Ringo Zug Zug Shelly.
With a primitive club clutched in hairy arms recently fortified by a Japanese sugar cookie, the caveman sneaks ever closer to the wily snow-hippo…. He leaps! A few decisive blows and the hippo is only so much hippo-meat. Triumphant, the hunter returns his prize to the tribe. All are nourished, and paintings of his primitive conquest newly adorn the cave wall.
Straight out of the deranged, drug-soaked minds at Artdink (the folks who brought you Carnage Heart) comes what is certainly the strangest game ever made for the Sony PlayStation. Tail of the Sun is a surreal, neolithic caveman adventure which pits you and your tribe against the savage world. Inspired by…. well no game I can think of. It most closely resembles…. well I can’t think of anything here either.
You’re going to see some bad reviews for this game. The graphics are pretty bad. The gameplay is kind of slow. On the surface, there just doesn’t seem to be very much to this game. However, there is a fundamental underlying charm to this game, and a strange addictive quality. It is not going to appeal to everyone, but if you are a strange type of person (no names please) then this is certainly a very strange sort of game.
You begin with a tiny tribe of three – no huts, no village, just a mound of dirt. You pick one member of the tribe and control him (or her) until he dies. Then you pick another member to control. In the meantime (hopefully) your tribe has procreated and you have more members to choose from. Build your tribe, your village, your culture and eventually build a tower of mammoth tusks tall enough to catch the tail of the sun. (Can you say ‘Tower of Babel’?)
Your job, as a hunter-gatherer, is to hunt and gather. The terrain you have to explore is enormous, and it is loosely based on the primordial continent of Pangea (you know… that super-continent you learned about in geology 101). Anyway, this savage landmass is festooned with Japanese sugar cookies, just to make foraging for food easier. Cookies with different shapes will nourish different parts of your body. Lungs for swimming, head for thinking, arms for hunting, legs for running, and let’s just say you can increase your procreating power, too.
Also meandering about the super-continent are animals you can hunt, and animals that can hunt you. There are saber-toothed tigers, hippos, elk, moose, bison, monkeys, a kind of lizard-bear, and of course, mammoths. Don’t even think about trying to take on a mammoth until you have advanced a few levels in weapons technology, and tossed a few boulders at it from a safe distance. This is a wise fighting policy which I still use today.
Another reason to wander the primitive world is to find the odd objects and monuments scattered about. There are caves, Stonehenge, the body of an alien, dinosaur footprints, an underwater temple, and a giant stone nose (among other things). Increase your swimming power if you want to reach some of the distant islands.
The music in the game is very good! The environmental noises will occasionally fade out and you will be treated to some cool, if odd, grooves. The sound effects, on the other hand, are boring and repetitive. You always make the same grunt, the same running noise, and so on.
Like I said, the graphics are pretty bad. Very simple polygons, sugar cookie sprites, bad camera angles (especially on mountains or in caves), and a surrealistic sky. The gameplay can drag on at points, especially if you can’t find any animals for a while. You need to sleep occasionally and your caveman will just fall to the ground (even in the middle of a dead run) and do just so. He only sleeps for 30 seconds or so, but all you can do during that time is watch him. Makes me want to sleep also.
Still, there is something charming about your tribe. They all have different, very creative faces and slightly different abilities. You can even manipulate the genetic progress of your tribe by nourishing certain parts of your body. There is something addictive about their primitive quest to catch the tail of the sun. You want them to succeed.
I’ll be honest with you, most of you will not like this game at all, but I can only give it one grade. Tail of the Sun is a truly unique, bizarre game, and I played it more than most of the seen-it-before, run-of-the-mill games we get in the office. If you like flashy new stuff, high tech programming, or massive firepower, you will not like this game. But if you’re a weird sort of person, have a longer attention span than average, and you’re sick of all the tired genre games, check out Tail of the Sun and let your freak flag fly!