Bob was hungry so he decided to engorge himself on my psyche. Bob Was Hungry is a 2D platformer developed by Shorebound Studios who I am now convinced hate their customers. This game took me from bored to annoyed to satanic anger. I haven’t felt this kind of rage since trying to beat Kid Buu on Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 when I was a teenager. It’s strange to feel nostalgia for a certain type of anger. I thought I left these kinds of emotions back with my rampant hormones but now it just shows that you need the right kind of stimulation. Bob Was Hungry is an extremely hard game. The difficulty comes from the floatiness of the controls and bastard level design but I’ll come back to that, first I’ll talk about the story.
Bob (which I found out is actually the name of the species instead of the individual which I thought was weird.. If I was hungry you wouldn’t say human was hungry.) is flying through space in a spaceship full of platters that are all empty except for one, he gets excited and distracted then crashes into a planet where you then control him through level after level collecting munchies like a stoner with anterograde amnesia. There are five sections in the game, each of which are planets that you end up crashing into which I thought was pretty funny. That’s basically all there really is to a setup to this game and that’s all a game like this really needs. Here is your character and here is an objective so go feed your little furry ball guy.
The first thing you’ll notice causing rapid hair loss and more friction in your marriage is the controls: they’re floaty as hell. Now I don’t want to completely denigrate floaty controls because I feel it creates more of an art for the player to hone. There’s more uncertainty to your movements so every once in a while a jump you’ve made a hundred times will do something completely different and you’ll punch something. As Bob you can roll left and right, jump and do a sprint that makes you move faster and jump higher/further. These are pretty basic controls and the only thing I found wrong is that you only have two options for Bobs speed: fast and super fast, which is fine at the start where not much is happening but later when the game decides you have to traverse an endless hallway of extremely cozy spikes it makes you want to kill yourself; which brings me to the reason for your future divorce, the level design. Everything in this game is designed to annoy you; hitboxes are way too big, sometimes it’s hard to identify the threat, pausing the game doesn’t actually pause the game, the hardest parts of every level is usually at the end so you have to play the first parts a million times and giant spikes kill you for just looking at them funny. By the end I was dying an average of two hundred times per level, mostly on dumb little incremental movements to the side of a spike to line a jump up. It takes forever to get used to the control of this game and once you do it continues to punch you in the face.
The biggest question I had for myself when I was done with this game was ‘did I enjoy it?’, of which the answer is yes and no. At first I just found the controls annoying and the levels boring but then when the difficulty rose to the level on insanity I was too angry to really judge whether or not I was having fun. When beating a level that you racked up 275 deaths on the feeling you get is not of a rewarding relief but rather a bittersweet pinch of pain as you strain out a few more neurons. The music turns from a whimsical nostalgic feeling, that sounds like it would fit right at home in a PlayStation 1 game, to a maddening
repeat that makes you want to die. The art style is good enough with enough polish to look nice and, again, feels like it belongs in a PS1 game. I make it sound horrible but my point is that it inspired a lot of emotion which is a good thing in my book. I was screaming obscenities most of this game and that only makes the experience more memorable. I admire a developer that doesn’t hold anything back and can have me almost breaking my controller which Shorebound Studios definitely achieved and I haven’t even played all the hard levels yet. In every stage there is a collectable that if you get it unlocks the hard version of that level, at some point I completely gave up on collecting and I thank god I did because there was no way I was finishing the game if I kept trying.
I am never playing Bob Was Hungry ever again. It’s a perfect game for a masochist which I feel a lot of gamers are (me included) but there’s a limit on how much you can shock yourself before causing permanent damage. If I didn’t have to review it I would have rage-quitted quickly. It has a co-op mode but it was very disappointing and quite embarrassing having a friend over to play it then finding out it’s only online co-op. Bob Was Hungry is a perfect game for local co-op so I thought it was stupid that they didn’t include it, perhaps they were worried about an increase in murder/suicide rates.
Bob Was Hungry was a horrible experience but I cannot call it a horrible game. It doesn’t really bring anything unique to the platformer genre with basic controls and basic threats but the developers do a lot with very little. They created levels that are easy to understand but provide immense challenge and without getting too stale. Bob Was Hungry is an alright platformer that I hate with a passion.
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