There aren't that many Kid Heroes
in video games. Even most family-friendly games have either adult or animal protagonists. But this game is rather unique, in that not only does it have a Kid Hero
, but it puts one in what's basically a First Person Shooter
It of course uses a family-friendly theme. You're not shooting enemies - you're punching them, or throwing things at them, such as exploding fruit. Enemies die cartoony deaths when defeated. When you take damage, it's actually "fatigue". When you run out of energy, you're "recaptured and brought back to your cell", instead of "die and try again."
The gameplay is very much a product of its time. It's not the "keyboard to move, mouse to aim/turn" method we're used to in terms of controls. And the levels are mazes - a concept pretty much gone in today's time of more linear, straightforward shooters. There's an automap that can be brought up to show where you've been, which is quite useful with the type of level design this game has.
So basically, you're a kid who beats up or throws things at monsters, rescues kids from cells, and if you get defeated, it's implied that you're merely dragged back to your cell. It has soft, gothic-type music to set the mood. Altogether, it's basically the G-rated Wolfenstein 3D
. It's neat, and I wouldn't mind seeing more games like this.
Now for the rest of the package: why is this game referred to as "educational"? Because of one thing and one thing only: when you try to unlock a door to a cell holding another kid prisoner, you have to solve a simple grammar puzzle. Several paragraphs of writing show up, and it's up to you to fix the mistakes. Do so, and the door is open. And that's the end of the educational content.
The presentation is cartoony and Narmy
as well. I.M.Meen is a rather hammy villain who pops up again and again to taunt you with insults such as "bookworm" and... well, mostly just that, and tease about how you'll never escape. The animation on these and the other scenes is terrible and very awkward looking, which is a shame. The cheesiness is part of the fun, I think, but these cartoons are just embarrassing.
This is a weird game, but for what it is, it's unique. It's not fantastic, but it has its own charm, even without the Narm