Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Have No Tomatoes

While I Have No Tomatoes is unlikely to amuse you for longer than five minutes (which is unfortunate, considering that a game takes exactly ten minutes to complete), it's a well-done and interesting arcade-esque game with a nice visual style. It's another skill-based game, which to my way of thinking is at least a nice change from puzzle-based games, but as such it just didn't have the depth or progression necessary to captivate me for very long.

Basically, you're a little Q-bert lookin' guy in a small maze-like grid-based level. You move by pressing the arrow keys in the cardinal direction you want to go, made a bit awkward at first by the game's isometric view. The maze is also filled with constantly re-spawning tomatoes, who run amok and kill you if you touch them. Hitting space tosses a bomb, which will explode in a linear fashion after a second or two, killing anything its explosive force encounters.

The point is to kill as many tomatoes as possible. The twist? Rather than being limited by the number of lives, the player is limited solely by the clock. Each level lasts exactly 60 seconds. There are ten levels, so each play-through takes ten minutes to complete. You can die as much as you want, but time spent re-spawning is time not spent offing tomatoes, so it's in your best interests to stay alive.

The only other thing to be mentioned is the special-powers. When you off a tomato, it leaves behind a colored power-up that you can use to do a special attack: wild-fire, lightning, etc. Most of them kill everything on the screen, with the exception of the teleport power which I never actually used, the trap, and my favorite, the potato man. It summons a potato man who runs around the maze offing tomatoes. That's just awesome.

Graphically, it's full-screen only, and the resolution is a decent 800x600, so things are as sharp as they have to be to look good in the game's cartoony style. Not much other than the colors seems to change between levels, so after a few levels with differing-but-similar layouts and graphics, it tends to get a bit old. I was slogging through the last couple of levels hoping it would end even in my first go 'round with the game.

The sound is low-key but non-annoying. The default level of the music basically allowed me to ignore it, and the sound-effects are on-par with everything else in the game: pretty good.

I Have No Tomatoes' interesting feature - the time limit - is also its downfall. With all of the content so basically similar to itself, and the lack of any deviation in subsequent attempts, you've experienced everything it has to offer the first time you play it. For perfectionists who thrive on trying to best their highest score, this isn't a problem, but I play to unlock content (preferably narrative), and when the content is going to be unlocked any damn ways, and is sort of boring to boot, there's just nothing to keep me coming back.

Fans of arcade games from the 80s should give this one a look-see, as they might look at it and see something I'm missing. I'm not the intended audience for this title, and those who are will probably find its gameplay more rewarding. If nothing else, it meets the base level of competence that so few open-source games do, and that should be encouraged. It's nice-looking, it works, it offers an interesting twist in the game-play, and it even has a sense of humor. If it didn't bore me to tears, I'd love it.

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