Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yo Bro

~ YO BRO ~
ICOM Simulations / NEC

Games that the masses stomp on are games that I usually receive with open arms, as I'm always interested in making the acquaintances of misunderstood gems and kitsch classics. But Yo Bro was one of the downtrodden that even I had refused to grant refuge to for a very long time. Reports made it out to be a Zombies Ate My Neighbors clone that featured Beach Boys music and starred a skateboarding bear. Well, I hate Zombies Ate My Neighbors, I don't care for the Beach Boys, and I've never been one to associate with skateboarding bears, not to mention that I just didn't think the "rescue roaming kinds and pelt some goofy bad guys" theme would do anything for me. So despite my fondness for "bad" games, I wasn't looking forward to this one...

...and, as it turns out, for good reason: it ended up being pretty crappy in just about every way. The Beach Boys tunes, as expected, get on my nerves, especially since there are so few of them stretched out over thirty damned levels. The simplistic visuals are no picnic either. As for the gameplay, good lord, the skating feels horrible, and the bear's basic slingshot weaponry is anything but ideal. The action feels repetitive just a few rounds in, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the game recycles its foe groups for the latter half of the overlong expedition. Many of the enemies that make up those groups are either mundane (fires, barrels of toxic waste, beehives) or irritating as hell (the infamous multiplying amoebas).

But hey, almost every kitschy "great" is garbage if you break it down into its elements. Failure to perform well in such an analysis doesn't mean that a game doesn't have a lot to offer, and there are indeed some good things that can be said about YB. There's definitely a feeling of satisfaction that accompanies triumph in a difficult level. And some of the enemies are pretty neat, particularly the cute little bunnies and the baby dinos who gobble kids up.

Also, there are secret areas to discover and interesting (if sloppy) shooter-/run-'n-gun-style bonus rounds to participate in.

There's no doubt that the negatives in this case far outweigh the positives. Still, I don't care what the results "on paper" are when evaluating a game; otherwise, I'd never have come to appreciate as many lovable flubs as I do. And if the feelings of accomplishment I enjoyed upon conquering the game had overridden all the annoyance I experienced due to the controls and the repetitiveness, I'd give YB a hearty thumbs up. Unfortunately, when I finally did reach the end of the journey, I just felt relieved that it was all over and wanted to follow the goofy bear's lead by taking a well-deserved nap.

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