You've heard it before, and no doubt you'll hear it again! Ze French are blimmin' WEIRD! Hem hem, don't get me wrong, I mean I happen to like France a lot, what with all their lovely Citroen DS's, stripey pullovers, baguettes and brie (not too keen on the toilets though). But that having been said, their computer games, without fail, always seem to have that unmistakable hallmark of weirdness about them.
Weirdness isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course - sometimes it can make for an original and amusing game. Here's the latest and it registers a hardy nine point nine on the YS Weird-O-Meter. It's called Stir razy, it's the latest release from Infogrames, and it's been programmed by our old chums Probe Software. In France this game is simply called Bobo, after a well-known Belgian cartoon character. Since we've never heard of him over here the game's names has been changed, but keeps the subtitle 'Featuring Bobo'.
Anyway, Bobo is in prison - what crime he's committed has not been made clear - but the game is based upon his escapades 'inside'. There are five separate sections based on his prison life, which, apart from trying to escape, include the mundane activity of 'doing time'. Yep, there's one whole sub-game here devoted to serving porridge! Its single screen represents the canteen, where Bobo has the job of serving grub up to his fellow inmates. You start with just one prisoner beating his plate on the table and one pot of porridge in the serving hatch. Fetch this and dish it out. Eventually, more prisoners will appear making your task more tricky as you jog between then and then back to the serving hatch for fresh porridge. Weird, eh? But wait...
Next we have the Preparing Potatoes section! It's a waggler based on (wait for it) peeling potatoes! Bobo sits on a stool at the bottom of a chute and peels. Press Down to pick up a tattie, wiggle left and right to peel (check your potato status on the sprite in the bottom right hand corder!) and fire to toss it over your shoulder. If you shirk on the peeling you'll get your spud thrown back! Add this to the fact that copious quantities of these potatoes keep tumbling down the chute and you'll realise that this is one big waggle against time. Eeek! Peel as many as you can before you get swamped!
In the third part we find out that Bobo has had enough of this exciting lifestyle and is bent on escape! Here you get to move left and right in the bottom area of the screen with a trampoline. Your objective is to bounce the convicts over the walls to freedom. They keep leaping out of windows and increase in number as you progres. The fourth segment catches up with him once he's actually escaped. Here he's viewed from behind as he runs along three electrical wires (don't try this one at home, kids). This is again very similar to one of those hand-held games, as you jump from one wire to another as sparks appear. Okay, so Bobo, in the true nature of the cartoon original (so I'm told), obviously gets caught every time he escpaes 'cos the final part finds our cutie-pal back in the slammer, snuggled up in his dormitory bed. You aim here is to sleep (not kill things, not kung fu anyone - just sleep!). The only problem is that your cell mates all snore so much they keep you awake. The only way to silence them is to climb next to their bunk and nudge them. (Don't try this one in prison, kids!) In the middle of the cell is the... er... chamberpot (what did I tell you about French toilets!?). If you trip over this, apart from getting covered in 'horrid beastliness', you'll also wake everyone up! Nudge all the snoring cell mates, hop over the potty, climb back into your bunk and get some shut-eye. You gain points when Bob sleeps
Er, and that's it really - five separte game which you can choose to play individually or together. Although they obviously star the same character the games don't actually represent five levels of the same game, but rather are five different subgames. Apart from the electrical wires section, which is a scroll-into-the-screen game, the others are all based on one screen. The sprites are bery big and some of the animation is great. The way that Bobo scowl when his peeled potatoes are rejected or when he keeps sneeking a spoonful of porridge for himself when he's standing idle in the canteen are nice touches which I assume are true to the original comic character.
The problem is the gameplay. I mean you can play every game in about two minutes flat. Ho hum. I guess this one's aimed at a much younger age group than our usual fare, and is probably quite acceptable as such. It would help a great deal if Bobo had the popularity here that he enjoys in the land of the onion too. Nicely executed but extremely limited seems to be the penultimate bottom line. French games - weired or what!?
Five independent sub-games all starring an obscure Belgian comic character. Quite well executed in their way but small and short-lived.
Thrill to the excitement as our hero Bobo (who?) actually PEELS POTATOES! It's not all Prisoner Cell Block H-type drama in this nick you know.
Eurgh! Whilst trying to 'nudge' my cellmates to stop them snoring Iv'e tripped over the... er... potty and got covered in ghastly horribleness.
Bounce those prisoners over the wall to the left or right. It's like one of those hand-held Nintendo games with better graphics, but it's another single screen game.