I’ve reviewed a ton of games on this blog: RPGs, MMORPGs, and even a few action games. However, what I haven’t reviewed yet is a good old arcade game. Or… An Indie game that plays like an old arcade game! I have a few arcade games already, but one I’d like to talk about is something an old friend recommended. It was this game I had never played based off this comic I had never read. This game was called “Gon’ E-Choo!” based off the webcomic of the same name.
On top of talking about gameplay and plot, I would also like to talk about webcomic itself and some of the unjust flack this game gets. I feel like people judge a game too harshly on what it looks like or what they think it represents, instead of just enjoying the game itself for what it is. Honestly, I had a ton of fun with this game and I think it needs to be said how entertaining this game is. So, without further adieu, let’s discuss “Gon’ E-Choo!”
As previously mentioned, this game is based on a webcomic, which has been an ongoing series for the past few years. The Gon’ E-Choo comic revolves around the tale of two friends: One is a rather large and very childish gator, and the other is a surprisingly mature young otter. These two characters don’t appear to have names and are commonly referred to as just “The Gator” and “The Otter” respectively. The comic revolves around The Gator’s attempt to live up to the legacy of old cartoon characters and eat the helpless prey: The Otter. Luckily for The Otter, the rather large alligator is more like a big teddy-bear and the two become quick friends.
Back to the webcomic for a second, I’d like to discuss it a bit more in detail. I enjoy the webcomic for its somewhat surreal nature, and the fact that the comic somehow got me to care about a praying mantis named “Cutty”, to the point where she became my favorite character. It’s goofy, silly, weird, and gives off a classic comic strip feel. In short, it’s everything I want in a comic!
The comic also portrays its characters as essentially being outcasts, but does it in a believable manner. It feels like the natural evolution of those old-school “Calvin & Hobbes” strips. Back to the game itself, this game was released in November of 2015 and has since then remained mostly obscure. It seems like the game itself is getting more attention, which I am glad to see.
This game does not really have a plot, or at least not a fully discernible one. The game opens with you in a garage, full of various things such as tools and plastic alligator toys bought at a dollar store. In the middle of the room is the main attraction: The Gon’ E-Choo arcade machine! You then can play the arcade game, which supposedly takes place within the surreal dreams the characters have in the webcomic. Oddly enough, despite the lack of plot, the game always gives you these cryptic messages every time you beat three levels. I’m sure there’s some hidden meaning behind these messages, I just haven’t really deciphered them yet. Heck, maybe I’m not even supposed to! Regardless, I didn’t buy the game for plot, but rather for its gameplay. Let’s dive into that next, shall we?
The gameplay is simplistic, yet very fun. The game features you as The Otter trying to escape your gator compatriot, in this alternate universe interpretation of the first comic strip. Your goal is to escape The Gator, while obtaining several pieces of paper scattered around the level. If he grabs you, he eats you, and you lose a life. However, our scaly frienemy is not the only eater of stuff around here! You can grab a power-up that reverses roles and allows you to chase the gator and eat him Pac-Man style. The game features three levels that are repeated once you complete them. While this is fairly repetitive, it never got stale for me. That’s because the game ramps up in difficulty and keeps you on feet, while you try to pick up letters and work towards that high-score.
Simply picking up the letters isn’t a cake-walk though, as The Gator can be somewhat crafty. Most levels have three sections to them, and The Gator can take advantage of this and reach both up and down to grab you. If that wasn’t bad enough, you also have to deal with the greatest threat known to mankind: Bees! These buzzing little bandits will smack right into you and stun you, resulting in an inevitable game-over. You can smack the bees away with your yo-yo, stopping the insidious irritating insects from ruining your good time. While the gameplay is simple and somewhat repetitive, it is certainly enjoyable. It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. This game is very difficult, especially for someone like me who is terrible at arcade games! Regardless, I still had a fun time.
If there was something I loved most about this game, it would be the graphics and music. The interior of the garage is rendered well, as is the Gon’ E-Choo arcade machine. The in-game graphics are good as well. The characters are designed in a similar fashion to Walter Kelly’s old comic strips. The in-game characters were actually drawn by the guy who makes the comic and are digitized to resemble old-school arcade graphics.
Sound-design on this game is fantastic! It’s full of bleeps and bloops, and features that old-school arcade music. The tracks are fairly entertaining, and they definitely give me Donkey Kong or Mario Bros. vibes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of them, but the ones that are there give me some major nostalgic vibes.
The game runs fairly well, I find. It has several graphics settings, even a feature that uses your web-cam to reflect your face off the arcade screen, which I find to be bloody brilliant! The game is stable, but I have noticed some glitches. One time, I accidentally broke the game on the first level. After eating The Gator, he failed to respawn. I was stung by a bee and was stuck there forever in a state of bee-stung paralysis. Luckily, this was only a singular occurrence and I haven’t encountered too many bugs like this. In general, I found the presentation of this game to be really well-done and it definitely captured that old-school aesthetic very well.
I’m really glad I went out of my comfort zone and played this game! I can definitely see the appeal of this game and why it is so fun. Sure, it’s fairly repetitive, it’s got some bugs here and there, and the series may turn off some people with its content, but I still found it to be a very fun experience. Best of all, this game is only 2 dollars on Steam! For the price of a candy bar, you can get this nifty little arcade-based Indie game. That’s why I can say, without a doubt that this is game as sweet as syrup.
Now, I sometimes give review scores and sometimes don’t, but I feel like giving this game a score would be a bit demeaning. After all, I’d be judging a game styled to be like an old arcade game as a game released nowadays. The number I’d give this would just clash with my two different viewpoints. Despite that, I reccomend this game if you’re just looking for an old-ish arcade experience or if you just like funny cartoon animals doing funny cartoon animal things. I’m glad I heard about this and got to experience it. It’s not something I’d say is perfect or some kind of masterpiece, but it’s fun for what it is and I can appreciate that.