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It has always
been a dream of mine to sit around a table with a bunch of talented
developers who are brainstorming for a new idea. Witnessing the
birth of Seaman must have been something special to behold. Picture 12
red headed Japanese techies hopping up and down shouting in unison
"himono san!" (Mr. Fish), truly special stuff. Of course
the farther west you get, naturally the more dull things become.
Enter Herdy Gerdy, a watered down westernized Seaman, ..wait ..that's
not right. I take that back, it's nothing like Seaman. It's
actually like nothing else ever before conceived. It's new, it's fresh,
it is ruined by a faulty camera!
Eidos first announced Herdy Gerdy long before PS2 became bonafied.
At the time PS2 was in search of the "killer app" that would
save it from the coming onslaught of the big N and bigger M. Core
Design delivered screen shots of a graphically sharp innovatively
conceived title centered around herding.
Hmmm, herding huh? Incredibly, the herding aspect of Herdy Gerdy
is as well thought out and exciting as any mission or goal found on a
platformer to this day.
Gerdy, our pint sized hero, wakes one day to find his father, the master
herder, fast asleep. Attempting to wake his father reveals to
Herdy that it's going to take something real potent to get him up.
Drama builds as Gerdy realizes that his father is in danger of missing
the island's annual herding competition. It is soon found that a spell
has been put on Gerdy's father with the intention of keeping him out of
the tournament. The only way that Gerdy can wake his father is to
get to the tournament, and win. A simple premise, to say the
least, told in simple dialogue with even simpler voice acting, in place
only to get the game going. Thankfully it gets going quickly and
maintains a steady even pace throughout. Gerdy's first herding job
is to round up what will become the most plentiful creature on the
island, doops. To get doops to move into their respective pens
they require that you get behind them and run, they in turn will run in
that direction, away from you. Traversing the land with these purple
critters ahead is no easy feat. They have the tendency to branch
off if you don't guide them properly, and regrouping them is more
tedious than shucking corn (my roots are unearthed!).
On his travels
through the Terra Incognita, Gerdy encounters many more species of
vermin all which must be herded into some sort of pen. Each animal
expresses clearly what its likes and dislikes are, for example, doops
hate water, bleeps love to fly etc..With this in mind it should become
clear which are the best routes in getting your critter to it's pen.
There is a map provided covering each locale to help in your navigation,
though they are all
pretty shoddy, and tend to get in the way more than
anything. Thankfully the map can be brought up and closed on the fly,
providing relief when needed.
The graphics and sound in Herdy Gerdy are excellent and keep the
atmosphere enjoyable. Most games of this nature (of which there
are none I must emphasize) tend to bog down and become extremely boring
after a short while, however HG's combination of fresh scenery and
lively music provides a ideal ambiance with which to play out the game.
At one point the music had me so enthralled that I sat transfixed at the
level select screen for a good 5 minutes. This hearkens back to
the days of Sonic CD where I would pause the game and crank the stereo
for background music while doing whatever 13 year olds do. Music
is crucial to keeping a game entertaining, and Herdy Gerdy delivers in
Alright I've stalled long enough, lets discuss the camera issues.
I believe it was Confucius who stated, "If camera is not workable,
game is not playable". This very true statement causes Herdy Gerdy
to lose the majority of its credibility because (drum roll)... the
camera doesn't work. Nearly every level has tall structures which
at every turn obstruct you're field of vision. Though there are
three different camera angles you can select, they automatically switch
to give you what should be the best view. This best view, however,
is non-existent. On some of the levels, particularly the earlier,
less populated ones, the camera is not so much an issue. Yet
later, when levels become more complex they also become virtually
The camera is the unfortunate third strike to what should be a ground
breaking killer app. Herdy Gerdy has the charm and atmosphere to
keep a gamer, albeit an open minded one, occupied for a good while.
However it lacks the crucial elements of gameplay and camera to create
an appeal that will last through the weekend.