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Cool Herders
  opened by paleface at 03:42:33 03/27/06  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=DC; cat=Puzzle; reg=NA]
Cool Herders--a high-res 2D action puzzler put out, unlicensed, by a plucky bunch of self-publishing scenesters (or something) years after the Dreamcast's official demise on these shores--sucks.
You run your taser-armed sheepherder around an overhead maze, breaking crates to get speed or taser powerups, and zapping everything that moves with your taser. Oh, and collecting sheep.
Most of the moving things are, in fact, sheep, some of which move so fast as to be mere blurs of white puffiness zipping around the maze. Tasing them stuns them for a few moments, making them easier to pick up. But they have no particular threat-avoidance AI anyway, so like as not they'll run into you of their own volition (if it can be called that) before you tase them, anyhow.
The other moving things are rival herders. When stricken by a taser, a herder loses one of the sheep he or she has collected--the freed sheep scattering mindlessly around the maze, free to be collected by the first herder to come along. Once all free sheep are collected by the herders, or the time limit is reached, the stage ends, and sheep or points are tallied, with bonuses being thrown in for all kinds of unexplained reasons.
And that's pretty much it. There's a Story mode, with pictures and captions in between the stages. It gets rather ridiculously hard after the second stage or so, though. Here's the thing: there's nothing to do, really, except move and tase and hope for the best. Well, okay, the main strategy would be to try getting in real fast, getting over 25% of the sheep, and then finding a corner of the maze to hide in until the stage ends.
Until you manage to get over 25% of the sheep, you will be in hell. You have to mash the taser button constantly to stun sheep and try to knock them off opponents, but an opponent, like as not, can simply turn and zap you back before you can move out of the way, so taser hits turn into back and forth torture sessions until everyone has lost all their sheep. And heaven help you if you get sandwiched between two herders. You are in hell. You are in hell.
To do it a little justice, the game is at least technically stable; it doesn't seem crash-prone, and has working menus, and save file support, and VGA support, and 4-player multiplayer support, and so forth. It works. The art is a sort of Western semi-anime style that isn't really all that impressive, and at times downright bleh, but gets the job done, I suppose you could say. The guitar music is surprisingly not bad, but seems to be a pretty short sample or three that you'll tire of quickly. The less said about the sound effects (mostly sheep baaaing), the better.
  paleface 03:52:10 03/27/06
Download added: herding.gif (170760 bytes)
  "Tase everything, get sheep. When does it end?"
"Health"? Man.

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