I’m a connosieur of odd games. I’ve never met a strange idea that I didn’t immediately get intrigued with. Show me an action-adventure game, and I’ll probably shrug. Mix that action-adventure game with a plot about a Japanese family who’s trying to save the earth from aliens AND buy a present for their grandma, and I’ll be beating down the door of the nearest game store to pick it up.
Therefore, I was understandably thrilled about Deadly Creatures. Another action-adventure game doesn’t really trip my trigger. But an action-adventure game where you play as either a tarantula or a scorpion fighting various other creepy-crawlies while Dennis Hopper and Billy Bob Thornton double-cross each other? Sign me up! Did Deadly Creatures send a shiver up my spine with glee? Or did it make me hide under a blanket hoping it would go away?
First, it’s worth noting that this game looks really good. Whether you’re playing as the scorpion or the tarantula, the animations are awesome. They must have spent a lot of time studying these bugs to get a feel for how they move, because they all look a lot like their real-world counterparts. The places you visit also give you a sense of enormity, like you’re a tiny little critter in a big, big world. Your enemies are pretty well-animated too, and they move exactly how you would expect lizards, spiders and rats to move.
There are a few complaints, though. You’ll see a lot of jaggies, especially during cutscenes starring Dennis Hopper and Billy Bob Thornton’s double-crossing thieves, or when you’re looking at far off objects. That can’t really be helped due to the weaknesses of the Wii, but what should have been fixed is the amount of variety in levels. Most levels look and feel almost exactly the same. You get new moves and new things to try out, but a lot of the levels are set in the desert, with very little variety in how they look. Towards the end, things change a bit, but there’s a large middle section that’s fairly repetitive. Still, for what the Wii is capable of, Deadly Creatures looks pretty good.
The sound in Deadly Creatures is awesome. From the little noises that your legs make when you’re walking, to the sound of cicadas in the distance, to the telltale chirp of a nearby delicious, delicious cricket, everything works together excellently. They also give you a sense of how small you are. When you come upon a lizard and it roars at you, it sounds like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park. It’s very cool.
The music isn’t as exciting, as there’s very little of it. Most of what you’ll hear are ambient sounds and some minor themes. Every once in a while there will be a trumpet sting or something along those lines during a cutscene, but the music mostly keeps out of the way, further building up the atmosphere. It demonstrates remarkable restraint on the part of the developers.
There are two schools of thought on the controls. One person might say, “I don’t like motion controls, so therefore, I don’t like Deadly Creatures’ motion-heavy controls.” Others might say, “I expect that when I play a Wii game there will be motion controls, and Deadly Creatures handles them well.” How you feel about the controls depends what camp you find yourself in.
Personally, I loved the controls in Deadly Creatures. They give you a very tactile feel to what you’re doing. For instance, as the scorpion, you are sometimes allowed to do finishing moves on a weakened enemy. When this happens, you’re treated to a God Of War-style quicktime event handled with the motion controls. If your scorpion is going to rip off the wings of a critter, they ask you to move apart the Wiimote and Nunchuk. It sounds silly, but it’s a lot more fun than pressing a button.
I will give the game demerits, though, for the tarantula. While playing as the scorpion is incredibly fun, the tarantula is an exercise in frustration and annoyance. That’s not to say that the tarantula doesn’t get to do cool things, like a one-shot kill move that involves pointing at an enemy from a distance and hitting “A,” or being able to web sling to specific areas in the level. However, combat as the tarantula is uniformly difficult, as it doesn’t have nearly as many useful moves as the scorpion. All of my battles devolved into “attack, run away and hope the creature doesn’t follow you, and then try leaping on them from a distance and hope they don’t block my attack.”
However, the scorpion has a lot more cool moves, and they control very naturally. For instance, one move has you tilt the Wiimote upside-down to make the scorpion burrow into the ground. When an unsuspecting enemy walks past, you tilt the Wiimote back up to attack. The controls provide you with an experience that you simply wouldn’t be able to get on a 360 or PS3.
The best way to describe Deadly Creatures is as a good, if very linear, action-adventure game that’s taken to a different level by its unique setting. Generally, you’re progressing from one end of a level to the other through various tunnels, fighting other insects, rats and lizards along the way. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find your way in a larger arena to your next objective, but by pressing the “2” button you can usually see where your next objective lies.
Every once in a while, there are boss fights. One of the first boss fights involves you fighting a snake. You wait for him to lunge at you, and then dodge out of the way so that he hits his head on a cactus. It’s really fun to play, which makes it a shame that they didn’t have more of them. There are about four bosses total in the 10 levels, which means that most levels are nothing more than getting from one point to the other.
It’s also important to note that Deadly Creatures is glitchy. Some enemies will get hung up on the scenery, and there are some times that the camera swings so wildly around your character that it’s hard to get your bearings. I’ve had instances where my tarantula is walking on a surface, and it bumps into a piece of scenery that causes it to fall off of the surface and take damage.
With all this being said, you may assume that I have a fairly low opinion of Deadly Creatures. That’s not necessarily true. There’s something to be said for style, and Deadly Creatures has it in spades. It actually helps mask a lot of the game’s deficiencies. For instance, I didn’t really have a whole lot of complaints about the game until I sat down to review it. Once I started breaking down the game, I found that there were lots of things that bothered me, but the relentless style of Deadly Creatures distracted me throughout, leaving me with an overall favorable impression.
Deadly Creatures is short. It took me about six hours to complete. Once you’re finished, there’s not much else to do. You can replay the levels if you so choose, or you can try and unlock more concept art, but there’s no multiplayer and no real incentive to go back. In honor of that, this paragraph is also short.