Penny Arcade (XBLA)

Review: Penny Arcade



One thousand, three hundred and sixty pennies to be exact.




Question: How many RPG’s have you played that let you beat the shit out of mimes with a rake, punch out tiny, vicious, little robots that shag fruit and upgrade your weapon using a jar of urine, given to you by a homeless person who thinks he’s a doctor? Answer: None.

Until now, that is.

Now, Ill start this off by saying I am an unashamedly huge penny arcade fan… I’ve been following the web-comic for years and I’ve been looking forward to this game ever since the day it was announced, way back when, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Mortal Kombat: Penny Arcade edition.

First things first: The price. Now I know that 1600 points seems like a lot to most of you, and you’re completely justified for feeling like that, but I’d say the price is reasonable, all things considered.

This generation of games has been pretty disappointing for me lately… so many big releases have promised us so much, and wound up delivering so little when it comes to fun gameplay but Penny Arcade’s ‘On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness’ is, at the very least, a labour of love.

The 3D visuals are very well done… each area looks fantastic from the ransacked neighbourhood overrun with robots and mimes to the disgusting slums filled with wave after wave of killer bins and enraged homeless people (just admit it.. at least once in your life, you’ve had the desire to punch one of those big issue selling cunts, in the face.) The cut-scenes are all drawn in 2D, to match the art of the comic, and it’s absolutely spot on as is the humour which makes you think back fondly of old point-and-click games like Secret of Monkey Island, and Day of the Tentacle.

At least it's not random.

Ok, onto the nitty gritty. The game is quite short by RPG standards. I’d say six-ten hours would get you to the end, and maybe twenty if you wanted to go for all the achievements.

There are four different locations you can go to on the map, one of which is a sort of headquarters you go back to, for weapon upgrades and to unlock new quests in the main story. There are a few different areas in the three main locations for you to explore, so most of your time is split up going back and forth between the suburbs, the slums and the boardwalk.

I don’t have any real issues with the game; bar one – the targeting system is a bit fiddly sometimes. It can be really awkward to find the right item you’re trying to click on, and it really wouldn’t have been that hard to assign a button to switch between all the objects nearest to you.

We appear to have walked into a Michael Jackson video.

The combat is, well, different but not in a bad way. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve gotten to grips with it, it’s actually really enjoyable and fun to play. You use the four facia buttons in combat. A for items, X for normal attacks, Y for special attacks and RT for blocks and counterattacks, however the difference here is that each round has the A button charging up, then X, then Y. so you can pull off a special attack every round if you want to, but you’ll have to wait a while for the button to charge, and the entire time you do, you’ll be getting attacked by about 2-4 enemies one after the other.

This is where the block button comes in. If you can time it perfectly then you can counter every hit against you. If you manage to keep a string of attacks and blocks going, your strength will continue to rise slowly. So the better you are at this, the more badass your character becomes (not as badass as Chuck Liddell though, clearly – Ed). Also, no fecking random battles (THANK YOU LORD! – Ed).



Secondary Review

For a Japanese-style RPG with it’s turn-based battle this is very enjoyable and I pretty much detest JRPGs. A big reason for this is the humour, even if you’re not a fan of the penny Arcade comic I’m sure you would find this funny. The humour doesn’t entirely rely on knowing the characters, even though there are some subtle nods to ongoing gags from the comic.

The Lovecraftian-style story added with the very good looking graphics make this game a pleasure to play. There’s very little in the way of random walking about and no random battles. This means you know what you are doing at all times. Along with its lack of having to level up your character to fight the boss characters make this game a joy to play.

This game isn’t without its faults though. When traversing the levels you can smash open boxes to get items, and its a little awkward to lock onto what you want to get. The character creation whilst cool, is very limited.

Overall this is a fun game with a good little story, if a little short for your money. I will be getting episode 2, but most probably on PC as it’ll no doubt be cheaper.

Secondary Score: 8/10

To be honest, the biggest selling point for this game is in its sense of humour and if you’re a big fan of old point and click games or the penny arcade comic itself, then you’ll definitely appreciate this, if not then Id say steer clear, because this is the kind of game you’ll either love or hate.

In saying that, the humour is hardly innocent either… there’s plenty of swear words littered throughout the game (and this review, you sweary prick – Ed), which is nothing surprising if you’re familiar with Gabe and Tycho’s work. However most of it is pretty funny, and the descriptions of the various items littered around the world made me smile more than once.

Once again though, the biggest problem with this game is the price and most people just aren’t willing to pay this kind of money for a game this short, but in my eyes this first part is a commitment. A commitment to the creation of good games that actually have a lot of hard work, dedication and love put into them, instead of helping support a system that routinely expects you to pay over forty quid for boring, crappy, over-hyped, underdeveloped lemons like Assassin’s Creed, Dark Sector and Iron Man that are severely lacking in any kind of charm, and stop being fun to play after the first three hours.

However, the last thing I do have to say here, is that I don’t think the other chapters of this game should cost 1600 points again. These guys aren’t building the engine from the ground up now. Gabe and Tycho know what they’re working with and it’s just a matter of keeping the story going. If the next ones are 1200 (Tiq, funnily enough my dead uncle in Nigeria has just left me £30,000,000 but I need £2000 to transfer the money into an account here – Ed), then I’ll keep buying but if they stay at 1600, then I’m just going to get the feeling they’re taking the piss.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


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