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Sheep (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Sheep (Game Boy Advance) review


"You're a sheepdog! Har! "



You're a sheepdog! Har!

What a weird opening we have! Fat and funny happy colorful cartoon sheep with cute round chubby bellies on the brain of our intrepid sheepdog. They’re jumping over the fence while he’s sleeping, just like in his dreams! Is that some kind of weird Matrix-esque suggestion that our reality is nothing but an unwaking dream, one where sheep rule? Well, in this game sheep do rule!

Let’s get crackin’. I’m pumped and full of spicy energy today!

Nice to see a language option from the get-go. B-but…will the sheep bleat in French accents if I choose that language? I dare not find out, lest this review be lost to the sands of time while I chortle along of French sheep Legionnaires.

The art style is not one I’m normally fond of; the shiny, saucer-eyed anime kid at the next screen scared the hell out of me for a second. It’s the…ambiguity, I think, of the gender at times. I didn’t and still don’t know for sure of this kid is supposed to be a dude or a chick. I’d assume a girl by the hairstyle, but ya never know with those zany Js, man…
…Ooh! A diary…or, just the name entry screen. Whatever. So begins the benevolent career of Sheepman. Although I find it very fitting that this review is in sorta-diary mode with the diary option here. Maybe like the title screen sheepdog dreaming of the world that surrounds him, I too am now so bound. Am I a sheepdog in reality!?!?

There’s a brief smattering of options to play with, but nothing important of mind-boggling. I can change the language, though…the bloated bleat of French sheep calls me, like a siren of the deep…

No…No!! I must continue. This is the one that counts!

I just noticed the cursor is a sheep! That I think gets the game a plus one in the scorebook right off! If I move the cursor-sheep up, it’s like he jumps! Boing! Wheee…but watching him makes me sleepy…

It’d be a bad idea to count on that guy. Best jump into a game. There’s only two, though, normal and arrange. Funny, reminds me of Resident Evil. And SHEEP!!! is developed by Capcom. Normal is a cut-and-dry ‘guide sheep to the goal’, it says. Methinks I might be starting with an extra clip or two for my Beretta if I choose Arrange mode, and get a different costume! Let’s go for it!

Hm, seems in this mode I’m to select my sheepdoging avatar. Who is Sheepman? Well, this whole experience has taught me that…I…am Sheepman! So let’s find the dog that’s the most like meeee! To my dismay I’ve learned there are only two dogs, a boy and a girl. I guess I’m more like a boy than a girl, so let’s go with that one.

Now this is odd. Upon selecting who Sheepman is, I’m told to name him--the dog. But he’s Sheepman! I’m Sheepman! Well…this must be his alter-ego, I guess. So we’ll go with Not Sheep (due to character limits).

Holy crap. I’m treated to sheep theatre. Really high-class stuff. Two sheep ponder the existence of reality beyond the fence. Like life, we too are constantly probing the fences that bar us from new discoveries, new sensations, new worlds of joy and excitement. And yet, here comes Sheepma--er, Not Sheep, ready to tell these poor sheep that they mustn’t venture into the unknown. Some truly thought-provoking questions arise here. Is Sheepman/Not Sheep holding the poor sheep back, keeping them from spreading their wings (or fluffy sheepfeet) and truly growing as people? Or does Sheepman know the horrors of the outside world, and doing what’s in the best interests for the sheep?

These are the questions I must tackle as I play. Or not. Within the very next line, Sheepman insists they can’t go because if they do, he will be scolded by Jan! Who is Jan? Why does Jan not want the sheep to leave?

Interestingly, the question remains, merely transferred from Sheepman to Jan. And now we have more questions. Why does Sheepman fear Jan? I believe we all have a Jan in our lives, trying to keep us leaping that proverbial fence.

Sadly, Sheepman finds himself a tool of the nefarious Jan, and must stop the sheep!

Wait, what’s this? Sheepman has shown up in person…as a person! I’m so confused…nonehtheless, Not Sheep the dog has to stop those little buggers, and I’ve a slew of levels to select, all with zany names and differing maps.

The gameplay appears simple: you run the dog along the sheep, barking at them to get them to turn along the course and stray them from obstacles like wall, tractors that somehow don’t kill them when they run over the sheep, electric fences (if your sheep touches one of these babies, expect an android to be dreaming of it soon), silos that function as freakin’ MORTAR LAUNCHERS (with your sheep as the mortar), conveyor belts to drag the poor sheep to said launchers, ADD MORE HERE all within a set time limit. Only a few minutes, so bark them fluffballs home fast, or it’s Jan you’ll be reporting to! JAN!!

You’ve a few helpful tools to see the task done, no doubt issued by Jan. A map (how does a dog have a map!?) and the ability to gauge both the sheep’s state of being as well as your own. I can let the latter two pass on good sheepdog senses, but there’s no way that mutt has a map in his head complete with GPS locator and You Are Here icons! He must be a robot, but why? WHY? Why would this mysterious Jan use robot sheepdogs to corral her prisoners who only want to run free and escape the Matrix of the ranch!? TELL ME!!

Hoping that pressing on may answer things, I’m left with no choice but to do thusly. Perhaps Not Sheep But Is a Robot Dog will turn against his master, the evil Jan. That is the fate of all robots, after all…

After doing the evil bidding of Jan and completing a level, you’re scored on a number of criteria, such as remaining time, sheep rescued, stars found (though you only seem to get them be herding a sheep over them in a level, and not by touching it yourself), and a few other weird factors: Normal, Gentle, Cool, and Rock. Iono. I found some weird trophy in one level that my dog could pick up. Maybe it’s that! The background on this screen is filled with many awesome fat cartoon sheep. And all is good when I gaze upon their countenance.

Also, the dog and sheep level up through these points. Which I guess is a nice way to trick you into playing the dozen short stages a billion times over, but I’m not falling for it! This is no doubt the work of Jan… No, I’ll beat these levels one by one and unravel her dastardly machinations once and for all!

As I press on, I’ve learned that the ‘weird factors’ are the kinds of sheep that there are. Man, this sheeping business is more complicated than I thought! So I decided to go back and see what normal mode offered, but found it was virtually identical to the arrange mode, save for leveling.

While the game came across as repetitive, I honestly had a pretty good time with it. It was simple and fun, but deceptively addicting. Reminded me of an old NES game or some such, and definitely worth a quick pick-up-and-play every once in a while. Just watch out for that diabolical Jan while you ponder the sheep’s fate and your role in it.

I know one thing myself. If I ever get my hands on Jan, it’ll be the end for her…permanently.

Rating: 6/10

turducken's avatar
Community review by turducken (June 13, 2009)

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