What to do when you're the result of experiments gone wrong and dumped on a desert planet? Why, stop the man who created you from potentially destroying the universe, that's what!
June 13, 2013
I first became aware of Space Madness when I received an email from German indie developer Ray Logan (aka Spreadcamp) asking if JA would like to review his new game. He also provided links to the game's official website and launch trailer. I scurried right over.
The trailer had me literally laughing out loud. Even better, I was treated to glimpse of the main character threateningly wielding a chainsaw (I love that in a game). Further, Space Madness has no DRM and is Cthulhu-Approved.
How could I possibly resist such a combination? I just had to review this game.
Space Madness is Spreadcamp's first voyage into the world of adventure gaming. It was made by just one person -the aforementioned Ray Logan- using the Wintermute Engine.
The game takes players on a fanciful, somewhat surreal journey that's reminiscent of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso and Machinarium. It's currently available in both English and German.
Navigation is point-and-click, the game's interface and controls are straightforward, graphics are cartoon-style and the game can be played in either full-screen or window. Inventory is accessed by moving the pointer to the bottom of the screen. Some items are used directly and others must be combined before they'll work.
The game's animation, while somewhat rudimentary, is nicely done. The dialog is text-only, which I feel suits the game very well.
Space Madness has you playing a mutant named Ed, who resembles a cross between a stripped-down, one-eyed SpongeBob SquarePants and a primitive audio speaker enclosure with arms and legs. Ed represents the latest unfortunate result in a series of experiments gone wrong. Conducting these experiments is mad scientist Professor Marty, who is attempting to clone himself and whose lab is in a rocketship.
At the beginning of the game, Ed, attached to a ball of garbage, is unceremoniously ejected from Professor Marty's spacecraft and dumped on a strange desert planet. This is also the home of Professor Marty's other blunders, some of whom you get to meet during the game.
Ed soon learns that the professor is intending to try something that will potentially destroy the universe. You and Ed spend the rest of the game trying to stop him.
The first thing that impressed me about Space Madness is its clever sense of humor, which is most welcome. I love games that make me laugh.
The dialog is often hilarious. Additionally, references to other adventure games as well as to science fiction/fantasy/horror titles figure prominently in the in-jokes that appear throughout the game.
Puzzles are basically of the inventory variety and aren't very difficult. I did, however, find a couple of them to be a bit obscure and it took me awhile to figure out what to do. There are also some non-inventory puzzles such as one in which a robot teaches Ed to dance.
You're assigned various missions as you make your way through the game, with a few red herrings thrown in your path for good measure. Players earn points for accomplishments and are awarded various tongue-in-cheek ranks as they progress. The first of these is "Confused." (Gee, I wonder what I was before that?)
You can also accumulate "collectibles" throughout the game that unlock extras. Finding these, however, isn't a prerequisite for finishing the game.
The Space Madness main menu displays Score, Rank, Mission, Collectibles Found and Game Progress. Players can check on how they're doing and be reminded of their current mission at any point in the game.
I found the dialog's English translation to be a little awkward in spots, and some of the game's non-dialog text is truncated. I also noticed one minor plot hole. Fortunately, these things didn't interfere with my enjoyment or successful completion of the game.
Space Madness is relatively short in duration. According to Spreadcamp, it should take approximately 2-4 hours to finish. Although I didn't play the game all the way through in one sitting, I believe it took me longer than that. But even then, it wasn't lengthy.
The game offers ten save slots. I'd be okay with this ordinarily, but the game crashed several times and although the saves can be overwritten, it would have been nice to be able to save more often. However, this didn't present as much of an inconvenience as it could have if the game were longer.
I also noticed that the further one gets in the game, the longer a save will take to load. For me, the process could take up to six minutes to complete. According to the developer, these crashes and long load times have now been resolved.
The game comes with a very nice manual. You might want to have a look at it before you start playing and not wait until after you've finished, as I did. I was so anxious to get started that I clicked the shortcut on my desktop as soon as installation was complete. I didn't even realize there was a manual until a few minutes ago. How embarrassing.
Despite its flaws (and my sometimes questionable mental condition), I heartily recommend Space Madness. The game is not so complex that newcomers to the genre will find it difficult, but it's engaging enough to hold the interest of more seasoned gamers. I really enjoyed playing it.
There's a heavy hint of a sequel at the end of Space Madness. I do hope Spreadcamp is able to pull it off. I'd love to see more games like this one.
Note: Space Madness is available for purchase and download from the game's official website for $5.95 / 4,95 €.
Final Grade: B