I’ve got a bone to pick with you.
It’s not an uncommon occurrence for eccentric celebrities to give their offspring equally, shall we say, unique names. Monikers like Moon Unit Zappa and Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette for children are almost a guarantee that they will not only grow up to harbor a great deal of resentment toward their parents, but they’re also probably going to be a bit of an odd duck. Apparently, eccentric game makers like NIS America are no different. Any game with a name like Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman! What Did I do to Deserve this?, even with its own set of issues, is bound to offer up a one-of-a-kind experience… although that one-of-a-kindness may not necessarily be a good thing.
[image1]Holy Invasion (oPB!WDIdtDt?) is definitely it’s father’s son. Much like in NIS America’s cult favorite, Disgaea, you take on the role of the bad guy, a newly resurrected villainous antagonist and supposed master of darkness, tasked with building an army of demonic monsters to defend you against would-be heroes who could easily destroy you in your current weakened state. Much like Demitri Maximoff. The quirky, nerdy humor you’ve come to expect from these Japan-centric translations is ever-present and darkly cheerful as always. The heroes that try to destroy you even get little jokes in their names, such as the hero Egon who “collects spores, molds, and slimemosses”.
The 8-bit retro stylings of the graphics are going to give older gamers non-LSD-induced flashbacks to the old days of the NES, and make young folks feel ’80s-revival hip. A nice color palette with some lovely, vibrant purples helps keep the atmosphere from ever taking itself too serious. Even the big-horned cyclops demons from another dimension are oddly cute and cuddly.
Gameplay is a simple-to-control yet deceptively complex cross between Dig Dug and Overlord. You crush blocks in an underground maze with a giant pickaxe and depending on what that block looks like, monsters come out of them. Some will eat each other and some will co-habitat and grow stronger as they feed, and kill more heroes. After spending some time building your maze and horde, you’ll have to hide your prince of darkness somewhere in the maze and hope your army of mindless, uncontrollable oddities is enough to stave off the Final Fantasy protagonist wannabes. That’s really about it – a very simple concept that can be fun at times, but somewhere along the line, just falls flat on its face and becomes overly frustrating.
[image2]One of the major issues is that not all the training courses are available right off the bat, and there are some complex rules you need to understand to progress through story mode, in regards to which blocks do what and how to make certain demons such as dragons and giant-horned beasts appear. After doing the first set of learners, I thought I knew it all and went boldly into story mode. I died at level three over and over again. This in and of itself is frustrating enough, but when you couple it with the apparent inability to save in story mode, it meant I kept repeating the first three levels.
Deciding that I perhaps had missed something, I went back to training only to find that I had unlocked more training levels that actually gave me all the training I needed to complete the story mode. I’m sorry, but making someone bounce back and forth between training and story modes like a tennis ball at a Wimbledon rally, forcing you to do everything over again when you go back to the story, is a poor attempt at being clever and puzzling. Compound this with convoluted and confusing tutorials, especially in their wording, and you can guarantee someone’s going to try playing this game only to end up throwing their PSP through a window. The only other title I can recall that had a training mission this frustrating was learning how to walk through crowds in Assassin’s Creed, and I knew some folks where that was enough to make them put down the controller and go outside for fun. And I know that nothing scares gamemakers more than that.
[image3]It’s not like the game wasn’t tough enough to play nor puzzling enough to begin with (*sarcasm*). Making your maze requires meticulous thought that even when executed properly can still leave you with nothing but some low-level slimemosses to protect you from the legions of do-gooders that want your carcass. Everything should work in theory but doesn’t in practical application. You really need to memorize all the movement and feeding needs of all of your minions, which is no easy task, even by the third level as you try to maintain not only a balanced eco-system, but a clever and complex maze as well. Better progressive AI would have helped make a lot in making this game fun.
Simply put, HIOPBWDIDTDT is a weird and unique freak of nature amongst the mundane shooters and RPGs with their played out themes of morality, but it’s trying too hard to be clever. I mean, even the hardcore Japanese gamer kids are going to have a tough time figuring out just what the hell is going on. It’s a clever idea with too high of a learning cruve and too great of a punishment for failure. Though I bet it would do great as a Japanese game show.