Author Topic: Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000  (Read 538 times)

Offline seanthechinaman

  • MRE
  • Launcher
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,196
  • Karma: +5/-0
    • View Profile
Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000
« on: January 11, 2019, 09:43 am »
Prologue:
Melonheads is NPC's Sploder adaptation of Ohio folklore. In the original legend, Dr Trubaino experiments on his orphans until they burn down his orphanage and run into the forests. But in NPC's interpretation, the orphans' progression into evil is taken more literally. This story is told visually through portraits on the orphanage walls, that chronicle the orphans' progression into red eyed monsters as a result of the doctor's experiments. NPC uses religious symbolism tactfully to condense the tale into the breadth of a Sploder game. And framing the children as demons rather than the innocent victims of a doctor's perverted curiosities allow them to be comfortably slaughtered by our hero.

However, most of this well crafted storytelling falls apart when the game's second level is a written explanation of the story's origin, so for the rest of the review I will be writing on the merit of the first level. The first level's visual storytelling keeps the player suspenseful, beating breadcrumbs of story out of the game, so this narrative segue kills the mystery established in the first half of the game.

Gameplay:
Melonheads projects horror through its gameplay with a host of abrupt scares. Its eponymous Melonheads are often suspended in mid air, ready to drop and stun the player into slight stress on sight. Being stunned is never enjoyable, and our character is never really within an inch of death. So these scares impart irritation more than fear. If the player had been at some handicap from the beginning, these encounters with the handicapped orphans would have been a lot more tense than they were. And it doesn't help that NPC decided to give the player armor and multiple health packs to further insulate the player from feeling any panic.

The gameplay scares are all identical in nature as well. It seems Melonheads only know how to jump on people from above. This predictable pattern of scares makes the horror a lot more procedural than it should have been. NPC designed a collection of fitting graphics to immerse the player in the narrative. Furniture of every variety decorates the orphanage, but it is never decorates the gameplay in a creative fashion. Our first sighting of a Melonhead is in a sandpit and leaves a meaningless first impression. The only thing we can derive from its appearance is that the Melonheads are playful and innocent, and the lack of scares makes the subsequent scare less dry. But even this encounter could have been more... What if this Melonhead had emerged from behind a pile of sand as the player reaches for the key it guards? What if throughout the game Melonheads appeared unpredictably, keeping the player watchful and tense?

Scale is another issue in Melonheads' horror. Most of the rooms are too small for the player to feel any fear of what is to come. Room to room the player is locked into some cramped activity, excluding of course the elevator room. This does reflect the claustrophobia the orphans felt while locked in their cages, but in game it only instills stress. The elevator room is the single room in the game where I felt any tension. But this feeling is followed by a long wait for the elevators to return if you fall off, immediately plunging the player back into stress. If the game had been larger as a whole, and given the player time to think between action, it would have been a more suspenseful experience.

Story:
NPC's storytelling keeps the game interesting. And it follows the gameplay tightly. As you ascend the tower, themes of evil and depravity become more exposed as the difficulty increases. And while I think the gameplay missed many opportunities, it is paced well, which helps to tell the story of the mutated orphans and their uprising against Trubaino. Each portrait of the aging family aligns with the enemies you will be fighting, which is a subtle and creative means of tying story to gameplay.

I cannot give NPC any credit for writing as the story is taken from folklore, but his choice of story to adapt is very apt to the horror genre. The movement from cryptic myth to platformer game is made smoothly. This is mostly owed to all of the graphics created for the game. Without its graphics this game would not have been featured. NPC's adherence to visual storytelling builds a mysterious atmosphere. Suspense is key in horror games, and offering the player explicit answers would have made the game a dull experience, leaving nothing to be explored by the player.

Epilogue:
Melonheads is represented in this review as a horror game. Which is why I critique the gameplay harshly in accordance to my expectations of the genre. But as a Sploder game Melonheads is very enjoyable, even further complimented by the well crafted story. All of this will only take you a sparse few minutes to experience, so I would highly recommend that you play it.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2019, 09:47 am by seanthechinaman »
 

Offline Marijn

  • Soldier
  • Turret
  • ****
  • Posts: 95
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 05:28 pm »
Accepted
It is really clear that you understand this game and its mechanics. I enjoyed the in-depth analysis of how the story and gameplay affect each other. Another thing I liked was how you used the lens of the horror, it really shapes the rest of your analysis.

I wish it was a little bit longer and I am slightly confused on if you even discussed the whole game (you mention two levels and imply that there are more levels, I don't care to go play the game myself but it would've been nice if you had clarified!!!)

(idk what happens from here tbh...)
if you ever wanna find me, look around the online pop music scene, you'll find me eventually.
 

Offline seanthechinaman

  • MRE
  • Launcher
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,196
  • Karma: +5/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 05:31 pm »
I wish it was a little bit longer and I am slightly confused on if you even discussed the whole game (you mention two levels and imply that there are more levels, I don't care to go play the game myself but it would've been nice if you had clarified!!!)
I apologize if it wasn't clear. The game is comprised of two levels, but the second level has no gameplay and simply deposits the origin of the story onto you through text, so I focused on the first level, which actually had content.

Also thanks for the approval.
 

Offline Marijn

  • Soldier
  • Turret
  • ****
  • Posts: 95
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2019, 05:33 pm »
I apologize if it wasn't clear. The game is comprised of two levels, but the second level has no gameplay and simply deposits the origin of the story onto you through text, so I focused on the first level, which actually had content.

Also thanks for the approval.
Makes sense now, thank you. I would state that more clearly in the review.

Idk if more recruiters have to accept your review or if you're good to go, I'll ask peppered
if you ever wanna find me, look around the online pop music scene, you'll find me eventually.
 

Offline pepperedSteak

  • J0ji was here
  • Moderator
  • Turret
  • *****
  • Posts: 98
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Apod was here
    • View Profile
Re: Fruit Ninja - a review of Melonheads by NPC10000
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2019, 05:50 pm »
I'm gonna go ahead and accept this as well.

Adding onto what Marijn said, I love how you are able to point out all the wrongs in the game all while keeping a fine balance with what the game did right. Your ability to keep the reader interested is definitely there, as well as generic stuff like grammar.


You can call me Pollyanna,
Say I'm crazy as a loon,
I believe in silver linings
And t