Game Concept: Writers Block Mad Libs Edition

by on June 7th, 2013 at 10:30 am


So I had no idea what to write this week. I really racked my brain, but I’m stuck in the pre-E3, pre-The Last of Us release doldrums. I have some drafts started for new entries in a few of our series but none of them were really tickling my fancy, and let me tell you, I like having my fancy tickled. But who doesn’t?

Then it hit me. We live in the digital age! The online era! What the hell am I trying to come up with my own ideas? This is hard work! So instead, I came up with a new concept and turned to our friend the internet. Here’s the idea: Using both a random word generator and a random name generator, I would assemble a team of rag-tag words into a video game title. Then, I would make up what that game would be like and write a fictional game magazine review of the game. Bonus: I’ve used by atrocious artistic abilities to make a “sketch” of the cover. Seriously, chimpanzees banging on a typewriter would produce a better illustration than this within a couple years. And no, that’s not a typo: chimps would figure out a way to fashion a typewriter into tools for illustrating and then come up with better drawing than I can make.

Here’s how the randomization process went down:

First I needed a name for the hero of our new game. That one is easy enough, just a quick Google search for a random name generator and voila – Ferdinand Kaolin is born.

FK is A-OK

FK is A-OK

But I can’t just leave it there. Ferdinand is a rather bland name, and not very descriptive. He needs a little pizzazz. Mario gets to be Super, so it’s only fair that Ferdinand should be…


… Absorbing. Ok, well, at least… that’s… something. Now I need the rest of the title, something that will describe either the world Absorbing Ferdinand Kaolin is in, or what his quest shall be. I settled on the formula {adjective}{adjective}{noun}{verb} for the word generator and rounded out our title. The results?

Yes, these words totally go together, internet.

Yes, these words totally go together, internet.

… wow, um… this might be a bit of a challenge. Ladies, gentleman and Corey, I proudly present:

Absorbing Ferdinand Kaolin’s Homely Berserk Boy Ascertain

                     – Aaron Adventitious,

ratingsidebarratingWe finally got our hands on a copy of Absorbing Ferdinand Kaolin’s Homely Berserk Boy Ascertain in the office today and our first impression is… huh? This game has gotten a ton of buzz since it was released in Japan in 2012, so we were obviously excited when it was announced that the game would be coming to Nintendo 3Ds screens in the US. But the only thing that absorbed us about this game is how confusing it is that everyone’s going berserk for it.

First, the plot, if you can call it one: Ferdinand Kaolin runs an orphanage called De la Máquina that is only for beautiful children. He suspects that a homely child has somehow made his way into the orphanage in order to seek revenge on Ferdinand for kicking him out based on his looks because somebody is going berserk and breaking furniture, walls and occasionally beautiful children at night. Unfortunately, Ferdinand suffers from prosopagnosia so he can’t tell the difference between the beautiful children and the homely child. In order to rid his orphanage of homeliness, Ferdinand steals a magic potion from a nearby science lab that gives him the ability to absorb people and perfectly ascertain their identity before spitting them back out.

Leaving aside how offensive the core of the plot is, let’s just focus on how boring it. We only put 25 hours into the reported 50 hours of game play before we couldn’t take anymore, but there’s not even a pause for exposition past the opening setup. The game is really all about just absorbing children and then spitting them back out. I’m pretty sure buying this game automatically puts you on a government watch list.

The game at least controls well; Ferdinand turns into sort of a blob with a t-shirt on once you drink the magic potion and you just tap one part of the screen and he’ll roll his way there. You can increase his speed by going across floors with less resistance: carpets will slow you down, hardwood floors will shoot you forward and you can knock over a bottle of floor wax to give yourself a quick boost of speed in a certain area until the wax dries out. This is especially important on some of the later levels because the children will expertly weave around obstacles to make it impossible to catch them: you have to lure them to a certain part of the room and then knock over some wax so you can quickly close in on them.

The cover looks like it was made by a 4-year-old who was born with four feet instead of hands.

The cover looks like it was made by a 4-year-old who was born with four feet instead of hands.

In between time where you’re the blob you play as regular Ferdinand and you have to repair some of the damage  the homely berserk boy has done. If your orphanage gets too damaged then the government will come in and shut it down, so if you stay in blob form indefinitely you’ll lose quickly. This got annoying while we were playing because we’d get on a roll with the blob and have to stop to fix some damage, but it did add another level of difficulty. The other thing you can do in regular Ferdinand form is rearrange the furniture in some of the rooms to make it easier on blob-you. There are a few rooms that are impossible to clear unless you move things around. When you catch the homely boy you go into a brief battle stage that really just feels tacked on, but if you win you kick him out of the orphanage. The game then takes you to the next stage – which is the orphanage several months later after Ferdinand has remodeled it to help the “feng shui.” Each stage has different furniture and children, and they become progressively harder to move around in.

The graphics look great, but the level design leaves a lot to be desired. The orphanage is huge, and the game remembers which children you’ve checked for beauty (they glow green), and where you’ve moved furniture on each stage so you can leave a room and come back if it’s really stumping you. While that’s nice, every room looks almost exactly alike so it all starts to run together. And there’s not a single piece of furniture in the orphanage that’s not a shade of beige, so the 3DS’s graphics are really being underutilized.

The music was alright, but I could have gone without the laugh track that loops constantly while you’re in blob form and the terribly life-life screams of the children as you absorb them.

All in all, the game had a few interesting components but it got so repetitive, and the core concept was so egregiously insulting from the get-go, that I would wait until this game is at the bottom of a bargain bin before trying it, if I were you.

Release Date: TBA 2013

Genre: Action/Puzzle

Publisher: Isecreme Co

Developer: Shemp Studios