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6th September 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Seeing as you'll be spending nearly all your time with the guy, allow me to begin by introducing you to the game's main character: Dundee the Mad Crocodile. Now, think: What could that possibly be a play on of? I'll give you a hint: It's not the late Steve Irwin. You won't get much out of him vocally or even just in terms of overall presence, so that leaves his appearance. Though mostly unstated, Dundee has an air of determination about him, and since it is one that is backed by greed, the green does suit him. But just so we're clear, it's his lack of personality that makes him not one to befriend. Not that that'll stop you from helping him out anyway. Dundee goes to somewhat nefarious ends to get his hands on what doesn't belong to him, in some ways making him a great potential companion for Wile E. Coyote. But it doesn't really matter at the end of the day, because you won't ever see this termed "madness" reflected in Dundee's character, nor is it carried across the game space. Well, actually, you just might if you look at it from a different angle, but I'll get into that shortly.
As for identifying Dundee's covetous inklings, the croc longs for golden eggs that are pitched atop clouds beyond his reach. In order to achieve his goals, he ropes in a bunch of goats against their will and uses them to construct a mock-shift tower. How he does so is not only strange, but laborious as well. Hopping into a motorized boat, the process seen in each level boils down to an extended game of bowling on water. A series of goats are situated on unstable structures that will collapse as you initiate head-on collisions. But only the animals that actually fall off will be of use to you; all others will be able to continue living out their recreational phases on whatever's left of their stands.
What this all means for the player is simply that of moving left and right with the D-Pad, holding A to accelerate, and pressing B to jump when necessary. The handling of the boat isn't especially great, especially after a jump, but that's probably the least of your worries. Gameplay is spread out across both screens, but the top screen in particular displays a fuel gauge that you'll have to monitor at all times. In actuality, this should be renamed to "Time" since the numbers will continue to drop even when you don't have your finger on the gas button. Every structure you knock over will add to this countdown regardless of whether they've been completely knocked over or not. Along the way you may have some obstacles to deal with in the way of elephants, plants, and monkeys, but these behave more like cut-outs on wheels than legitimate threats that stand in your way. Things can get tight, though, in terms of timing, and where this becomes important is at the conclusion of each round. It is at this point that the leftover count will be doubled and you will then use whatever remaining time you have to, as the game puts it, "go fishing." As if the game didn't already sound a bit out there...
Seemingly from out of nowhere, a crane handle will pop into place and gradually move to each of the goats you toppled over. Since the device moves automatically, the idea is to stop it in time with the general position of the goats, using its shadow to help guide your way. Once this is all done (or time expires, whichever comes first), you will then go through another three rounds of recruiting with the exact same flow of knocking over structures and retrieving usable animals. Players will thereafter manipulate the same crane previously used to fish the goats out of the sea to now stack them one on top of the other. As the tower is in progress of being built, the goats will sway to and fro, which can cause you to second-guess your timing on when to drop the next addition to the pile. If you can get 20 on safely, Dundee will climb to the very top and pick up the eggs he so fiendishly desires. Short of making the goats dine with Dundee, I suppose all of this is where the whole "crazy" aspect comes in. But not only did I not see this in full force, it's barely evident as a defining attribute.
Whether looking at it conceptually or choosing to focus in on the execution, it's hard to make heads or tails of the direction from a value perspective, to discern whether or not there is anything successful about it. And now that I think about it, I'm positive there's a very good reason for that lack of clarity. I mean, really; how this drawn-out process of burglary connects to any definition of fun (even in the most loose sense), I have no clue. At least not anything I've ever seen or am familiar with. Does that speak to a lack of accomplishment in their design presentation? Absolutely! But this is what the team has put together as their thought on fun delivery. Dismissively, it simply does not work in terms of the way they've come at it, and furthermore, I have no idea who they're trying to appeal to (there's that uncertainty again!). Unless their goal was to project what it's like to engage in unrewarding work? But they could've done just as well with a comic strip and called it a day.
Carrying on that train of thought, Crazy Hunter really and truly is a chore. But here's where I'd like to make a distinction. Contextually, there are situations (real-life or otherwise) where individuals have reached a measure of contentment and been able to find positives to make the best of a less-than-desirable employment situation. But with Crazy Hunter, there is nothing to like. Being told what to do with no vision to hold yourself to; where's the fun in that? And all this work for what? A few eggs? You know, maybe the developers were on to something after all. Failing to witness even a glimmer of reward, I can only conclude that Dundee really is deranged; even more so the player, as per the apparent expectation that was in the minds of the persons responsible.
The entire premise is faulty, there's barely anything at play here at all, and whatever they've tried to pass off as valid execution is not at all well-executed. The team has tried to run with a bad idea, and rather than supporting this with elements that convince to the contrary, it really just ends up being a repetitive bore with no purpose to it. Because of this, having to repeat this process all over again isn't something to be looked forward to in the slightest, whether that means going to a new world or retrying one you failed at. I drew the line when I was asked (here's that "reward" again) to do every single level from beginning to end just to unlock a new mode.
On top of being unsuccessful in carrying out its abnormal sense of design, the overall presentation is consistent with the sub-standard quality of the entire package. The opening scene was, I thought, pretty decent in terms of animation, but moving to the Main Menu, the visual elements are poorly rendered. Things get a bit better when you're actually in the middle of a level, but the environments don't disguise the fact that its complementary pieces (heck, even the environments themselves) are average at best. Add some pretty boring music to the list and you've got a recipe for mediocrity, which is more than can be said of the gameplay.
Not only is Crazy Hunter ill-conceived, it is an exercise in futility, largely due to the fact that the substance is so weak. More than weird, the game is just plain stupid and it isn't at all supported by its design. Fine, Crazy Hunter works from a technical standpoint, and yes, it is still a game by definition. But I do not under any circumstances think it fills any sort of criteria. This is a tremendous misstep for a studio that has, up until this point, achieved relative consistency, and I for one am bitterly disappointed that it has come to this.
10/30 - Very Poor
Gameplay 3/10 - Poor design with very little support coming in from surrounding elements, weak sense of direction, senseless and lacking in purpose
Presentation 5/10 - Some of the visual elements don't look very good, some decent animations and environments, boring music, mediocre overall
Enjoyment 0/5 - Process is repetitive and feels like work, not at all rewarding or fun, unsuccessful at using connected themes to its advantage
Extra Content 2/5 - Four worlds to clear with players doing the same thing, being asked to clear every single level in one shot is a bit much
Equivalent to a score of 33% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System