PREVIEWS - bob's game
Bob’s Game demo impressions
by Sebastian Stefanov
An above-average RPG with glimmers of greatness, but the demo is too short to get a sense of what bob’s game is all about
After months of covering Robert Pelloni’s plight to have his DS game published by Nintendo, GameObserver takes a firsthand look at what the buzz is all about. Demo reactions are… positive! At first this article was intended to be a short blurb with a breakdown of the key features, but since the product in question seems to be of commercial quality, it was only fitting that we give the game the coverage it deserves.
I’m a little hesitant to outright proclaim that bob’s game is professional product because the demo is extremely short. When you know what to do, the whole thing lasts a meager two minutes. What we see in those few minutes is still better than most of the stuff out on the market, but again, that’s assuming the whole game is like that.
“Yuu” wanted the game? Here “Yuu” go…
The game starts with rather funny mock legal notes. Next comes a main menu screen that asks you to press the A button, then the B button, then the C button followed by a smiley. Funny… if this was a forum thread, but it’s not. Still, it’s a demo so I guess Mr. Pelloni took a few liberties.
The game starts with a black screen saying “Five years ago…” followed by a fade in. Cue in Yuu (your character) as a kid in his room. So here we are in all our glory, and you know what? It’s not bad. Yuu might look like your generic Japanese protagonist stereotype, but that’s a good thing considering the whole case about this game is whether it’s good enough to be a commercial product. Anyway, we venture out. As we step out of the room, the camera stays on Yuu then moves giving a better look of the surroundings. Neat. It does help with orientation.
So far so good. Graphics are clean, animation is smooth, nice colors, plenty of details. Yuu’s family apparently just moved into a new house. Boxes are scattered everywhere. Approaching just about every box lets players know their contents (Bob really has a lot of time on his hands). The whole place is a mess, as one would expect. It more or less does look like normal house, complete with a basement, kitchen, living room, bathrooms, dining room, closets here and there and a second floor full of bedrooms. Details abound. Yuu’s baby brother is locked up in a crib in his quarters. In another room, Yuu’s annoying older brother is playing what looks like a GameCube. Mom is in the kitchen and dad is playing Ping (the game’s version of Pong) in the living room.
Even lets “Yuu” play outside
Yuu’s brother is a bully (wow, who would have imagined?), mom is your archetypal female authority figure and dad is the average spineless bloke, at least when family matters are concerned. It’s your typical yarn. Nothing bad here either. Conversations with the family are quite decent, even funny at times. After only a few minutes you want to punch your brother’s lights out, so kudos to Mr. Pelloni; he gets the job done.
Your mom needs batteries (why, we can only imagine), which are in your bro’s room. But since your brother’s a douche bag, he doesn’t want to give them to you -- he’s too busy playing video games at max volume. Your little quest eventually leads to the basement where you turn the power off, and ironically your brother’s lights out. Naturally he runs to dad and you take the opportunity to swipe the batteries. You mission accomplished, mom lets you go play outside, but not before she gives you a GameBoy (dubbed GameToy) and a sadistic electric collar that zaps your brains when you go too far.
Character lines aren’t too witty, but nothing jumps out as sub-par. In fact, dialog is funny in a realistic kind of way. It’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve seen many commercial games with worse production and storytelling. When you tick your off brother you get a sense of just how much of an ass he is. And when you turn the power off we see him freak out like the total dweeb that he is. When the next-door neighbor’s kid asks “What’s your name”, and your response is “My name is Yuu” (as is in “you”), his reaction is pretty funny.
Details further immerse players into Bob’s world. In your baby brother’s room you find tranquilizer pacifiers that get an amusing comment, despite it being predictable. After only a few minutes, players get a sense of the main characters and what relationships they have. One of the problems with today’s games, and why bob’s game stands out by simply being “normal”, is that plots in commercial titles feel tacked on.
Music and sound effects are decent. Again, commercial quality. The main song is catchy and the mini-game has its own insanely loopy midi track, like most tunes on “single-digit” bit systems were back in the day.
Maybe if “Yuu”… Ok I’ll stop, but the game doesn’t
Now come the negative parts. Graphics and color choices sometimes make it hard to figure out where to go. It took me a good minute to figure out how to get to Yuu’s father simply because boxes where in the way and I didn’t realize there was an opening from the dinning room to the living room. The floor near the entrance has the same color as the walls so I assumed you couldn’t go through.
Another annoying thing is how the word “you” is replaced with “Yuu” everywhere. This leads to a funny exchange with a kid next-door, but I can definitely see it becoming extremely annoying with time. It bugged me after the second or third instance. I did notice Yuu didn’t use the play on words, though. Something tells me Bob won’t change this because some parts, like that conversion with the kid, have probably been designed around the annoying pun. Players might get used to it, like smelling someone’s garlic-breath all day, but for now it’s still bothersome…
You eventually reach a point where your neighbor dares you to finish a game of Tetris. A mini-game brings up a classic GameBoy where a pretty accurate remake of the classic, here called Tetrid, loads up. Mr. Pelloni decided to change every piece by one block, probably to avoid being sued, but the result is an incredibly difficult version of the old game. It looks like we’re supposed to finish all the rounds to progress, but after playing the mini-game for hours I simply gave up. It’s is too damn hard! The blocks leave too many holes and you can’t spin them when touching the sides of the walls, even when there’s room to pivot.
And that’s where the demo ended, after only having played the game for five minutes! I managed to reach level 8 in Tetrid, but once there the background starts to flash, sometimes even going completely black, making an already hard game virtually impossible. It also seemed like levels stopped increasing past 8, which finally lead me to believe that was the end of the demo, and it was.
The overall impression is that Robert Pelloni designed a quality, above-average RPG. It has a few creases that need ironing out, but the game is loaded with details and a refreshing approach to storytelling -- a testament to Mr. Pelloni’s five years on it. I’m left with mixed feelings, though in a good way. I really wanted to play more of the demo. The Yuu thing has to be toned down and the intro menu needs to be less overconfident, but everything else works well and looks great. Characters are clichéd but fleshed out, lines are funny and production is there. Give the guy credit; he’s got talent. Now I’m curious to see what exactly turned Nintendo off. So how about it, Mr. Pelloni? How about releasing the whole thing so we can find out?