This weekend saw the start of October, a dreary, dark, depressing month that so far, has lived up to that very description. So, rather than cheer you up, I’m going to stick to that theme, and, for the next four weeks, I’ll be looking at some of the worst games to have crawled out of the woodwork during my lifetime. First up is a launch game for the Nintendo DS that’s so bad, it would make Chuck Norris cry. Speaking of emotions, you’ll experience a vast amount while playing Sprung: The Dating Game, mostly along the lines of pain, misery and frustration. Doesn’t that sound fun? About as much fun as watching grass dry perhaps… (I get the feeling I mixed up that simile somewhere… oh well, I’m just going to get on with the review!)
You play through the game either as Becky, a blonde girl wanting to get in as many guy’s pants as possible after a bad break up, or Brett, a dark, handsome man lusting after his best friend Becky as she tries to get everyone into bed but him. Along the way, you have to spread gossip, take part in bitch-fests and give your numerous friends advice on their own dates. It sounds a lot like the typical teenage lifetime if you ask me, so I shouldn’t be too bad at it, right? Wrong. In the space of about 10 minutes, I saw so many Game Over screens that I’m surprised my DS didn’t end up shattered on the concrete, many feet below my open window. Not because I don’t like failing but because you then have to remember the exact sequence of your answers from the last two minutes in order to get back where you were, only to screw up again. Did I mention it was frustrating? Anyway, despite the story coming out of a monkey’s arse (or the guys at Ubisoft’s arses.), the fact that you can shape your life to some degree is a welcome part of the game. For example, at the end of the game, you can decide whether to live your life with your childhood crush or go back to shoving your tongue down sleazy men’s throats. Obviously, I chose the latter, purely for shits and giggles.
There aren’t controls as such, because it’s a launch game – it’s all about the magical world of the touch screen. Except the touch screen doesn’t respond until the second or third ‘tap’ of the stylus. And by tap, I definitely mean whack. In order to progress in the game, you merely choose a sentence from a fairly large selection and cross your fingers that it’s the right choice, which, most of the time, it’s most certainly not. You can also use items and lines from your inventory which is only required about three times through both storylines and is utterly useless otherwise. The fantastic thing about this
game is that it captures the personality of the player perfectly. By which I mean, I never failed during the bitching or gossip, didn’t see many ‘you suck’ screens when it game to advice and prepared to kill myself when it came to dating and breaking up with people. It just sums up all of your life experiences into one tiny square of plastic and data. For that, it is genuinely great! Maybe. Well not really, but hey ho!
To be honest, the graphics aren’t bad to say it was a handheld game released in late 2004. As with most dating games, it sticks to cartoon-like appearances, motionless backgrounds and a handful of animations. Now I don’t know about other dating simulations but it works fairly well here, making the whole failing-at-life scenario seem sort of cute, yet still incredibly annoying and aggravating. One thing that does grate my boobs though is that the animations change with each sentence you’re saying. “Sure,” I bet you’re thinking, “that’s because your emotions change depending on what’s being said”. That’s true, but at least I have more emotions than a broken mannequin. In the game, you can literally only experience anger, flirtatiousness, suspicion or laughter, which makes you look like a huge dick when you’re asking how someone is as you fold
your arms and look down your nose at them.
There’s not much to be said about the sound, the music is a short loop which, as you fail over and over again, is suicide to your poor eardrums. It’s also strangely upbeat, even when your ex-boyfriend is begging you to get back with him, maybe it’s just me but that’s kind of creepy…
You know what? It’s not a bad game really, but that’s because it’s not a game, it’s just
a series of dialogues. It spews out pure crap and you sit there and accept it, because it kills every last brain cell you own before you even make your first decision. Seriously, being socially awkward is far more fun in real life and there’s no ‘game over’ there for years to come. Unless you offer someone an iced tea when really they want a beer; in which case, it’s best if you just go and eternally lock yourself in a cupboard now, according to Ubisoft at least.
One good thing though; it makes you feel like a god if you’ve successfully got a boyfriend and lasted for more than two days. Bow down to me!