When we first heard Sega's nattering for their all-new 128-bit console, The Floigan Brothers was one of the first games I saw that got me excited. I don't believe a single volume of the official Dreamcast magazine was released that didn't include, at the very least, a screenshot or brief passing mention of this revolutionary platformer. As the days and months, and eventually years passed, the cult-favorite (but ultimately doomed) Dreamcast, word of this title became scarce, then completely absent. It was long after the launch of the system that we were given the final product, and for many the interest had waned and, sadly, expired. The Floigan Brothers was, with much bravado, dubbed Episode One in the series, with the promise of online functionality and later installments. Even, sadder, perhaps, is the fact that these aspects never saw substantial fruition. Though not a bad game in any regard, there simply isn't anything here that hasn't been done before, or better in more highly acclaimed franchises.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if one were to take the classic "Of Mice and Men", hand the rights over to Tex Avery, and turn it into a videogame? That is, from what I've gathered, the premise behind the Floigan's foray into video entertainment. Featuring the duo of Hoigle and Moigle Floigan (how fun is THAT to say?), the Floigan Brothers story unfolds in a junkyard where Moigle is working tirelessly, and rather brainlessly, on a surprise project for his diminutive brother Hoigle. It is the duty of Hoigle to help Moigle locate several parts to finish the project, and, in turn, thwart the treacherous Baron Malodorous and his squad of mercenary cats from taking hold of their filthpile. This, aside from a brief tutorial, is the whole of the game. If one knows exactly what needs to be done, it can be completed in a scant hour-two hours.
Because this game was touted as being a continuing series, we will never know how good or bad the brother's further outings would have been, but judging on the single entry, it would have been "none too purdy". The first frustrating factor is the control scheme, which does NOT include a jump button. This alone cost the game several points, for there are times when you can actually fall into a small creek and have no way of getting back onto the land. The analog stick controls movement, while the four buttons are used to call Moigle to attention, speak to Moigle, throw/punch/grab/dive depending on the situation, and create an on-screen cursor to point things out to Moigle. Through talking to our resident Lennie, various power-ups of sorts become available throughout the junkyard. These are only used, on average, once and do little more than provide a quick sight gag and, if implemented correctly, open new parts of the junkyard.
The majority of the time is spent playing games with Moigle to earn "points" in his notepad and, thus, gain the ability to unlock more games to play to earn more points. Does it sound tedious yet? I certainly hope so! Again, these new abilities were to be of significance had the series been enjoyable enough to merit a second or third outing, but alas, we are forced to instead level up a lummox for no readily apparent reason.
Let's get back to that Tex Avery appeal I'm sure Sega thought they had captured. The characters speak with that forties-style jive we all grew up listening to in all of his cartoons. This, I feel, definitely works in the game's favor; it's the wacky antics those cartoons inspired that, I feel, hurt what could have been seen as an endearing game. Hoigle spends much of his time getting flattened and doing the accordion-walk, bursting into flames and employing that "What Happened!?" look the cartoon characters always got, and turning green and sea-sick when bitten by a disgusting giant spider. I guess little kids might get a kick out of it, and maybe I'm just a seventy-year-old stick-in-the-mud, but it just didn't do it for me; and I'm actually only sixty-eight. Besides, I doubt many little kids could grasp this control scheme.
The music also sounds as though it were pulled right from those cartoons, which is most definitely a plus. Just imagine every one of those old cartoons where a cat strolled down the alley with a trashcan plate rummaging through dumpsters looking for those highly-coveted fishbone and boot dinners, and you'll know exactly how the music goes. The sound effects are mainly comprised of boings and kerplunks, and whooshes, and the like. Every part of this should remind you of any number of toons we all, hopefully, enjoyed as whppersnappers, so I couldn't possibly give it a failing grade based on pure nostalgia alone.
With a premise that feels as though it were DESIGNED to be later replicated as a video game, The Floigan Brothers should have been so much more. While the child inside, underneath, sitting next to, or in the other room of (respectively) us should get at least a little kick out of it the first time through, the tedious core elements prevent it from being a classic. It still has a fun, sordid history, and is a great title to add to one's collection. It "coulda been a contender" but will, unfortunately, never give Mario and crew a run for their money.