Thursday, January 31, 2008

Angry, Drunken Dwarves

On the basis of the title, if nothing else, I approve of Angry Drunken Dwarves. Honestly, that's just a great title. And it relates to the gameplay about as much as the word 'bobble' does to Puzzle Bobble. Actually, probably less. I don't know what 'bobble' means, so it may be very relevant to the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move games.

This isn't actually a drunk dwarf-fighting simulator, it's another puzzle game. It's basically a mashup of Puzzle Bobble and Tetris. Rather than firing colored bubbles at the field of play, the colored pieces drop down, and you can rotate them. Eliminating blocks of these pieces places pieces in the opponent's playfield to contend with.

There are some nuances and whatnot that add more depth to the game, but it's basically just Puzzle Bobble rules with Tetris mechanics. It's a lot of fun, though I prefer Puzzle Bobble (or even Snood). This is just personal preference; I enjoy the shooting/guesstimating-style gameplay they offer to the rotating and concrete gameplay offered by Angry, Drunken Dwarves.

Graphically, the game is a weird mix of Windows 3.1 shareware aesthetics and really nice-looking professionally-developed-game style. The main menu is pretty much of the former variety, while the actual game is mostly the latter. The character portraits (did I neglect to mention that? You pick a character from a number of amusingly biographied options; it affects gameplay in the same way it does in Puzzle Bobble: different characters throw different patterns of blocks at the enemy when you're successful) are a bit of each.

Sound wise, C&C Music Factory is all over the title-screen. Seriously, every time I start the game, that's what I'm reminded of. It's a really well-done soundtrack, but the music is (intentionally, I think) laughable as all get out in the context of drunken dwarves. Typical dance music from the 90s is the only way I can think of describing it, although it does veer from that description a bit during gameplay.

The game features unlockable features, but it wasn't enough of my thing to actually unlock any of them. I actually did plan on playing until I unlocked at least one thing, but with my chosen character (he's a pirate!) I kept hitting a brick wall at a certain point, and apparently hitting a brick wall a half-dozen times doesn't unlock anything. I apologize to the programmers for not trying harder and/or being better at their game, but honestly, while I respect it for what it is, it's just not my kinda thing.

Make no mistake, I do respect it for what it is. It's a well-done game, that's a mashup of two very popular styles of games, both of which have been ripped off endlessly; that this one does something relatively new makes it an homage rather than a pathetic attempt to take credit for someone else's idea. There was a sense of humor behind this that I definitely like, and the art-direction is solid if not awe-inspiring. I can't really say anything bad about this game, which - I think - says something very good about it.