July 31, 2008
If there is one commodity that Just Adventure has in abundance, it is great fans and fixrhas been one of our biggest supporters since our humble beginnings.Now fixr has offered to share his thoughts on what is one of the rarest games in adventuredom - Creature Crunch - and as you will soon discover he possesses a humorous style of writing that leads me to believe that we may soon be reading more of his reviews at Just Adventure.
Have you ever heard of this game? Seen a review for it? How about a screenshot, walkthrough or even a post on a bulletin board or usenet group?
Ever see anything at all about it? More likely than not, your answer is no, and aside from this review, and a single walkthrough - which was recently posted here on JA+ - info on this game is as rare as a priest in a brothel.
Why is this game any different from the thousands of other obscure titles that no one has ever heard? Oh I dunno, maybe it's the $1,500 price tag that's associated with it! Yup! You heard me, $1,500 smackeroos! That's what this game fetched at a celebrity charity auction not long ago. There was some mention made of the fact that this game had an extremely limited first run (under 5,000 units), and that it was signed by the two former SCTV members that star in the game, comedians Martin Short and Eugene Levy.
When you think of very pricey games these days, titles like Orion Burger(Sanctuary Woods), Treasure Hunter (Cryo) and even maybe Flight of the Amazon Queen (Warner Active) spring to mind. However, one that certainly doesn't immediately spring to mind is Creature Crunch! It definitely should though. It trades/sellsfor at least 500-600 bucks a copy (very consistently I might add)! So if you have a copy of Creature Crunch by Class6 Interactive (now defunct) hidden on a shelf or in a closet somewhere, you my friend are one lucky individual. If you're like me and only have one kind of luck - bad - then your just going have to wait till you come across it in a garage sale or something. Just hope the old lady with the cigar box at the end of the driveway doesn't know what it is, and let's you have it for a buck.
Now I don't know about you, but every time I ever got something that was hideously expensive, it just never seemed worth it to me. Have you ever ridden in a Ferrari? Well, believe me, you're not missing a thing! It's an absolutely miserable ride. How 'bout a Rolls Royce? Not nearly half as bad as the Ferrari, but still certainly not worth the $2-300 thousand it would cost to ride in one everyday. How about Beluga Caviar, ever have any of that? Well don't! It tastes like sh…, well I can't tell ya what it tastes like, just take my word for it, you won't like it. What you won't like even more, is the fact that it costs almost $450.00 for little more than a big spoonful of the stuff. What I'm trying to get at here, is the fact that practically never, is something that's hideously expensive ever worth it to your 'Average Joe'.
Unfortunately Creature Crunch is no exception from a game player's point-of-view. From a collector's stand point, it's very well worth it, but I'm not a collector. I'm just a player, and I don't think there's a cd-rom game on the face of the planet worth more that 20 bucks tops! I personally know a collector who purchased Orion Burger for $350. That same collector asked me to play this supposedly highly valuable game and offer my opinion. When I finished, all I could say was, "That game wasn't worth 350 cents never mind $350!" Well, this same collector friend of mine purchased a mint condition Creature Crunch for $600 (must be nice to have money to burn) and again, wanted me to play this newest addition to his collection to see what I thought of the game. Well, believe it or not, it wasn't bad. Sure, it wasn't worth anywhere near 600 bucks, at least not to me anyway, but from a gamer's point-of-view, it wasn't bad. It wasn't bad at all. Well, enough of the economics/subjective value lesson already. Lemme tell you about the game.
I, along with every other right thinking, adult, American male, love cartoons. Creature Crunch is a cartoon game, so right off the bat I'm a happy camper. Now, I don't mean animated, I mean cartoon! There is a difference. Some unscrupulous publishers out there like to promote their games as 'animated' when in fact they're nothing more than slide shows of static drawings. They may have one or two moving bits in the whole picture, or maybe a camera pan over a picture that has no moving bits at all (like some of that Japanimation garbage). That's not a cartoon! Bugs Bunny, now that was a cartoon, the Disney movies, those are cartoons; The Last Express - not a cartoon, it's a slide show! Still with me so far? Good.
Now, like I said, Creature Crunch is a cartoon, and that's good. But not only is it a cartoon, but its literally bursting with double entendres, play on word gags, and just gobs and gobs of humor. Just like Bugs Bunny. That's what made Bugs great and that's what makes Creature Crunch great. It's written for everyone. There's something in it for kids and adults alike. The story is good too. It's your basic get out of the haunted house alive bit, but it's got an interesting twist. It begins with Wesley (you) riding a bicycle. He gets caught in a rainstorm, loses his direction, and winds up on the front porch of some big old mansion. Unfortunately for Wes the mansion happens to be inhabited by Evil scientist Dr. Drod who proceeds to take Wes captive and turn him into a monster.
Wes then meets Brian. Brian is a brain in a jar (brian/brain = get it?). He can float, talk, see, and joins Wes on his adventure through the mansion. Basically, Brian's function is that of a straight man, but he does occasionally offer some useful advice. As a monster, Wes must make his way thru a 3 story, 24-room mansion, solving puzzles along the way. The puzzles are all the same: there is a guardian monster in each of the rooms and before Wes can progress through a room he must defeat the monster in that room. Each room leads, of course, to another room, wherein lies another guardian monster. There is only one way to defeat each guardian, but it's different for each of the guardians. So what worked on one guardian will not work on another. Now, here is the twist I mentioned earlier: the way you defeat the guardians is by finding objects somewhere in the house, and then you have to eat that object in the presence of the guardian. Eating the correct object transforms Wes into something that will destroy the guardian. The first room of the game is a mini-tutorial. You pick up a Bunsen burner in a lab and take it with you into the next room. In that room is a guardian monster. Brian tells you to eat the burner, "It's what monsters do," he explains. Eating the burner transforms Wesley into a giant blowtorch that incinerates the guardian. Wes then reverts back to the 'regular' monster he was before he ate the burner. Now armed with the knowledge of how to kill guardians, Wes and Brian begin their adventure through Dr. Drod's mansion. Are you still with me? Just checking.
When you finally make your way thru all the rooms - which by the way is no easy task - you arrive at the portal to freedom: the front door of the mansion. Home free? Not quite for guarding this door is a gargantuan cat. Since everyone knows that cats have nine lives (and if you didn't know that consider yourself officially informed) you, of course, must kill this guardian cat nine times! This cat meets his many demises the same way all the other guardians did, by you consuming objects you found laying around the mansion. When you are able to finally get past this guardian cat, then you are finally home free. Sound simple? Don't bet on it. This game is deceptively difficult. It's incredibly simple layout and controls immediately give you a false sense of superiority, and lead you to believe that this game will be such a breeze that it will offer you no challenge at all. Well, about fifteen into the game is about all it'll take for you to get knocked right off that lofty pedestal of yours, my friend. I was amazed at the number of times I was absolutely convinced that there was positively no other possible move I could make. I'd hit a dead end, couldn't get past this or that guardian; had nowhere to go, or nothing to do that I hadn't done already. "The game must be broke or something", I'd say to myself. But inevitably I'd stumble across a move or an object I had missed which would cause me to thump my head with the heel of my palm and go "DUH!"
The game play is so simple it becomes quite difficult (in a good way). Don't you just love it when that happens? But hands down, the best part of this game, is the zillion and two jokes that are in each and every room. It's a veritable click-fest of gizmos, gadgets, one-liners, sight gags - you name it. One of my favorites is an ornately framed painting hanging in the main hallway. It's a portrait of a regal and dignified Roman Centurion but when you click on him, he leans out of the frame, and in a deep gravelly voice, with a thick Brooklyn accent says, "Hi, I'm Art." He sounds like a New York cabbie! Ya gotta love stuff like that. You could easily spend up to thirty minutes or more in each room just clicking on all the neat stuff. I found myself returning to rooms just for a particular joke. Parts of this game had me laughing so hard I was in tears. Another good one takes place in the game room. If you flip thru channels on the television, you'll come across a stand-up comic just finishing a joke. You only hear the punch line but believe me, if you know the first half of the joke this is riotously funny.
That brings me to another point in favor of this game. As far as story and plot are concerned, I think this game does more than most in making the player an active and required part of the events in the game. Ever get the feeling in some games that you're just sitting there clicking away on the screen till something happens? It almost seems as, if you had a mouse that would move and click by itself, you could go do some chores or something, come back in a few hours and the game would be finished. Well, in Creature Crunch, that wouldn't work (well, technically it would, but like I said, I'm talking story and plot here, not technology) because you are needed. Not for clicks, not for inventory manipulation, but for thought! Genuine human thought. Something no machine can do (yet). This game is loaded with things that actually require you to supply info that can be found nowhere in the game. Like the comedian on the television, if you don't know the first half of the joke, then you just simply miss out on it. But if you do, then only on account of your involvement, do you get to laugh at the joke. No clicking or inventory shuffling will ever replace the good 'ol noggin! This level of player involvement is by far the best element of Creature Crunch. The overall feeling I get from this game is definitely better than I get from most, so if you get the chance, I would recommend you give it a whirl.
Final Grade Creature Crunch - B+.
If you liked Creature Crunch then:
Play: Sam and Max Hit the RoadWatch: Monty Python and the Holy GrailRead: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy