Mad Cat Now Free: Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso

By John Walker on February 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 am.

Is there an Animal Crossing vibe here too?

Steve Ince, of Broken Sword fame, has been working as a freelance writer/developer for a few years now, perhaps most notably working on fixing The Witcher’s dodgy English. He demonstrated his way with words with the recent flawed almost-gem The Whispered World. Certainly amongst the game’s weaknesses was not the script, which Ince had redrafted for an English-speaking audience. It meant that the game shone in an area where so many translated European adventures fall short. And he’s also still making his own games, one of which he has just released for free to celebrate Ince’s having spent eighteen years in the games industry. It’s the rather excellently named Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso.

Pleasingly, it’s difficult to describe the game with a genre. You move around tiled pseudo-top-down rooms in a very Animal Crossing way, but oftentimes you’re dodging rolling mines, or weapon-wielding enemies. But just as often you’re exploring completely safe areas for items, chatting with other characters, and trying to solve the various puzzles the game sets you. There are gems to collect, reminding me of Sokoban, except there are no crates to shove. (In fact, the game makes a cheeky reference to Broken Sword IV’s rather ill-advised crate-shoving obsession.) Instead the gems are spent by your chatty computer friend, the ‘reality enabler’, to open doors, reprogram computers, etc.

You see, some naughty aliens have broken down reality, so as a blue cat, Ed, you attempt to save the lives of the other cutesy animals by restoring reality and fixing the broken mind of your friend, Mr Smoozles.

This is all based on a comic strip Ince draws, called Mr Smoozles. The strips appear on the walls throughout the game. They’re a bit odd – they often don’t even seem to try to include punchlines. But then I rarely get on with web cartoons, so presumably it’s swooping over my head. Things make a lot more sense when they’re characters in this game, which is all rather charming, really.

As you explore you’ll gather more tasks – doors to unlock, computers to find passwords for, machines that need batteries – and these will inevitably require that you complete yet more tasks. So it’s as much about exploration and item gathering as it is about dodging enemies and gathering crystals. It’s a smart game, nicely put together, and most of all, it’s now free.

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10 Comments »

  1. Chunga says:

    I did a download, installed it and I got a complaint from my virus software about a trojan (Constructor.IDL!+d71BMNIqb0) in it. Maybe it’s possible it doesn’t work on such arcane stuff as Win XP? Anybody else getting this?

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    phlebas says:

    It’s what we used to call an “arcade adventure” back in the day. Fun stuff.

  3. JackShandy says:

    What a strange comic. It’s like something he writes when he needs to take a break from telling good stories and just needs to let his mind leak for a while.

  4. jeremypeel says:

    Ah, this sounds very interesting. Always good to see old hands experimenting – can’t think of many doing so after 18 years of CRUNCH.

  5. orient says:

    It was Broken Sword III that had the crate-pushing obsession — still a great game, though regardless.

    We don’t speak of Broken Sword IV.

    I’m a fan of Steve’s. Will give Mr. Smoozles a go.

  6. Xercies says:

    I’m sure that strip is post modern and the comedy is the fact that it has no comedy.

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    Napalm Sushi says:

    Dammit, for an instant, as this article’s title scrolled into view, I thought “Mechwarrior news! Finally!”

    Fortunately, this looks good too.

  8. DrazharLn says:

    Anyone else read the license agreement? It’s pretty funny :)

    ‘Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso’ is Copyright © 2006-2011 Steve Ince

    Terms and Conditions
    ——————–

    If you could take the time to read these we would be very grateful

    1. Please don’t reverse engineer and change this game. Mr. Smoozles
    may get very angry if you do and we cannot be held responsible
    for anything that happens as a direct result.
    2. Please don’t sell this game as this is a free version. Pepper
    is very particular about such things and I wouldn’t want her
    annoyed with me, I can tell you.
    3. We promise to try and fix any reported bugs as soon as we can,
    although Ed and Watford are usually pretty busy playing games
    most of the time, so we apologise in advance for any delay.
    4. Please be kind to cats or we may have the Goragons change the
    whole of reality.
    5. Hey, you’re still reading! Please continue to do so.
    6. ‘Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso’ will not damage your PC, or cause any data loss,
    but if it does, we cannot be held responsible. You play this game at your
    own risk.
    7. We think that covers it all, but Finny wants to point out that in no way
    should Mr. Smoozles be blamed for his actions under the influence of the
    Goragons’ mind ray.
    8. Mr. Smoozles would like to make it clear that he wants no part of anything
    that Finny says about him.
    9. Finny now suggests that Mr. Smoozles is an ungrateful cat and doesn’t understand
    why she has anything to do with him.
    10. Mr. Smoozles says that the sooner Finny has nothing to do with him the better.
    11. The management of Juniper Games has suggested that this licence file is not
    the place for a discussion between Finny and Mr. Smoozles.

  9. RegisteredUser says:

    I read that comic!