Catching up on last year’s output of radioactive trash videogame releases, i saw this on sale for 2 bucks on PSN, so i bought it, downloaded it on my PS4 (game is also available on Switch, digital only as well), and in a matter of minutes i wondered if this wasn’t somehow one of those asset flips that somehow isn’t (or wasn’t) on Steam but managed to land digitally on other platforms.
And yes, i was correct, it’s not on Steam, most likely a calculated move as it would have been singled out immediatly and bombarded with negative reviews, for Steam’s userbase had many experiences with awful cobbled together rushjobs by hacks that smosh pre-made Unity assets together with minimal extra work, even more as this is a licensed game.
One that was released without nary a beep, so that already clues you in that they wanted to release a stinker and hope nobody noticed that they wanted 15 bucks for this turd by Sabec Limited, better known for having the gall to sell Calculator (and many overly simple games and stuff like Pet Rock) on Switch, as in literally a calculator app that they sell for 10 bucks.
Given how surprisingly important is Popeye as a franchise for videogames, aside from wondering how the hell Sabec Limited was able to license the almost centenary comic strip series from King Features Syndicate, it’s kinda fitting that this 2021 release pretty much boils down to a remake of the 1982 arcade game (also simply called “Popeye”), the one that inspired Nintendo to make the original arcade Donkey Kong.
An excessively loyal one, since it amounts to controlling Popeye in a tridimensional overworld, catching hearts that Olive Oil launches from above, while punching bottles and avoiding foes from the series, mostly Bluto/Brutus, but also the vulture and the sea hag/witch. And some random ass skulls.
If you find the spinach can powerup you become invincible and can one-shot Bluto or whatever, which buys you time as the enemies eventually respawn/swim back from whenever you sent them flying with your mighty sailor punch.
That’s it. That’s literally all there is to it.
Oh wait, when you’re not catching cartoon hearts in this small island that is most likely a barely touched up location included in pre-made asset packs… you’re catching letters that Olive Oil rains down on a pirate ship (also a pre-made Unity asset that hasn’t been altered in any significant way) to spell out a phrase, while avoiding the same foes in a smaller area the ship provides.
Only thing that changes is the levels being set at night or with rain effects, and the game just simply increasing how many hearts or letters to get for each level.
You can finish the entire thing in 30 minutes, no joke, though i’m not sure the game can be actually finished, as in there’s no level select, no continue option, you just play until you finish your 3 lives and get a high score when you get a game over. That’s it, no extra modes, no co-op, no anything.
Not that it was gonna be any better if it had twice the content, mind you.
I’m gonna assume it loops because the PSN version has trophies for reaching certain levels and the last one it’s for reaching (not beating, just reaching) level 10, but since i also reached level 11 and its just doing the same shit in the island or the ship, it most likely loops ad infinitum or until boredom gets the better of you.
Which it will, given that “repetive” won’t quite cut it.
Despite having a points system, you simply can’t get extra lives by scoring points, but this is the last problem to consider, given how the game somehow has issues with collision detection so you and the enemies can get stuck or have issue passing through certain spots, the IA for said enemies it’s barely present (often Bluto/Brutus will simply stop following you or stop to stare into the infinite, when he doesn’t respawn from nowhere after you’ve outrun him minutes ago), the controls are iffy despite the fact you just use two buttons/inputs (one for picking up the can of spinach and one for punch), it’s so badly optimized it can have huge spikes of lag, and it can be quite glitchy.
My favourite was losing a life AFTER winning a stage, just because Brutus was following me and managed to get a hit in seconds before the “Level Complete” screen could show, and somehow it counted, as i had one less life to my stock.
At least my character didn’t get stuck in an animation, i’ve seen it happen to other people. Yay?
This is contrast to Bluto’s IA being almost absent, i’ve had plenty of istances where he stopped following me and wouldn’t resume even if i stayed still near him, but if he isn’t lost in his virtual toughts he will often get stuck in some stairs or something due to iffy collision detection, when he isn’t able to istantly respawn from somewhere before you, as the game idea of difficulty amounts to just upping his “attention span” and simply trying to ambush you with cheap shots like these.
Animations are cheap, the locales are ugly and cheap looking to be generous, the island one features NPCs that apparently are fan art models used without permission (ust in case this didn’t check all the asset flips), there are barely any sound effects, one single line of dialogue is uttered (and recycled) by Olive Oil, the music consist of a 10 seconds public domain children tune that’s also badly looped, and the Popeye theme that plays when you get a spinach power-up… for 3 seconds.
This is the kind of game that peaks at the illustrations used for the main menù, everything else is a bad joke that’s not even funny, it’s just plain depressing, and it’s criminal for Sabec to ask 15 bucks for this playable insult/cash grab that makes one wish they just licensed out the 1982 arcade original game to Hamster for an Arcade Classics Archives re-release, instead of cobbling together this low effort mindless abomination that – aside shitting on the odd gaming legacy of Popeye – continues the modern trend of Popeye still not having any real representation, the best one being that test footage for a Genndy Tartakovsky directed film that was canned, but might be revived.
the nicer thing i can say about this Popeye game it is that at least it’s mostly functional, but make no mistake, this had all the business for getting feautured in many “top 10 worst videogames” lists for that year, so bad that even a 2/10 feels kinda generous, all things considered.
But i find solace in knowing that in a decade this turd will most likely be delisted in silence, and nothing of value will be lost for that.
Since you will still be able to emulate the thing.