Phrase of the Week

PHRASE OF THE WEEK: DIE JOB DEATH CAR? (Daijobu desu ka - Are you OK?) (C) Sodom

Monday, July 26, 2010

[PS] The Neverhood Chronicles

The Neverhood Chronicles [Klaymen Klaymen: Neverhood no Nazon]

Genre: adventure game
PC/publisher: Microsoft
PC/developer: The Neverhood
PS/publisher/developer: Riverhillsoft
Year of release: 1998
Players: 1
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Slots on Memory Card: 1
Additional peripherals supported: DualShock, PS Mouse

I hate the gaming press when it comes to f***ing a product that IS great and that anyone actually wants to play to (take God Hand for instance). I just hate it. With passion. The Neverhood got into the same situation. Exactly the same.
It was a battle between the critics of GameSpot and the funkiness of the world of Neverhood… where the second got squished by a tank and received the score of 4,9 (When Skullmonkeys, a less amazing, but still charmful sequel got 5,0. WTF?). Okay, as you say, the story and puzzles might be weak there, but are they SO weak that you have to stomp it?
I still have a word for these guys to say…
Geesus Howard. I may understand it when a person didn’t really liked this game when he tried it only once, but seeing critics trying to beat A WHOLE game and treating it like a piece of cum is…
Ah, enough rushing, because unless I stop it, this will never end.
Let’s get to the thing instead.


If you are not familiar with this game yet, here’s a short recap of what’s going on (may contain spoilers, you’ve been warned). So, in a faraway galaxy, a clay creature named Hoborg the King built a new planet named The Neverhood. After getting bored of a few days living on it alone, he additionally creates a friend, Klogg, by using only one seed from his crown. This tiny thing will soon became an object of Klogg’s attention… As well as his throne. His property. His planet!!.. So, without any hesitating, the crown is being stolen… and Klogg becomes a retardedly-looking clay figure. Still, Hoborg is out cold. Klogg is the only owner of this deserted (by now) planet.
Basically, it’s not that deserted, but for such a planet, the cast of actual characters (until you get to the good ending) is pretty low. Along with the fact that most of them are minor. What are they? Well, Hoborg and Klogg themselves, obviously – that’s two. A big evil Robot Bil who spends the end of his rusty days surviving a punishment, pretty much like Sisyphus’s: sitting in a pit and being unable to get his lovely teddybear back (one more warning: this game is ultraweird) – that’s three so far. A couple of beasts called Weasels, yet who don’t have anything to do with the actual weasels – that’s five. Guy From The TV who has the only line in the entire game yet whose theme became used for some stand-up comedy shows – six. A random spider which may be found not too far from this guy – seven. A fluffy little mouse who stands in front of a BIG block of cheese – eight. A ‘talking eye’ which can be only seen through a little window there – nine. A Whack-o-Hammer little troll – ten. Three random squishy clay sheep – fourteen. Bear Retrieval Squad – sixteen. A creepy pterodactyl monster thing that Klogg summons as we invade ‘his’ castle – seventeen. Two Venus Fly Traps – nineteen.
And last, but not least, Willy Trombone. Goofy and hungry, like, as usual (he doesn’t care what he would have for dinner, even if it will be Weasel’s leg); he’s actually the son of one of Hoborg’s predecessors. And thanks to him, we’ll have an alter-ego to mess up with. Klaymen (forgive the incorrect spelling of the name you damn spellchecker, I warned you too).
Yeah, he’s silent pretty much most of the time. But that wouldn’t really bother him right now: the first time he shall actually talk to someone is in the ending. Before, we’ve gonna explore a damn lot of weird and funny locations which are made of clay. ENTIRELY, lemmie tell you.
The adventure will not be just a walk in the park. If you don’t know how to beat this game, then you’re doomed to, for example, stuck in a laboratory, without knowing how to actually shrink Klaymen. Sometimes, for a puzzles like this, the solution is situated just nearby your nose, though it wasn’t made to look that obvious…
Well, never mind. I’m gonna say that after the release of this port, the character of Klaymen became some sort of a star in Japan (a burning star, still, but in any case, Riverhillsoft & KIDSMIND Inc. made up their own Neverhood game, Klaymen Klaymen Gun Hockey, which had a minor at the gameplay BUT lost the atmosphere of the original). So why don't we get started checking the port out right now? Was it really worthy?


Talking about differences between PC and PS versions… Well, it’s still The Neverhood, but with some slight changes. First, the entire game is in Japanese (even some titles embedded in the clay were translated like nothing happened, yay!). Second is the availability of the Dual Shock support (why?). Third, you may listen to the entire OST in the options menu (another fanservice for those who can’t live without Terry Scott Taylor’s jazz?). Fourth… well…
Let’s get deeper into the Spanish Main this time. The game uses one, two or three screens per loading which means that you’re doomed to listen to the music themes from the beginning again and again multiple times. The game uses the CD even when you want to see Klaymen’s idle animations or just get gulped by a Venus Fly Trap at the beginning of the game. The loadings here are not very long, 10 seconds maximum. What? You say that roaming in Hall of Records in that case would be hell annoying? Calm down. It would be. Keyword: WOULD. But that won’t work with the creators of this port. If you try to walk through it on the PS version, you’ll find yourself amused and astonished. THE ENTIRE HALL OF RECORDS THING IS NOW THREE SCREENS ONLY! With all the records removed, obviously. You get into the room, hit the light switch, move on, see the wall where the goddamn long ‘This Game’s Bible’ is supposedly meant to be started and, after moving a bit further, just a bit… you see the disc. And the end of the room too. So, it’s sure a nice attempt to overcome the console’s RAM limitations. ‘Can’t fix it? Cut it down.’
Loadings may be, perhaps, the worst part of this port (not the game itself), but that can’t really spoil the fun, right? Not even a single texture or a FMV (including the ones where you see The Neverhood first-person style) was removed (apart from the location listed above), so, design-wise, this one is perfect. Possibly, the only moment where loadings may be annoying is the storyline movie narrated by Wiri Trombonkendan (used his Japanese name, just lemmie laugh a bit on it…) which loads segment-by-segment even if you collabed the entire thing. And, like on Windows, you can’t get past this one! Oh well. At least it’s a reason to go away for a while, like, shopping or just making a fridge clearing.  
Back to the start of this review, some more minor differences, just for kicks and to get all the pieces of the complete picture altogether. First, some sounds in the game are being edited for some reason (like the ‘ding’ sound when you complete a puzzle being pitched up and Bil’s grunt inverted). Second, you get an intermission letter in Japanese when you start the game. Third, you get little help screens a-la Skullmonkeys, again, in Japanese, and again, when you start the game. Fourth, the mail is still present in this game, albeit you don’t get random ‘write back or die’ letters this time, instead, there’s ONLY one ‘write a reply’ letter. RAM constraints much?


Unlike a lot of cheap and not really cheap PC-to-console ports which I’m going to review really-really soon, the controls are comfortable. Kinda, if you’re using a gamepad. And exactly, if you still own a PS mouse. Yes, this game is one of those that actually supports mouse! It’s an adventure game, after all… Oh, by the way, this game doesn’t really need a shitload of slots on your memory card to save. One is enough, with three ‘subslots’ to save on, which really makes sense. The only inconvenience is that when you beat the game, all the saves of your current game will be blocked for usage, unlike in the original... Okay, now that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.

Basically, when I first heard of Neverhood being ported to PlayStation, I spent almost all the New Year’s Eve of the year 2008 (Americans may replace this with ‘Christmas Eve’) to find the ISO of it. With the links on SNESorama and all other popular game ISO resources being shut down, I finally got it on the 20th-30th page of the results of my googling for this game. It was on Yoshitora’s Blogspot, uploaded on Rapidshare (ffff, I hated this filehoster very much) but even despite the filehoster’s unreliability, I finally got it. And, lemmie tell you, it was a great self-present, seriously. This thing would be forgotten with time, however, if the port would be crappy. But it isn’t. At least because you’re reading these lines.

Crash Nicker


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New shiny title screen. Not in clay like the pause menu in the PC version, but still makes sense.
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One of the few moments in my life when I'm damn sorry I dunno Japanese... Or is that because I don't have a Japanese-languaged keyboard?
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One statue there is, like, three shrinked Klaymens high.
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One of the few cases where the final 'puzzle' is not the hardest.
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Best escape scene ever, I'd give my testicles to prove that... But! My testicles are more of value than that stuff.
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'Don't jump on it you piece of--'  [gulp sound]
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What I forgot to mention in the review is the progress bar... aw well, who cares.

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