Shuggy is Werewolf
Software's second Acorn game release, the first having been Tanks.
Their first release had the sad distinction of being the only new game
released at Acorn World 1996, and Shuggy was also one of
the very few new games released in 1997. So should we be grateful to
Werewolf for doing something to water the drought with Shuggy, a new
arcade adventure game?
Initial impressions of Shuggy are good. The title page features a
pleasant pseudo-3D rotation of options, and the graphics are competent if
unimaginative. Starting the game does little to break this perception. The
graphics are reasonably well drawn, and make fair use of colour, but show
very little originality or flair. They are, however, considerably better than
the sad state of affairs present in far too many original Acorn games! The game
also uses a pleasantly detailed 640x480 display, as opposed to the standard
320x256 that many games choose, resulting in a clear, crisp display. You can
force it into 640x256 if your monitor can't cope with the higher resolution.
Collage of screenshots showing part of the game map
But when you first move your character, doubts suddenly appear. You walk on
large blocks, but obviously no-one thought to tell the graphic artist about
this, who has happily drawn large circular rocks - because the game treats
them as large squares you have the rather dubious ability of being able to
walk on air at many points! And when you move the whole thing harks back to
very early 8-bit titles - you have no control over your character in the air.
Push jump and you start spinning up and across, and for several seconds you
sit there watching, unable to intervene. And should you happen to land in
such a way that you roll then this lack of interactivity can persist for as
much as twenty seconds. Which isn't good enough in a modern game - unless you
enjoy watching paint dry, that is.
The animation is passable, but not very smooth - but at least it is present
at all, I suppose. In general the whole game can be desribed in this way -
passable but very unimaginative and without a single spark of originality,
and lumbered with a control mechanism very much like a reincarnation of an
early 8-bit game.
The game has some unforgivable design faults. One puzzle relies on you
finding an object completely 'hidden' behind some scenery in an obscure
place. Although there is some tenuous logic to this placement, the repetitive
graphics hide this clue from the player, and as a result the game becomes
completely unfair and infuriating.
A very major and fatal design flaw is that it is easy to get into a position
where the game cannot be finished, and yet you can still save in such a
position. You could easily spend ages playing and then accidentally overwrite
your previous positions without realising you had made the game impossible. I
don't think I have ever seen such terrible design in any other game - it is a
fundamental covenant of any game that the player should not be able to play
the game having made it impossible without realising. Shuggy breaks
this bond of trust with the player.
You'll see a lot of these freak rock formations
In general, the puzzles all exhibit a logic which is completely contradicted
by other parts of the puzzle. In one instance you must use a magnifying glass
to light a fire from the moon's rays - incredibly enough the moon has the
power to light a thick log, but for some bizarre reason you need three thick
logs to start the fire, and you are unable to light a simple stick! The stick
must be lit from the three logs. But why!? There is no logic to this.
Incredibly - almost unbelievably - this entire puzzle is 100% flawed by the
blatantly obvious presence of lots of flaming torches nearby - why can't the
stick be lit from one of these!? And why is that the rain makes the logs so
wet that they cannot be lit but has absolutely no effect on the happily
flickering torches? This whole thing is so stupid and terribly badly
thought-out - and happens early on in the game - that you really don't feel
like bothering to finish it. This and other examples combine to make the game
unfulfilling in the extreme. The puzzles are all either stupidly obvious or
just plain vanilla stupid.
There are several examples of puzzles with obvious solutions that turn out to be
wrong, and it also features "pointless puzzles" - for example, you have to give
a chef three eggs all at once; you can't give them one at a time. Why? You can't
put eggs down on the floor because they smash. Why? Why not put them down
The game features 'special effects' that, frankly, aren't. The rain is barely
sufficient, with no variation in speed, direction or appearance of each drop,
and amazingly it falls on some screens at an angle onto the next, but enter
the next one and it isn't there, even though when you go back it is still
present. And things which are blatantly under shelter still make objects get
wet. It has no concept of what is actually present on each screen - it falls
very well through solid rock. Pathetic. The 'lightning' is even worse - the
entire screen flashes solid white briefly, and it happens frequently enough
to ensure that it drives you insane with its mad flashing. Special effect?
More like special defect.
is a pleasant-enough torch-light effect when you go below ground, but
it's hardly earth-shattering stuff, although the smoke that billows from the
chimneys of some houses is pleasantly implemented - strange that all the
houses should smoke in perfect synchronisation and harmony, however. At least
some effort has been made here, I suppose.
The in-game music is inane to the point where you wonder if the musician
actually had any ears, and the sound effects are so limited that you can't
help but feel they were something of an afterthought. The final irony is that
the game crashes when you complete it if you have the music turned on. But
you probably won't unless you, too, have no ears.
The fundamental structure of the game is poor, too. An antiquated flip-screen
system has been chosen, but unforgivably there is a significant delay as you
move from one screen to the next - about one second on my Risc PC 700. This
may not sound much, but when you consider how much you have to trudge back and
for in this game it becomes very significant and intensely annoying! The new
screen scrolls on, but the scrolling is so unbelievably badly programmed that
it tears and jerks, even on an ARM710! Apparently it is smooth on a StrongARM,
but even an ARM2 could do this without problems if the code had been written
in any half-decent way. (It's okay if you turn the music off, however)
the lightning doesn't kill your eyes then the flickering probably will.
In an act of some skill considering the very simple nature of the game, the
programmer has managed to contrive a system which makes solid parts of the game
screen flicker madly on and off. Trees which sit there unmoving (despite the
strong guttering of nearby, magically suspended torches) flicker between being
there and not being there, revealing the background behind. Why? Why? Why!? What
on Earth is going on that can make something that isn't even moving or anywhere
near your character want to flash on and off in this bizarre manner? The only
possible answer is that the game code is really very badly written. Apparently
this doesn't happen
on a StrongARM. But this is no excuse - the game could easily run on an ARM2
with just a little bit of competence.
There isn't a huge amount of text in the game, but even the small amount there
is manages to be incredibly badly written, and with obvious mistakes. You can't
help but feel that it was knocked up by next door's pet monkey
during the designer's lunch break. Things are simplified somewhat by the fact
that capital letters haven't been invented yet in Shuggy's land.
Just about the very first speech you see exhibits some horrifically bad design. Shuggy
says "i'm ok but your drawbridge down there isn't working" - when I,
at least, hadn't even found a drawbridge yet! There are other similar examples
of thoughtless design and what appears to be a complete lack of care.
The game includes a "negleted" chicken with a "protective glove on the chicken". The mind shudders to think - or perhaps there's a comma missing? And the game repeatedly reveals the inability of the
author to understand the correct use of apostrophes. So the game isn't even
any good for undemanding little children.
The dialogue is excruciatingly bad - even to the point of being unintentionally
hilarious. This little extract gives
you lever the bell up enough to let the person out
And did you know:
thankyou for getting me out.
how long have you been under there
i don't know, i've completely lost track of time
well i must be going, bye
troll's have been know to like cake
Scary, huh? (Two mistakes in seven words there, by the way)
Even something as fundamental as detecting key presses is bodged. When you bring
up the list of objects - which lets you examine, use and drop the objects
you are currently holding - there is a big delay before the game accepts any key
presses, and the same occurs after pressing any key in the object list. This is for no
grander reason than the programmer's incompetence - the sensible thing to do would have been to wait for a previous key to be released before detecting the next one, instead of forcing a compulsory pause to avoid duplicated key press problems.
finally, to add insult to injury the game is very small - there aren't a huge number of
screens, and those there are exhibit very little variety. You get very little for your 26 pounds - it is just 946K in size, coming on two DD discs. Probably the most effort has been
put into the front-end, which includes an attractive graphical representation
of the keyboard. The packaging consists of a pleasant, paper-back book-sized, plastic box with a full-colour sleeve, and it comes with a nicely printed
This game is in so many ways a missed opportunity.
Arm'd & Dangerous
have released many excellent free games, so why have they chosen one of their
worst to release as a commercial title? The answer to this will remain a
mystery, I fear. Werewolf are to be congratulated for bringing another game
to the Acorn market, but I just wish they had been a bit more selective in
their choice. At least you now have the option of buying this game, which if
they hadn't done so you wouldn't have had. I don't want to find so many
faults in Shuggy, but unfortunately they're important and myriad.
So should you buy it? I'd recommend that you download the demo from
Werewolf Software's web pages. If
you enjoy the demo then you'll enjoy the game, and if you don't then you
won't. I have spoken to people who really like Shuggy, and I've spoken
to people who can't bear it. Personally I fall in between - I think it's
passable, but nothing more. Shuggy would have made a reasonable cover-disc
release. As a full-price game I think that it falls far, far
short of the standard most people would hope for.
Review by Gareth Moore, ©1997
23, The Spinneys
Tel. (0181) 467 1138
Cost: £25.95 plus £1.50 P&P
Requires RISC OS 3.10+ and 2Mb of RAM.
...this page last updated: 7/9/97...
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