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Booga-Boo (Commodore 64) artwork

Booga-Boo (Commodore 64) review


"Few games manage to annoy the player as much as Booga Boo does. Despite the programmer's undoubtedly good intentions, this game is completely devoid of any entertainment value at all, but does manage quite nicely to drive you insane in record time. The concept of the game is to guide a flea who has fallen down a bunch back up to where he started. Walking around is not an option - it's a flea, and therefore we'll be jumping. Using a series of awkward left and right jumps, you must somehow guide h..."



Few games manage to annoy the player as much as Booga Boo does. Despite the programmer's undoubtedly good intentions, this game is completely devoid of any entertainment value at all, but does manage quite nicely to drive you insane in record time. The concept of the game is to guide a flea who has fallen down a bunch back up to where he started. Walking around is not an option - it's a flea, and therefore we'll be jumping. Using a series of awkward left and right jumps, you must somehow guide him back up over a series of platforms, all the while being chased by a hungry bat who you will somehow need to elude first because he's right in your path. The game's only goal is to get back up in as little time as possible, and any session of Booga Boo will last two minutes at most. Don't think this means it's easy, though - it cost me years to finish the game once.

Booga Boo has plenty of problems that all together combine to turn it into a hopeless excuse for a game, but the two worst problems are the actual game time compared to the time spent waiting, and the horrible controls that make the game pretty much unplayable. Compared to these problems, all the others are just minor annoyances that contribute further to the inevitable conclusion that there's no fun at all to be had from this title.

Addressing the first major issue, Booga Boo is a fairly big file as Commodore games go, easily taking 15-20 minutes to load from a standard tape. Now this is of course a problem with any Commodore games coming on tape, and one that is easily solved by using a disk drive instead, but most titles of the same size are far longer, deeper and usually better games. In Booga Boo, it's a bit of a mystery what all this size has gone into - partially perhaps the graphics, since the playing field is fairly large and detailed, but even then it seems two or three times as big as other games of similar complexity. A lot of loading time for a little game, therefore. The headache's not over after you're done loading, either. Each session of Booga Boo starts with the annoying little yellow flea hopping to the left and right for a bit, then falling into a hole, all the way down to the starting point of the level, after which the status bar (containing your current altitude and the time elapsed, nothing more) is drawn painfully slowly at the bottom of the screen. Only then, at least 30 seconds after you started your game, can you begin moving. Since a typical game of Booga Boo doesn't *last* 30 seconds, that means you're waiting more than you're playing. That gets on your nerves fast, I assure you.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Booga Boo is a control nightmare. All moving around is done by jumping, and jumping is done by holding the stick to the left or the right to build power, then releasing when you are ready to jump. A bar fills up showing your jumping power, but it moves so quickly that even if you've played a lot and know roughly how hard to jump, it is almost impossible to time your jump exactly the way you want it to be - and the game does expect you to, because if you are only a little off target, you will likely miss whatever platform you were jumping to and fall all the way down again. The game would already be near impossible to complete if you could just jump and jump and jump until you get it right, but all the while a large yellow bat swoops through the level, coming straight at you, and making a nice snack out of you when he catches up. That usually doesn't take long.

It's hard enough to see what you're doing, anyway. The screen scrolls in all directions, either automatically when you approach the edge or controlled by you, by holding the fire button and moving the stick in the intended scrolling direction. But that means you can't jump while you're scrolling, and if you're going to elude that bat, you'd best be in a hurry. Besides, the scrolling isn't all that useful - a typical jump is higher than one screen's length, so you often can't see what you're doing at all. After countless sessions, you'll probably be able to memorize the layout of the entire playground and you'd be able to make the jumps blindly - if the jump power bar didn't fill so darn fast that you'll never get it entirely right, that is.

If you do manage to get past the bat and all the way up, something which I've succeeded at exactly once in my life, you get to enter your name and your best time will now show up on the title screen - only to be gone when you switch off the Commodore, because Booga Boo is well before the era where games saved your high scores to disk.

What we're looking at, then, is a game where you play one game session every minute (30 seconds waiting, 30 seconds playing), hoping to somehow get incredibly lucky on your jumps and making it to the top. There is no real incentive to winning, either - no victory screen or anything. Winning is a real anti-climax, and the feeling I had when I finally did was a lot closer to relief than pride.

Graphically Booga Boo is far from stunning, though the bat looks nicely menacing. He's far too yellow, though. The playground itself isn't all that detailed, though at least most of the platforms have different colours. I suppose that's one of the few aspects of the game that could have been worse. But if we have to approach a game from that perspective, one should wonder if it can still be called a game at all.

We play video games for various reasons, but entertainment is going to be an important aspect to everybody. When a game utterly fails to deliver any fun at all, and succeeds only in piling on frustration and irritation, it is not worth playing whatsoever. Booga Boo, through all its flaws, is a prime example of this. I would not recommend this title to my worst enemy. Stay well away.

Rating: 1/10

sashanan's avatar
Community review by sashanan (June 19, 2009)

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