Grab your gravity defying headgear guys because this one’s going to be a trip. And by that I mean it’s going to be the worst trip you’ll ever go on bar none, only ten times worse, on hoverboards. And to think that the ideas of hoverboards can be used negatively in ANY WAY is testament to just how awful awful awful this trip is going to be.
See, back in the 90s, when prefacing anything with cyber, psyba, cyba, psyber or perhaps even funka, was considered the coolest thing EVER. It was the done thing in the way people continue to use ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ in words – sorry, wordz – to be considered hip and with it. Imagine someone like ME using words – sorry, wordz – like hip and with it and thinking it’s cool. It’s not. It is the exact opposite. I don’t even use them ironically. I use them because to signify how UNCOOL it is to say those things.
Step forward PSYBADEK, a PS1 shitter of a game that thinks it’s hip. If anything (AWFUL JOKE INCOMING), it’s about as much fun as a broken one.
That was the joke.
Like this game!
Look, I’m not a comedian. If you’re getting jokes off me for your comedy show, you’re scraping the sides of a very large barrel, one that I’ve never even touched or seen.
Now given what this game is… it’s difficult to explain what the whole POINT to it is. There is a story but the major question behind it is… WHY THE FUCK IS THERE EVEN A STORY TO IT? DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS COULD AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN? HOVERBOARD RACING.
HOVERBOARD FUCKING RACING.
Instead, we’re treated to the world’s most clichéd story ever. The two puppet-like characters above are Mia and Xako (YEP! 90s COOL NAMES, PEOPLE! Not just ZACK, but ZACKO. NO, NO… LET’S USE AN ‘X’ FOR THE ‘Z’! THAT’S EVEN COOLER!) and they’ve just watched on as their friends, who look just as awful as they do, have been warped into an unknown world by some giant purple blob monster and his miniature cronies. There’s also a cat and a dog involved in this somehow but your task is to go and… get them back. Somehow.
I mean… if you wanted to be as lazy as possible with wrting a story, then fuck it, go ahead, Psybadek. You just managed to do it. And you probably managed to get all of that onto a fucking post-it note. In a bar. Late at night.
The thing is… the whole… concept seems completely pointless. The story doesn’t really fit the scenario of hoverboards and teens riding hoverboards and… anything at all. That’s the type of lame story you see in poorly written children’s stories when the author’s got nothing else to write about. And even then, when they do write about them, at least they go somewhere or feature something slightly more interesting.
In Psybadick, we’re given so little exposition that we’re just expected to believe it. There’s no reason behind anything. It’s just some monster in the sky who plonked himself onto Earth and thought ‘FUCK IT, KIDNAP SOME KIDS PLZKTHNXBAI’ and we were expected to accept it.
BOLLOCKS TO THAT. LOOK HOW THEY EVEN PRESENT THE FUCKING STORY: awful floaty head text boxes which don’t even LOOK good. So our friends are now soldiers and we won’t remember them. And they’re going to help them invade our world.
WHY? WHAT FOR?
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
HOW DID YOU EVEN GET HERE?
Right. Enough about the shit story. There’s too much shit in this game to cover so I’d better get there.
IT’S TIME FOR:
THINGS THAT ARE WRONG WITH PSYBADEK!
Buckle up, guys, this list will be pretty long.
NUMBER FOUR (given that the story covers one, two AND three…): the graphics!
I think this speaks for itself.
Seriously, this game features a level of beauty that is not of this world. It is disastrously ugly at the best of times. The blocky character models float about the stages unconvincingly with such poor animation that it’s a wonder they even move at all. They might as well just be spheres bouncing up and down for all the animation they mustered with them. The models are ugly and attempting to be stylistic and cartoony. Instead, they just fall flat. Yeah, OK, the models stand out because they’re colourful at the very least but this whole “LET’S BE COOL” thing that they’re attempting to go with… just doesn’t work.
NUMBER FIVE: Fucking. Game hubs.
What you see above is the game hub.
Sonic the Hedgehog can tell you this now: GAME HUBS DO NOT WORK. THERE IS NO REASON FOR THIS GAME TO HAVE A GAME HUB.
This hub world is pointless for so many reasons. Number one: you cannot go anywhere in the game except the level you HAVE to do next. You get NOTHING for replaying stages you’ve completed except the thrilling knowledge that you’re beaten your previous time. Nothing else. There are keys, apparently… but who the hell knows what they’re for.
So… if we essentially can’t go into levels without having beaten the previous ones… why not just set it out like that? This seems seems to want to try and immerse you as much as possible into the game by throwing you into from the off. Hey guys, get a load of these controls so you can bump into everything BEFORE you do in the levels you’re about to die in!
NUMBER SIX: OF COURSE. THE CONTROLS.
See… Psybadouche, you kinda made a rod for your own back here by basically saying “look at how shit my controls are” right from the start! The boards float about in a way you would expect a hoverboard MIGHT do but the way the characters float about on them is PAINFUL. You wanna stay still with your character on the hoverboard? Good luck with that. Without even TOUCHING the controls, the characters drifted to the left wherever I was. They just rotated round to the left. It’s kinda like what used to happen to me when I first started driving. That was user error. This is not. This is not knowing how your own game physics work.
Psybadump, you’re an absolute mess with your controls. Everything feels really awkward to do. You want to jump, you have to press the square button – which also means letting go of the accelerate button – and to shoot, you have to press circle.
WAIT. SHOOT? REALLY?
Oh and it doesn’t even matter whether you can shoot or not. Only in the boss fights. The boss fights which are AWFUL.
Here I am DYING because I have no way of getting out of the way of this guy. The controls and the positions of them make this fight INCREDIBLY difficult. You have to collect the TINY power-up somewhere on the stage (actually, it goes straight back to the same place each time) and usually that means rolling past it multiple times before it lets you grab it. Then, you only get ONE shot with it so you have to turn around – after hitting the wall around the stage of COURSE – and then shoot it at the boss. He still keeps coming at you though so you WILL get squished and you WILL die. And you WILL want to cry. And you WILL throw the controller. I don’t know who Will is, but he’s about to get VERY angry at this game.
NUMBER SEVEN: Difficulty.
Now… given the look of the game and it the way it’s generally presented, who would you expect the main demographic to be? Hmmm? I mean… to be honest, as an adult, I genuinely would have had no interest in playing this game, seeing as it looks like turd and the whole cartoony look of it wouldn’t have been designed with me in mind. I was a teenager at the time this game came out (STOP MAKING OLD JOKES IN YOUR HEAD, YOU WHIPPERSNAPPERS) and even THEN… I doubt I’d have been interested. It might have been closer to my demographic in terms of the attempted 90s cool thing they tried to do but let’s be honest: you go for cartoony graphics, you’re going for the younger gamers. Surely. This isn’t stylistic in a retro-cartoony way. This was during a time when kids watched cartoons, adults didn’t. Today, things are different. Let’s not go too deeply into that one, OK?
But this is designed, in my eyes, for the younger audience. It’s just a shame they didn’t even think to keep in line with that idea and make it simple enough for that audience to grasp and eventually master. Seriously. The controls do not help, of course but given that stage 2 in the opening world, which has you shooting penguins… for some reason… (although I’ll come back to that shortly) you have a limited amount of time with which to shoot 60 penguins across three waves. The first wave is the standard “STAND IN MIDDLE AND SHOOT” one. Wave 2 adds in two penguins in hot air balloons getting in your way, because of course they would. Wave 3 includes a flying pengui-WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, PSYGNOSIS. PENGUINS. DO NOT. FLY. NOT EVEN GAMING PENGUINS.
This fucking penguin flies about the stage and flies right into you. It is so difficult to avoid that you sometimes do it randomly just by moving left and right. But if he’s flying in from behind you, you can’t see it happening until it’s too late, you’ve lost all your star bits thingies that you’re collecting and then he hits you again and you’re dead. AND ALL THE WHILE, YOU’RE ATTEMPTING TO SHOOT PENGUINS. 60 OF THEM. Bearing in mind, that I whacked 25 in the first wave, 22 in the second wave and had to shoot 13 more to complete the stage… sounds doable.
NO IT IS NOT.
THAT FUCKING PENGUIN RUINS EVERYTHING.
HE GLIDES IN, TAKES YOU OUT AND THEN YOU END UP GETTING 55. OR 58 IF YOU’RE LUCKY.
NUMBER EIGHT: The… point?
Is there any point to doing ANY of this? Ooh, you’re off to save your friends like the valiant scamp that you are. Good for you! As I mentioned, there’s so little reason behind everything that it feels very… pointless. I couldn’t quite understand why I was playing the game. I was being thrown about by the hub world most of the time and it felt as though the game didn’t WANT me to play it. I couldn’t work out when I was supposed to be having fun. I mean… there were racing sections where you race against someone and those could have been fun.
And they weren’t.
It’s Psygnosis. You made WipeOut. How could the racing section of your game, WHICH ALSO FEATURES HOVERING VEHICLES, not be fun?
No two-player mode. Be thankful you don’t have to sit through this sit with a friend who will later want to maul your face off. I mean really. They will. They’ll maul your face off.
“YOU MADE ME PLAY THIS SHIT WITH YOU?”
“But I thought it would be fun to play a two-player game!”
“I’LL GIVE YOU A TWO-PLAYER GAME THAT’S MORE FUN: HIDE AND STAB. GUESS THE RULES.”
And so we close the door on another chapter of awful gaming history. Thankfully, fewer and fewer people will want to be reminded of this…game. Shit. Sorry about that. But hey. I’m warning you off it so be thankful for that.
And if you ever wondered what happened to Psygnosis during the Playstation era, then let this game attribute to that. Along with this:
And don’t forget this:
As for Psybadek, let’s just wonder how this went from possibly being a cartoony WipeOut into the grizzled monstrosity it is.
And then burn it at the stake.
Cos, like, burning at the stake is so hip and with it, dude.