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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Tapwave Zodiac games

Animated Dudes by Titan Interactive, Available from Tapwave's web site. Price: $24.95
Reviewed April 2005 by Alex Lifschitz

Well, the Zodiac is once again in that season of hype, with games like Tomb Raider and Neverwinter Nights still on the horizon. Until then, a slew of titles are being released for the Zodiac, and perhaps the game that is making the most buzz right now is Animated Dudes. But as a 2D side-scrolling platformer, can it stand up to the 3D heavy-hitters on the Zodiac? Yes. Yes it can.

Gameplay

Animated Dudes is a charming little title for the Zodiac, with plenty of personality and humor to match. The game functions like many other side-scrolling platformers, moving across a 2D plane to get from one side of the field to another, or sometimes, different directions on different levels. But the feeling this game gives is one of unparalleled style and grace. The presentation is very trippy, and the surreal style compliments the overall game in making it stand out from the norm. You can play as one of three characters in a junkyard brought to life: A plunger that can double-jump, a blob of slime that can hover and spit projectiles, and a stick of dynamite with a very powerful whip attack. You control them through a variety of scenarios that compliment their play style, from simple side-scrolling, to river rafting, to sewer crawling… Each level presents its own share of challenges, usually combining two different scenarios to create a diverse and enjoyable game experience. However, the main drawback of this game is the difficulty level. This game is unbelievably, horribly difficult. The learning curve is extremely steep. You might even find yourself losing five or more lives on the same jump, and the lack of spare lives in this game forces you to constantly restart scenarios, and it can just be plain frustrating. Even if you are against cheating, trust me, you will want to use the infinite lives cheat described at the end of this review just to negate the frustration factor.

Controls

The controls are standard for a game like this, but they work very well. The analog controls move you around, you can jump and attack with the face buttons. They're really nothing very special, but are responsive and not too sensitive. If anything happens to you in this game, it's most likely not because the controls were the problem. It's hard to ask for anything more in a game like this, so I can only judge by how responsive the controls are, and they're pretty responsive.

Graphics

The graphics are part of what make this game what it is. The animation is incredibly smooth, and the art is wacky and refreshing, but the quirkiness makes this game stand out from the pack. The characters design is reminiscent of movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, with a strange, deformed quality that adds to the individual and unique personality of the characters. The cutscenes and enemies also reflect these trippy designs. But artwork aside, the characters and sets are extremely well drawn, and the graphics are smoother than any other game I've seen for the palm format. The beautiful display of the Zodiac compliments the surroundings in conjunction with the characters. This is truly one of the more graphically pleasing titles on the system.

Sound

The sound for this game is wonderful. While the music can get a little repetitive, they also have a strange, off-key-yet-pleasing type of creepy sound to them that compliments the graphics. The sound effects are plentiful and match very well with their respective triggers. The jumps sound like jumps, the birds sound like birds, and everything has that same endearing warped quality that made the artwork so striking. The sound effects for things like spitting and hovering are oftentimes humorous and pleasing to hear. Both the art and sound hit home runs.

Conclusion

This game is definitely worth a purchase for any platforming fan. This game stands out in almost every category. The uniqueness of the game runs not off of a cheap gimmick, but by honing a striking artistic quality that makes it even more enjoyable to play. It's a game that can be used to show off almost every feature of the Zodiac, and the quirks in this game make it stand out from the mindless and repetitive games flooding most gaming platforms. The action is ever changing and mixes up any kind of monotony very effectively. Aside from the frustrating difficulty level (and I mean FRUSTRATING), this is almost a perfect game and a recommended purchase.

 

Screen Shots

game screen shot

game screen shot

 

 

Playing Hints and Tips

- Use the Infinite Lives code. You'll still lose health and die when prompted, but this will eliminate the frustration of returning to the start of the scenario when your un out of the short supply of lives.
- The following cheats will end when switch a scenario, so be sure to re-enter them.
-Full cheat code list (should be entered while playing):
211364217 Save current state
712463112 Load saved state
362111473 next level
433142315 Infinite energy
421312236 Full energy

346721127 Infinitive lives
211364217 Add one life

371234742 Infinite megaspheres
221177346 Add one Megasphere
346512366 Add 50 recycles
242341374 Waterproof & spikeproof
634712337 God mode!

Fun cheat codes (may work incorrect on some levels)
176316347 Change hero ...->Slime->TNT->Plunger->Slime->.......
231432143 Change hero to Skate
273646321 Change hero to SpaceSuite

Open all levels in "quick game":
1) Select "Credits" in main menu
2) Place red arrow above "Ilya Zenin" using stylus or joystick
3) Enter this combination 112244848854
4) If you enter this combination correctly, you could select any
level from "quick game" menu.

Tapwave Zodiac game controls

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

Both the art direction and graphical quality in this game are amazing, especially for a side-scroller.

Sound

The sound direction and ethereal quality makes the sound effects in this game go perfectly with the art style. It also sounds damn good.

Fun Meter

A very fun game, just very frustrating. If you can get over the constant, cheap deaths, this is a great and pleasing game.

Addictivity

Despite the difficulty, this game is just hard to put down. You just want to keep going until you beat the level... And then go on to the next one.



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