iPhone Game Review: Teh Internets
Reviewed by Mike 'Todwurst' Wagner
Sometimes a game comes along that is just so weird you have to play it. So when I was given the option to pick one of three games to review, I thought I'd venture out onto 'Teh Internets' to see what lurks in the dark corners of Al Gore's creation.
From the creators of Skeleton Key and Alphabet Blocks (rather than the former Vice-President) comes a journey into the memes that haunt the flyways and by ways of the information superhighway. A metaphor for the metaverse. And even a clever play on God Mode. 'Teh Internets' is hoping that it can inspire App Store shoppers to partake in a little 'pwnage', Insurgent Games style.
The player assumes control of the legendary ROFLCOPTER in a straightforward side scroller, navigating the dangers that lurk on the internet: Pop-up advertising, viruses, trolls, and open firewalls. All the while saving LOLcats and LOLlerskaters, for points and free lives respectively.
With each wave of enemies the game increases in speed by 5%, and a new enemy type appears. The majority of these enemies will be trolls, which vary in color and get bigger or smaller as they ingest your cheezburgers.
When trolls appear to harass your ROFLCOPTER you can either choose to avoid them with the virtual joystick or subdue them with a 'cheezburger', tapping on them to fire your 'cheezburger' cannon. The targeting system requires that you tap the trolls to fire at them, and since I prefer to keep the device as stable as possible when holding it in my hands this would not be my first control choice, but your mileage may vary.
It's hard to quantify a game that combines ASCII, bitmaps, and intentionally tacky looking items to achieve its final look. The ASCII copter and the LOLlerskaters are pure kitsch, representedly perfectly, while the trolls are lumpy and unimpressive in appearance, differentiated by color and the effect when shooting them. (One troll type does shoot back.)
The backgrounds and menus are well rendered and attractive, with a global map overlaid with binary digits providing the backdrop to gameplay and the menus using colloquial chat terms like 'brb' and 'g2g laters' to give it that tongue-in-cheek effect. There may be a hidden message in the binary that flows through the background, but I wasn't looking that hard for the inside jokes
Each time a new game starts I feel a pang of nostalgia for the 'good old days' of my youth, while the sounds of a modem handshake introduces the first level. It then kicks over into a soundtrack that's reminiscent of the 80's Commodore 64 demo scene and the Tracker scene popular with the Atar ST, Amiga, and PC crowds of the 90's. Yeah, I'm that old.
The sound effects, on the other hand, are decent but highly repetitive. The trolls make an uninteresting grunt, and the LOLcats are shrill and loud in comparison. I found all three dogs milling around my chair looking for the offending 'kitteh', while the household's reigning feline inspected the iphone carefully from the nearby desk.
If you don't appreciate the attention of pets while playing, I suggest keeping the headphones on.
With all the little details that make up Teh Internets, it's obvious that it's not a game thrown together in a day. A little bit of retro, potshots at various memes of the decade, and a reverence for ASCII art that's very fitting make it an entertaining, if brief, distraction.
It's hard to say if Teh Internets is 'full of win', but it's hardly an 'EPIC fail'. As long as there are new memes to adopt, and there always will be, it will have an infinite wellspring ideas for the developers to milk for future updates.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3.5 - Love the ASCII and the detailed background, but the enemy bitmaps are kind of 'meh'.
Sound: - 3.5 - A little bit of win, a little bit of fail.
Controls: - 3.5 - A straightforward control system, but a little awkward for a shooter if you like a tight grip on the device.
Gameplay: - 3 - Easy to learn, and achievements to earn (via OpenFeint), but needs to grow with the player to give it longevity.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Stick to the lower middle area of the screen for quick access to free lives.
- Unlocking God Mode is imperative to understanding the nature of the game.
Developer: Insurgent Games
Release Date: November 24th, 2009
Buy App: iTunes App Store
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