Games for Lunch: Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Developer: Digital Mayhem
Release Date: Dec. 21, 2001
Systems: PS2 (reviewed), Windows, Mac
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site
0:00 I picked up a cheap, used copy of this game years ago after vaguely remembering it was pretty well-received, then I never even touched it. No time like the present to try it out, eh?
0:01 An alien with a beer stein is relaxing on a wooden recliner. He's crushed by a giant, roaring green alien. Then the title comes in. Uh... Word.
0:03 A spaceship flies over an ocean to an island chain. Soaring music. "Closer, okay?" says one Master Chief-looking space-guy "Right, see you around, Baz," says another. There's a miscommunication and one of the guys gets locked outside the ship's hatch without a jetpack. He falls onto the island with a cry of "YOU VICIOUS BASTARD!" Still, he plants a British flag on the soil while "Hail, Britannia" plays. A bird picks up the flag and flies off. I have no idea what's going on, but the voice acting is so emotive, I don't care.
0:04 My mission: "Find the helpless little SMARTIE BOY. Hurry! He's in danger! Go! Shoo!" I've never had a game tell me to "shoo!" before.
0:05 Already I'm controlling things. Gotta love a game that doesn't belabor the story. There are some nice majestic views of the ocean, but the ground itself is blocky and pixelated. I'll admit it: I've been spoiled by the graphics on the new generation of machines.
0:08 A few little spider things around some palm trees are my first enemies. It's a simple third-person, two-stick run-and-shoot. Take out the nests to stop the flow of spiders. Pretty generic. The auto-aim is extremely forgiving, which I like. One annoyance, though: I forgot to turn off the inverted Y-axis for the controls, and now I can't seem to change it from the options screen. Seems a big omission.
0:11 Five identical spider-nest battles later, I arrive at a beach and find a "health syringe." My mom always told me not to pick up syringes on the beach. Guess that doesn't apply here. The music swells. I must be getting somewhere.
0:12 The map is perhaps the most singularly unhelpful thing I've ever seen. It's a fuzzy, zoomed out picture of the entire island chain, with one small dot for me, and one that appears to be where I started. That's it. No zoom, no pan, no nothing.
0:13 After traipsing down the beach in what I'm sure is the wrong direction, I come to a peninsula with a huge clawed thing that launches blue energy balls at me. It looks like he should be tough to take out, but after roughly a dozen shots he explodes. Hmph.
0:16 I seem to have stumbled upon civilization, as characterized by some rudimentary stone houses. No people, though, just more enemies, including a fire-breathing version of the clawed thing. These guys would be a lot harder to kill if they didn't just stand still in one place as they attacked.
0:18 Ohhhh! I think I figured out the map. The red dot is my target, the green one is my location and heading. Consider the map upgraded from "worst map ever" to merely "awful."
0:20 "Oh... thanks, old man," says Akmed, the Smartie I rescued. "But you can call me Timmy." He gives me his jetpack and leads me through a mineshaft to a different part of the island, but not before I shoot the bird that took my flag. Heh. Meanwhile, there are other Smarties falling off cliffs for some reason. Timmy thought they were fake, the daft git. I have to rescue them. My mission: "Save 4 SMARTIES using your sexy new JETPACK."
0:23 I was just about to complain about the game's lack of a jump button, but that seems petty now that I have a sexy new jetpack that lets me float and hop between islands.
0:26 I've rescued my first Smartie, but I'm having trouble finding the "conveniently placed Smartie pad" referred to in the mission. Meanwhile the guy on my back calls me "one cool geezer." Oi! Don't make me regret saving you now!
0:28 This jetpack is not as sexy as it could be. It takes way too long to get off the ground, and the fuel runs out incredibly quickly. I fall in the water constantly and fall victim to the piranhas before I can get going. Ugh.
0:31 Still looking for that "conveniently placed smartie pad." You'd think this would be something clearly marked on my map, but no, there's just a bunch of red dots where the Smarties themselves are hanging out. Bleh.
0:34 Finally found the Smartie pad in a fenced-in pen on a nearby beach. OK, so it shouldn't have taken me this long, but still, why isn't it on the map?
0:36 Now that I found the pad, my problem is actually collecting the Smarties, who don't seem to want to jump on my back when I touch them for some reason. If it's not one thing...
0:42 Finally finished collecting the Smarties. Timmy tells me that my fellow spaceman is hanging from a cliff himself. You're just telling me NOW?!?! My spaceman companion screams in terror. "What a joker!" says Timmy. Heh. I love the British accents on these guys.
0:44 Whoo! The new rocket launcher Timmy gave me can blow up the clawed guys in one explosive shot, but it has limited ammo. That's OK, the game explicitly tells me to "blow stuff up and worry about ammo later." Amen!
0:47 The action's getting significantly heavier now, with a lot of big enemies between me and my target. They still don't move, though, making them easy pickings.
0:48 I rescue my mate. Apparently Timmy was the one that stole his gun and jetpack. He gets slapped, but maintains his sunny disposition as he recounts the tale of the reaper squadron that took over his village. His parents have vital info and are hiding in "the codpiece hills." To get them, I have to get by reaper snipers, reaper guards and a mine shaft in a reaper breeding ground. Er, no sweat?
0:50 Got my mate Tel by my side now. He fires at what I fire at. Groovy.
0:51 Despite the pixelated blocky-ness of the islands, there's a real sense of wide-open scale in the open-air vistas. It's a nice feeling after dozens of first-person games set in claustrophobic corridors.
0:52 The ground detection could use some work. With the help of the jetpack, I can climb 88-degree inclines with little problem.
0:55 The piranhas get me again as I try and fail to hop between two far-apart islands. You'd think I could take them out with my pistol, but now, they are unstoppable piranhas. That would be a good name for a rock band.
0:56 I'm getting more than a little annoyed with Timmy's constant cries of "Yeah, great!" and "Woohoo. Yeehaw! Ahahahay!" as he rides on my back.
0:57 So instead of navigating the craggy cliffs this time, I go through the valley SWARMING WITH MONSTERS. Believe it or not, this is the easier path.
0:59 Made it to the shaft in the breeding grounds and now we're in the realm of the snipers. We have to sneak past their guard posts. Metal Gear: Citizen Kabuto will have to wait 'til next time though, because our time's up!
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? Despite a slow start, the action is picking up fast, and the irreverent British humor tickles my fancy.
This column was based on a used retail copy bought for, like, five bucks a couple of years ago.
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