by David Logan
When I received this game I didn't know quite what to think. It's based on a Spumco series (which was responsible for the beautiful Ren and Stimpy series), but who knows if a Spumco series can spawn a good game? It's based on an Adult Swim, one of my favorite blocks of programming these days, but The Oblongs are also on Adult Swim. What's to say the series is any good to begin with?
Sadly, I discovered the answers to those questions and found that this is a poor game built upon a poor show.
To bring our readers who don't stay up until 2 A.M. (Mountain Time) every Sunday night up to speed on the premise of the show and game, they both follow the exploits of Rip, Chunk, Slab and Crag, the world's most manly men. Sadly, the series doesn't live up to its pedigree and is yawn worthy at best.
In the game you control one of the crew and beat anything that moves. And you collect keys. Yep, beatin' and collectin' keys: the true superhero duties. You have to wander the often fairly large levels looking for that one baddy with the yellow key so that you can open the yellow gate and repeat the whole process. I haven't been forced to do this much mindless key-finding-in-enemies since Mario is Missing. The boss fights do offer a little bit of variety though--no keys to find. I'm sorry, but I played enough beat-em-ups after one too many hours and twenty too many quarters in Die Hard Arcade. Except this isn't Die Hard. There's no excitement while fighting. You punch 'em a couple times, they fall down, you kick 'em while they're down and bam, you're done. It's about as involving as tapioca.
It's not a horrid game. It controls decently, not too hard, ok graphics; it just doesn't have a hook. Nothing interesting. I feel like a zombie while playing it. I don't have any emotion at all entering my mind, just methodically trying to get to the next stage in order to get to the next stage and so on. Just about the only redeeming feature I can think of is the compass-like thing. If you're somewhat close to an enemy, it'll point to the direction of it. This eliminates a lot of tiring baddy searching.
There is one thing that really gets on my nerves, though. It's the music. It's not bad music at all, I rather enjoy most of the songs. It's just the repetition of the songs, over and over. And then, just when you think it's gone away, over again one more time. The sound effects leave some room to be desired too. If you ever hear one it's just the same blast or grunt. Not enough variety in my opinion.
The thing that really is sorely missing from this game is some humor. I just played a great SNES game, The Last Vikings, where at the end of each level the characters would each say a horribly cheesy line, but at least it was something. There should be something funny going on. Maybe a test joke as mentioned above. Maybe a great slapstick bit. I don't know, but the humor is not there. While on the subject of show-to-game issues, I must bring up the visuals. The animation is pretty standard. That would be fine, if the game wasn't based on a pretty well animated cartoon. I want to see some principals of animations here. I read an interview with the creator of the show (and Ren and Stimpy), John Kricfalusi, and one of the issues he waxed on about was the lack of cartoony cartoons--cartoons like Scooby Doo that were afraid to admit that they were animated. He complained that they didn't use animations' strengths: emphasis, exaggeration, style. It's a sad ironic twist that the game based on one of his series isn't all that hot either.
In conclusion, I'd recommend you play some other title than The Ripping Friends. The monotony of it all is enough to drive you crazy. There is simply no fun in this title, and isn't that why we play games?
David Logan (12/22/2002)