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November 29, 2009

Why 'Science Papa' is a) a wasted opportunity, b) just shit.

(Originally this was a Facebook message so apologies for the odd but of cut-and-paste contextual cruft)

Much of the discussion on games sites has been about the cheek of Activision in rather ripping off Majesco's Cooking Mama format.

But having played the bloody thing, that's not the real crime - or to be more accurate, crimes. (I'm speaking of the Wii version, some of this may work perfectly on the DS)

1) It's apallingly made, with no buttons to skip the endless intros
2) There are spelling mistakes in the endless intros - even within the first 15 minutes
3) The interface is really clunky and controls are unresponsive/overresponsive at random... See More
4) It's got an awful Comic Sans font
5) The script and plot are just shit
6) You have to poke about in odd corners of the interface to find out how you progress, otherwise the main mission window just has you endlessly making soap and agar agar.
7) Two-player mode comes with no explanations

And then there are the BIG problems. The first is the one that will get most people het up, and I think it's an appalling piece of judgement, but jusssssst about acceptable in the game if everything else was good:

8) The levels are dictated by competitions, where you have to do science cook-offs. But before you win these you have to make smoke bombs to distract the opposition. And while you're doing your science they'll set off goo explosions to disrupt you.

9) There's no feedback on how and why you did anything in the level wrong. So in some elements you can't work out what you were supposed to have done. Indeed, in the soap-making episode, I think there's a bug where it's not possible to do it correctly. I bought this to do with my daughter...and I couldn't get her through the levels.

But worst of all

10) THERE'S NO SCIENCE IN IT, AND IT MAKES SCIENCE LOOK BORING. Even where it wouldn't have cost them anything to add it. It's been reduced to a bunch of stirring, mixing and scraping tasks that are just tedious, even when against the clock. You have to mix 100ml of water with salt to make strong brine - how much salt? Why? You have to do electrolysis on it to make bleach - why does that change it? For how long? Why is there licorique extract in the pink hair dye? Why did you need to mix pink bismuth and green tea essence - and then electrolyse it? Does that make it electric pink? Is that what really happens when making hair dye? What if I want to make green?

It's just a terrible, terrible game. In craft terms, but more importantly as an editorial premise.

Posted by Tom Dolan at November 29, 2009 10:28 AM


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