Sunday, May 13, 2007
Game Review of Schlongg
This is an imaginative reworking of the tried and tested Breakout formula, with added bells, whistles and well…Schlongg, I guess.
As is probably well familiar to anybody aged over 20 or so, the idea of play is to use a “bat” (positioned at the bottom of the screen and moveable only left and right) in order to strike a flying “ball” at a number of targets positioned at and around the very top of the screen.
Though attempts are made to account for these classic gameplay features behind an “aliens invading Earth” storyline (which may or not be entirely tongue-in-cheek when taking into consideration the titular name of these invading “Schlonggs”) the underlying concept is really no different to Breakout whatsoever.
However, never has a bat and ball game been so technically advanced as Notsoft’s effort (Notsoft. Schlongg. Veeery funny). The 3D graphics - complete with alterable “pilot’s view” camera - are of respectable quality and very colourful, and not since the equally inappropriately named Game Gear title Woody Pop (what is it with these people?) have powerups been so varied and genuinely effective upon the play environment; your bat, or spaceship, or whatever on earth it actually is, will be shrunk, grown, stretched, sped up and slowed, as will the ball. There’s a multi ball powerup which can cause up to five balls to be caroming around the screen at one time, and you can even be supplied temporarily with guns, blasting the target bricks rather than relying on the ball to do it.
With a choice of control methods including the mouse, the ship will begin, with minimal practice, to respond fairly well to all these changes, with most deaths being almost entirely due to player error.
So far so good, but with over 160 levels, doesn’t this concept become a bit tired quite fast? Sort of. Help is, however, at hand with between level bonus stage-type levels, when the camera switches to chase mode and your ship/bat begins to accelerate frightfully fast along a twisting, turning tubular passageway. These sections play in an extremely similar fashion to a cross between Sonic 2 bonus stages and Wipeout, necessitating a dizzying journey through and around the sides of the tunnel collecting as many powerups as possible before the next stage. The only problem here is the myriad differently styled objects to collect at high speeds, which being so varied in their design, and generally unrecognisable, seem far more sensible to avoid than to collect, as half the time you’ll find yourself collecting the wrong green spikey thing and being stripped of all the powers you’ve gained. Still, the speed tube is a welcome diversion from the often stayed procedure in the main game, and looks pretty darn cool to boot.
So in conclusion, what exactly do we have here? If you’re a fan of Breakout, you’ll honestly be in hog’s heaven with this game. Masses of levels, some challenging boss encounters, inventive and graphically pleasing presentation and there’s even a level editor (which, if it catches on, could spawn a potentially unlimited amount of fan-made “episodes”) – this should satisfy any and all bat and ball desires for some time to come. However, if you’re not particularly into this type of game, there’s really not an awful lot to keep you coming back. While fun for a bit, tackling so many samey levels with a largely unbroken concept won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. Try the demo before you buy.
Finally, not wishing to be a killjoy but, at the end of the day how many people may be put off purchase by the prospect of a shortcut named Schlongg on their desktop for all to see? I’ve had some funny looks already…
Score - 5/10
More info, screenshots and the demo at http://www.shlongg.com/info/index.htm
Copyright © 2006 Peter Michael Gothard