"Silicon Valley doesn’t offer action, intrigue, heavy violence, or anything remotely ‘hardcore’. But it does have sheep, floating sheep, sheep with springs for feet, dogs on wheels, rats on wheels, hippos with fecal mines, rabbits with helicopter ears that crap bombs from above, huskies on skis, penguins with infinite snowballs, turtle tanks, irritable sea bass, hyenas with motorcycle bodies, and about twenty others that escape me at the moment."
It begins well enough. Han Solo-wannabe Dan Danger and his sidekick/whipping robot Evo are sent to investigate a derelict, 1,000 year-old space station overrun with ill-tempered animal automatons. The ride’s smooth, until Evo sickens of Dan’s ‘hip music for groovy cats’ and backhands his master into unconsciousness. Dan’s an idiot, true, but he was the idiot piloting the ship, which promptly crashes into the space station, flattening a robot dog moments before he could make third base with his robot sheep girlfriend. Dan comes out fine, but Evo’s reduced to nothing more than a walking computer chip who can only fight by possessing deactivated robots.
Space Station: Silicon Valley starts out mundane. Relatively speaking.
Like the opening scene, this game requires a special mindset to enjoy. You must move past the blocky graphics; sub-par even by N64 standards. There’s no voice acting, not much of a plot, and, since Dan’s tapped into the speaker system, the horrors of elevator muzak are forced upon you. Silicon Valley doesn’t offer action, intrigue, heavy violence, or anything remotely ‘hardcore’. But it does have sheep, floating sheep, sheep with springs for feet, dogs on wheels, rats on wheels, hippos with fecal mines, rabbits with helicopter ears that crap bombs from above, huskies on skis, penguins with infinite snowballs, turtle tanks, irritable sea bass, hyenas with motorcycle bodies, and about twenty others that escape me at the moment. But the beauty’s not in the animals available, it’s in how you use them. The fifth ice level, ‘Hoppa Choppa’, is a perfect example.
“I just picked up a distress signal from cute ickle bunnikins terrorized by evil huskies. Kill the husky scum, Evo. Kill them for the bunnies…and for me.”
The huskies, however, are packing missiles, and you start inside a fat penguin that can fly by shooting flames out his ass. Outgunned and outnumbered, you could sneak past the huskies and make it to the control room, using the level’s automatic gun turrets to shoot down a pair of nearby helicopter rabbits. You then possess one of the helicopter rabbits and engage in a daring strike against both the huskies and the gun turrets, crapping death from above while they shoot death from below.
This, however, is a stupid tactic with a low success rate. I know, because I tried it about twenty times and was annihilated with great frequency.
You may start out as a fat, flying penguin, but that’s all you need; rocket huskies, like most things, have a weakness against heavy things falling on them from high altitudes. You’ll take some damage, but you can kill a husky, no problem. From there it’s a simple matter of sneaking up on the other huskies, killing them from behind, killing the rabbits and taking out the inactivated turrets. And while you’re at it, you can slaughter all the innocent, non-flying rabbits the huskies were holding hostage, if only to hear Dan say:
“EVO! NO! NOT THE BUNNIES!”
There’s the good way to approach a mission, and then there’s the best way. The good way is the obvious way; it’s tells you that a snowball-throwing penguin can kill a rocket-shooting husky with hit-and-run tactics. The best way brings out your creative side; it’s tells you that a snowball-throwing penguin can kill a rocket-shooting husky by luring it to a rocket-shooting polar bear and letting them duke it out. In the desert, underwater, in the snow, in the jungle; every new sector brings new challenges with new animals to be used in new, inventive ways. Being sharp doesn’t mean you’ll breeze through Silicon Valley, but it helps.
Ingenuity is only part of the charm here; the largest part, but a part nonetheless. The quirky humor gives it personality. The array of animals and abilities give it value. It all comes together to form a game wholly unlike any before it or after. Not ugly enough to be an eyesore, not tough enough to be a nuisance, Silicon Valley is a game filled with something rarely seen these days: Originality.
That, and dog-on-sheep action.
Staff review by Zack Little (July 12, 2006)
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