Yup, that’s the name of the game. With such an unusual and long name, you’d expect the gameplay to be equally strange. And Badman definitely delivers on that front! Only available to download on the PSP Store, in this game you get to be the bad guy. Dig out dungeon mazes and fill them with monsters to kill waves of heroic adventurers.
In Badman (we’ll just call it that for short from now on), an evil demon overlord summons you, the God of Destruction, to help him take over the world. And to do that, you must help him design a crafty dungeon maze to protect him from the waves of virtuous heroes who venture within. The only thing you control is a little pickaxe icon, and you must click to dig up squares of dirt to make a devious maze. It’s kind of like a cross between Dig Dug, Mr. Driller, and Minesweeper.
But that’s not all. While you dig, you must also build an army to protect your sinister summoner. Certain blocks up dirt, when dug up, will disperse little slime monsters, who end up being the building blocks of life as they disperse nutrients to other blocks. By properly dispersing nutrients by digging tunnels, you can make other blocks of dirt more fortified with nutrients and when you dig those up, you’ll get even more powerful monsters. These monsters feed off of lesser baddies, so you’re basically creating your own little food chain and ecosystem in your dungeon.
Because the game is surprisingly complicated, there are tons of tutorial levels for you to learn the ropes with, and you can unlock more tutorials as you play. The game gives you a limited time to dig and create monsters before the hero comes. Once he or she does, you must place your demon overlord strategically at the end of the dungeon and hope your monsters kill them before the do-gooders get there. If they do and bring your overlord up to the surface, it’s Game Over.
The audio and visuals have a definitive charm to them. The 2-D 8-bit characters spoof many a classic RPG or fantasy game, and the little helium induced wails of the heroes and baddies will make you chuckle. Badman also has an almanac where you can view funny descriptions of all the monsters and heroes you’ve encountered. These little bios are hilarious and poke fun of RPGs, other video games, music, TV, movies, and other bits of popular culture.
Badman isn’t without its problems, though. For a game that requires so much strategy, the monster movements and ecosystem rules seem almost random sometimes. This, in turn, makes the game EXTREMELY CHALLENGING! Seriously, I can’t get past the third level. Heck, even the tutorial modes are tough! This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that once you die, you have to start all over from the beginning. Granted, the game is designed for you to fail, unlock more tutorial modes, get a little further, fail again, etc. But it’s still frustrating.
At first I was a little disappointed that Badman was going to be download only, but seeing how much of a niche title it is, making it downloadable was probably the best way to go. Even with its problems, Badman is still worth the 20 dollar download price if you like unusual and very challenging games, or even if you’re mildly curious about this strange little title.
Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Animated Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes. Because of the 8-bit graphics, the tiny squares of blood and violence are barely even noticeable. The mild language and suggestive themes are implied in the text only. Even though you’re playing a bad guy, aside from killing heroes, you’re not doing anything else wrong or bad. The game does teach thinking skills and shows how a small ecosystem works, so it’s a bit educational as well. I’d be OK with kids younger than teens playing Badman, but because of the high challenge level and reading skills involved, it’s best for older kids anyway. My younger teenage brother has REALLY taken a liking to this game, though, and been constantly playing it since I downloaded it!
And if anyone else who has this game wants to share any strategies they have for making better dungeons, please do! Like I said, it’s a very challenging game, and I can’t get very far, so I’d love to read some hints and tips from you folks out there!