Ugly Americans is a Comedy Central animated series based around an alternative reality version of New York where monsters, demons and freaks all co-inhabit with humans. The story follows Mark a social worker who helps integrate the various abominations into New York and find them jobs and homes. Being a big fan of the series I thought I should be the one to give the game a go and let you readers know how awesome it is. Unfortunately it’s not awesome, it’s a struggle.
Twin stick shooters are an unusual style of game, they are either instant classics or forgotten about without ever affecting anyone’s life. The few success stories in the twin stick genre are probably Smash TV, which was painfully hard but oh so satisfying, Geometry Wars, an excellently designed and executed piece, and Dead Nation, which probably wouldn’t have done so well were it not for being given away for free when Playstation Network had that SNAFU a while back.
Ugly Americans, released now on PSN and XBLA, is a twin stick shooter with ideas of grandeur. You take control of one of the shows 4 main characters, actually 3 of them are main characters, the other is a fringe character. Each of these characters has a gun that can shoot everyday objects at high velocity, this aspect of the game works well, while running around the streets of New York certain fallen items can be obtained and used for ammo; for example baseballs produce a machine gun effect, where as rubber chickens are more like heat seeking missiles. You can also occasionally find babies hidden in levels, these companions join your character until you change them for another hell spawn at the orphanage, the different children have different buffs for you, one might produce a flaming circle around you, another might boost your defence.
If any of this “lots of weapons and buff companions” sounds familiar it’s because you’ll soon realise that this game appears to have coppied all of it’s best parts from Castle Crashers, just not very well. Ugly Americans in itself is not a bad game, I wouldn’t put it down for being broken. The only time you may think that the programming is a bit off is when you hear the same taunt from an enemy for the 30th time in one level. On the first level you are in Central Park being attacked by Bird Men, these humanoid pigeons are foul mouthed, it become quite grating to hear the phrase “Gobble my nob” and “Put your cheeks into it” repeatedly, only occasionally being drained out by the oh so soul destroying “ratatatat” firing of your gun.
All of this game’s good parts are from it’s license or from what it’s taken from Castle Crashers. The characters are funny, as are the cut-scenes. The first time you see certain enemies you’ll chuckle, but then they just get over played. The soundtrack has a good feel to it, but is drained out by “witty” one liners and gunfire.
The game matches the style of the source so you have to respect that. But overall though this game is shallow and a waste of a good license, 11 levels that are just linear re-skins of each other and a game time of 3 or so hours just isn’t good enough. The game definitely picks up with co-op multiplayer, but you’ll have to either risk the unbalanced online world where everyone already has the best weapons, or find a friend who is able to withstand the game. I called over my friend Will who has helped with previous multi-player reviews I’ve done, with this one, he lasted 10 minutes before refusing to go on.
Overall this game is playable, it’s just it’s flaws and it’s boring and shallow nature let it down. For a world as rich with various characters as Ugly Americans is I feel like a simple Smash Brothers game or even a kart racer would have worked with the license better. Lots of characters in a crazy world, yet all we get is 4 sprites walking down the same street repeatedly.
-Interesting concepts for weapons
-It hasn’t killed anyone I know
-Repeated sound effects
-Waste of a good license