Few titles have successfully combined the puzzler and adventure genres like Chip's Challenge and its ilk. Bobby Carrot Forever is one such derivative, removing the Sokoban-influenced box-pushing and building on a foundation of collectible items and manually-set traps. But is it good enough to make you hop or would Bobby have been better off as stew?
Our hero has found himself in a dream world where he must collect all the carrots in each stage and head to the exit while utilising the right elements in the correct order, all of which is laid out on an invisible tiled grid. Generally you're limited to one use per object, and if you make a mistake then you're trapped and must kill yourself or press restart. There's an imaginative menagerie of items on the menu: throughout levels you'll find slumbering dragons who spit fireballs when you step on their tails, tornadoes to paraglide upon, transportational lily-pads and more. Multiple steps are usually involved, as when you must collect the kite before entering the whirlwind, the gas can before starting up the hedge-annihilating tractor, and press the right switches to get the floating clouds of choice where you want, blown by a series of colour-coded fans, and the conveyor belts moving in the right directions. It's easy to get yourself trapped or killed, and each area is ingeniously designed to give your mind a work-out. Though worlds are split between easy, medium and hard, even some of the purportedly simple stages are no piece of carrot cake.
There are over sixty puzzles in all that are small but dense as well as a hub that lets you swap between level sets and a base called Cloud 9 at which you can buy a few power-ups. You purchase these with coins that you collect during regular gameplay and in simple bonus stages, though neither these levels nor the acquired items add much to the experience. Everything is easily accessible and smartly laid out, featuring an informative tutorial, a character who reiterates what you need to know for the earliest stages and thought bubbles that appear above Bobby's head when he needs one item to use another. Unfortunately there are no hints available in later levels, making this already unforgiving game just that much more so.
The presentation is quite impressive; while animations are simple, the world is filled with items that bob along to the music, birds and butterflies that perch and swoop around and levels that vary between a number of setting that, while small, keep things interesting. All of this is painted with a bright, attractive palette as well that makes everything visually pleasing. The cheery music is quite good, though you'll grow tired of hearing the same collection of tracks over and over.
The biggest downside to Bobby Carrot is its limited gameplay; while it utilises its inventory of items and traps quite smartly, they feel just a bit stale by the nth time you encounter the same ones once again. It's somewhat of a Catch 22 of the subgenre, however, as to introduce more would risk making things gimmicky or confusing. Still, this shortcoming keeps things from remaining as exciting as they could throughout and hinders the player's sense of progression.
The over 60 stages included here should keep you entertained and mentally stimulated for a good long while, and those who want an extra challenge can go back and try to beat levels in less steps than before. While the game lets you know how many you've taken upon stage completion, however, it doesn't keep track of it after the fact, an unfortunate omission. There are also extra worlds for download, but they're on sale for a steep 500 Points a pop, almost the price of the entire original adventure.
Bobby Carrot Forever is smartly designed and will keep you entertained and your wits at their sharpest for a long time, though some may grow tired of the admittedly limited gameplay. It's also a delight to look at and extremely accessible, so while it won't put you on cloud nine, this carrot stew is still quite tasty.