"Oh God," I though, "My first review. They‘re going to give me a flight sim, aren‘t they? Or a wargame. Aagghh. No. Help." Imagine, then, my relief when JD handed me a copy of Whizz, a nice, cute, harmless ‘isometric platform game’. What a nice way to enter the world of game assessment than to play a rabbit in a coat, venturing through a world of penguins, starfish and living chess pieces? Unfortnately, it didn’t take long before the colourful and cheerful facade fell away to reveal a game that is in fact anything but nice or harmless.
Whizz is a fast isometric 3D game, one which would like to think it’s a platformer but unfortunately is not. The box proudly states that the game’s 3D perspective is the next step forward in platformers. And who knows?
Perhaps they’re right, but I’m afraid that Whizz fails to deliver the goods. Rather than being a platformer, it actually turns out to be more of a maze game, where you have to guide your rabbit chum from the start of each level to (no!) the end, where a hot air balloon awaits to transport him to (surprised gasp) the next level.
There are four worlds, each of which looks cheerful enough, with nice parallax scrolling the background. There are a few rudimentary puzzles to solve along the way, and it all looks jolly fun. Or perhaps it might be if it weren’t for the game’s most obvious fault, the control system.
You see, the whole game is geared towards doing things with great haste, there being a harsh time limit imposed on each level (more of which later). The problem is that, this being a isometric game, when you push up on the joypad the rabbit moves diagonally up and right. This can get very confusing when you’re dashing around frantically trying to guess your way to the end of the level. It can also be irritating, as can the instances when Whizz (the rabbit) decides to take on a will of his own and jump in a direction other than the one you wanted.
The foul control system serves to enhance the game’s second, and most heinous, problem – the time limits. So, a game like this probably needs time limits, but not ones of this magnitude. They leave you little or no room for error – if you stray off course more than a couple of times you can pretty much forget about finishing the level before the time runs out. This means that you can’t try to complete the little sub quests like launching the four rockets you find on each level (which, incidentally, is the only way you can get extra lives). Lack of time also means that enemies are just things you try to jump straight over rather than fight.
Listen to something on the radio instead
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. I hate this game. I loathe it with an intensity unparalleled in the known universe. It’s not the worst game in the world by any means, but it’s just so… so… so infuriating. The control system is truly a thing spawned from the loins of Satan; the fact that finding your way to the exit is mainly guesswork and luck is a patently unclean flaw; and the vicious time limit is the product of a cruel and diseased mind.
But these aren’t the only impure traits that Whizz has to offer. Oh no. Let’s move on to the sound effects and music, shall we? Although they are not a major contributor to a game’s greatness, the sounds which come out of the monitor are nonetheless part of the gaming experience. So it’s probably appropriate that a game such as Whizz should have annoying music and virtually non-existent sound effects. Thankfully, you can turn either or both off, and listen to something decent on the radio instead. Better still, you could just turn the computer off, and do something more interesting than playing crap games like this. Such as tearing all the hair off your body with sellotape.
The baddies which you come up against on your quest are less than impressive. Due to the time limit it’s more sensible just to jump straight over them rather than bothering to kill them, but should you decide to indulge in violence, you’ll find to your dismay that initiating a spinning attack (the only way to kill baddies or break through barriers) causes you to lose some of your energy.
Indeed, all the way through Whizz you get the creeping feeling that the game hates you. Everything it does seems to be geared towards hindering your progress unfairly, like how you can’t ump off lots of platforms you clearly should be able to - a sinister and disturbing contrivance to LIMIT THE PLAYER’S FREE WILL, or how when you die, you’re sent all the way back to the start of the level (tool of the devil), or how there’s no save facility or password system. (Aarghh! Begone, begone, for thou art truly evil!)
Phew. Okay, now all that’s of my chest, and because we at AP are all consummate professionals, we shall allow Whizz the chance to defend itself. The graphics are all right – nice and cute and, er, stuff. The puzzles, though not in any way taxing, offer some variety in the gameplay, and the game recognises a two-button joystick, which is a good job because trying to play it with a single-button one is a joke. Erm, and that’s about it. Whizz isn’t completely awful, but it’s certainly below average.