Friday, August 29, 2014

Game Review: Mission Majority (Browser)

I first off would like to say that any criticism I have for this browser based platformer is from the view of someone who loves video games and grew up with the advent of Super Mario Bros.  I would still be criticising this game even if it were released by any political faction where you played as a donkey called Jack, a mellow-go-lucky pot leaf named Mary J. or as the Flying Spaghetti Monster named Bob.

So, Mission Majority, or GIOPI, 2014 Mission Majority if you are one for long titles. This game was developed by. . . someone.  The website mentions that the game was paid for by the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) and that it is not authorized by any candidate or their respective committee.

Now let us not fool ourselves, this game is designed to be some form of political propaganda although I cannot think of who the target audience would be.  Anyone of legal voting age would not find the level design to be engaging in the same way that the first level of Super Mario Bros. is engaging and entertaining, but we will get to level design later.  Anyone younger than 18 (probably) will not have their own credit card to donate or not understand why you have to use the arrow keys to move and no controller support.  Maybe the humor in the game is supposed to propel the player forward or instill a "so bad it's good" feeling.  I cannot say in anyway.  There is also no statement on the webpage as to whom the game is targeted towards.

When you go to the webpage, you are greeted by Giopi (as in G.O.P.) and given the motivation for playing the game.
Yes, the characterization you see for Giopi is how he/she appears in the game, bugged out eyes and all, but the design for the character would not be so bad if the rest of the level and characters did not look better than this four colored elephant.

The character seems out of place in the world.  Even the enemies (The Taxer) has pupils and eyebrows, but Giopi has toenails and stars on his jersey to go along with his blocky-eyed blank stare.  Prior to Level 1 starting the player is told that "the Taxer, Harry Reid and President Obama sent the job-destroying Taxers to stop you!  You need to avoid them, jumping on them suppresses their high taxes."  The Taxer is essentially a Goomba that only moves forward/backward and can only harm you if you walk into it, or if you do not land correctly on its head.  You are also charged with finding golden keys that "unlock the Senate and help Republicans win the majority this fall.  Each key represents helping Republican campaign get more volunteers."  So that is the players motivation.

Upon completing a level, you are awarded with a victory screen, the option to donate money to the GNSC, buy Giopi merchandise from their online store or join them, which I assume means join their mailing list.  The store contains simple merchandise such at a Giopi sticker, drink/beer coozie, T-shirts, posters and sweatbands all for a nominal fee ($6-$30).  What would have been smart was for the player to earn a certain discount based on how well they have done in the levels up to a certain percentage off, such as 5% for each level completed or after a certain score is reached.

The nitty gritty now.

The game stages are not well designed.  The controls are simple enough (Left Arrow: Move Left/ Right Arrow: Move Right/ Up Arrow or X: Jump), but there always seemed to be a half second lag after pressing the button.  I just chalked this up to being a browser game.  As far as aesthetics,  you are able to notice that the background and the platforms will sometimes not tile correctly, often with glaring breaks in the continuity.  I only noticed this in the second and third levels, which both use the same palette.  The final product comes across to me as being shoddily put together with little care about the people who will be playing this game because they want to, as opposed to people like me who have played this game because we were intrigued and amused by the premise.

There is also a striking disconnect between what the creators and how they want to keep the player alive.  If you notice in the top middle of the screen, the time reads 9861, which means I have 9861 seconds, or  2 hours and 44 minutes to complete this "collect three key" stage.  Even if the numbers do not directly correlate to a full second, that would still translate to almost 25 minutes to beat a stage (if 1= 1/4 second).  Directly under the timer is your life meter, consisting of four hearts.  As to be expected, with the loss of the final heart Giopi dies and you have to start the level over from the beginning and collect all the keys again.  There are no heart drops or items (aside from the keys) t0 be found throughout the level.  I do not understand the disconnect between having a timer that ends up being meaningless paired with a life meter if the game is meant to be an easy browser based platformer with really bad hit detection (more on that in a bit).

That big blue enemy is the attempt at variation to Level 2 and is called the Mudslinger.  "The Democrats' Mudslinger hurls false and empty rhetoric.  You can jump on them to mute their misleading words."  Believe it or not, I was excited by this enemy at first.  I figured that this would be the bad guy who throws blue bits of mud at you like one of the Hammer Bro. or a Venus Fire Trap, but no, the Mudslinger just stands there, not moving.  That is it.  Sure it's taller than the Taxer, but that is not much for enemy variation.  I should also mention that every time you kill an enemy, a short multiple second soundbite from one of a few Democrats during Obama's Presidency plays.  Because you squashed the Democrat, you are awarded with the enemies misleading rhetoric.

Okay, sure, I might be complaining about the game not playing by a traditional set of platforming rules and yes, I know that even in Super Mario Bros., there was no life meter and one hit killed, but there were power up mushrooms and invincibility stars.  The problem I had with only having four hearts that could not be refilled was that the hit detection in the game was atrocious.  To me, it seemed that unless the bulk of my character was landing on the enemy, Giopi would take damage.  Compare that to being able to stand on a platform with just Giopi's toes.

The only redeeming thing to come out of this game is that the music is not half bad.  I cannot place what it reminds me of, but it is a decent mix of NES era 8-bit music and early SNES era something-or-other with a hint of Paperboy thrown in during a certain section, but only because that was what I was reminded of.

If you happen to still be intrigued at this point about Mission Majority, just do a google search and it will pop right up; before the game is taken down.  Before playing you are required to give your name and email address although from what I read on reddit, there is no verification process so you are able to plug in any name and email address and still play the game.  I only made it to Level 3 before deciding that I had experienced enough to write an article about poor game design, but you are able to make your own decisions and conclusions.


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