Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
Stupid Invaders Reviewed by Thomas Charnock on . Rating: 57%
Stupid Invaders
Stupid Invaders Stupid Invaders Stupid Invaders Stupid Invaders
  • Review Score:

  • C+
Stupid Invaders stands alone as the only point and click adventure on the Dreamcast; and due to this complete monopoly of the genre, becomes the finest available on Sega's final machine by default. But don't let that statement fool you into thinking it's anywhere near as good as genre-defining titles like Grim Fandango or Broken Sword - it ain't.

The game tells the tale of five picnicking aliens who, on the trip home in their tin-pot spaceship, manage to crash on Earth. Luckily, they manage to crash near an abandoned house on the outskirts of (and I quote) a town nobody has ever heard of, and set up home in said house whilst repairs are carried out on their stricken ship. Unfortunately for our extraterrestrial party of five, local mad scientist Dr Sakarin has learned of the crash and recruits a bounty hunter by the name of Bolok to capture the aliens for his experiments. Breaking into the house, Bolok manages to capture four of the aliens, and it's as the fifth alien you start the game and attempt to rescue your comrades.

Now, the fact that the bounty hunter is called Bolok has probably already hinted that this game isn't really intended for kids - indeed, the amount of "adult" humour contained on the two GD-ROMs verges on the grating, especially when it's as unfunny as it is in Stupid Invaders. But that's the least of the problems here. As stated in the opening sentence, Stupid Invaders is a point and click, or "graphic" adventure, where you don't actually have any direct control over the movement of your characters. Instead, you move a little arrow (or in this case a hand) around the screen and press the A button to tell the character where to move on the pre-rendered background. Moving the arrow (hand) over certain plot sensitive items in the room cause it to change form depending on what you can do with the particular item - for instance if you can press a button a little 'action' icon appears; whereas if you can talk to a character the hand turns into a mouth etc.

The thing about Stupid Invaders is that it's never really clear what it is you're meant to be doing, or what to pick up due to the surreal nature of the environment, so you end up moving the hand over everything on the screen just to make sure you haven't missed something vital on a desk or on the floor. Most of the time though, the things you can interact with are totally useless and in no way add anything but annoyance to the experience; such as pulling the toilet chain just to initiate a pointless toilet gag, pressing the keys on an organ to initiate a pointless 'organ' joke, or looking at a portrait on a wall...that is just a portrait. Frustrating and very tiresome.

Stupid Invaders also commits one of the most heinous crimes known to videogames - the instant death. More than once you'll open a completely innocent looking cupboard or door...only to be treated to a cut scene of your demise. It's always a nicely rendered cut scene, but that hardly makes up for the trial and error nature of the proceedings.

As far as technical things go, Stupid Invaders looks pretty sweet. The graphical style of the environments tend to lean very much towards the Ren & Stimpy side of things, and are generally full of bizarre little details, such as freaky looking ornaments and pictures. Everything is beautifully rendered in super hi-res, and the animation of the character sprites is perfectly acceptable, too. Some of the rooms are a bit threadbare though, whilst others are so full of things it's hard to know where to look first, but overall there are no gripes with the visual side of things - infact it looks really quite impressive in places (even considering it's really only a collection of pre-drawn backgrounds!). The music, sound and voice acting are also perfectly fine, but a tad minimalist (and when it does kick in, the music tends to be strange rather than toe-tapping).

My major gripe with Stupid Invaders though, is the sometimes plodding plot development and frequently illogical puzzles that you are required to solve before you can progress. In some cases, there are things in a room that look like they should be part of a puzzle, but aren't, and this can lead to major confusion and the loss of considerable amounts of hair. Furthermore, as touched on earlier, some of the humour is way off the wall and will serve to make you go 'eh?' rather than chuckle - e.g., one of the first puzzles is unblocking a chimney. It's blocked because Santa Claus is stuck down it, and after a ridiculous multiple choice conversation in which none of the questions you can ask have any point, you pour a bottle of toilet cleaner down the chimney. This causes Santa to melt, and therefore unblock the chimney for your descent. Like I said - bizarre.

To be totally blunt, Stupid Invaders is not really the kind of thing you'd expect to find on the Dreamcast - it's actually more like an early PC game, and for that reason it's hard to recommend. On the flip side, it's quite an interesting little title and for the same reasons is something collectors should track down if only for the novelty value.
comments powered by Disqus