Friday, April 27, 2012

Amanita Design: Botanicula

I know I call most games cute. That must be annoying. But don't worry, this point-and-click puzzlin' story book from the Czech gaming studio Amanita Design isn't cute—IT'S ADORABLE. AhhhhhhHHHHHH it's just so darned loveable! Everything is little and makes funny little "yeehooooo!" noises (like Baby Mario but better) and your character isn't just ONE character. Oh no. You play as FIVE BEST FRIENDS! Okay, so it doesn't come right out and say they're best friends, but you know what's up. I mean, they're always together: a mushroom, a Mr. Lantern guy, a little flying feather man, a stick and a tall, hatted nut thing. Dawwww.

Anyway, premise: you run around on trees and underground and meet other creatures, like worms and singing bugs and chestnuts and bacteria or something, and they all make cute noises, too. And you're trying to save everyone's home from the big, black spider thing that is sucking the life out of the trees and plants and cute little creatures (think Ferngully, but without Tim Curry). On the way, you collect creature cards (like Pokémon! Except you don't fight them. This is a game about cooperation, guys), mementos of all the little beasties you meet on the way. Like the flea circus! And the bitty micro tree-squirrel! And the scary flying beetle guy!

So your little super-team of best friends runs around and solves puzzles tries to save everyone from the meanie spider. Everyone keeps telling them stories about how the spider ripped their head off or killed their friend or pulled a whole tree RIGHT OUT OF THE GROUND. Super tragic stuff. But the friends know their mission! And apparently so does everyone else. At one point, they all sit down and watch a little puppet-show-creature give them a puppet-performance of how they're going to pull the legs off the spider and murder it with a giant knife and eat it for dinner, or something, and everybody cheers and makes various other happy noises. And it's all very cute. I mean adorable. Very adorable.

Something I learned: you have to have some pretty agile cursor skillz at some points in this game. I played it through on my laptop, but my fingers just weren't fast enough. I had to connect a mouse. I should have probably known that from the start. But look—unlike Theodore, I wasn't given video games instead of a soother. I'm STILL LEARNING GUYS, so shhhh. But hey, if you're still learning, too, just remember to connect a mouse!

Back to how adorable the game is: there are lots of puffy floaty things to play with, and lots of musical things to click on. The whole landscape is super whimsical and beautifully designed and sort of vascular and explicitly alive. I don't really know how else to describe it. It reminded me of studying cell structures in biology class:

But it's also kind of cosmic and spacey. And usually pretty sensitive to the cursor: you can brush through the glowy wormy grassy stuff, and pop bubbles, and blow fuzz around. And that's before you start clicking on stuff! So much stuff to click on. If you like clicking on stuff you will like this game.

My rating:
I could...
A. Ummm
B. Take it.
C. Leave it.

The soundtrack is really great! You can listen to/buy it here. And it comes on vinyl, you know, if you're hip like that. Neat!

And remember: when all your little friends die (in the game) don't panic. It will be O.K. The power of friendship will prevail! Or something! I mean, as long as you actually keep playing.

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