Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Diary Entry #37: Moorhuhn Madness and Other German Budget Crap

Moorhuhn, German budget game superstar, is confused.
By Crystal Mielcarek.
             After playing through a Koei classic, there's no better way to clear my gaming pallet than play a bunch of European crap. I've got Risen 2 for my PS3 which I can finally play with my new HD TV, and I hope to get an import copy of Arcania: Gothic 4 soon. I love sleazy Euro-RPGs.

             Prior to obtaining my HDTV though, I was exploring the Moorhuhn series published by Phenomedia. In 1999, Moorhuhn was like the Elf Bowling of Germany, played by everyone despite looking absolutely awful. The original game was a Duck Hunt style shooter, but after releasing four or five games within the same genre, the company opted to make different kinds of games starring the German shovelware star. Exploring the list of games available on Moorhuhn.de, I opted to try Moorhuhn Kart, a typical kart racer, Der Fluch des Goldes, an adventure game, and Moorhuhn Schatzjäger, a platformer.

           

             Pumpkin is the coolest character ever! Reminds me of the classic Game Boy Color game, Halloween Racers. Honestly, everything looks pretty good for some 2002 budget PC title.


             The four tracks leave a little to be desired. No jumps, no obstacles, no nothing. You can fall off the track occasionally, but this barely affects anything. All the races are solo, and while there is another character at the starting line, your time is all that matters.


             There are multiple sequels to this game, including console titles. A special edition version was released the next year called Moorhuhn Kart Extra along with a PS1 port developed by Danarias, Manfred Trenz's development team. Moorhuhn Kart 2 and 3 introduce a variety of new multiplayer options, and generally just look better. Moorhuhn Kart Thunder (PC), Moorhuhn Fun Kart 2008 (PS2), and Moorhuhn Star Karts (DS) were all released in 2008, making this garbage series quite prolific. 


             Der Fluch des Goldes is actually a sequel to the first Moorhuhn adventure game, Der Schatz des Pharao. This one seems to have some pretty high production values considering how bad Moorhuhn Kart was, and considering myself a bit of an adventure head, this game sounded pretty good.


             Thankfully, I took years of German in both high school and college. Although I don't practice speaking and writing German nearly enough, I still can fluently read it. Now if only I could read French/Italian/Japanese/Russian, I could play almost every game I find.


             Okay, this room looks good. CGI, a point-and-click interface, and some interesting items is keeping me engage for the first thirty seconds.


             After spending ten minutes exploring this castle, I quickly realize that EVERY ROOM LOOKS THE SAME. There are different items in the background, but every room has that globe and book in the foreground, a stupid mounted, a chest, an hourglass and candle on the desk. This game's sub-Nancy Drew She Interactive sludge! I don't think I've ever uninstalled a game faster in my entire life.


             Thankfully, Moorhuhn Schatzjäger made up for it. A platformer that's on the easy side, the game is in the very least competent and at the very most fun sometimes. There are only twenty-one levels advertised on the website, so I decided to rush through the game quickly.


             There are three sections to the game, each made up of seven levels presumably: a jungle, a pyramid, and the lava-filled depths. Each gets a little more difficult, with the pyramid filled with a variety of spike and crush-traps littering the level. The lava world is probably the most difficult part of the game, as a missed jump always means instant death.


             The only way to die is if you're totally reckless. In my rush to complete the game, I did occasionally get crushed and fall into some lava pits. The game allows you to continue from the start of the area, which isn't the biggest favor since most levels take less than two minutes. Still, it's probably good for all the little German kiddies who played this game upon its release.


             If all Egyptian temples are filled with lava on the bottom, wouldn't they eventually start to eat through the crummy brick rocks holding the entire thing together?


             Unfortunately, I think there's literally a section of the game that's impassable. Eventually, you reach a skeleton warrior standing in a small hallway. The skeletons cannot be shot at, meaning Moorhuhn must somehow get on top of him in this dinky little hallway. I spent several minutes trying to figure this out and even started the section over in case this was just some glitch. Unfortunately, it wasn't.



             After trying endlessly to jump on the poorly placed skeleton, my life was over. In anger I quit the game, but not before this crazy advertisement popped up:


             What the hell? Half are Moorhuhn games for the kiddies, and the other half are softcore porn. Leisure Suit Larry - Kühle Drinks und Heiße Girls is some mini-game collection based on the series. I've played through the original seven adventure games, but had to stop after beginning the awful Magna Cum Laude. Lederzwerge appears to be a game where gay lawn ornaments have sex with each other, while Sven Kommt! is part of a seven game (!!!) series about a male sheep that porks a shepherd's flock.


             Sven Bømwøllen is the first in the series, released in 2002 by Phenomedia. The first four games appear to be the same, while Sven Kommt! is a platformer that probably uses the same engine from Moorhuhn Schatzjäger. German developers find some interesting ways to make money with minimal effort.


             So the sheep are all sad until Sven comes. That's a double entendre if I've ever heard one. Unfortunately, the game's not very fun. Sven humps some sheep until the level ends.


             And that's Sven 1. There's probably a lot rape culture-obsessed people could say about this game, but all I can say is that it isn't even on par with what Popcap games put on their website back in 1998. A disappointment, although I will be trying Sven Kommt! soon. A platformer about sheep sex is better than plain old sheep sex.

             My next post might be about all the random Russian/German RPGs I'm trying out, or it might be about Alundra 2, which I recently picked up. It will be the first PS1 game I try on the HD TV, though I'm sure it'll probably look like crap. Right now, I'm going to check out Kung-Fu Heroes, an NES game that I've ignored for decades. As Sven would say when trying to ditch one of his many, many, many four second stands: Tschüss.

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