REVIEW: 2D House of Terror

Falling somewhere between an unreleased Sega CD or CD-i game, 2D House of Terror (80 MSP) makes for a nostalgic combination of animation / voice-acting and minigame-styled gameplay, if you’re a fan of those archaic consoles. I know some people will defend and ramble off a top ten at will with this next bit, but the mention of either machine to my mind doesn’t exactly reek of quality. I’d give the edge to Sega CD, as it’s the whole Zelda / Mario CD-i debacle rearing its head every time.

The ‘game’ part of this package, which feels more like animation with lazy controls drizzled over it than anything else, consists of five minigames. That’s right. Five Whole Minigames. This is lightly dressed up in a story about four friends looking for a treasure left behind by their great uncle Willsworth, avoiding traps and enemies set up by a Death-like figure who is never really explained. You could also play in Random mode, which recycles the same five games in different order, minus the plot.

The story is an excuse to pit players against each other to fight for higher scores. The four cutesy characters are playable, either solo, with A.I. handling the rest, or with up to three other friends locally. Each game splits the action into four squares, and it doesn’t help that you’re competing for screen space, having to work off 1/4 of the viewing area throughout. The friendly (everyone wins in the end) sense of competition demands this type of layout, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. If you’re playing on a small TV, well, good luck.

Ranging from shovel-slapping zombies to spinning a record to knock off rats with musical notes, there’s some charm to it, but nothing here sticks out as hugely playable. The controls are sluggish to begin with, and get overly-complicated in some of the minigames, stretching the tolerance of an adult, let alone a child (the expected demographic?) who isn’t as versed in video games.

Turns out the Sega CD mention in the opening is more than opinion, it’s almost prophetic; a free Dreamcast version (!?!) of 2D House of Terror will be released eventually. You can likely keep up with that bit of news at the developer’s site.

And if you have the opportunity, that may be the route to go, if at all. I can’t recommend it here. The dollar for the XBLIG copy is completely ill-spent in my opinion, as unless you have local friends to fill out the roster or you’re a sucker for minimalist animation and barely-there interactivity, you’ll be bored to tears with this.

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: 2D House of Terror”

  1. Hi Tim,
    thank you very much for taking the time to review our game. Feedback – positive as well as negative – is always appreciated. However there is one thing i would like to ask you to elaborate on: Whilst I can very well understand the fact that the degree of interactivity might bore some players(especially when playing alone), I can’t quite grasp why you percieve the controls to be overly complicated. Could you tell us which game(or games) you are referring to and why you consider them too complicated?

    Thanks again and best regards
    Fillius
    (2D-RP Programmer)

    1. Fillius:

      No problem on the review. I like to sample a little bit of everything, and from the demo, I was intrigued, more so with the animation than the minigames.

      ‘Complicated’, as I use it here, comes into play with two minigames. The first is the ladder-climbing, which alternates the two shoulder buttons to climb, while avoiding ghosts and jumping to other ladders. The second game, spinning the record while tossing out notes, is also at fault. Complicated really combines with sluggish here.

      The alternating while climbing I’ve come across in minigame-types before, but here, the switching between that and jumping ladders, seems complicated for a younger kid (I’m assuming that’s the target audience). Worse yet, you have to climb to the very tip of a ladder before jumping across, or you’ll fall. Again, a kid wouldn’t be as quick to grasp this. That the whole climb moves slowly despite jamming on the shoulder buttons, which should theoretically move the character faster, doesn’t help.

      For spinning the record, having to both wind the record clockwise and fire off notes, one height or the other, again, this works with the sluggishness. Your inputs don’t have an immediate reaction in-game, and for kids, having to do both, I foresee it being complicated and frustrating to them.

      I hope that (somewhat) clears up the confusion. It’s tough to explain in written form. I’d compare it to winding a clock or priming a pump; you’re working at it a few seconds before you start to see results. For people raised on precise controls and twitch-style games, this might feel overly-complicated (i.e. bad). That’s just my take on it.

    2. Thank you very much for clarifying ;-). When I first saw “overly-complicated” in your review I thought you believed the control scheme to be hard to understand or difficult to remember, which is why I was slightly confused. After reading this more detailed explanation, however, I guess you are right in assuming that the lack of an immediate visual reaction to the given input is not intuitive and can be frustrating, as can the all too unforgiving jumps.
      We will try and improve the controls in an update.
      Thanks again for taking the time to explain your view 😉

      Fillius

    3. You’re welcome 🙂 And thanks for taking the criticism of the game well. It’s not easy to read someone’s unfavorable thoughts on something you’ve worked so hard on, and I’m not fond of delivering bad news. It’s all lessons that can be applied to current and future projects. While an update might not fix the game’s problems entirely, improving the controls, specifically the ‘lag’ that exists between input and what is seen on-screen, is a good step.

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