“Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?” Review
Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? [Available on PSP]
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: July, 16th, 2009
Apart from the ridiculous title, Badman is also…well, different. Where to start though? The dark sense of humor and wit? A deliberate throwback to exceedingly retro graphics and design? The oddly structured strategy gameplay? It’s almost impossible to define really. Every once in a while, a game comes that just baffles due to its bizarre nature. Ultimately, it may develop a cult following with an affectionate niche, but may also alienate everyone else. Without a doubt,Badman is intended for the strategy game addict, and no one else.
The plot has the player fill the shoes of an evil deity trying to keep heroes at bay. Along the way, there’s plenty of wise-cracking, making it obvious that the localization team had a field day poking fun at the “save the world” theme that saturates so many games. Unlike, say for instance, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord, this is less cutesy, and more retro. The presentation gives the game an “SNES or Sega Genesis/Megadrive that was ported to the PSP” vibe. It goes straight down to the static text boxes that are reminiscent of nostalgic, old-school RPGs we’re all so fond of. Even the sound harkens back to classic medieval themes. The same goes for the characters’ voices and general effects; it’s all fun-to-hear nonsense. Badman’s sound design allows for enjoyment with or without the goods turned on surprisingly enough, and even the retro decision gives the experience an interesting charm and style.
The dialogue as a whole is meant to draw chuckles, not support any elaborate plot. If you expect any complex storytelling, Badman will disappoint, despite the PSP’s abilities to deliver in that respect. But that’s perfectly fine. It’s great to occasionally have a game that breaks the mold. Badman references other games and TV shows, making this title double as a pleasurable trip down memory lane, though from the “other” perspective. Nerds are sure to laugh out loud. Yet again, the entire time you’re looking at a grid-like collection of blocks and sprite monsters that aren’t heavily detailed because of the 8 and 16-bit callback. There’s variation at least, from humble slimes to powerful demons, the game is simply minimalist by standard. Badman opts for simplicity, which is OK by us. Besides, your villainous self controls a fortress of baditude, and that’s pretty awesome.
At the onset, your option is to either jump straight into the campaign and be gently reprimanded, or visit the extensive training mode. Obviously the tutorials explain all the nuances and tricks to the gameplay, from basic creature creation to the more advanced demon summoning. Each element is conveniently described with each brief stage, which helps you understand the game’s intricacies, not to mention unlock the campaign’s later areas. The game has a good sense of progression. There’s also an almanac, the reference to creature creation, which proves invaluable to the strengthening of your army. While working through the story, the game doesn’t really pull many punches. You either adapt and learn how to play or lose. As a stage begins, your job is to build your legion until enough time passes to bring the heroes in, initiating the next phase. Then your leader, a humble servant of destruction, must be placed. Be wise though, because it’s game over if the hero reaches him. Even while the hero navigates your dungeon, creatures can be created and upgraded, but it’s smart to plan ahead of time rather than scramble.
Units are created by destroying blocks, which are essential to everything in the game. Carve out a pathway through them to not only place the leader, but determine your monsters’ movement. Narrow passages limit that to back and forth, whereas lots of branching tunnels allow for spreading. Monster movement also governs how nutrients and mana are shared with other blocks. Monsters can either absorb block energy, or store it. This factor can’t really be controlled, and neither can the movement. It can be frustrating to deal with a mysterious element you can’t influence. Nonetheless, proper block and creature manipulation can improve your army and open the door for more powerful summons to bring even the mightiest hero to his knees. Points are also achieved after completing a stage, which can upgrade summons. Existing minions transfer between stages, lessening the need to start over. Badman even boasts an “edit” mode for us to challenge our friends. Players can modify hero units (class, voice, name, attributes, etc.) and send them to siege a buddy’s dungeon. It’s a neat idea that expands the game even more, though this multiplayer doesn’t hold the same water as the villain campaign.
Badman is pretty addictive. Strengthening monsters, expanding your forces, fighting the hero, strengthening your monsters even more…it’s a process that really appeals to the detail-obsessive and grind-loving gamer. But for many others, Badman is sure to seem too repetitive, too focused on aged gameplay, and just boring. There’s certainly a market for this title, but it’s far too niche to achieve mainstream popularity. Plus, even strategy enthusiasts may grow to dislike the monsters’ movement and uncontrollable mana/nutrient distribution. It’s even tough to visually distinguish blocks, which doesn’t help, despite the ability to examine them. But of course, some are sure to be hooked on everything. It certainly helps that the game is so pick-up-and-play. Stages can be completed rather quickly, proving a fun distraction. It’s also great to have this available as a PSN download. Badman isn’t for everyone, but is a decent game that offers modest enjoyment.
Overall (Not an average): 7/10
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