Appearing simple, casual and fun, and with a catchy title, Woody Two-Legs: Attack of the Zombie Pirates seems like a fun in-and-out kind of game; the only thing missing seem to be ninjas and robots. Let’s find out if Woody’s pegs are cut from the right kind of wood.
As Woody Two-Legs, you find a magnificent treasure. And like any serious pirate out there you feel the undeniable urge to take the treasure to a lush island, dig a hole and bury it. Something like a medieval pension fund, I suppose. Of course, it’s not that easy. The treasure appears to belong to Mr. Jones, an evil spirit set on retaking what’s his, sending out his undead flotilla of zombies, skeletons and ghosts.
The gameplay is rather simple. You control Woody’s pirate ship using either the keyboard, or a gamepad if you desire so. You can make the boat go faster and slower, and turn left and right relative to the boat’s orientation (think Asteroids or the early Grand Theft Auto controls). Like any stereotypical pirate ship you have some serious firepower on board. Your goal is to defend your treasure (which remains on an island during play) from the invading boats, shooting them down with cannonballs. However, the trick is that you can only fire sideways. I suppose Woody didn’t think of a front-mounted cannon, but fear not: in addition to your trusty rusty cannonballs you can obtain “superweapons” ranging from homing dolphins (yes, super-lethal torpedo dolphins) to sticky webs and sea mines. I should point out though that these can (and will) backfire on you. A sticky web and mine work just as well on you as they do on enemies, so the trick here is to hone your maneuvering skills. In additional to your cannons and superweapons, you have the ability to sail over boxes with a chance of picking up an power-up. These temporary upgrades allow you to fire more powerful cannonballs or make you go faster (or the enemy go slower).
All-in-all, these elements make up for some hectic moments, as you need to manage defending your treasure, blasting enemy waves down to size and your position on the battlefield all at the same time. It sounds easier than it is, I found. There were a couple of things that bothered me when playing Woody Two-Legs. First of all, the level design is pretty poor. Now I’m not saying they should have designed that large body of water better, but I mean the actual parts that are land. Besides the main island on which your treasure lies, there can be some strips of land surrounding the island. When your boat bumps into land it bounces off, and sometimes with great speed (even more so if you have the speed power-up). I even got stuck between the island and a land strip, bouncing back and forth uncontrollably. This is especially annoying when there is a whole wave of looters on the other side of the island loading up their cargo holds with your precious treasure! Of course you can avoid such a situation if you don’t control your boat like a knob (like me). Just sayin’…
Something else that got me a bit on edge a couple of times is the fact that enemies can drop power-ups of all sorts. I don’t think I had mentioned that there can be power-downs as well. When an enemy has stolen your treasure, you have a chance of retrieving it by quickly destroying their boat and looting the money box. I swear, there was an incredible amount of occasions where a “bad box” (red power-down) would spawn right next to a “money box” (blue power-up), to the extent that it would be extremely difficult to grab the money without getting a bad spell in the heat of the battle. This often made going after lost treasure not worthwhile, as the risk of getting slowed down, frozen, or even a flat gold loss was too high. You would risk not being able to make it to the other side of the map to kill the other wave of looters in time, resulting in even more gold loss. I suppose it’s up to you to make that decision, which does add some strategic flavour to the game. Will you let those 2 boats get away with your loot so you can defend your treasure against that incoming wave of 5 looters? Or will you risk it and go after them, and shoot down the next wave while they try to run with your gold? Maybe it’s just me, but things could quite easily become frustrating (counting in the fact my boat was very attracted to the idea of humping land and bumping off and such…)
Other than some things that irritated me, the gameplay is rather simple and solid. When you die, you simply respawn at the cost of a very small amount of gold. I think you’ll probably worry more over the time it takes to respawn than the amount of gold, as every precious second counts when half a dozen looters are sucking your treasure dry. Just think of a sideways shooting Asteroids and you have the basic idea.
The game features 5 levels, each increasing in difficulty. In story mode, you take the amount of gold left in your treasure on to the next level. If you manage to play through the 5 levels and still have treasure left you win. Or do you? When I miserably failed fighting off the boss of the last level (who else than Mr. Jones…? DUH!), the game still claimed I had won… How odd! Additionally the game keeps a scoreboard of your performance versus others around the internet. This adds a little competitive layer, which extends the replayability a little bit.
The graphics are simplistic but very functional. When fighting ghost ships it’s hard to see whether they have stolen your gold (a boat starts glowing when they have) since the ghost ships glow by default. Other than that the graphics really aren’t that special, but they serve their purpose and definitely aren’t ugly. How can it be though, that the game starts lagging after a while? The frame rate starts out rather smooth and gradually deteriorates until the laggy display even affects your responsiveness and controls. Since there were no options to set different graphics settings, I just went with it. I know I don’t have the newest gaming machine available, but a casual game like this, with simple, functional graphics shouldn’t be causing any problems for my system. I suspect a memory leak somewhere (as the game runs just fine the first 15 minutes), however I cannot simply blame the game without any proof, so I’ll just blame my machine. I’ve included my machine’s specs at the bottom of this review in case you want to check it out for yourself.
Like the graphics, the audio isn’t that special, it serves a purpose and does not become annoying. Others may not agree with me but I personally find the latter one of the more important aspects of a game. Music or sound effects should be functional and most of all never annoy the crap out of you during playing. They should add to the immersion, not take away from it. The music is nicely pirate-themed, the sound effects fit the gameplay (although I’m not so sure about those rocket propelled dolphins…) and they never got to annoy me. Part of the game is voice-acted, and has a certain humorous flair to it, which I could appreciate. Each level has a really short story as well, but this wasn’t voiced-over. It wouldn’t have been much of an effort to voice these, and sure would’ve kept the same nice vibe of the introduction. All-in-all, nothing negative about the audio aspects of Woody Two-Legs.
User Interface & Controls
Not much to say about this. The user interface is tidy and functional. A rather good insight in your boat’s condition (hit points), the amount of gold left in your treasure, time until next enemy wave, your score, and currently selected superweapon. The controls are simple: whether you play on gamepad or keyboard, one hand controls your boat’s movement, while the other controls your cannons and superweapons. Space pauses the game and escape brings up the menu. Your boat’s movement responds fairly well to your controls. Keeping in mind that it’s a boat, there is some delay in how fast you can turn initially. Picking up power-up boxes can get quite frustrating but this is just a matter of practicing your movement with Woody’s boat.
I’ll just break it in with my main criteria: Woody Two-Legs and the Pirate Zombies is rather short. That said, it’s only £3.49 on Steam, and so I must say it’s still a very good value game. The main reason is that its initial difficulty, and the ability to increase the difficulty as you get better allows you to replay the game a couple of times while remaining challenged. The scoreboard adds extra replayability, as you may want to break your personal records, or those of others. You can play each level individually out of story mode, although you have to unlock them first through playing the story. As a casual in-and-out game, Woody Two-Legs will give you the fun you’d expect for its price.
My system specifications
My laptop ain’t the newest around, aged at over 2 years now. I don’t think it’s the worst piece of machinery around, it shouldn’t have problems running this.
Alienware Area-51® m9750
512MB Nvidia® GeForce® Go 8700M GT
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T7200 2.0GHz 4MB Cache 667MHz FSB
4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SO-DIMM at 667MHz – 2 x 2048MB
Intel® High-Definition Audio (24-bit, 192Khz) with surround sound