Floigan Brothers Preview

The long-awaited Floigan Brothers tells the story of two mismatched siblings living in a junkyard full of cats, the plots of a foul-smelling aron. Obviously, these guys are going to need your help.

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The idea of the oddly paired comedic tag team is as old as George and Gracie. While such pairings have moved from vaudeville stages to late-night talk shows, cartoons, and The Odd Couple reruns, the endearing quality of two mismatched characters - opposed, but lovable - remains identifiable and interesting. Specific to video games, complementary mates are used to enhance gameplay as well as add some humor to the challenge. The buddy system, of course, is nothing new; the PlayStation has the mostly forgettable Pandemonium, and Nintendo has the much more accomplished Banjo Kazooie. Sega hopes its upcoming buddy game, Floigan Brothers, will follow in the footsteps of the latter. Visual Concepts, which is so far best known for its sports-related efforts, is designing a game that merges unpredictable and varied gameplay with an interaction between partners that's funny, endearing, and very ambitious.

The Floigan brothers are Hoigle and Moigle, co-proprietors of a junkyard. Hoigle is the diminutive brains of the duo, while Moigle is the hulking, dimwitted brawnThe ensuing plot involves the various misadventures that occur during the construction of the brothers' magical invention. The central antagonist in the game is the conniving Baron Malodorous. Intent on claiming the junkyard for his own sinister practices, he first attempts to buy out the business from Hoigle and Moigle, and failing that, he decides to capture the yard by force. To this end, the Baron enlists the aid of stray mercenary kittens - knowing that the big brother Floigan, Moigle, loves the small furry animals. As Hoigle, you must find unique ways of motivating big brother to do the dirty work of getting the cats and the baron out of your hair while you finish the invention that'll ensure peace in the junkyard forever.

As you may already be surmising, motivating Moigle isn't just manipulating buttons and pushing him in various directions; rather, Floigan Brothers will challenge you to come up with unique solutions to the game's variety of puzzles. Imagination is the key to solving most enigmas. Examples include taunting Moigle, making him cry a small lake of tears so that you can cross over a floating bridge in the junkyard, or making your big brother so angry he throws you around the map to otherwise unreachable areas. The brothers aren't always so full of animosity, though - teamwork between the two is often necessary to solve the game's conundrums. When a particularly disagreeable cat begins launching bombs around the junkyard, you'll have to convince Moigle to fight back against the kitten. If Moigle takes too many high-explosive bombs in the face, though, he becomes demoralized and will need a Patton-like pep talk from you to get up the spirit to go back out and try again.

Visual Concepts explains that while the game isn't long (they estimate about ten hours of gameplay), it features minigames and distractions that should prolong the experience. At various points, you can show Moigle how to use a flashlight when it gets dark, or you can teach him how to farm. Other times, Moigle will challenge you to a variety of games that give you "Moigle points." Play hide-and-seek or tag with your big brother and you'll gain points that you can use to make Moigle do what you need willingly, instead of spending time trying to convince him. Visual Concepts also promises that your relationship with Moigle will grow as the game progresses, and that he will begin to behave in the manner you treat him. If you're always cruel, he'll become a bit of a bully himself, but if you're kind and considerate, he'll end up a big softie.

In Floigan Brothers, you'll interact with your counterpart a little differently than you would in other buddy games. To jump up to hard-to-reach places, you'll need to use your brother's belly as a trampoline, and to open heavy boxes, you'll need to elicit certain moods from Moigle. If a box has a happy face on it, you'll need to tickle or play with your big brother until he will do what you say agreeably, and when a frown is present, you'll have to resort to teasing to get the necessary reaction. Movement is accomplished with the analog joystick, though you'll find that your controller pad's buttons will assume a variety of uses that change depending on the situation.

Floigan Brothers is picturesque. The gameworld is extraordinarily detailed, and it's designed in the pleasantly surreal, whimsical fashion you'd expect from a cartoon or children's book. While taking place in a junkyard, the game never strays from a diverse palette of colors and bright images. More importantly, the game's animations and attention to character detail evoke comparisons to the venerable Tom and Jerry and Merrie Melodies shorts.. Visual Concepts has gone to great lengths to make Hoigle and Moigle's wide variety of emotions speak for themselves. Sega's given some examples of what we can expect, and the game clearly draws its inspiration from classic animated shorts. The cartoon clichés (like steam shooting from a beet-red face and little birds floating around a knocked-out noggin) are here. VC promises that all the animations are meticulously designed, and they should be humorous and completely over the top.

As one of the first games announced for the Dreamcast, Floigan Brothers has been a long time in coming. If the game's ample creativity is any indication, Visual Concepts may have struck gold with its cartoon take on The Odd Couple.

Look for Floigan Brothers on the Dreamcast this March.

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