Not one to shy away from publishing games with a quirky premise and an equally absurd presentation, NIS America is championing yet another deliciously peculiar PSP title that tips the strangeness scale on its end. If you thought the publisher’s recent Disgaea spinoff, Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?, was a mouthful, prepare to get bowled over by Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? It’s a heavily retro-inspired dungeon creation defense game that’s as bizarrely captivating as its outrageous title.
Defending your meticulously crafted dungeon of evil from the meddlesome swords and spells of heroic do-gooders is all in a hard day’s work in Badman. As the God of Destruction – summoned by a puny, earth-bound evil Overlord no less – your primary demonic task involves wielding a disembodied pickaxe to chisel a snaking underground labyrinth into the cold, hard stone and stimulate a suitably dank and unholy ecosystem for slimes, lizard men, and other malevolent beasties to thrive. With a set number of pickaxe moves available in each level, you’re afforded a little time to dig up monsters, hone your winding hallways, and create mazelike infrastructure for your creatures to live in before things get wild.
Managing the game’s subterranean ecosystem is incorporated easily into your dungeon expansion efforts. Breaking nutrient-filled soil patches releases small slimes that roam around and spread the wealth. When they’re good and ready, they take root and form into plants that eventually blossom into larger numbers of little slimes. New and more powerful creatures can also be summoned by breaking nearby soil patches that become inundated with precious nutrients and change color. Different types of monsters feed on other monsters, grow stronger, and multiply, creating an interesting food chain within your dungeon that allows you to put up a solid fight when the heroes come knocking. Keeping the entire system in balance requires quick planning and the right population of evil denizens.
You don’t have much time in each level to carve away at your fortress before the whiny villagers of the pixelated kingdom above take issue with your presence and send a hand-picked warrior descending into your putrid caverns. Thankfully, you’re still given complete control of your dungeon digging abilities even after the heroes are sent in to do their monster-slaying work. When the inevitable invasions from the surface world come, you’re given the opportunity to place your Overlord pal somewhere deep within the dungeon you’ve created. Picking the right spot is crucial, since the game ends if the heroes get their blades on him and manage to haul his posterior back up to the surface. Given the hilarious dialogue the Overlord spits out at regular intervals, he’s definitely worth keeping around.
The first human adversary we faced, a Dragon Warrior-esque blue knight named Shota, managed to dispatch five or six of our green slimes near the entrance before he succumbed to a swarm of the jelly-like creatures. His successor, a red dwarf with a big axe, carved his way far deeper into our midst and planted illuminating torches as he progressed. Flying bug critters and a few orange slimes eventually took him down with the help of a stray lizard man. For the final wave before our hands-on time concluded, Shota returned with a healing cleric in tow. In an entertaining twist, our minions consumed the latter easily, allowing us to resurrect his skeletal corpse and set it upon its former companion. Tackling each warrior sent into the dungeon is a fun way to put your design skills to the test, and we’re looking forward to see how the array of heroic adversaries you’ll face and the ways you’ll be able to slay them expands in the finished release.
On top of a simple-yet-immensely entertaining gameplay concept, Badman sports an intentionally pixelated, retro visual presentation and a humorous comedic delivery that simultaneously mocks and pays homage to the numerous old school JRPG tenets referenced therein. Our hands-on time with Badman confirms our previous suspicions that this unusual little PSP game is one to keep a close watch out for when it launches in the very near future.
Jun 9, 2009