Review for XboxHornet by War Gamer
When I first heard about a new platformer coming to the Xbox Live Indie Games section I got pretty excited. I love platformers. Ever since playing indie games like Arkedo Series – 01 Jump or the Johnny Platform games, I didn’t think any game could top them. So when it came time to play Herman, I was hoping it would earn a spot along side them and not disappoint.
From the opening scene with the music and mood set, you know this game has the potential to be good. To be honest, I like how the game starts. The music is very atmospheric, and somewhat relaxing. If you’ve played the XBLA game Braid, you’ll be quite familiar with the intro and the way the story is told at the beginning. The game is about a man named Herman, who realizes his life is at an end and wants to quit his job. It also mentions that he likes a certain girl so he quits to look for her. After telling his best friend, a co-worker, his plan, word quickly spreads around the office. For some unknown reason, no one wants Herman to leave and will do anything to block his escape to the exit.
Included in the game are said to be 25 long levels, 5 difficulty settings, 15+ original music tracks and over 200 backgrounds that portray Herman’s life. I made the mistake of starting the game on the second difficulty setting, “slightly easy”. The game was very slow, and hardly any challenge at all. I died a few times while trying to get a hang of the button layout. Through the few restarts, I noticed the level was randomly generated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but after playing a few levels, you quickly realize the game is very repetitive and boring, yet somewhat addictive. When they say long levels, they mean it too. Each level could take up to 10 minutes to complete if you try to collect everything. With 25 long and repetitive levels, you think to yourself, do I want to finish the game? It would of been nice to of had more variety or puzzle elements in the game. The things that make other platformers good, and challenging. Now, I’m not saying this game is bad. There is a nice variety of enemies – there are fast enemies that run into you and chase you down, ladies that throw what looks like peppers or pens at you, go kart racers, R/C Airplanes, suicide enemies, guys with rockets, and so on.
The main gameplay here is to head right and go up and down ladders, all while collecting packages, tangerines, turkeys for health, avoiding enemies and reaching the exit of each level. Your main form of attack is throwing tangerines at enemies. You can also kick them if close enough, but end up losing a lot of health this way. In most platformers to duck, you press down, but in this game, you press the Right Shoulder button. Not a big deal, just something to get used to. Also,something I found really odd, you can dig holes. Why would someone dig a hole in an office building? Also, why are you picking up tangerines to throw in an office building. Why not office supplies? When collecting packages you’ll notice they sometimes spawn in the filing cabinets. At first I had no idea how to get them, but when you finally see the suicide enemy, he’ll run into them and make the path clear. There is also a section after you complete a level where you can buy upgrades. I don’t really see much use for them, but they are there.
The music in this game is actually quite enjoyable. It ranges from atmospheric and relaxing music to upbeat escape music. The tracks are looped, but they are so seamless that you won’t even notice it starting over. If there was ever a soundtrack available, I’d recommend giving it a listen.
When it comes to the Art style in this game, it’s somewhat hard to talk about. I mean, it’s unique, and all somewhat hand drawn characters. Not pixel based, high quality 2D characters, or 3D models like other games. I don’t mind it, but like all platformers I play, I like small characters. They are easier to control over the tall ones like Herman. The 200+ backgrounds aren’t anything special either. They are photoshopped pictures of Herman in various real life images that portray his life. It’s almost like a montage of his life before death.
At first I really didn’t like this game and all I could think about was negative comments. After playing the game on a higher difficulty and thinking about it, my thoughts changed. The game is much more challenging and enjoyable, but still very repetitive. After fully playing it, you know the game has huge potential. The story and music alone are already great. With a new “engine”, art style, gameplay mechanics, and puzzle elements, it could of been a worthwhile game at 240 points. As it stands now though, it’s hard to recommend. I say maybe wait until Four player tangerine fight, the next game based on the Herman engine, is released and play that with up to 3 friends. But even then I wouldn’t recommend it.
I give this game 5 “tangerines!” out 10.
Download a free trial of the game here.
You can watch a trailer of Herman here.