I REALLY wish I hadn't
chosen this game for my first review here at GB. At the time, it seemed
like a good idea – pick an obscure title that has likely piqued the
curiosity of anyone who's seen it offered at Playing Games or elsewhere. I
had visions of trumpeting this game as a hidden gem that was sorely
neglected due to poor marketing or its unusual subject matter. At worst, I
assumed I'd be heralding the game as a diamond in the rough, hindered by
its flaws, but well worth a play for the many reasons I'd spell out.
Instead, I'll be telling you why it's a garbage game in more ways than
Although a DOS-based game, it supports Windows 95 (which is what I used,
so I can't speak for Win98 or above), and I had no technical problems.
Installation was a breeze, so off we go to the game.
The story begins with the Blubs, an average family of aliens, colliding
with the spaceship of some unsavoury characters, sending both ships
hurtling towards our very own Earth. Unfortunately for the Blubs, they
crash land in a dump and can't escape until they've repaired their ship.
The gameplay is standard mouse-based, third-person, point 'n click
adventure fare. The game itself is broken up into four self-contained
episodes, each of which must be completed before proceeding to the next.
Three of the four do revolve around finding an item for your broken ship,
while the other wanders off in an unrelated direction.
You control each of the Blubs at various points of the game, so allow me
to introduce them to you. They are: Grandpa Blub, Grandma Blub, Mr. Blub,
Mrs. Blub, Son, and Daughter. According to the on-disc manual, the name of
the family animal is Stinky, but the game simply refers to it as "the
Pet". Similarly, the villains are subtly labeled "Bad Guys". Presumably if
you think of yourself as "the Player", you'll fit right in! Without even
the benefit of NAMES, you'll find it difficult to care about any of the
game characters. Zero marks for creativity here.
The best feature of this game, far and away, is the graphics. While one
might expect the locale to bring it down in this department, the game
looks colourful and interesting. This isn't so much an actual dump as a
badly littered area, and the scattered trash adds a visual flavour to the
game. Everything is done in a cartoon-ish style which is quite charming.
Items you can pick up or interact with are clearly defined, so no pixel
hunting is necessary.
The quasi-3D presentation has no bearing on the gameplay, and in fact
drags it down, as the characters walk as if they were wading ankle-deep in
dump sludge. Fortunately, you can hit the space bar to end each animation,
or turn them off entirely. Cutscenes and transitions between screens are a
bit of an eye-sore, however.
Voice acting is acceptable, and I might even call it "good", although the
dialogue is generally so abysmal that you spend your time waiting for them
to FINISH talking. This was supposed to be a funny game, but apart
from the odd amusing line or two, the comedy consistently missed the mark.
Normally I appreciate weird, but this game out-weirded itself.
There are also two incredibly dreary mini-games that you are required to
complete in order to proceed. One in particular is quite frustrating, as
the odds are clearly stacked against you, and once you lose, you're forced
to start over. You could be playing that sequence for a looooong time.
So what about the puzzles?... The good news is that there are no slider
puzzles, mazes or the like. The puzzles in Down in the Dumps are purely
inventory-based. Too bad they make absolutely no sense for the most part.
The developers seem to have chosen the time honoured tradition of creating
the wackiest solutions they could think of and built the puzzles backwards
from there. To make matters worse, this game contains a whole SCHOOL of
red herrings. At one point it occurred to me that I had more junk in my
inventory than in the dump. So I spent most of my time trying everything
possible, and usually I'd stumble across the solution eventually. However,
some solutions were SO specific in terms of where, when and how to use
items, I'd never have figured them out without the help of a walkthrough.
And speaking of walkthroughs, here's the real kicker of my experience with
the game. I mentioned earlier that the game consisted of four episodes,
right? Well, that's what you're led to believe by the game. And the only
two walkthroughs available agreed with that assessment. However, playing
the mini-games must have induced some kind of delirium, because for some
inexplicable reason, I went back in after the credits rolled and accessed
the main menu again... and found a fifth episode!!!
This final episode sees our beloved Blubs back on their repaired ship and
heading home. I guess the developers considered resolution to be an
Easter Egg!! Haha!! Those nutty tricksters! But wait – there's more to the
joke. This is a TIMED episode which is simply RIDDLED with bugs, allowing
characters to be in two places at once at the expense of losing your
cursor. I never could figure out the proper solution. Fortunately, Alex
Tait at Just Adventure was able to miraculously piece it together (once
informed that the episode even existed, of course). So if you DO find
yourself playing this game some day (you deserve your fate, if you ignore
my warnings), at least you'll be able to finish it.
Bottom line time... I'd never tell anyone NOT to buy a game. Let's face it
– we're BAAGERS; that's why we're here. No no, you're welcome to buy
it if you can find it dirt cheap – I'm urging you not to PLAY it!!! You
know full well that that's a totally different matter. Just put it near
the BOTTOM of that unplayed pile and KEEP it there.
Final score: 40%
(Recommended) System Requirements
Quad Speed CD-ROM
16 MB RAM
60 MB Hard Drive space
VESA compatible video card
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