REVIEW: Save Them Sheeps

Sheep tend to be overlooked. Sure, they pop up in random commercials and bedtime stories, whenever a movie calls for an establishing shot of Ireland, and, of course, whenever counting is required, but they never get any extended limelight. That kind of ignored existence, the old ‘hit it and quit it’ routine, has gotta piss anyone off. Save Them Sheeps ($1.00) posits an alternate reality, where sheep are fed up with being sheared, and travel through space (don’t think about the ‘how’ part too hard) to inhabit planets of their own so they can live in peace.

Us Humans, though, don’t much like the lack of wool coats when it gets chilly, and set off after them, sending ships of our own to snatch up said sheep and get production back on track. Playing the role of spoiler, you (presumably a dexterous sort of sheep) will need to halt the invasion and save your woolly brethren from a cashmere fate on each level. Planet-hopping is handled similar to Mario games, with new worlds unlocked by gathering stars in the preceding stages. Up to three per level can be earned, for smashing the high score, destroying enemy craft, and rescuing a set number of allies.

Each world you visit is topographically unique, offering up a different color set and soundtrack to work by. You won’t be doing much sightseeing, though, as the action is immediate, ensuring you’ll never run out of targets or find a barren spot (the land is quite literally a carpet of sheep). Obtaining a set number of stars also awards you access to ship skills that give incentive to revisit previous levels, like a tractor beam to cleverly suck up sheep and increase your multiplier.

It’s a simple yet enjoyable arcade idea, that is detrimentally held back by flight controls that never really feel comfortable. There’s a bit of a learning curve, to say the least, as you sort out the right amounts of thrust and tilt to keep you on the level, while the right stick manipulates the camera. For the first few worlds, it isn’t much of a problem, as the bar for passing is (thankfully) set pretty low.

Save Them Sheeps - Screen

Later worlds, however, increase the score markers and the amount of foes, undermining any flight progress you’ve made. Enemies take advantage of the fact that you seem to be perpetually flying drunk, locking onto your ship with ease or just watching as you swerve into oncoming countryside and burst into flames unassisted. It’s not all bad news. Additional upgrade plateaus bring you shields and missiles, which help counteract the control issues, but they only feel like Band-Aids on a much more serious wound.

Therein lies the shame. Save Them Sheeps has most of the right arcade ingredients in place, but the not-so-intuitive controls dampen what could have been a decent (if somewhat repetitive) diversion. As is, it’s a delayed sort of fun you’ll have to really work at to adapt to, which may be more trouble than it’s worth.

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9 thoughts on “REVIEW: Save Them Sheeps”

  1. “Sheep tend to be overlooked.”
    Well, it looks like *somebody* never saw “Black Sheep”, that horror film about flesh eating mutant sheep taking over New Zealand!
    (You’re not missing much, except for some truly grotesque special effects, and the dreaded Were-Sheep. He was a baaaaaaa’d boy and oh god I just said that what is wrong with me.)

    1. Sadly, I know nothing of flesh-eating mutant sheep, and there is a hole in my heart because of it. Truly, I have not yet lived. The only ‘Black Sheep’ I know of is the classic with Chris Farley and David Spade. Essential viewing for anyone with a sense of humor, along with ‘Tommy Boy’. No sheep, but there is cow-tipping! I can’t believe you’ve never been cow-tipping before.

  2. I found the same problems as you mentioned with the controls when I tried the demo. I just couldn’t quite get used to them. Shame really, since otherwise it could have been quite a fun highscore chaser.

    1. It does get better the more you play the game, but by then, you’ve moved onto tougher stages where the enemy firepower either outright destroys you or makes flying in to scoop up sheep tricky. For the style of game, it’s probably near as best it can be, though making your game pick-up-and-play / enjoyable to control has to take top priority. It has fun moments, just not enough.

      I left the highscore table out of the post for a pair of reasons. One, it’s not currently working on the site, and two, it’s not actually peer-to-peer leaderboards, but rather uploading a score, then scanning a QR code to be taken to the leaderboard page (once it’s eventually up). Some will use it, I’m sure, but not enough to make it a valid bullet point in the review.

    2. Goodness! The bizzaro methods that developers have to come up with to get around the “no leaderboards on XBLIGs” thing are truly astounding.
      I’ll have to give the trial another go before I decide on this one.

  3. First person to reply to this comment gets to do more than count sheep. They get to suck them up with a tractor beam, with a copy of the game courtesy of MyCodedLife.

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