How many games let you play a cybernetic weasel chained to an indestructible bunny? Well, there is one horrifically funny one now. It’s time to press the button and get a cookie. It’s Whiplash time!
Platform games are the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of the gaming world. Like most comfort foods, we go back to them over an over again to enjoy the same simple elements without the fuss of a gourmet item. All a good platform game needs is some clean graphics, an iconic character, and a bit of knuckle chewing jumpy-puzzle action.
How does Whiplash rate in an already saturated category? Well, the game itself is only average as far as play, but it does have enough fun and wit to set it apart from most of the pack. In Whiplash you play as a pair of lab animals, Spanx, the twitchy weasel, and Redmond, the indestructible bunny. Spanx follows the grand tradition of Mario, Jax, and Crash Bandicoot – the strong silent type, while Redmond fulfills the role of snarky, motor mouth sidekick to a T. This pair of unlikely heroes has been given the prime directive I’ve always wanted to have in a game – destroy everything in sight to bankrupt the evil corporation that has tested on the poor little animals.
As simple as the plot is, the designers had a field day sprinkling in cut scenes and dialog so funny that I found myself almost in tears at times. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll never look at a red button the same way again after playing. In fact the game is so damn funny that you often forget that you are in essence playing a rehash of every recent platform title on the PS-2.
It’s not that the game’s controls and level designs are necessarily bad; there just isn’t anything really new or exciting. The controls are fairly tight all around, with fairly responsive jumps and a minimum of button combinations to learn. The adjustable camera keeps things in view, and I only occasionally found myself in controller-throwing fits of frustration.
As Spanx, you face a variety of ridiculously adorable monsters to fight, and swinging the bunny as a weapon is simply priceless, especially after you set Redmond on fire. Combat can get a touch repetitive until you level up your character to get new moves. I must add here that there is wonderful satisfaction in getting to beat a scary lunch lady with a rabbit over and over again.
Graphically, however, the game suffers from more clipping than doggie salon. After a while I began purposefully knocking out enemies next to walls to watch them fall through solid objects. It’s also fun to fling the bunny into steel pipes and watch him pop halfway out and say hello. The rest of the graphics are passable, and the animations of the main characters are cute and not too jarring. It is impressive how consistent the designers made the physics of two characters linked. It would have been nice, though, if the rabbit had as much life to his character model as the weasel.
For the first time in a long time I have found a game that seems to have taken more care in the creation of the sound of a game than the graphics. Whiplash’s music is atmospheric, catchy, and it doesn’t grate on the ears after ten minutes. Thank you, Crystal Dynamics, for paying attention. The voice acting is also right on target and very funny. My only gripe is that the witty catchphrases muttered by Redmond are a bit repetitive after a while. His voice actor was so hilarious that I really wanted more.
Now, here comes the final gripe about Whiplash. I know that games aren’t supposed to drag on and on, but eight hours or so is a bit short even for a platform title. Thus, sadly, I must recommend Whiplash, as funny and entertaining as it is, only as a rental.