Merry Christmas, one and all! To be honest, I was thinking of taking this week off, in the name of Christmas and such, because I had a hard time finding a suitable game to review. I mean, what game do you review on Christmas?
Then I ran into Santa Rockstar HD, a game by BekhoTeam, more or less by following a random link on the internet. And even if you don’t usually don’t, you should really click that first link up there and look at that website. Just look at it.
How could I not review this?
Upon starting, the game plays an introduction that tells you everything you will ever need for a backstory: an unseasonably dressed rockstar is driving on a lonely winter road when he comes across Santa Claus, who, sleigh and reindeer and all, seems to have crashed for no apparent reason. Flashing back to happy Christmases past, the rockstar tries to help Santa the only way he knows how… with the power of ROCK!
Large amps are summoned, cables are strewn, an accord is played… but the rock energy feeds into Santa, then back to the nameless rockstar, consuming everything in a blinding explosion and creating…
I don’t know what else to put in this section. The menu and the options and all that jazz are pretty standard fare for what seems to be a recent console port/upgrade, with a dearth of in-depth graphics options, but functional otherwise. I don’t really care; all this fiddling around in menus is cutting into my ROCK time. New Game, go!
Alright, so ‘New Game, then set up some stuff, then go’.
You know, I remember reading that this game supports those USB Guitar Hero guitars. It’s too bad I don’t own any of those (though I owned a few Wii-based ones a couple of years back), because that would really be the only proper way to play a game like this. But I guess I’m stuck playing this with a keyboard, like a… wait. Wait.
This marks the second time in this review I want to use the phrase ‘how could I not?‘. So yeah, Rockstar mode enabled, keyboard awkwardly clutched like a guitar, I continue. MEDIUM difficulty, of course; I’m pretty sure my manly manly hands can handle four buttons at a time. Not five, though, that’s just crazy talk.
Next, the game deposits me on this crazy world map.
I guess this forms the backdrop for the campaign mode? It seems a little linear to be anything more than a gimmick, but I’m open to surprises. After all, this game actually exists, so my preconceptions were well and truly shattered before I even began playing.
Alright, enough text. Time to ROCK! I select the first level, confident in the assumption that this might be a tutorial level of sorts. Or at least give me a little controls introduction. I mean, the game offers a fairly unique control scheme, and while I’m holding up my keyboard like a boss, I actually have no idea what way or orientation to hold it in. Or what buttons to press. Or what I’m even supposed to do. Surely the game will tell me these things?
It turns out my preconceptions are due for another shattering. The game starts by actually starting, leaving me groping at my keyboard to find the right buttons to press as multi-coloured notes casually flow down, mocking my inability to hit them with a series of loud PLUNKS and WONKS. I struggle for a few seconds, then give up, as the game yeers at me for failing and ruining Christmas forever.
Dejected, I slink to the options, trying to make some sense out of the controls. I’m greeted with this:
Well, that explains some things. After fiddling around with my hand-held keyboard for a bit, I find a set of regular keys that work pretty well. I start another game, gear up to ROCK, and find out that these keys cause keyboard ghosting, meaning I can’t hit certain double-key combinations.
After about fifteen minutes of fiddling, I’ve finally found a set of keys that, on Medium difficulty, allows me to play everything. And yes, I guess that does mean that the entire first half of this review was dedicated not to initial gameplay impressions, but to figuring out the kind of basic shit the game should have just told me about in the first place. And yes, maybe I am a little bitter about that; it’s not easy changing your controls when you’re holding your keyboard like this.
But hey, keep calm and carry on, right? I’m sure the healing power of all the ROCK in my immediate future will make me forget all about these little annoyances.
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