Tag Archives: Viewtiful Joe

A mysterious hatch leads to trouble in BNKR

bnkr game final thoughts

I’m attracted to games with strange names or, at the very least, strangely written names. For instance, ^_^XIII, Viewtiful Joe, and Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder. Some quick complete transparency though: I’ve never played that last title, but just the sound of it alone, the way it rolls off your tongue and hangs in the air like some glowing, ethereal angel, has me curious. But yeah, if your game’s title is non-traditional and a bit bizarre, then you already have my attention, which is really helpful when sorting through game jam lists, too. And all that is just to slip into talking about BNKR, a point-and-click game by Piter Games not from Philip K. Dick and not from some recent jam, but just out there, waiting for you to devour.

Here’s the deal: the world was once populated by humans, but now only androids roam the bereft towns and buildings, constantly searching for fuel vital for survival. One day, a hatch opens, demanding whatever lies beneath it to be explored. You play as an unnamed–yet numbered–android with a digitalized male voice who goes down the ladder to see if there is anything worth salvaging.

Not counting the first hub area, which is a small, closed off town in the form of an overhead map with a few buildings to explore, most of BNKR is played from first person perspective. Er, I mean…first android perspective. Thank you, thank you. No, please, I’m happy to sign autographs. Anyways, you can click to move from scene to scene or interact with your surroundings and items in the inventory. A changing cursor alerts you if there’s something worth investigating. And that’s it gameplay-wise, which is fine, as it’s very short, though I’ll admit it took me much longer than probably others to complete it as I got stuck on two less-than-clear puzzles. Spoiler: you can find the third piece of mirror glass hidden between a desk’s drawers, as well as the other half of the broken key in a vent near the ceiling out in the main hallway. There, that should help greatly.

BNKR is a beautiful, desolate world. Also: very gray. You wouldn’t be wrong to immediately think of Machinarium or Primordia immediately, to compare in looks. There’s some light narration atop some striking artwork, and the voice of the robot you control is both human and not, which only helped draw me in more. It’s a strange combination of familiar and foreign, with the robot’s comments on things like levers and desks and photos of once-living humans little puzzles themselves. You can tell that the robot is a little sad, a little unsure. You can mildly interact with another android at the beginning of the game, but other than that, you’re searching solo; I think more droid-on-droid interaction would have been nice–hey now–as well as some dialogue trees to help fill in story gaps. Other than a couple of really well hidden items, the puzzles are pretty easy to figure out if you keep on clicking, and you can probably breeze through the game in about ten or fifteen minutes.

Alas, BNKR ends right as it just starts getting good plot-wise, and so I’ll have to keep looking for whatever comes from the people at Piter Games, as finding out what’s actually inside that opened hatch is just the tip of the post-apocalyptic iceberg.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Wild 9

Wex Major is out for revenge. Makes sense. His team of ragtag teenage freedom-fighters, known as the Wild 9, was attacked by Lord Karn’s Elite Shock-troopers. Some heavy damage was done, and six members of the crew were captured to be experimented on. Now it’s up to Wex (and his cohorts B’Angus and Pilfer) to save them, as well as kill as many of Lord Karn’s goons as cruelly as possible. Thank goodness he has the RIG, a high-tech weapon that shoots out an energy beam, which Wex can use in multiple ways: grabbing enemies and throwing them into deathtraps, picking up objects, using it as a grapple-swing-thing, and so on.

Wild 9 was an impulse buy. That much I remember. I was looking for something to play, and here was something to play. And from the makers of Earthworm Jim, too. Platformers don’t get kookier than that one. I assumed that their latest offering would be much of the same. I don’t recall getting very far in Wild 9 though. I think the torture aspect lost me, much like it put me off in Bulletstorm. When the RIG hits enemies, they moan and scream loudly, clearly in pain. Not my thing. I don’t want “bonus points” for dangling an enemy over spikes before finally dropping him to his death. I want to save Wex’s friends, and that means killing efficiently, progressing left to right, our destination always ahead. I might’ve stopped playing after the first boss chase sequence.

But Wild 9 has personality, and that’s the main reason it has remained lodged in my brain all these years. Loading screens contained some original artwork of the Wild 9 crew in amusing moments, and the art style and animation is clearly taken from the very same pages of Earthworm Jim. That’s not a bad thing, as they nailed something there and knew it. There’s some decent animation work too, in that Wex reacts to what you’re doing. Use the RIG to grab a crate, but accidentally drop it on your foot? Yup, he’ll hop about in pain. Really evokes that sensation of the Sega Genesis and SNES days where game characters were that–characters. However, his walking animation is trollish and clunky, but don’t tell him I said that.

Like Klonoa and Viewtiful Joe, Wild 9 helped usher us into a new form of platforming, that which is known as 2.5D. Yup. 3D graphics (as in polygonal), but still a side-scrolling action title. The camera angles could get a little jarring at times yet it was still a neat effect, especially when some levels have Wex is way up high with a gorgeous backdrop that seems miles away in the distance. Games like Shadow Complex will use this look to great success many years later.

The above text might seem contradictory–I love the style and personality of the game, but actually did not enjoy playing it. So, why would I regret trading in Wild 9? for some measly space credits that I don’t even remember spending? Well, I’d like to try again. As a youth, I did not have the attention span or devotion that I do now, and if a game didn’t interest me, it was off the list and over to the next. I feel like I gave Wild 9 a small amount of time and moved on to something else, eventually forgetting about it until the day came where I needed to trade in some games, and there it went. I’d just like to give it one more shot, to see if it will always be more unique than fun.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.