Ka-blooey (SNES) review
"Kablooey is truly something special. Most bad games offer some sort of entertainment, deep down you know that you could be playing a more fun game, but at least you are slightly entertained by simplistic mechanics. In Kablooey, any semblance of entertainment in the game is constantly bogged down by some of the worst design decisions that could be conceived. Most of the aspects of Kablooey are pretty weak on their own, but they all come together in a way that makes Kablooey simultaneously one of ..."
Kablooey is truly something special. Most bad games offer some sort of entertainment, deep down you know that you could be playing a more fun game, but at least you are slightly entertained by simplistic mechanics. In Kablooey, any semblance of entertainment in the game is constantly bogged down by some of the worst design decisions that could be conceived. Most of the aspects of Kablooey are pretty weak on their own, but they all come together in a way that makes Kablooey simultaneously one of the most boring yet infuriating games I’ve ever played.
Kablooey is a unique puzzle game. You control a blue pancake armed only with a clown nose and an unnatural, robotic walk. He inspires animosity in a way you never thought a silent, non-threatening creature ever could and gives you a nice target for your hate. The goal of the game is to detonate all the bombs on the level and find a safe block to stand on (my guess is that somebody hoped this task would get blue pancake man out of their life). Some bombs are too big to detonate from one square away, so you’ll need to set up chain reactions using smaller bombs, it’s not easy. Whereas most puzzle games simply focus on reaction time and matching colors, Kablooey forces you to plan out all your actions with foresight and precision, as one mistake will result in restarting the level. This brain-twisting, bomb-bursting gameplay is not a bad premise, though it often leads to absurdly complex and frustrating levels. Though they are few, I’m sure there are some people out there who could enjoy the stiff mental challenge the game offers (the kind of people who solve rubric’s cubes in record time or actually purchase those absurdly hard 3-D puzzles). However, even though the core gameplay may sound appealing to some people, the aggravating presentation and idiotic execution of that gameplay make sure that nobody will actually enjoy playing the game.
Never before has a game managed to include such an emotional impact with one piece of music and one line of dialogue. That emotion is hatred, hatred for the game and hatred for your ears. Every time you start or restart a level, the words “player 1… Get Ready!” are spoken in a women’s voice so pretentious that you will feel the urge to turn the game off right there, as the levels get more and more challenging, the voice comes up more and more often, filling the core of your very being with anger and hate towards all humanity. Because the developers obviously felt that this voice doesn’t piss you off enough once a minute, they actually re-mixed it into the already lifeless, irritating background music, so every 30 seconds or so you hear “g-g-g-g-get ready, ready g-g-g-get ready”. Never before have I contemplated suicide so seriously.
Even the graphics, which are nothing more than a few blocks floating over a blue background at an isometric viewpoint, manage to get in the way of the gameplay, and make it more frustrating than it already is. All the bombs are exactly the same color and it is difficult to tell a small bomb from a medium one, leading to cheap death. Not only that, but the angle of the view is awkward, making it unclear which direction is left, up or down, leading to pressing the wrong direction and walking off the edge, cheap death. The angle also makes it hard to tell how large the blast radiuses for bombs are, leading to, you guessed it, cheap death. Given this games propensity for regular death, these frequent cheap deaths, which often occur after you’ve worked through much of the level are a sure way to piss yourself off for the rest of the day.
There were noticeable seconds in Kablooey when I actually planned something out and it actually worked, that I felt good, that I felt like I had actually solved something. Yet these seconds of feeling good were completely overpowered by the hours of being constantly frustrated and disgusted by this game, and that was only during the earlier levels, as the game war on, so did my patience. About 1/3 through the game, things completely fall apart. The levels become so intricate and convoluted that solving one of them is a task of meteoric proportions full of trial and error and “g-g-g-getting ready”, and you have more than 100 levels to solve. Once you factor in the ridiculous idea that you only see a small portion of the level in regular view and not the complete level in the overhead view (there is no way to scroll your view) making it nearly impossible to plan out your approach, it becomes apparent that your time is better spent doing anything else but playing Kablooey. Perhaps most tragic of all is that there are flashes of solid puzzling beneath all the crap in this game, the complex level designs are satisfying to beat after spending long rage-inducing sessions on them. However, no game can succeed on premise alone, especially when the presentation and mechanics surrounding that premise are as abysmal as those in Kablooey. Like you would with a ticking time bomb in real life, stay as far away as you possibly can from Kablooey.
Community review by wootex (December 20, 2007)
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