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What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 (PSP) artwork

What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord!? 2 (PSP) review

"Badman 2 is addictive. It’s addictive like Tetris is addictive, only Tetris doesn’t have a little evil man begging you to help him conquer the world. In Badman, such victory is achieved through the digging of superior dungeons with your magical evil pick-axe. The"

I will not be referring to What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord?! 2 by that ridiculously long title. I will instead be calling it Badman 2. I do this because I am a rational man and because I’d like to cut my word count in half. It will also take less time to type which will, subsequently, give me more time to play Badman 2.

Badman 2 is addictive. It’s addictive like Tetris is addictive, only Tetris doesn’t have a little evil man begging you to help him conquer the world. In Badman, such victory is achieved through the digging of superior dungeons with your magical evil pick-axe. The pick-axe has the odd ability to spawn monsters from dirt. The more “nutritious” the dirt, the stronger the monster spawned. The process works a little bit like this...

You start out in an un-excavated dungeon consisting of a single hallway. The first thing you tackle are some mossy areas. Digging these out earns you some slimes, which basically serve to boost nutrition in the blocks around them. You’re digging out some side tunnels for them to explore when you get a call from Badman: “Alert! Heroes are arriving in the dungeon! Place me somewhere safe!”

Fifteen seconds later, a hero whose dream is “to see the world covered in wild roses” shows up, slaughters your pack of helpless slimes, and drags Badman kicking and screaming back to the upperworld and, presumably, fiery justice.

So you try again. This time you dig your paths more efficiently, building looping paths so that the slimes, with their linear movement patterns, stick to small areas. This increases the nutrition output of your soil dramatically, allowing you to gain some stronger bug-monsters. Unfortunately, these bug-monsters happen to feed on slimes. As the bugs multiply, so does your slime population dwindle. You dig out some Lizardmen, which feed on the bugs, to keep the system in balance. But they have barely started to propagate when Badman calls again: “Alert! Heroes in the dungeon! I’ve got an ominous feeling!”

Fifteen seconds later, Mr. Wild Roses shows up, stomps through your unbalanced hordes, and we’re back to screaming and fiery justice.

So you try again. This time, though, you decide to screw the creature balance. In Badman 1, this wasn’t an option for those who wished to succeed at the game. Badman 2 has improved on its predecessor by including a new mutation system. Here, your monsters change their abilities and strengths based on the ecosystem. So, if your bugs eat up all your slimes and no longer have enough food, they won’t starve to death until you’re left without monsters. Instead they’ll evolve into more powerful creatures who hit harder and don’t have to eat as much (though at the cost of their movement speed). The slimes may mutate, too, into poison-carrying versions of themselves in order to fend off their natural predators (and, as a bonus, those pesky heroes). Through this system, your dungeon building never grinds to a halt because of poor creature management. The ecosystem doesn't control the player anymore; the player uses the ecosystem to steer the growth of their dungeon.

This time around, by messing with the food chain, you manage to get some freakish creatures in your dungeon. Now, when your flowery friend shows up, it is to attend his own funeral. You laugh with maniacal glee as your well-designed dungeon leads him from room to room filled with poisonous creatures and monstrous mutations. You’ve made it so that he’ll only reach Badman if her can survive ten of these rooms. He survives four.

But victory is a bittersweet drink on this day, for you’ve wasted all of your dig power preparing for that one hero. You cry bitter tears when the game offers you the chance to upgrade some of your units, for you know that you don’t have the dig power to do so. It isn’t long before Badman announces a new trio of heroes. They arrive with magic spells of fire and hidden sword techniques and, within minutes, have conquered your dungeon and brought Badman to the surface.

So you try again. And again. And again. Badman 2 is very much a trial and error game. Herein lies the secret of the addiction. The levels are short enough to make you think “I’ve got time for one more...” There is such a thing as a perfect dungeon in Badman 2 and you’ll just know you can build it. You’ll think that you know exactly where you went wrong on each retry and, most of the time, you’ll be right. You’ll fix the problem, only to run into another. You’ll fix that one and something else will go wrong. For a while you’ll feel like a bird beating itself senseless against a well-washed window and then, suddenly... amazingly... you’ll be winning.

I tried for hours to beat this one level. I died over forty times and still hadn’t beaten it. No this wasn’t the final level of the game. It was level 3. That’s right: I was handily defeated time and again in one of the beginning stages of the game. To me that level was go!@#$! impossible. Don’t try to tell me about how I didn’t have enough creatures or the right mutations. I loaded that dungeon wall-to-wall with upgraded bugs and magic-casting Lilliths. I built mazes so clever and twisted that Daedalus would have been at a loss to traverse them. The heroines who so boldly invaded my privacy didn’t care. Many a time I brought them down to 14 health only to watch them heal to full with but a single all-caps healing phrase. Then they'd wander over to Badman and drag him off while spouting inane phrases about how much my dungeon sucked.

Then, in one of the battles that would inevitably spell Badman’s doom, I watched a Lizardman Knight nearly take the duo out on its own. Through trial and error, and a little bit of luck, I had discovered the secret to the duo’s demise. I restarted and centered my entire dungeon around creating this specific species of Lizardman. It worked. When the duo next arrived, it was to meet fifty of these knightly reptilian adversaries. The girls didn’t stand a chance. I allowed myself a little jig of victory to celebrate their demise. Somewhere in Portland, there is a bus driver who is still very confused as to what the man in the back of the bus was whooping about.

I feel that for most people, Badman 2 will end this way (overwhelming victory and confused bystanders). For some, like me, it will be on Level 3. For others, it might be further down the road, but one day this game will defeat you. Utterly and completely defeat you.

And then you’ll get better. You'll conquer the unconquerable. And you'll feel smug as Dick Clark about it, because you'll know exactly why you won and you'll know you could do it again if you wanted. In Badman 2 you don't just construct dungeons. You construct victories. They may be small, 8-bit sprite victories, but rarely has winning felt so good.

Rating: 9/10

zippdementia's avatar
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (May 13, 2010)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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