOD
The Final Rating: GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
If you’re a sucker for challenging adventure games with amusing death animations, there’s no competition on the Dreamcast. Stupid Invaders cleverly leaves of from where the decade-old Space Goofs cartoon series left U.S. viewers and cranks it up a notch with a bit more crudeness, all delivered with superb presentation. The game does get hung up with virtually no replayability, some of the puzzles lack logic and frequent deaths may frustrate players but there’s nothing like else like Stupid Invaders on the Dreamcast and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.