Stupid Invaders Hands-On

Ubi Soft's upcoming point-and-click adventure has arrived, and, as promised, it's full of toilet humor and resplendent graphics.

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Dreamcast-owning fans of point-and-click adventures of yore, a la King's Quest and Grim Fandango, may be in store for something of a treat. Stupid Invaders--based on the short-running cartoon Space Goofs--is a prototypical PC adventure game, albeit one rife with the basest of humor, which it dispenses liberally. And because Jim Gomez--a writer for the famous Ren and Stimpy cartoon series--has had a hand in the script's conception, the game seems to have something of a license for vulgarity.

Stupid Invaders' gameplay is straightforward: By means of the analog stick or D-pad, you control a cursor that lets you interact with the environments. If you want to move, simply highlight your destination, press the button, and your alien avatar will trod along. Onscreen, the actual cursor's form will change, depending on what it's highlighting. If it's highlighting something you can pick up, it'll make clutching motions, while if it's highlighting something examinable, it'll hold out a large, disembodied eye. As you'd expect, Stupid Invaders is full of item-focused puzzles. Basically everything you need to advance to the next area is found in the one you currently inhabit, and the trick to the game is in putting everything together in the correct order. And judging from how much we were able to play, it seemed that very little backtracking was involved, which is definitely a positive thing.

On many occasions, a short cinematic sequence results from your interaction with a certain object. A good example of this is the toilet you encounter early on. If you use it, it will trigger a cinematic of your character actually "using" it, which serves no purpose other than to amuse. Since you can't skip these short sequences, though, it's often annoying when, in the course of your adventure, you happen to accidentally trigger one and are forced to sit through its entirety. That said, the sequences are very well produced, and, overall, they seem to "work" well in the context of the game. The humor is somewhat in keeping with the series' roots--that is, Ren and Stimpy and other Spumco-inspired madness. If that's your bag, then Stupid Invaders will suit you nicely.

Stupid Invaders seems to be a tight, well-developed game, albeit one that strictly adheres to the conventions of its genre. The game looks great--the characters are rendered in full 3D, the environments are ultradetailed, everything moves as smooth as silk, and the animations are spot on. The minimal audio is used to a great effect; the soundtrack changes dynamically as you hop from room to room, and each theme reflects its stage well. The traditional adventure genre does not often visit console systems, especially not in such an off-kilter form. Fans of the genre would do well to check out Stupid Invaders, while newcomers might want to sample what many consider to be a relic of times past.

Stupid Invaders is due out in April.

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