by: Ryan Clements
Are you tired of do-good heroes bursting into your dungeon and lighting up the once dank and peaceful corridors with obnoxious torches? Are you sick of warriors and wizards slaughtering your demons just to reach the end of your pristinely constructed labyrinth? Well NIS has a game for you!
Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? is an extremely quirky downloadable game for the PSP that combines the classic mechanics of Dig Dug with dungeon creation and monster breeding. The result is an insanely challenging -- but still enjoyable -- game that's coated in traditional NIS humor.
In Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman!, players take up the disembodied pickaxe of the God of Destruction, newly summoned into the world thanks to Overlord Badman and his frustrating dilemma. You see, heroes have been invading Badman's precious dungeons and he needs your help to stop them. Throughout the entire game, your only actual interaction with the environment and characters is moving a pickaxe around the environment and digging blocks of soil. Yet with such a simple premise, there's a tremendous challenge ahead of you.
Even though the core mechanics involve moving the cursor around and digging up 2D blocks, there's plenty to learn along the way. The key to defeating the invading heroes and protecting the helpless Overlord is to take advantage of the nutrients and mana that gather in the soil. These resources are the building blocks for all the creatures you can create. Dig up a block with just a bit of nutrients inside and out comes a Slimemoss, one of the basic -- and fundamental -- units in the game.
The purpose of the Slimemoss is to travel around the dungeon and distribute those nutrients elsewhere. Create enough Slimemosses and the nutrients will begin to flow and gather in different places, depending on how you construct your dungeon. When enough nutrients gather in one block, you can create more powerful creatures, like the insect-like Omnoms and the more hardened Lizardmen. This same dynamic is mirrored with mana. As the heroes use magic (or die), mana is distributed amidst the soil. Digging it up will create Spirits, which circulate the magical energy just like Slimemosses circulate nutrients.
Badman is all about learning the most effective way to build dungeons, control resources and create a balanced ecosystem for your monsters. See, these monsters you create need to eat, so there's an in-game food chain that you must consider when carving out your dungeon. So even though the premise of Badman is just "dig up blocks," you have a daunting task ahead of you.
Fortunately, there are really only two methods of play in Badman, so you won't feel too overwhelmed. The Challenge mode is split up between a series of training missions and then a whole list of standalone challenges, which task you with completing specific objectives that are often atypical of normal play. The Story mode, on the other hand, is the meat and potatoes of the experience. Here, you must drive off hero after hero in each stage, with a limited pool of "dig power" to use (dig power is the total number of blocks you can dig up). Between each stage, you regain some of your dig power, depending on how well you did, and you can spend that power on upgrading your units. If Badman is captured during Story mode, however, your entire game is over and you have to start from scratch. Tough stuff.
My experience with Badman was a bit of a rollercoaster. You see, I was immediately taken with the game's quirky style, cute music and intentionally old-school visuals when I first played it, and I could see that the game had real promise. But as I delved deeper into the game's Challenge and Story modes, I began to grow frustrated with the insane amount of difficulty that continued to push me away from victory. At that point, I was feeling pretty down and began thinking Badman wasn't all I thought it would be.
Then, when playing the game during an epic laundry night, I looked up at the dryers and realized my laundry had finished without me even noticing. The game completely captured my attention -- frustration and all -- and demolished my waiting time. It was then that I came to realize the real appeal/strength of the Badman experience. This game has a number of addictive qualities and the challenge will please hardcore gamers looking for a real fight.
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