Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
This current generation of consoles has amply demonstrated that with greater horsepower has come the ability to latch on to archetypes from gaming’s past and pull them into the light for new generations to enjoy. We’ve already seen the digital distribution channels promised by venues such as Xbox Live and WiiWare reanimate the adventure genre through titles such as the recently released Tales of Monkey Island. 2D platformers have also benefited from nostalgia, with titles like Bionic Commando Rearmed receiving the spit polish to wide acclaim.
Curiously, the mascot wars that were once waged so heavily between the big console developers, specifically Nintendo and Sega, have remained a distant memory. Characters like Bubsy and Gex remain lost in the gauze of time. In an age where the former poster child Sonic hustles from gimmick to gimmick looking to reclaim a hint of his past glory, does CID the Dummy stand a chance at becoming America’s Next Hot Mascot?
CID the Dummy is a 2.5-dimensional platformer starring CID, a crash test brought to life by his creator, a mad-scientist sort, who needs his latest creation to rescue his kidnapped daughter. The storyline is simply the window dressing designed to propel CID from stage after stage of platforming adventure. Each stage is dominated by a series of environmental puzzles that require CID to utilize his abilities honed through years of crash test exercises to move on to the next level. The game play exists on a two-dimensional plane however the player does have the ability to move a short distance into the background, which is used to solve some puzzles and avoid enemy attacks.
CID has a few special moves in his arsenal. His dash move is used to sprint long distances in a short amount of time, usually to make it through time-triggered portals. In addition, there are stealth sequences sprinkled throughout the variety of industrial-themed levels that require CID to avoid surveillance cameras and targeting lasers. CID also possesses some simple melee attacks and with the flick of your wrist, can generate a bazooka that is used to attack distant enemies.
There’s a reason my descriptions above have a generic feel to them. This is the most soulless platformer I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing in a long time. I focused on the mascot wars in my intro for good reason as CID feels like one of those inexplicable mascots that some junior executive brainstormed during the Sega-Nintendo wars. There’s never any compelling reason for a crash test dummy to be sent into action and a simple pallet swap wouldn’t have changed the game play in the slightest. I know plumbers and bandicoots with bucket loads more personality than CID.
The resurgence of 2D platforming has been a real treat for old school gamers like myself. Bionic Commando Rearmed showed real inventiveness and also demonstrated that the limitations of the genre can lead developers into some interesting avenues – with the loss of one dimension compensated by creative puzzle design.
Unfortunately, the developers behind CID took the lazy way out. Set against a repetitive series of boring, industrial backgrounds – they send their haphazard mascot through similar sequences of routine platforming actions with the majority requiring the player to simply vault through a series of obstacles before finding a switch that unlocks a door/elevator at the beginning of the level. The player must then retrace their steps through that same morass of mediocrity. Rinse and repeat.
In addition, they’ve inexplicably tied almost every action to unnecessary waggle controls. When you can’t even run down a corridor without waving your wrist back and forth as fast as humanly possible, you begin to suspect a vast conspiracy to afflict all gamers with carpal tunnel syndrome.
I’m a huge proponent of the Wii but over the last few years, I have not been shy at voicing my displeasure towards developers using it as their personal shovelware dumping grounds in a bid at taking advantage of lesser-informed casual gamers. Too many PS2 ports for my tastes. It’s time to take a stand. If CID the Dummy succeeds at anything, it’s that a recall is in order.