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Jul 9, 2008

Review: Insecticide for Nintendo DS

Gamecock Media Group, Crackpot Entertainment
Available for the Nintendo DS and PC

This week I’m taking a crack at reviewing my first indie game with Crackpot Entertainment’s Insecticide, a point & click adventure/action game which was released through the controversial Gamecock Media Group. This unique title, created by former Lucas Arts employees, embodies the same emphasis on storytelling, humour and character development that you find games like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango.

The game takes place on a future planet Earth where years of genetic food experiments have caused insects to mutant and become the dominant race. There you follow Chrys Liszt and Roachy Caruthers, two insect police officers from the Troi City Insecticide Division as they try to solve the murder at the Nectarola soft drink company. Chrys is a hard working orphan with a murky past, who pours all her energy into her work and her partner, Roachy is a veteran detective, hell bent on cleaning up the mean streets of Troi City.

Insecticide is dubbed a Science-Fiction Action Adventure game, but honestly I see it as more a point and click adventure game with a couple of action levels thrown in at the last minute, because while the investigation levels made the game interesting and entertaining, the action levels are just annoying distractions taking you away from all the good parts of the game. The game probably would have faired better as just an adventure game on its own.

The investigation levels were well laid out and just mind boggling enough to make you want to keep searching every nook and cranny for hours so you could find that last clue. Some puzzles were harder than others, but like most adventures games, Insecticide made you think outside the box in order to solve its puzzles and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was a little surprised that the developers didn’t use the stylus controls for the action levels, but playing with the d-pad controls didn’t seem to make the levels any harder to navigate, so I guess I can’t complain. The developers did incorporate the stylus touch controls into the investigation levels, which worked perfectly and really made me feel like I was playing Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle again.

Fans of the game, Psychonauts are going to love the graphics in Insecticide as they look born from the same demented mind. From the dark colours to the similar 3D model character types, you would think someone at Crackpot Entertainment was a big Tim Schafer fan or at least a close, personal friend. Even the humour used in this game screams old Lucas Arts with its goofy use of puns and geeky references to old 60s sci-fi movies and pop culture.

The music in the game is a good mix of classic film noir jazz and action pack chase music which is all performed by a full orchestra. The dialog is well done, but the sound effects were a bit off. Moments that should have had sound effects didn’t, which just seemed a little lazy on the audio department’s part.

I’ve been a big fan of the adventure game genre since I started PC gaming and I’ve been a bigger Lucas Arts adventure game fan since I got my hands on Day of the Tentacle, so being able to play a game that encompasses all the things I love about both genres makes me so happy, I want just to quote pirate insults. I can’t recommend this game enough to my fellow adventure game/Lucas Arts fans.

In a industry where so many mainstream game companies are filling the store shelves with garage game titles, I’m glad to know there is still publishers that are willing to support independent game developers with unique game ideas. Indie game fans can also look forward to games like Hail to the Chimp, World of Goo, Fez, Audiosurf and Crayon Physic Deluxe in the next year, thanks to the support of companies like Gamecock, Sony and Microsoft. Look for their reviews in the future.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Buy it!

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