Bang... Boom... Ptui!... Eets: Chowdown
The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him. - Russell Baker (1925 - )
Eets is a cute little dude with a big problem. He's got to get from one side of the screen to the other to get to the puzzle piece, and he needs your help to navigate some big obstacles.
It's a strange place. You feed him to sniggering whales, splat him on the head with chocolate chips and radioactive ginseng pellets, or try to time things to duck swinging arms of the Marshomech. Not to mention various sorts of psychoactive marshmallows you place in his path to give him to give him mood swings worse than Sybil. As you progress through the game, you earn even more interesting ways to fold, bend, spindle, or mutilate your poor little buddy on his way to that glowing puzzle piece.
This isn't the first time we've seen Eets and his crew. Eets also made an appearance on the PC in 2006 and was lauded as one of the top indie games of the year. Let's see how he fares on XBLA.
Developer/Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Release Date: April 25, 2007
Platform Played: Xbox360 Live Arcade
Progress: 20 out of 123 puzzles and a brief stint at #524 on the leaderboards for Marsho Madness
The emotional state mechanics included in the puzzles lend a certain depth. It's not just you setting up the board and getting your fingers ready to push the buttons to set off your pieces and watch him get to the bottom with gravity as arbiter. Eet's behavior is affected by his emotional state. If you get him mad, he'll do one thing. If you make him happy, he'll do another. This isn't just a cute add-on. Manipulating his emotional state with various pieces on the board is key to succeeding to the puzzles.
It's not all mental muscle. There's little bit of twitch to this, too. Several of the types of pieces require you to set them off at specific times to achieve their effect. Some of the puzzles require some fairly precise timing for you to set off the various environment pieces you've added and if you miss or get them out of order, he blithely hops off the edge of the island and plummets to his doom yet again. And the screen says, "Oopsie! Try again."
Take it's advice. There doesn't appear to be any penalty for doing so. It doesn't appear to affect your score. You can take as many tries as you wish at each puzzle until you're happy with your score and your time. There's a great deal of help out there for the beginner as well. Within each puzzle you can receive a hint by pressing a button. Or if you'd like to see a whole solution laid out and then acted out for you there is an option on the pause menu. I haven't run into a limit or a penalty for using either.
The mini-game Marsho Madness is a great break to take in the middle of all your puzzling. A button-based color-matching game that is simple on the surface, but has some devilish twists. It gives a little bit of local multiplayer to the whole thing. Unfortunately, while your embarrassing scores will be displayed for all to survey on the leaderboards the actual play isn't online.
The sound is downplayed. The music is a quiet jazzy sort of mix or you can crank it up with your own playlists from your Xbox360. You don't hear a lot directly from Eets. Most of his sound effects at my house were supplied by the wandering kids come to mock me on the way through the living room. They take a great joy in adding an appropriate accompaniment to the current action. And since they distracted me at the same time, it was usually a pathetically drawn-out "AARRRGGGHHHHHH" dying away into the depths.
That happens a lot. It's not really your fault. It's not really Eet's fault either. There's nothing very precise about spitting someone halfway across the screen or hitting someone in the head with radioactive ginseng. It takes time to learn the arcs and the ranges. And until you do that you'll find yourself bouncing off the bottom of the next floating island over again and again. Oopsie. Try again.
For all the comparisons to Lemmings and The Great Machine, I didn't feel it was that much of a retread. If anything the game reminds me more of the PlayStation One game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. This is a lot cuter, but some of that same offbeat spirit infuses this little world. As I continue to progress through the various areas the steady progression of complexity keeps me going.
Considering what you do to him in this game to get him to that puzzle piece on each level you'd expect at least a few moments where he shakes his fist at the pixellated heavens at the top of your screen and wails an anguished, "Why me!?" at the mad gods who have set him this task. I know I was tempted to do it on his behalf a couple times. That's a large part of this game's charm. I never achieved any sort of connection with my Lemmings. They were a relentless tide of stupidity flowing down my screen like sand through an hourglass. Eets has a lot more in the way of personality.
This isn't the first time I'd seen part of Eets, but it wasn't in the game. It took me a while to remember where I'd seen the Marshomech before. He was at Penny Arcade Expo last year. Klei Entertainment had one of their guys (codenamed CheesyRamen) cosplaying as the mech and running around. No mayhem ensued; mostly a lot of random hugging of girls. I even got a hug, but I was also careful to make sure there is no photographic evidence.
Even if you have the PC version, the 120 levels and the promised downloadable content in the wings make this a well-spent 800 points for the puzzle fan. Just don't make me try to explain the pig who farts explosives.