They're cute, they're bald, now you can kill them.
Ever wanted to be Dr. Frankenstein, experimenting on people and animals in anyway you wished? Ever want to use those inventions on little bald men? Now you can, in Baldies, the sick and twisted strategy game from Panasonic.
The premise of the game is simple. You are the God of the Baldies, who are the rivals of the Harries (apparently, the war is over the presence of loathsome hair). It's your job to control the Baldies by showing them where to go, what to research, and what to do so that you (and they) can destroy the Harries.
Alright, look. Baldies is the most demented game on the market today. So if you are looking for creepy weird bizarre action with twisted mind-boggling inventions, look no further. This is your game.
On the outside, Baldies looks like a cartoonish version of Command and Conquer. The map oriented control of the characters and how they react with the environment is very similar to C&C. One of the main differences is a lack of "Fog of War," which means that you can see your enemy at all times. Instead of having to explore to find the Harries - you'll know where they are from the start.
There are a lot of environmental effects in Baldies that are missing from the other real-time strategy games. The results of rain and snow can be seen on the map by means of floods and snow covered landscape. The map can be destroyed by a variety of objects too, such as meteors, grenades, missiles, and bombs. For example, you could decide to make a lake by using the meteor invention in the middle of a land mass. No more permenantly fixed terrain!
However, there is a major difference in the way Baldies is played compared to Warcraft IIor C&C. You aren't in complete control of what your Baldies do. While playing the game, your Baldies run rampant around the map, you can't give them specific destinations. You can however use your massive God-hand to grab Baldies, kicking and screaming, and move them around the map. Want to drop him in the water? Go ahead and watch the Baldie drown. Or, to be more practical, drag it into the enemies base so it can cause some destruction. You can use your God hand to pick up almost anything on the map, even animals. You can drag animals into the laboratories to be experimented on by your scientists (insert evil laughter here). Like I said, Baldies is one twisted game.
There are four different kinds of Baldies: Breeders, Workers, Scientists, and Soldiers. You can change any Baldie with the click of a button. Inside your houses (which are basically your bases), different Baldies reside. For example, if you put some breeders in a house, they will breed. You must have some Builder Baldies in a house to keep it maintained. You can also perform upgrades on your house to make it more powerful. All the types of Baldies are important, and one of the challenges of the game is to figure out how many of each type that you want at a specific time.
The inventions in the game is one of the most appealing parts. There is such a large variety of different things you can do to interact with the Baldies (albeit usually results in death) that it's just a blast to watch the reactions of the Baldies to your inventions. You can even combine more than one invention together for mass destruction. Try dropping a Skunk bomb onto the roof of an enemy house and watch them frantically run out. Combine it with the Popper invention and fill the air outside of the house with helium. Then watch the Harries' heads go "pop." There are also vehicles you can invent in the game including the bombing helicopter, but more fun, the car. You get to control the vehicles, mowing down Baldies an Harries at will. In a network game, you can even play the "Baldies GrandPrix." Guess what the goal is for that game?
The game is fairly confusing at times. The learning curve is really large and fairly steep. Regular strategy fans will find it quite difficult to get used to because of the lack of complete control. You have to account for the roaming nature of the Baldies, always unsure of what they will do next. The manual is somewhat lacking in relevant information as well, just increasing the confusion. But, if you give it enough time, you'll get the hang of it.
Baldies is an interesting new twist in the strategy genre. It comes with 4-player network capability, delightful sound and music, and enough inventions to bring a maniacal laugh to all of us. It's not an all time great, but if you're looking for a strategy game other than Warcraft II or Command and Conquer, you should check this one out.