I know people say that reviews and criticism should contain an element of objective reasoning rather than emotional gut feeling, and those people are usually right. Not today, though. When a game makes me so frustrated that I want to throw my phone at the wall after only the tutorial, something’s gone very wrong indeed. Maybe I’m just an angry, impatient fool, but considering that I play Dark Souls to relax, I’m not so sure about that.
And so we have SuperMighty Bastard : An Adventure by Playgem Technologies Ltd a game with a title that makes some very big promises and I suppose lives up to most of those promises, in the same way that a rollercoaster that accidentally kills five people has still technically achieved “an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.”
We are definitely on some sort of adventure, so I’ll allow them that subtitle. The game does feature a man escaping from a large prison, so I’ll buy that he might’ve been guilty of first-degree bastardry at some point in the past. But I’m not so sure about the descriptor of “SuperMighty,” because to my mind SuperMighty Bastard appeared weaker than the average hummingbird, and far, far less endearing.
The reason for this is that SuperMighty Bastard is a platforming game where the platforming mechanics don’t seem to work properly, and I could end the review right there on that damning statement. Hannibal Lecter’s fat cousin can only run forward and jump, which admittedly has worked for simple platforming games in the past like Canabalt.
But the platforms don’t seem to have been built with any reference to the character’s movement ability, hence why the vast majority of attempts (or attempts, as the game mistakenly spells it) to clear these chasms end in tragedy. Mr. Bastard: Esquire also has the annoying habit of jumping straight up before the game registers that you want him to angle forward, meaning the trajectory is unnatural and hard to predict, a cheap way of manufacturing difficulty that feels more like the game has screwed up, not me. And with no option to move backward, sailing over your intended landing spot is incredibly common and utterly infuriating, when you see it happening and know you can’t prevent it.
And it’s made worse by the graphics and controls lagging notably, which is something I couldn’t quite believe I was seeing. How does a game that involves only two buttons, basic cartoon visuals and gameplay simpler than farting in the bath generate lag? I’m not playing SuperMighty Bastard online, so why is this happening?
It might’ve been somewhat tolerable if not for the checkpoint system. With only one respawn point halfway through each level, getting to that point is an exercise in Buddha-like patience, to begin with. But SuperMighty Bastard (and never did a name so aptly capture my feelings for a product, I realize now) withholds those checkpoints from those who are unable or unwilling to pay for them. No, seriously.
Because every time you die it asks you to cough up some in-game currency to respawn at the last checkpoint you touched. If you don’t, it sends you back to the beginning of the level. Fail to provide the cash even once and all that progress is thrown to the winds, which is where the micropayments sidle up to you and suggest that you could invest a bit of money to beef up your cash reserves if you’re not up to the challenge.
Yeah, right. I’m not bribing this game to alleviate an annoying handicap that its placed on me, to begin with. The day I do that is the day I burn all my classic literature and replace them with OK! Magazine, because I will have officially stopped giving a damn about culture and the importance of good artistry and design.
I could do what I usually do at this point and say that the visual design is nice – which it is – but I honestly don’t care about that anymore. Feed me a burger made with moldy bread, minced rat, and poison ivy and I won’t give a damn how nice the wrapper looks, that experience is already ruined beyond saving.
Because honestly, this game just feels unfinished to me. The lag, the unpredictable movement, the occasional misspelling, the fact that there NEEDS to be at least one other backing track, and the way that the mission select screen seems to be two inches to the left from where the game thinks it is… It all adds up, or rather, it all subtracts. Even the store page currently features only two lines of text with several grammar mistakes. I guess I should’ve taken that warning earlier.
When SuperMighty Bastard finally crashed, leaving me perched in the air like Wile E. Coyote, I’d had enough. Sorry, but I’m a critic, not a game tester. Come back to me when there’s a working product on offer because otherwise, I have better ways to spend my time.