Stupid Invaders Hands-On

We've spent some time with Ubi Soft's gastrointestinal point-and-click adventure for the Dreamcast. Check out our hands-on impressions.

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Point-and-click adventures have exited stage left since the advent of 3D graphics. With the exception of the Clock Tower series on the PlayStation, cursor-based games like the Myst series for the PC rarely appear on consoles. Ubi Soft is attempting to change all that with the upcoming release of its flatulence-laden point-and-click adventure, Stupid Invaders. Based upon the now-cancelled Space Goofs cartoon, Stupid Invaders is a story-driven cinematic romp that is more an interactive cartoon than an actual video game.

Living up to its name, Stupid Invaders' plot is well...stupid. After being trapped on Earth and hiding out in an attic, five aliens have just repaired the spaceship that will take them home. As luck would have it, the excitement is quickly squashed when the menacing Dr. Sakarine busts onto the scene and freezes all the aliens but one with his ice blaster. You begin the game playing as Bud, a moronic orange alien with a skinny neck and bad teeth. As you progress through the story, you eventually take control of each of the other offbeat characters on their quest to return to their home planet. If you're not into off-color jokes and Ren-and-Stimpy-like characters, you'll likely find that Stupid Invaders is not to your taste. Even if you are into this sort of thing, some of the slapstick jokes have a tendency to lack wit.

Some would argue that there isn't any real gameplay--however, Stupid Invaders is, in truth, a puzzle game. You control a hand-shaped cursor that you may move around the prerendered backgrounds. If it comes across a usable object, the hand will go into varying animations. Using the cursor is as simple as pressing the A button. You may cycle through the various cursor options, like examining or picking up items, with the B button. Once an item is acquired, pressing the Y button brings up the item inventory. At the item menu, you may select items for use or combine items by clicking one and dragging it onto another. Objects must be collected from various places, mixed together, and then used on the proper object. Completing a puzzle triggers FMV sequences that establish the next objective and keep the plot moving. Stupid Invaders includes a save-anywhere feature, which is an absolute necessity. Dr. Sakarine hides behind many doors, so simply choosing the wrong one can result in instant death. Even doing something as innocent as pressing a button can send you back to your last save point to begin again.

Stupid Invaders looks fantastic. The colorful, prerendered backgrounds blend in well with the polygonal characters, and the transition from real-time graphics to FMV is nearly seamless. While movement in the levels is limited, small details, like shadows during the real-time cutscenes, help make the environments feel a bit more interactive. Each room is loaded with objects to examine and use. This sometimes makes overlooking important keys to the puzzles very easy. While the character models are basic, they match the overall look of the game and have plenty of animation routines to give them some personality. Stupid Invaders is dominated by FMV clips, so much so that the point-and-click gameplay often feels like nothing more than a vehicle for the creators of the Space Goofs cartoon to continue delivering their comedic material.

The music in Stupid Invaders sounds like it was taken directly from Ren and Stimpy. It features suspense-building plucked strings, droning cellos, and creepy synthesizer riffs. The voice acting for each character is impressive, although somewhat cliché. One character sounds like Barney from The Simpsons, while Dr. Sakarine's voice is vintage Clint Eastwood. The script isn't particularly sharp, but the delivery makes up for it in several cases.

Stupid Invaders doesn't remedy any of the complaints leveled against point-and-click games in the past. The level of interaction is low, you have absolutely no control over the character, and the majority of time spent playing it amounts to copious bouts of FMV watching. But when you consider that most games in this genre attempt to scare you, the lighthearted nature of Stupid Invaders can be a refreshing change of pace. Stupid Invaders for the Dreamcast is currently scheduled for release on April 11. Look for our full review, which is coming soon.

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