Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Pom Gets Wi-Fi

Title: Pom Gets Wi-Fi
Developer: Me-Padra
Genre: JRPG
Program: RPGMaker VX

Pom Gets Wi-Fi is a game that has been downloaded more times than any other game hosted by RMN, even long-standing community favourites such as Hero's Realm. It has been nominated for every single Misao (the yearly awards over at category that it is eligible for nomination in, even the categories that it doesn't readily fit into, and has a very good shot at sweeping the awards once the votes are counted. It even has a high review score after multiple reviews, which would seem to indicate that it is a pretty decent game. However, it is not a decent game, mostly because it is barely a game in the first place. Pom Gets Wi-Fi is a terrible offering that doesn't deserve the volume of Misao nominations it has gathered, and I'm going to use this (quite uniquely formatted for me) review to tell you exactly why this is the case. 

Best Storytelling and Direction: 

The story is very simple. Two dogs die and go to heaven; one of these dogs is a selfish cunt who only cares about finding a new wi-fi signal (the titular Pom) and the other is a complete push-over whose only character trait seems to be possessing absolutely zero spine (Shibe). From there, you set out to find the wi-fi signal and... well, that's it, you look for a wi-fi signal by travelling from one end of the map to the other, and occasionally having to talk to other dogs to progress. 

The only attempt at anything approaching storytelling comes in the form of a window that can be used by the dogs to look down at their former owners, which causes Pom to be a remorseless idiot and Shibe to... actually, no, there isn't any storytelling here because both characters simply do exactly what you'd expect them to do and it's never really mentioned again. 

Sick storytelling bro.

Considering some of the genuinely story-driven games that came out this year (Phantom Legacy, I am looking at you!), the mere thought that this game might win a Misao in this category makes me feel physically sick. It has about as much story development as Ankharia and Ankharia is a freakin' puzzle game. 

Best Characters: 

There are exactly three characters of any note in this game and they are all very one-dimensional. Going from memory I can only remember the names of two of them and those are the characters that I already mentioned, Pom and Shibe. The third character, which is one that I can't remember the name of (so memorable), is a stronger dog who has a pseudo-romantic thing going on with Shibe. Aside from that, the other dogs you meet only serve to spurt out random one-liners inspired by Memebase humour. The only time this isn't the case is when they're part of a "quest" (I use that term very lightly), in which case they spurt out "quest"-specific one-liners inspired by Memebase humour. 

Given the one dimensional nature of the characters, and given that their only redeeming trait is "humour" (maybe if I was 12 I would find this game funny, but I'm over twice that age now), I don't see how on earth this game fits into the "Best Characters" category. As I've already said, there have been some amazing, story-driven games that have come out this year, and there is no way this game belongs beside them in terms of either storytelling or characterisation. 

Best Setting: 

I've always found "Best Setting" to be a strange category as its the way the characters interact with that setting that I personally find to be important, much more so than how interesting the setting itself is. For example, Homework Salesman is a game that has a very limited and quite cliché setting, but it gets a lot out of this setting by introducing a wide range of possible interactions that you can have with that setting, by introducing a large stable of characters that interact with you as you slowly uncover more of world, and by maintaining a high level of consistency throughout. 

Pom Gets Wi-Fi does pretty much the opposite of this by taking a setting that has the potential to be really interesting and non-cliché (heaven) and then doing absolutely nothing with it. Aside from walking around on clouds all the time, nothing in this game made me feel like I was actually in a doggy heaven, with good examples being the presence of broken dog toys and insufferable twats like Pom. I basically thought that the setting, although fairly unique as far as RM* games go, was so poorly used that it's barely worth thinking about. 

Best Atmosphere: 

Admittedly, there is one thing that this game does well and that's the graphics. I'll speak more about the graphics later in this review, but for now I'll just say that the graphics actually do a good job of giving this game a unique style and so give the game an atmosphere that isn't completely terrible. However, other aspects of the game, such as the way the characters talk (wich luks lik dis), and the limited use of unique music and sound effects, mean that I can't take this game being nominated for "Best Atmosphere" seriously. 

This game is just a pretty face.

Best Graphics and Artwork: 

Like I already said, this game doesn't do everything completely wrong, because it does have a nice set of custom graphics going for it. The graphics fit the overly childish nature of this game pretty well, and the graphics themselves are definitely well-made. It's actually a shame that a lot of work seems to have gone into the artwork without any work having gone into anything else, but at least having something nice to look at whilst playing through this train-wreck made the experience slightly less awful. 

Okay, so the graphics are pretty good, I'll have to admit that.

Best Sound and Music: 

This game is so short that I feel nominating it for "Best Sound and Music" is about as fitting as nominating my game, Frog The Collector, for this category. It's not difficult to make the right choices when you only have a small number of choices to make, and especially when you have a setting that more or less picks its own music. I mean, it would be pretty hard to get the music for heaven wrong given how many examples there are in popular culture. If people want to nominate a game for this category because it doesn't completely screw up then fine, but I feel that there are plenty of games that do a similar job over a much longer game time and are thus more deserving... which isn't to mention those games that do a better job over a longer game time! 

Most Technical Prowess and Best Level/Dungeon/Puzzle Design and Best Gameplay Mechanics: 

This game uses the default battle-system badly, possessing fights that you can't actually lose unless you try to lose them. They might as well not be there. There really aren't any dungeons in this game, and there is exactly one incredibly simple puzzle (and calling it a "puzzle" really is a stretch). As for the level design, the game goes from A-to-B in a very linear fashion, aside from some backtracking in the middle of the game. It also doesn't have any custom systems whatsoever. The fact that this game is nominated in any of these categories is basically a joke. 

Best Interface Design: 

Again, the game uses all the default systems. There is nothing in this game that the developer has had to design themselves as far as the interface goes, except perhaps the skin used to cover them (and that's not worth a nomination in this category). There is no reason for this game to win this category when people could instead vote for games like The Drop that possess clever custom interfaces that have had a lot of work put into them. 

Most Promising Demo: 

This game is complete, so I really don't know what it's doing in this category. 

Best Non-RPG and Game of the Year: 

I feel that the reasons I have already gone through show how this game is not the best non-RPG to have been released this year, yet alone the best game overall. The gameplay barely exists, consisting of default-system battles that you can't lose and A-to-B level "exploration" that poses no challenge whatsoever. The characters are obnoxious and one-dimensional, with the main character being one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen in a game. The storytelling is pretty dire, and that the story is told through broken English and worn internet memes only serves to make it worse. Only the graphics and music aren't completely terrible, but that's not enough to lift this game to game-of-the-year status. 

Frankly, that this game is nominated in so many of these categories makes me worry deeply about the future course of human history, and it has certainly caused me to lose respect for some members of this community who I personally feel should know better. I understand that some YouTube "celebrity" (I really am stretching the use of the English language today, huh?) felt the need to spotlight this game, but that doesn't make it good. It does even make it passable. This game is utter trash. 0/10.

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