24 June 2012

Sunday Free Game - Fix-It Felix Jr.

Aw! Thanks, Disney! You didn't have to make a whole movie just for me! And you made a little game to go with it? Oh, you shouldn't have!

I've been aware of this movie for a few months now, but my faith in Disney has dipped over the years, and I was feeling tepid about the whole affair...until I saw the trailer. M. Bison sitting beside Dr. Robotnik? Kano and Bowser hanging out in the background? Q*bert being Q*bert? Talking Heads music? Oh, yeah - I am definitely on-board.

But aside from all the video game character cameos and New Wave, I was curious about the fictional game from whence Ralph was born. Check out the Donkey Kong-inspired marquee and phosphorous glow on that cabinet in the trailer. Someone obviously put some thought into an authentically '80s-looking aesthetic, and I wondered if they went as far as to design a believable game to go with it.

Fix-It Felix Jr. seemed like it would answer my question. Sadly this is not the Fix-It Felix you'll see in Wreck-It Ralph, but it is a competent little arcade facsimile in its own right. Felix scales the side of a building, repairing shattered windows by smashing them with a hammer, as any good video game man would do. Meanwhile, Ralph attempts to drop bricks on our hero while roving birds provide further impede Felix's progress.

It ends up feeling like an extremely tame version of Crazy Climber. Maybe they should just call this game "Climber". The pixelated sprites and "everything wants to kill you" logic certainly recall a bygone era, and some of the sound effects are ripped straight out of Mega Man, but there's no mistaking this for anything but a modern Flash game. Arcade games were built to take all your quarters. The challenge was always stiff, and death came swiftly for those who lost their concentration. Fix-It Felix Jr., on the other hand, exists solely to promote a movie. It's cute and toothless for the first ten or fifteen stages. The pace quickens a bit after that, but the difficulty ramps up so gradually that I'd lost interest by the time I got that far.

I recommend playing it, but manage your expectations. This isn't the neo-arcade-classic I was hoping it would be, but it is an above-average Flash game, and that's good, too.

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