Stupid Invaders

2000 Xilam
Designed by Nicolas Gallet, Thomas Szabo, Sébastien Hamon
Reviewed 2002 March 9

Rating -2 Linearity straight, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity minimal
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

Five aliens crashed on earth some years ago. Holed up in an old house, they've just about managed to get their ship repaired. Unfortunately, the evil scientist Dr. Sakarin has learned of them and has sent a bounty hunter, Bolok, to catch them. Sakarin wants to experiment on them. The aliens have to escape Bolok and get off this mudball. The main locations are the aliens' house, a dung factory, and Sakarin's complex.

This is a licensed game based of the TV series Space Goofs. I've never seen the show, so I can't comment upon the faithfulness of the characters or humour. The characters act goofy, both space aliens and earth residents alike, but in the usual manner of modern cartoons. The humour has a very strong scatalogical bent -- if that turns you off, you best move on. There is also some surprising sexual humour -- surprising for it's presence in an otherwise Saturday morning atmosphere, and for its viciousness. It's mostly implied, though, not graphic.

You alternately control one or another of the aliens. You move through a series of short segments, switching from one character to another, and back. It amounts to a very linear sequence of mini-mini-games, each scenario being mostly self-contained. This means that you usually have only a small inventory, with only a few locations, objects, and characters to deal with at any one time. This in turn means that the game is pretty easy, since there is never much scope of action.

The challenges are mostly relevant, with an exception or two, and with three very tedious mazes. Almost all are very simple, not involving any reasoning at all. Either the required actions are obvious, or they result unpredictably from simply doing the things that you can do. Not a good way to make challenges, but the results are fun, and humour is the main goal of this game.

One nice touch is the use of meaningful dialogue choices. A few of the challenges involve finding the correct way through the dialogue menus. The wrong way gets you killed.

The unfun part comes from the frequent, unpredictable deaths. The dying part is fun enough, but the restoring and replaying gets old fast. You have to save often, because you will die -- you have to die to learn what you need to do to avoid death. There's no auto-restore to a convenient place before death. There's also one -- just one -- nasty timed sequence. It's nasty because it comes upon you with no warning. It's easy enough once you know it's coming.

Stupid Invaders is a beautiful game. Strong, bright colours, good visual design with well stocked locations, topped off with good sound and voice work. Everything you need to see is clearly presented. The interface is simple and clean, and worked flawlessly for me. It's one of the better adventure game productions to date.

There's lots to do in Stupid Invaders, but little of it is challenging. With the frequent necessary deaths and tedious mazes, the gameplay side is very weak. There's a good, cartoony story driving the action. Ultimately, though, the game depends upon its humour. I found it too predictable, the same jokes me and my friends went over a thousand times in elementary school. But if you think farts and toilets are hilarious, this is your game.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.