CID The Dummy Review
Posted by Adam
Crashed and burned…
CID The Dummy from Oxygen Games is an action platformer that was released earlier in the year on Sony's PSP. The hero is a crash test dummy, CID, given special powers by inventor "Professor B.M. Werken" to go on a mission to save his apparently very beautiful daughter. From the outset the very idea of the game feels just a little contrived. Beginning with a very odd and slightly underwhelming introduction in which we are introduced to our lacklustre hero, we discover CID is more than a little fed up with his monotonous life as a crash test dummy, and therefore in need of a little adventure; this is where the player comes in. There have been many odd video game heroes over the years, but it's fair to say that a dummy is one of the oddest choices: being based on a generic, featureless humanoid means CID lacks any sort of tangible character substance, and is frankly boring.
The game in essence is a 2D platformer with a faux 3D presentation, something that's worked remarkably well for other games in the genre. Unfortunately CID doesn't follow suit; the visuals detract quite a lot from what is already an underwhelming game, with drab level featuring little to catch the attention of the player, and even less to make you want to revisit a level. Unfortunately, grey seems to be the resounding color scheme used in CID's world. In some cases, the backdrops featured in the game are rendered so poorly that it's hard not to think that the game was pieced together in a hurry, perhaps even completely recycled from its PSP counterpart. It's not all bad in the graphics department however - cast members including CID are presented reasonably fluidly and have, at times, an almost charmingly cartoonish quality. The game's art style isn't too offensive and yet, at the same time, entirely unremarkable.
CID has a slew of different moves available for the player to use against enemies and overcome the various small “puzzles” that are scattered throughout each level. It should be noted that in general a puzzle consists of nothing more than pushing a button or avoiding some security cameras. Performing a certain gesture with the Wii Remote or Nunchuk enacts each of Cid’s different moves; the gestures work to varying degrees of success, but on the whole are surprisingly responsive. Equipping and un-equipping CID's bazooka, however, was an exercise in frustration as the player is required to hold the button while moving the Wii Remote to shoulder level. This is quite a feat when faced with oncoming enemies and other obstacles; at times the command was simply not registered by the game, resulting in many unfair deaths. In total Cid has around ten different special moves including a “Panic Mode”, activated by collecting ten "orbs", which allows Cid to unleash a shockwave, destroying all enemies within range. Simply shaking the Wii Remote in the direction of the nearest enemy performs a basic attack, and while this works it feels a little unintuitive.
A rather surprising shortcoming that the game faces is in its lack of any “checkpoints” in each level. If CID dies he is sent back to the start of the level and the player is forced to redo all the cleared puzzles and defeat already defeated enemies. While this makes the game a little more challenging, undoubtedly a good thing, it can get very frustrating very quickly. On the right difficulty setting CID The Dummy might actually be a genuinely challenging, if entirely frustrating experience.
Unfortunately CID The Dummy’s musical score and general sound quality is little better than the rest of its stunted presentation. The music featured in each level does nothing to improve the atmosphere of each level, looping very quickly, furthering the overall monotonous feeling of the game. The sound effects for CID’s array of moves are largely inoffensive, if not somewhat “cheap” sounding. The main area of aural fault is in the game’s rather odd voice acting. It was a rather confusing experience trying to discern if the voice acting was supposed to be ironic or taken seriously. In the game’s tutorial the professor sounded a little off-balance, and it was strange to note that every time he attempted to say “Wii Remote” the remote sound segment was muffled and slightly warped sounding. Perhaps the developers were aiming to create a comedic experience in terms of voice acting, though it’s quite possible that this type of “humour” will be missed by most.
Conclusively CID The Dummy is a rather disappointing experience and a prime example of the recent trend of “shovelware” that seems to have befallen the Wii. There are little to no discernable areas of good quality in the game and at best it may pass an hour or two before you become at best confused and at worst utterly completely frustrated. Perhaps CID should hang up his “super suit” and return to his job at the crash dummy factory.