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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

November 29, 2013

Garfield: The Search For Pooky (Part 1)

 Hey, you know, I love comics. Especially web comics based on video games. But before I started reading comics on Internet, I used to read comics the good old-fashioned way: In books. And of course, I wasn't all about superheroes; Hell, no! I was all for comedy. Which is why some of my best childhood memories are the Asterix series, and the Lucky Luke series...

...and Garfield. The famous lazy, lasagna-munching, dog-kicking, prone to sleeping, all-eating, snarking cat. We all remember him fondly. He's like one of those icons that cannot be tarnished.

Except by this.

No, no, no, I didn't mean the movies! I meant the games! (Although they sure don't help...) What I'm trying to say is, Garfield pretty much never exercises. Unless it's to send Odie flying across the room, Garfield doesn't like spending energy doing stuff. Which is why it's really strange that a game would star him as a hero chasing villains who stole his most prized possession: His teddy bear Pooky. Knowing the orange cat, I really wonder what kind of action can be in this game. This is Garfield: The Search For Pooky, everyone, and be ready; it's as lame an idea as you (probably) expect it to be.

The game starts and you are given the option to pick a language. You have the choice between five different languages. Hm, maybe it won't be so bad after all; you can choose between English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. Probably to reflect the fact that Garfield is such a star everywhere on Earth and that his comics are translated in most languages. I should pick English, shouldn't I?

Immediately, we are brought to still images of Garfield sleeping. Yeah, there is no cutscene; only a long series of still images. Once again, probably to reflect how the series is actually a comic series. However, as a cutscene, it's quite lame, as after the first picture – which shows Garfield sleeping with Pooky – we are brought to maybe two dozen more still images of three pairs of eyes floating in the darkness. And they're speaking with thought bubbles. Quickly enough we find out that those three are mice, they plan to steal Garfield's teddy bear, and they're working for a boss of some kind. Finally, as daylight shines through a nearby window, a few hours later, Garfield opens his eyes, only to realize that Pooky has disappeared. He was, I quote, bear-napped. And now Garfield fears that all his days will become Mondays lest he retrieves his teddy.

Now, here's the main menu: New Game, Password, Replay Intro (just in case you missed seeing three pairs of eyes in darkness twenty-four times in a row), and Credits. Usually, we put the Credits as a selection when the game doesn't actually have an end. I fear the worst... Let's play a new game.

What? I must choose between Easy and Hard? No middle ground? ...I'll pick Easy. It won't ridicule me, for sure.

The game starts at Garfield's house. If he wants to get going, he needs to leave the house. Sadly, Jon, as ditzy as ever, refuses to let him out until he has caught all the mice in the house. This is Jon before the veterinarian woman gave him his chance, so you can call him pitiful all you want. Before the level, we access to the controls for that level. ...What? The levels have different controls sometimes? Oh well. So, how does this level work? If the mice see Garfield near their hole, they'll stay hidden. You must stay at a distance, and hurry towards them when they come out. Also, guess what? Garfield is SLOW. Very slow. He cannot run, so you have to endure his slow pace all the way through the game. Garfield is, however, quite agile, and his jumps are quicker than his walk, so you could in theory jump through the whole level and you'd take one less minute.

By the way, there's multiple hazards around the levels. There are SPIKES on the ground (just remember: This is inside Jon's house). But that's not all. The devious developers also included zones of glue, from which Garfield is unable to jump, and zones of slippery oil, on which he will be harder to control. Also, there's many bees going around; Garfield can attack them with his claws, but his attack is very imprecise and you almost need luck in order to successfully destroy the little bugs. Garfield has five Hit Points and nine lives; he cannot have more than nine lives, but he can regain one by collecting enough food if he lost one. There's food scattered all over the levels, sometimes so many that it's incredible. Just the first level has 434 food items. Most foods don't do anything, but milk lets you recover one Hit Point.

Insert witty comment à la Garfield here.
One of the things I hate most about this game is the fetching quests. The first level has you finding mice around the level and bringing them back to a cave that is located near the beginning, which means you'll have to go back and forth until all the mice have been caught. Luckily, it's not too bad right now because this is the first level, but future levels with worse traps also force you to do that, and it's not fun. Once the four mice have been caught, Garfield does a little victory dance and... WHAT? There's more than one part to this level? I have to do this AGAIN? In another room? Damn! Well, I knew the level was too small for 434 items of food, so... I'll just finish this level. And then it's a third part of the level! Dang!

Well, at least Garfield looks like himself... Why wouldn't he? Apparently, all the character in-game sprites were ripped directly off the comic! Really, they just took the drawings of Garfield, and used them as sprites! Well, at least that's good. Now that I discuss another secondary aspect of the game, the music isn't half bad. The first level's music is catchy, and you might find yourself humming it after a while. Probably to get your mind off the tedious task of grabbing one mouse and bringing it to the cage, and then going back to grab another mouse and repeat the task! Yeah, I also forgot to mention that: When you grab a mission item in this – usually something for a fetch quest – you can only grab one at a time, which is why you have to go back and forth constantly to get all the mice in this level!

Once all the twelve angry mice have been caught, they reveal that they could actually help Garfield. The mice even name the three mice who came in and left with Pooky! Thinking that the evil mice have buried Pooky, Garfield heads out to try and find them. When the level is beaten, you gain access to a password. Note it down, because this game has no save file and the only way to retrieve a save file is to use the Password option and type in the password. You won't like it if you have to start all over again because you didn't write down the password!

Now, Garfield is outside, and thinks about getting a shovel to dig Pooky out. Being too lazy to go get one, Garfield instead goes to get Odie. He sure knows how to use him. In this second level, you have to bring Odie to a spot where he can dig; he'll dig, and you'll be able to pick up a few buried treasure. Guess what? Pooky is nowhere underground. However, Odie gets easily distracted, so you have to eliminate the enemies, both the cute ones and the dangerous ones, in order to get him to dig all the spots that can be dug. Also, in the first level, Garfield could only claw at the enemies; now, he can also kick them. This level isn't as bad, as you can just walk through it and find the spots Odie can dig, and reach the end of each section. Very simple. ...ACK! There are fire pits in here now? OUTSIDE? Anyway, at the end of the level, Odie finds a worm who says that the three robbing mice were talking about some alley cat named Eddie.

Here comes Doc Garf-topus!
Garfield ends up in a sort of alley long enough to be a world in and of itself. He then says how he's better as a house cat, since the alley cats don't choose the food they eat or the TV channels they wach. You know what's missing to Garfield in some of those cutscenes? Comedy! So, the level begins, and if you don't watch out, you get hit by FALLING BRICKS. God dam falling bricks. I hate video game civilization... Oh yeah, there's also cats hiding in garbage cans hoping to come out and claw at you, and other times there's a buff guy tossing trash at you. Garfield, I now share your hatred of civilization. Luckily, this level doesn't force you to do any task, you just have to reach the other end. Thanks God! However, your troubles aren't over. At the end of the level, there's Eddie the alley cat. But as first boss, he's not hard to defeat. Once beaten, Eddie admits that the mice tried to sell him the teddy, but as he didn't need it, the mice headed to the shopping mall, to try and sell it at the pawn shop.

Garfield wanders inside the shopping mall. As you can guess he keeps in mind his task, and doesn't stop to steal food. ...Did I just say that? I lied. He stays there for a moment and decides to eat everything he can find! This level has a ton of food inside it, and Garfield still has to cross three miniature levels that make a big one. Clerks throw bad food at him. Apparently, the end of this level leads him to a pawn store. However, when he reaches it, Garfield meets a chatty parrot who calls the cat out on his weight. Of course, Garfield claims to be big-boned. Gee, never heard that one before. The parrot gives Garfield a letter that says the mice want 50 pieces of cheese or they'll behead Pooky. ...Or something like that. It's a kid's game, they surely didn't get too graphic in their depictions of plush animal tortures... After the dramatic reveal, the parrot adds another layer of insult. “Give Polly a cookie... or get lost!”

Garfield keeps looking through the mall, but temptation is just too hard to resist to. Garfield has the choice between continuing his quest on the search for Pooky (it's the god damn title!), or say around the mall and stuff his face until he feels filled. Guess what he chooses. ...Does he love his teddy bear? He doesn't seem to be making much efforts in finding the poor Pooky... Luckily, all you have to do here is go from one side of the level to the other. And this level is filled with food, so you can get back a few lost lives. I'll give the game that. It's a hard game, BUT at least you get plenty of opportunities to recover the lives you might have lost. Garfield finally reaches the shopping mall's exit, after eating a nuclear family's monthly worth of food. However, he stumbles upon Jon just as he exits. Jon didn't seem to be looking for him at first, as his text implies; yet, Jon doesn't even enter the mall. Instead, he forces Garfield inside the family car. Garfield refuses, as he has to search for Pooky. Ah, so he remembers his goal! ...But Jon is a knucklehead, so he still forces Garfield inside the car. Oh, but Garfield isn't gonna let himself be driven away. Oh, Hell no! He's fully able to grab the steering wheel and become a road danger!

Bad cat! You're making me drive on the wrong side of the road!

I must be Nostradamus' tenth degree great-great-great-great-(a full line of great-)great-nephew, because my prediction came true. Garfield decides he's the one in charge in this little car, and he'll make Jon pay for halting his search! This is a special level in the game. Basically, you must steer the car so that it avoids the obstacles, but you must also run over the food to pick it up, so that Garfield will eat it. The only real way to lose this “minigame” is when Garfield's hunger meter is fully depleted. Garfield can steal the food out of the walkers' hands. However, sometimes those people are actually holding bombs... Wow, Garfield may be a jerk, but those people are dangerous! Some others are holding balls of energy that deplete Garfield's hunger bar. Yeah... You really gotta wonder where they got those. All those bystanders look exactly like Liz! Oh, the horror for Garfield! ...Jon must like the view, however... Wait; I just realized the implications of an army of Liz hiding energy balls and bombs for Garfield to eat them accidentally... I'll make nightmares tonight. Still, the two reach their destination... Jon remarks how Garfield should have let his anger in the car. Garfield's reply? “Dream on, loser.”

Guess where they are now? They're at Jon's parents' house. Yep, the good ol' farm, where the wife is very petite – Garfield's almost as tall as her – and the houses are still ridiculously large. ...Wait a second, did I just say Garfield was almost as tall as Jon's mom? What the Hell is going on???

Gah! Guess I'll have to continue this next time. Hopefully I'll finish this game and I'll be able to write Part 2 of this review... Luckily I'll have less concepts to explain, so I'll go through the levels quicker and I'll be able to wrap this up in the next part. Tune in Monday! Garfield's unlucky day... That's a bad sign...