By Kieron Gillen on January 17th, 2008 at 7:57 pm.
Here at RPS, we’re dedicated to bringing you the finest in PC games entertainment. Except all the times we’re not. This is a not. Say hello to Zoo Race.
And if a picture of a dancing pig wearing a top hat, in a disco that appears to illuminated by the Arc of the Covenant isn’t enough to make you click the “read the rest of this entry” link, I don’t know what could.
Zoo Race is, as the name may suggest, about animals racing one another. It’s also, as far as what appears to genuinely be a Christian games, the most openly Blasphemous example I’ve ever seen. Its plot – which is best experienced in the 8 minute trailer to let it revel in its ludicrousness – can be paraphrased as people started speculating about what Noah actually did when he’d got all his animals together. And they realised – hey – they probably raced each other for God’s amusement. Then the people get turned into animals, and they find themselves doing exactly that. This is probably ironic.
Even the characters have trouble believing it. Take Hannah on the start screen…
Hannah, as alliteration insists, became a horse. Here’s a picture of Hannah at the Disco, dancing with a man I eventually worked out is Noah. Noah, you sly old dog. Mrs Noah (or Emzara, if you’re going to listen to the book of Jubilee) is going to be right pissed off.
I’m actually being unfair. The disco stuff is actually a subgame to the real experience, where a camera rotates around the scene, while all the characters dance to the original soundtrack of Christian Rock (only three of the many in the shareware version, alas). You’re able to make each character pull move by clicking on them – spinning on the spot, propelling themselves in the air or – in the case of Noah – quoting bits of scripture in a cheaply-computerised echo-voice. It’s not the real game.
The real game looks like this.
The Rhino’s in front, which is somewhat surprising, as the Rhino is the strong but slow character. He’ll come into his own when he can knock his way through obstacles. The Horse and Coyote are good on land, while the pig is good at swimming. They all wear hats because they’re (er) Christians or something. Christians are big on hats, at least when the Good Lord has transmuted them into animals. Or so I vaguely recall from Primary School.
This is about as sane as the game gets, with most of the level full of seemingly whatever the developer thinks of next. The game main aesthetic inspiration is, basically, those late ninety geocities websites with Gifs about JESUS LOVING YOU WITH BUNNIES. The plot justifies this array of stuff by – basically – having Shep and the Noah brats decided to put stuff everywhere. Which does beg the question why they made a maze out of stained glass mirrors, or have one of them standing at the top of the hill and Donkey-Kong style just sending barrels rolling down. Except, that’s over-selling the game. The person at the top of the slope is actually not moving at all, and just casually watching the barrels materialise before them before rolling downwards. When God’s saved you from a flood, I guess you get a little blase around miracles.
(That said, I think the Good Book really does suffer for the lack of the Miracle of Barrel Materialisation. It’s in some apocryphal texts, I know, but how it’s been wiped from the official church history is a bloody disgrace).
For me, it gets most surreal when Noah – doing his best Charlton Heston impression – is commentating on the race, alternating between dutifully noting the position and quoting the choicest bits of Psalms.
Anyway, another screenshot.
Cougar Interactive’s website is also quite the thing to see. Its tone can be summed up by a little text urging you to buy the full game – 8 characters! Many levels! Some More Many songs! – when you quit the demo: “Buy the fun game that the big name publishers refused to finance or even show you. Why wait? You can do it, because you are a fun loving creation of god.”
Fucking big name publishers. We hate those guys too. Clearly, it couldn’t have anything to do with the glitchy animation, complete lack of physics, my-first-quake-level geometry and the fact the whole thing is completely batshit insane.
If you want more, watching the full length trailer with plenty of game footage – the horse-firing cannon is a particular high-point, which you’ll find at the 5:05 mark – or you can follow my paw-prints and download the Peggle-and-abit demo. Or you could even buy it, for a mere $17.77.
Me? I’m going to stare at this screenshot of Cain the Cougar celebrating for a while.