At the end of the first year of the new century, Aqua Teen Hunger Force anchored down a new show on the Cartoon Network called Adult Swim. Since then it has outlasted it’s other debutantes and has become something of a cult hit. When they burst onto the public scene with the infamous Bomb Scare of 2007, when lite-brites-like boxes depicting a mooninite were exploded by police for fear of being terrorist devices, we should have seen something was not clearly thought out.
The media blitz got the name of the game out there, and quite the name it is: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am. The wacky cartoon seemed like a decent platform to create an outstandingly bizarre game and Zombies and Ninjas were seen as excellent avenues to speed along the humor. However, the road is not paved with gold and those of us that have had the duty to take a look at this game for you have suffered a heavy price indeed.
To put the disc in and watch the opening credits everything gets off to a good start. The intro is captured right off the TV show and it looks fine. From there it plummets to depths not seen for a long time in a quick hurry. After said intro, you are treated to 8-bit throwback menus that must have taken some real effort to be that bad. The hideous use of hue suggest a serious case of color blindness. I am thinking someone put this together on an Apple IIc with a monochrome monitor. Perhaps, 20-some years ago, this was the original idea that started the hit show?
To get out of the menus and into the game isn’t much of a treat either; visually speaking. The intro course is the street the trio lives on and provides some tips of hitting a golf ball through windows and so forth. There is almost no texture utilized, and graphical details is kept to a bare minimum. There are cut scenes that are done on par with the TV show again, but these merely drag the experience out by its hair. The courses after are toxic dumps and dressed up to look like it. Creatures pop out from the ground and chase you as you walk after your ball and they are as blasé as the rest of the course.
The GUI has a fair bit of information that tries very hard to stay out of your way. This, unfortunately creates a bit of clutter at the edges due to use of oversize icons to get their point across. For example, your health meter in the top left corner is merely a photo of character (you can be Master Shake or Frylock) in 5 degrees of damaged container. There’s some sort of IV leading to a pail that fills up with what I presume is blood as you take damage as well. The bottom left shows your club selection if you have more than one weapon to pull out of the bag, and the right corner is something of a radar screen that tends to quickly fill up with red dots behind you if you don’t pay attention.
The voice acting for the game is spot on. The original voices of the primary cast is in there and it works quite well. There is the requisite golf commentator and color man, in this case the Cybernetic Ghost, trying to do their best to both comment on the course before you and gross you out with various poop jokes. Volume levels suffer from lack of consistency, and the small selection of phrases get very old very fast as you combat your way across the course. Sound effects of hitting the ball sound like a marble in a tin can, but the fighting actions are ok.
Basically, it’s a mess like the rest of the game. the cut scenes and voices of the main cast are good, but in game it’s either inaudible, too loud, or repeated a dozen times per minute.
The control scheme is very simple to use although it does require dual-shock controllers. The left analog stick controls direction; be it the way you’re running during combat, facing for your swing, or driving. The right-analog stick is mostly used for camera angle. The difficulty is that if you’re pushing up on the LAS to move one one direction, but rotate the camera to see what is chasing then you start to run back to where you started. So you have to use the thumb-sticks in alternate semi-circles in order to keep running in one direction while getting the camera to look in the opposite direction. Annoying more than anything really.
The controls for the golf swing harken back to the old 90′s Madden kicking engine. Press X to start the meter to the left, press X to set the power and start the meter heading back to the right, and hit the X when it is in the center of the zone marked in red. The cursor movement is rather sporadic so it’s not real simple to develop a simple timing pattern to make it too easy. Instead it becomes a real test of nerves to watch the cursor speed towards the zone and then cut its speed in half as it approaches the red sweet spot and then who knows what determines the acceleration at that point. The problems continue when you don’t get the red center because anywhere in the yellow zone and there’s no telling where the ball will go. If you barely get the cursor into the yellow zone, or if you’re just barely outside center, your hook or slice takes a random tangent to your target.
Plus, there’s a lot of difficulty getting the buttons to do what you want when you want. After taking out a wave of Carl’s giant crabs, I stood over my ball and had to pretty much stand on the R2 button to get back into golfing mode. Aiming is too touchy, buttons very unresponsive, and confusion as the same buttons do many different things based on your mode makes for some supreme frustration.
Gameplay was, thankfully, very short. Other than wasting a half-hour of my life trying to figure out how to beat Carl, I pretty much breezed through things in a handful of hours. The poor script, control issues, graphics issues, and audio issues made it seem a lot longer than that, but there are only 12 levels. An odd number for a golf game when you think about it. They couldn’t bring it to themselves to stop at 9, and yet they couldn’t go the whole 18. I believe the lack of committment to the game is epitomized by this clue.
It was never any fun because it was a very easy game if not for lousy controls. It was never good to look at, lacking in humor when you could hear anything, and generally nauseating.
There is not much to put on the value meter. The game is rated M for Mature, and not many adults are going to appreciate what is going on. If you absolutely love the TV show then you might have a slight appreciation for what was accomplished, but its wrapped in such a poor package that it’s hard to justify even that.
I don’t love the TV show, but I do watch it now and then and I do laugh often. I had really hoped this game would follow that line. Instead I feel nothing but dissapointment and disgust. The glaring use of 8-bit menus and what seems to be very low effort produce a game with any depth or redeeming qualities.