Baa, baa, baaad.
As if there already weren't a game for every real or imaginary thing in the
world, we now have a sheep herding game. Yes, you heard me - a sheep herding
game. Lassies all over the world rejoice! Seriously, how do these people come
up with these things? I kinda picture it like this:
"Hmm… there aren't enough good sheep herding games out there."
"By Jove, there aren't any sheep herding games at all!"
"Then golly gee whiz, we've got to make one. And fast!"
"Yes, very fast! Even if it's chock full of problems and bugs!"
"Great! Now lets go throw sledgehammers at each other for fun like we always
Sheep ranks right up there with Kolibri, the Sega 32X hummingbird
game, when it comes to perverse animal-themed games. Personally, I'm looking
for an upcoming virtual three-toed sloth game where I can hang upside down,
sleep 15 hours, and then eat leaves. All the sweet, sweet leaves that I can
stuff my three-toed sloth face with.
Okay, so the Sheep concept is a little off, but maybe we'll still be
able to find a fun game within. The original Frogger brought us into
the world of being green and slimy. Worms brought artillery
annelids to life. Both were fun in animal incarnations, so perhaps Sheep
can follow suit.
Well as it turns out, Sheep is just as much fun as real sheep
herding. It's a fast paced, laborious exercise that offers a challenge, but
in the end is more of a chore than a a game.
Strangely enough, the designers felt compelled to attach a plot. So as the
story goes, Sheep are actually highly intelligent animals from outer
space. Apparently, they've de-evolved over the many eons they've been on Earth
and are now dumb as posts. And your fun, fun job is to lead these posts to their
interstellar brethren. Yippee. Just the job I've always wanted.
Players control one of four characters. Choose from either two severely deformed
and ugly humans or pick one of the two dogs - a happy-go-lucky goofy puppy or
a battle-hardened sheep dog. The sheep dog must have been from some ghetto farm
or something, because he's got an eye patch. That's a sign that his life was
ruff. Get it? Ruff? Dogs and the barking? Haha! [Somebody ring the gong.
Please. - Ed.]
The sheep come in four different species, each with a slightly different behavioral
pattern. The sheep need to be coaxed en masse towards the exit. If you
approach a single sheep from one direction, that sheep will likely run away
from you. Just do your best to keep them from scattering and getting into danger
like they always do. Sounds
There are three speeds involved in the chase: creep, walk, and run. Use these
speeds to maneuver those sheep around. You can also pick up sheep to activate
certain switches. And no, there isn't enough time to carry them all one by one.
The levels are big, 2D obstacle courses full of terror and destruction for
your little lambs. Dangers include giant threshing machines, crazy chefs, fires,
dragons, shadows of darkness hungry for sheep, and so on. Each level has a "correct"
method of completion with minimized sheep loss.
The gameplay is challenging, but equally difficult and frustrating. Even while
taking the correct path, a simple slip can result in many sheep causalities.
Sheep is a game of trial and errors. Many, many errors.
The controls are very basic, using a simple keyboard layout. You can use the
mouse, but it's a really bad idea. Your mouse controls a cursor that your character
walks towards. Move it far away, and the character will interpolate Point A
(starting point) to Point B (your cursor). A good idea, but ends up being completely
imprecise. Stick to that keyboard - it's a wonderful invention.
Sheep is definitely a 'time waster' game, on the same level as cute
little diversions like Minesweeper and Solitaire. It's interesting
enough to keep you playing for a while, but soon enough the frustration sets
in and you'll give up. What they should have done was have the game environment
windowed so you can sneak in a few rounds while the boss isn't looking. But
no such luck.
One would expect that such a game would be a perfect addition to the discount
aisles. Sheep fits the very idea of a value-priced game. But, lo and
behold, Sheep costs $29. TWENTY-NINE DOLLARS! Go spend a little more
and get yourself No One Lives Forever.
In the end, Sheep is a lot more work than fun. When I play it for long
stretches, I feel like I deserve a nap on a bale of hay. Puzzle games require
a careful balance of predictability and randomness. In Sheep, things
are just too random, and it really should have been native to Windows and sold
for much cheaper. This is one sheep better off lost.