Previously mentioned back in April when it was first released, we postponed a full review of Scarygirl until some of its initial bugs and control issues were sorted. Now, for the review..."
Some games serve as simple occasional diversions from your everyday routine. Some keep you coming back for more, whether it's due to replayability, quirky humor or pleasing graphics. Once in a great while the very best of games manage to completely draw you into their world, a world so complete and exquisitely developed that you want to spend hours there, exploring and dissecting and ruminating.
Scarygirl, a collaboration between Nathan Jurevicius and Touch My Pixel, is one of these rare and elusive games. Flawed yet compelling, this Technicolor platform/adventure game is bursting with whimsy and wonder.
Scarygirl (perhaps a pirate, maybe a zombie, eternally adorable) has a bone for one arm and a hooked tentacle for the other. She wears a party hat with the Jolly Roger on it. She lives in a treehouse. She enjoys collecting jewels and fish. After a particularly troubling dream, she decides to seek guidance from her two mentors. One is a bunny and one is an octopus, of course.
She quickly consults with her advisors, and like any traditional heroine, she is charged with a quest. To discover the meaning behind her dream, she must travel through forests, swamps, cities and sewers, searching for clues and information along the way. And so we begin.
Scarygirl's world is as complex as it is frustrating and as beautiful as it is dangerous. The majority of the game can be boiled down to a traditional platformer in terms of mechanics. You know the drill. Use [arrows] to move, jump with [up], spin attack with [space]. Explore the level, kill the enemies, collect fish to increase your health and gems to increase your score. Activate a checkpoint to save your progress. You're doing great!
Except that, many times throughout the game, none of the above actually applies. The control scheme frequently changes along with the goal of the level. Fortunately there's plenty of in-game help that clearly explains your present objective and defines the active controls. Unfortunately, just when you're used to running, jumping and spinning, you're suddenly riding your rocket bike and bunny-hopping over rock formations. Fortunately, there are plenty of checkpoints along your journey. Unfortunately, the checkpoints are abruptly and quickly phased out, and you'll need to repeat entire levels again and again.
Completion fanatics will relish this chance, striving to collect every fish, treasure, or elusive old-school console game strewn throughout the levels. Offering hours and hours of gameplay, Scarygirl manages to balance its flaws with sheer ambition and a rock solid sense of place.
Analysis: At first glance, Scarygirl comes at you blazing on all cylinders like a triumph in Flash game production values. From the very start of the introductory cinematic sequence, the player is offered a glimpse at what appears to be one of the most fantastic Flash games to ever appear on the Web. And yet once you dig a little deeper, the game seems to suffer from a severe case of "everything but the kitchen sink-itis." Swimming? Check. Boss battle? Check. Bike ride? Check. Trading? Collecting? A Mastermind-esque puzzle? Check, check and check.
The problem here is that its mostly traditional platforming basics aren't fully developed. Scarygirl plays like a compressed console game, never fully exploring the possibilities of each component, a conceit that is ultimately unsatisfying. Perhaps the most infuriating element is a lack of consistency. In the underwater level, you need to keep an eye on your oxygen level, periodically finding an air pocket to replenish it. Later, when you explore the sewers, swimming through flooded tunnels, no oxygen is necessary.
In the same vein, some levels drip green goo from the ceiling. You'll need to avoid the droplets, but the puddle underneath is safe to stand on. In a later level, however, what seems to be a puddle of the same goo does, in fact, harm you.
This same inconsistency applies to almost everything around you, slowly and cleverly becoming an integral and appealing part of the game. You don't know which fantastical creatures are the enemies until you try to walk past them. Does this bird want to take away my health fish? No, but this other bird does! Can I jump on that lady's hat? Of course I can! How about this pipe-smoking gentleman? Absolutely not!
The game's biggest flaw turns into its most compelling feature, a parlor trick that is rare indeed. The unpredictability factor serves to infuse Scarygirl and the world around her with a sense of exploration and adventure, a sense that the player is truly part of this journey, resulting in the desire to investigate every pathway available. And we haven't even discussed the art yet.
Oh, the art. The whimsical, stylized, gorgeous art. If Shag and Mary Blair had a slightly gothic and surreal love child, that child would be Scarygirl. The design never falters — each character is as lovingly drawn as the next. The game is dreamlike and capricious, beginning with the fantastically beautiful work of genius that is the opening movie.
In the end, the good outweighs the bad. Players can put up with loose controls, slipping and sliding their way through levels, when the brilliance of the rest of the game is so appealing. Every element combines to lift Scarygirl above the competition, serving to create one of the most exasperating yet fulfilling Flash games available today.
seems like a fun game but my computer is a tad too old to run it. is there a way to bring the graphics down in adobe flash player that i don't know about?
I've been waiting for you to review this! I must say that the review is almost as fun to read as playing the game was (without all the annoyances you described above, of course).
It brought back great memories... in fact I think I might go play the game again now!
Finally a full review. I've been waiting so long! :D
I love this game. It's one of my favorite Flash games ever. Or at least of what I've played, since the junkyard level wouldn't load for me. It's been a while since I last played, so I'm gonna try again.
They need to make a download version of this game, in my opinion.
The controls comment is in the right neighborhood, but misses the mark. I found that the sloppiness of the control makes the game unplayable. If I can't make the platform jumps on the first two screens, how am I going to make them further along in the game?
Steve: Have you played the game recently? The developers made some significant changes since it was first released.
This game was great for the first 2 levels, but after that it told me my computer needed more memory...specifically, it needed as much memory as my computer has, total...and virtual memory apparently doesn't count (I have enough of that).
What can I do about that?
I loved this game back in April and I love it now---especially since the controls are much more . . . controlled. ^_^
But I don't think I'll be finishing Scarygirl anytime soon. Platformers love to mess with my brain, and this one in particular has increased my urge to break things by at least three thousand times. (I'm stuck on the forest level and I can't seem to control my bounces. Just when I think I'm going to reach the other side of the bog, I fall right into the fire-breathing serpent and lose all my fish. I collect them again and resume my ascent . . . but then that EVIL white bird swoops down and ruins everything!!!)
But I suppose It could be worse. I could be playing Raider right now . . .
Managed to get stuck in a minigame - watch out for this:
In the pong/breakout hybrid,
if the ball gets stuck behind the opponent's paddle, you will rack up an insane amount of points but only have a very slight chance of being able to continue because the opponent "AI" will keep the ball pinned back there. This happened to me twice in one game, and I still don't know how the ball got out from behind the opponent's paddle the first time.
Ended up having to reload the level.
OH NO. After a half hour of jealously hoarding every fish and jewel in sight on level 3, I die in the acid lake (totally unjustified), but it's OK, I think, because I went to a save point halfway through. NOT. I'm alive at the save point but all my fish and jewels are gone, and all the monsters I killed are back again too! GNJA1Q@$IJOIJFS#$%!D!!!!
That's what pushed me over the edge, and I don't think I'll be coming back to this game. The phenomenal artwork and adorable little character are what really make this game, but the hair-trigger controls make it excruciating to actually play. And I was playing on Easy! (ie. "I just want to see the pretty pictures.")
Ugh, I have a headache now. I'm gonna go play me some Loops of Zen.
I'm having that same memory problem as Leona. If anyone can figure out how to solve that problem, please respond!
Interesting game. The land-based controls do seem a bit... well, sloppy doesn't seem like the right word to me. "Slick" seems more appropriate, and a little stiff. I didn't like it very much.
Now, the underwater controls, THAT was where I found my niche. It was exceptionally stiff, but I found that it made Scarygirl easier to control. It seemed perfect underwater to me.
I feel that the idea of the game is quite good, but the game is not very user friendly. The jerky movements when the player jumps out of liquid, jumps and falls, slips on the ground, jumps on an enemy... is alright for a platform game, but the fact that the background moves instead of the player moving gives me such a headache that I could not play past level 3.
I really enjoyed the first two levels of this game...played a few months ago and got the "memory error" and quit...came back tonight, it was a much better play, but still cannot get into the "Junkyard".
Have cleared my cache, signed into their website so I could save the game...and still getting the error message...pressed "Ignore and continue" and it still won't load past 96%. The graphics are exceptional for this game, and it is one I can play, and get all the treasures and fishes and crystals...I am very disappointed that the maker cannot fix this problem. I have 1 gig of memory...so sad. I would have loved to play it all the way through. THANKS FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST TWO LEVELS...
I want to be able to, really want be able to tell you how much I love this game as it is obvious that an enormous amount of work and love have gone into it's creation. I'm afraid the controls, though much improved since the first time the game was featured, still frustrate me too much to allow that. I'm not going to give up yet though, I'll try again later when I have more time and see if Scarygirl's many charms can win me over.
I'm at the Junkyard level, and have experienced my first death (R.I.P Scarygirl ;A;), and I have to say that it's a tad frustrating to come back at the 'save point' only to find all your fishes and gems gone.
Except for that, so far, I have no real complaints about it. The controls haven't given me any problems, and the art is stunning. I think that, with more tweaking here and there, this could really grow into an astounding game!
Wow. This game is truly amazing!! The graphics and concept are awesome. This is the best game I have played in a while and a refreshing break from finals.
@mulka If you're a Firefox user there's a handy Greasemonkey script called Force Low Quality Flash that should ease the burden on your machine.
I always love the reviews at JIG. I remember playing the beta release of the game (which is what I would definitely consider it, even if not named so officially). While I have yet to play the re-release, I remember the game being a case of beauty over function. From the sounds of the current comments, the controls are still overly finicky, which puts me off.
Anyway, What I mean when I say I love the reviews is that they always seem to have a case of "kindergarten critiques." Not that they are simplistic, but because they always flip faults into positives (minus the recently reviewed Morbid). For example, the controls aren't overly strict and poorly constructed for the potential user, they are what make the game unique and interesting. It's not that the functionality is not all there, instead it is what makes the art more appreciated as individuals trudge through areas several times after being cheated into death.
And I suppose that is what I mean by "kindergarten critiques." The kid isn't rude for calling Suzy "pig-face," he's expressive.
Yay, I'm eager to try this out again if the control issues were addressed! I loved it before but very quickly gave up due to poor ways the main character handled. I guess you can do a lot in two months..
I'm not happy though to hear that they didn't change the collectibles-as-health aspect and that you lose everything you collected when you lose a life. That's really not a player-friendly game design, especially if the game includes sprawling levels with lots of jumping and many ways to get killed. ..
The artwork, sound, and level design are really good. Too bad they had to be spoiled by the weird character movement. The way the elevators affect jumps gives a suggestion of momentum, but that clashes with the midair left-right acceleration. And the way the character slides around on surfaces just makes me want to smash the keyboard.
It really needs a downloadable version, i think it would be more user friendly.
I love everything about the game except the way it plays... Which is unfortunate because I really want to love this game! It gets to the point where I become so frustrated with the controls, spots you cant reach (specifically in Treedweller's Lair), and overall finicky nature of Scarygirl's movements that I wind up to annoyed to enjoy myself.
I agree with most of what people are saying here. The graphics are great, but the puzzles are not and it's just not very fun to play, partially because of the feel of the controls. And her arm squiggle just isn't very cool looking and it feels like she was just pasted onto the scene and not really interacting with or attacking the enemies.
People really should get decent game play down and puzzles/problems/storyfunctions before they put a million hours into the look of a game. This game would be so great as a point and click adventure story. It almost starts out that way, but then mostly focuses on collecting amounts of items, rather than functional items. Boring.
For those interested, here is an interview with Nathan Jurevicius, the illustrator behind Scarygirl.
From the moment I saw the flash intro, I knew I wanted to love this game. And so far I do. It is absolutely the coolest.
I have read others' comments so I am wary. And I will say that the controls are difficult, so it is definitely a challenge. But so far I'm having too much fun to give up.
Does the game keep track of your stats at the end of each level, i.e. the number of fish and jewels you have collected? Because I couldn't find any kind of screen where you can see how you did on each level. That would give this game some tremendous replay value, and I'm hoping I just missed it somewhere.
Cheers for the link!
A couple of obversations so far (still early on):
* Does the savegame feature in the tv not save how many collectibles you have?
* If you hit both 'd' and at the same time, you actually jump higher.
I'll have to test the former, but the latter may be useful to others - I'm not sure if it's a bug though.
Ok, ignore that last comment... Just got the info in-game that space and jump makes you jump higher (which is the equivalent of my d and jump) and I've noticed I can no longer save using the tv.
I'm at the Treedwellers Lair and just when I thought the last level was just too hard, it gets even harder!
Man! Has anyone finished this game yet?
I'm having the same problem with the memory. I'm sick of getting to the end of the second level only to have all my progress erased. Thank you, I love the game, but I'll come back when the bugs are iron out for good.
Does anyone know what to do with the Swamp Elder? How do you get past it or kill it?
I'm pretty far in - at the yellow onion bar that's just after the city level. It's really only the love of the artwork that pushes me forward though. It's hard to enjoy a game where it takes three tries to collect an item just above your head. Scarygirl's momentum is the most difficult opponent in the game, hands down.
But controls aside, I really don't understand why you're not invincible just after getting hit. I'm surprised that didn't change from the beta version. It's terribly annoying.
Does anyone know if I should take Bunniguru's advise or Blister's advise?
Blister's advice leads to a boss fight minigame sort of thing. Not sure what the blimp leads to
Did I do something wrong, or is there practically no ending?
And did they fix that level with the zombies where you can't spin if you have pies?
zbeeblebrox: I took Blister's advice and boy am I sorry! The Tree of Knowledge game blows chunks. I should've taken the blimp because anything has to be better than THIS!
Whomever is playing: When you finish the Forest Depths level, you will be asked if you want to take Bunniguri's advice or Blister's advice...
WHATEVER YOU DO, take Bunniguru's advice and take the blimp! Otherwise, you'll be forced to play The Tree of Knowledge and that game was unbeatable for me. Either way, you'll go to The Marketplace afterward. So SAVE YOURSELF THE HEADACHE!
Okay, so I tried this again since it sounded like some changes were made. However, no matter how positive you try and spin it, control inconsistencies do not a "delightfully challenging" game make. Within minutes of starting I was just as annoyed. I wont bother repeating all the complaints I had last time, but I still think this is a good art project not a good game. It's quite disappointing...
I love this game! I even managed to finish it. I've never posted here, but Scarygirl prompted me to do it.
Some helpful hints:
The Swamp Elder
It is not hard to get rid of him, but you need a lot of patience.
The elder is blowing bubbles with his pipe. Inside them, there are some sort of onions with legs. What you have to do is stun those onions (Either jump over them or hit the attack key). Then you will have some seconds before they explode. To kill the elder you have to make him explode three times.
Now, there are two strategies. One is to stun the onion, hit again the "attack key" and somehow cacht it with your arm and throw it in the general direction of the elder.
The other is trying to stun the onions near the elder, run away, and hope they were close enough to cause any harm. This is how I managed to finally kill him.
All in all, it's not the most difficult part. You just have to run and jump a lot to avoid blowing up yourself. But as long as you keep cold and focused, you will manage.
Buniguru or Blister's advice?
It depends on whether or not you plan to play until the end. If you are already fed up with the controls and won't try again I would recomend Buniguru. It will take you directly to the city.
However, if you are enamoured with Scarygirl, I think it's better to take Blister's advice.
In case you decide to trust Blister
Treedweller will take you to the tree of Knowledge. The tree will try to eat you brain.
It took me a couple of attemps to pass the level. What you have to do is kick skulls to hurt the tree. I can't say how many of them because if there is a lot of time in between kicks, the tree will regenerate health.
Oh. And he will grow some kind of bushes that will harm you, AND he will follow you around with a Sauron-like ray/beam that also takes health points.
Grrr. I :so: wanted to beat Treedweller after this.
If you trust Buniguru:
You will go directly to the city. BUT after passing the level in the Yellow Onion you will have to win a Mortal-Combat-like er... fight.
I couldn't pass that level, so I'm afraid that I can't say anything about how to win
Anyway, whether you choose one or the other, if you pass all the levels you will have both of them active in your console later on. Thus, you can have the whole experience and see the art of both of them.
What else? Oh, yes. The boss in the level after the city but before arriving to the Yellow Onion.
This is ridiculously easy if you know what to do. At first, it took me some time to figure it out.
On each side of the platform there are some devices which I can only describe as tubes. Or maybe pipes.
In fact they are levers. Actionate them by jumping over them and there will be a rain of pies over the boss. After three waves, he will die.
Aaaaaand finally. The biggest spoiler of all.
Really. I don't reccomend reading it
The game is not finished yet.
So after beating all the bosses, getting lost in the sewers and crashing with fishes. When you arrive to the Doctor's Lair... He is gone. That's it. Sorry, we haven't developed that level yet.
At least you are given some cute wallpapers and a screensaver
Even if the controls are a pain, and the boss-fights are a pain too, and... Well, I still think it's a pleasure to play it just for the art and the humour. And the screensaver. i like that one.
Uh. My english is not as fluid as it used to be, so please forgive me if some sentences sound strange or directly don't make any sense. Sorry.
Has anyone come across a glitch where they collect crystals, but they don't get added to the total crystal count? It makes it impossible to get to 100% on crystals when this happens - and trust me, it really makes you mad when you spent the time and effort to get them all.
So...I reached the section where you have to decide to take Buniguru or Blister's advice, and decided myself that this would be a good time to take a break. I clicked the television to see if I need to save, and when I tried to go back to the game, the "choose" box was gone, and I couldn't interact with the game at all. Actually, the television still worked, so I clicked the "Replace game in account and save current game" and it automatically took me back to the start of the second part of the first level (where you enter the water, below the sub). I then tried to load my last save, and it restarted the game completely.
I definitely had been logged in to the game, before, so it should have been auto-saving up to the current level, but apparently not.
Do I replay the game from the beginning, when I was already frustrated by the controls, and the fact that there are too many enemies that you can't kill or even affect? Eh...no.
@notied: Not really a spoiler or a cheat, but something nice to know:
The different levels all have separate URLs. If you want to start a level that you've already been at, look in your cookies. They all have pretty predictable names ("market," "swim" and so on). It does reset anything you've collected, though, so only use it if you've already glitched out and want to see it through, or are replaying and want to skip a level..
I'm in the market level and I'm stuck at the bit below where there's a huge wall of gray boxes and the fish and a crate with a sun on it are on the other side. Does anyone know how to get past? Or where I can find the fish to give to the sushi chef guy?
ive figured it out if anyone else has trouble with getting the fish and gear at the dock
on the second level to the right jump on top of the crates and then jump on to the level above behind the wall
The fish are hung up all around the level, Calcifer1. You'll need to find them all and report back to the chef before trying to move on.
So, after getting the music going in the Yellow Onion and then wandering around aimlessly with no clear direction where to go yesterday, I gave up in frustration and quit. I assumed I'd return to the start of the Yellow Onion level when I reopened it up today, which isn't too big of a deal once you get past the eye-gouging frustration of ever having to make precision jumps in this game. Instead, it kicked me into some out-of-the-blue Mortal Kombat type minigame that's nigh impossible! What?!?
Each time I pick up this game, I feel like I need to present a new argument to myself to continue playing. And each time, it just gets harder to convince myself.
If anything, it truly serves as a testament to how far art can influence opinion and motivation when it comes to video games. It seems like this too often gets taken for granted, as either "oh, that's just the wrapping paper, it's not what really matters" or "everyone makes this type of game look this way so WE have to make it look this way or people won't know what it is!" But those are fallacies. Gameplay and Art aren't separate entities, they're inherently linked! And if one happens to outshine the other, it will CARRY the other as well.
If nothing else, this game really helped highlight this fact.
you will notice the sewers has some locked doors and that you will look around for the right keys to open these doors
eventually, you will come across two (2) columns of fish floating above ground and you will notice your first puzzle using the two red buttons attached to the walls and your first teleportation portal all around in the sewers level.
3. room 3 spoiler
through trial and error, you will notice a red button (attached to the wall) which is one floor above a yellow or gold (whichever you decide) door with a blue key next to the door. this red button's wall is not what it seems, because if you jump high enough above and through this red button's wall then you will notice this special wall will lead you to more gems/treasure (this is above the giant purple creature when you reach the end of the level sewers).
I'm having a lot of trouble getting the goodies above the tree house (where we start off). I can only climb and jump so high. Any suggestions?
That is the one part I loathe about this game because of the ways scarygirl jumps can be a pain, but, eventually I made it to the very top of the first level's first (house) tree.
So, how did I do it? Through frustration of my button mashing (jump regularly or super spinning attack jumps) I eventually landed on top of that umbrella looking thingy.
From that umbrella, it is all about right timing for a running jump of super jumps (where you spin at the same time or whatever you do to make scarygirl jump so high) to land on that cluster of "artfully" drawn tree leaves.
I <3 this game!!:DD
I appreciate the advice for the firefox flash fix. I went to the greasemonkey site and found the script you were talking about, but noticed there were no comments or reviews for it and it makes me a little worried about installing it.
Was hoping you and some other JIGamers would reassure my download paranoia. Thanks for taking the time.
Sorry, everyone, that I'm spamming about this. Just noticed that the greasemonkey add on has good reviews on the ff website. If anyone could help from here, though, it would be appreciated. I understand that greasemonkey is your typical add on, but then it seems that you have to download scripts for it to do what I want - i.e. dok's suggestion at using the 'force low quality flash' script. I'm pretty new to this, so please excuse my ignorance. Can scripts be malicious or does the greasemonkey add on control its code? Just want to be safe.
Thanks to everyone who is helping out and everyone else for tolerating this. I rarely comment on pages, but I have noticed that the JIG community seem very honest and helpful.
So, I've just started playing and while I'd love to rant in a somewhat exasperated way, what's with the weird capsule thing in the underwater stage? If you swim past Blister's submarine upwards until you hit the surface again, there's this weird red capsule thing with two canisters by the side. What's up?
What are each levels names or urls??
I loved the graphics and the concept of this game very much. But, as with many others, the controls make it virtually impossible to enjoy. I got through the first two levels fine, but then on the third level I just keep dying. I get stuck in the acid lake or whatever it is and I have also gotten angry with the flame ball throwers. If you hit the actual guy, your fish go everywhere and you can get the ones on top of him. It's driving me crazy. I may try again when I'm not feeling like I'm going to break through my keyboard.
You know your site has reviewed this twice, right?
[Edit: Not technically. As the review above states in the first paragraph, we only gave the game a mention back in April when the game was released, with the promise we would follow-up and give it a more thorough review. Considering how many issues the game suffered from initially, we waited until the developers addressed those issues. This is our follow-up full review. -Jay]
help!!! how do you get to blister??? i have a purple key and im at the lock but nothing happens!!!! help.
Can anyone put the names of each level on here? I played quite a bit of the game but had to leave my computer. I seriously dont want to start all over and it wont let me go to where I left off. If I can just type in the levels name I could. Thanks
Its games like this that make me believe in the existence of Satan. Why else would someone take an amusing surrealistic art concept and infuse it with cerebral hemorrhage inducing platforming?
Horrible physics which make the necessary frequent jumping a thoroughly unpleasant task. Loading ("remembering") screens that prioritize your computer because the screen pauses whenever you minimize it. Absolute confusion as to what is and is not harmful. The introduction of checkpoints in easier levels only to take them away in more difficult ones. And the whole obsessive compulsive gathering/loosing/gathering/lost items thing. All this and the desire to end the human world, or at least kill all game programmers when all I wanted was a temporary distraction from the horror of my own existence.
The game is free and is nice looking, but all too often people are swayed by production values into believing something inferior is worth a darn. Is gaming a disease? Are gamers masochists? I need to know. Well, I needed to vent at least, and I thank you for the opportunity to do so (for whatever it is worth). Now I must get back to the sweet suffering. Cheers.