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Fighting for a spot against the rest of the world (including Jeff Minter himself) is fun enough, but the real competition is yourself. Space Giraffe does an incredible job of tying score to performance, and the feeling that there's always a way to squeeze a few more points out of a level provides amazing replay value. Space Giraffe is the kind of game that sinks into your brain and doesn't let go, even if it does take a bit of time to work its magic. Give it that time and a bit of effort, though, and you'll be rewarded with one of XBLA's best titles yet.
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Space Giraffe is definitely an acquired taste. It is not for the ignorant who will just look at it as another Tempest clone, but more for those with an open mind looking for an exciting classic arcade shooter with a psychedelic flair and a firm challenge to boot. And at only 400 Microsoft Points ($5) why not give it a chance? It sure beats some of the crappier XBLA titles that have come out that cost 800 points ($10.) And watch out for Space Level 64!
Space Giraffe will probably get a tepid reception from gamers who like a more straight-forward experience, but I consider it one more classic from a unique designer. Just as the film industry has had David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick, or the music industry Laurie Anderson and Phillip Glass, or the art world its Salvador Dali, so to does the videogame industry have its own creative maverick in Jeff Minter. I'm glad he exists and I'm ecstatic that he's still doing what he wants, how he wants. Best 400-points I've ever spent.
If you're in the majority of gamers who don't get Space Giraffe, that's by no means an indication that you're a lesser gamer than someone who does get it. Your brain just isn't tuned to this unusual frequency; hell, if you don't get it, it probably just means you're normal. We're the freaks. But some days it's good to be a freak - and as a sufferer from this freakish affliction, I can't help but rate Space Giraffe highly.
Still, stimulus abounds. Little score numbers fly off your giraffe like sparks from a welding torch. Positive reinforcement flies forth with the force of a fire-hose; in the between-stage segments the giraffe moults typically British compliments in a heliotropic, omnidirectional nova. In contrast, the bonus point assessment screens that pop up between levels drive knives into the player’s heart. There’s nothing like struggling through a pulsing, swarming, undulating, freakish psychedelic morass, only to be greeted with the news that “You are A BIT RUBBISH.”
Space Giraffe won’t appeal to everyone. It demands you play by its rules, adjust to its learning curve. Only the dedicated will get to see everything it has to offer, but everyone should try it. If you have access to a Live subscription, download the demo (which contains a tutorial and a generous nine levels) and play it for about an hour. If it clicks, you’ll want more. If not, then move onto something else. So, how will you know if it's for you? There's only one way to find out...
The graphics are vintage Jeff Minter so be prepared for some very loud colours, trippy sequences and score counts thrown at you at every opportunity. Of course these FX’s are a little snazzier than some of his retro games, but they still manage to retain that retro feel. There are also a number of nods to retro things of yesteryear thrown in for players to spot, these consist of anything from hidden messages and sound effects, including samples, of which feature for one, nineties trip artists The KLF.
As much as I personally love it, there are plenty of people out there who will outright loathe it. Many won't manage to see past the colors and will simply be unable to play the game. It can also be deeply unforgiving, and while there are concessions in the form of the automatic save, you'll usually advance two or three levels and then hit an absolute brick wall of a stage that will take multiple tries to finish. Some of these stopping points are simply due to a new type of enemy that you're unsure of how to deal with, or a variance in the level, but the occasional stage overwhelms you with a dreadful camera angle and a huge swarm of enemies, and these quickly become so controller-breakingly frustrating that they mar the experience. Despite all of this, I adore Space Giraffe. It plays like few other games do, and it really is something rather different on XBLA.
Space Giraffe is an extremely weird and well-designed arcade game, but its unique brand of madness isn't for everyone.
Véritable shooter next-gen, Space Giraffe aura cependant beaucoup de mal à satisfaire la majorité des joueurs, avides de sensations fortes et immédiates. Difficile à maîtriser, exigeant, très souvent frustrant mais délicieusement atypique, le dernier bébé de Jeff Minter ne parlera en effet qu'à une minorité de joueurs avertis et conscients des risques.
So, is Space Giraffe worth the asking price? Ultimately yes, but it is a game that benefits from extended demo play before taking the leap to the full version. It's 100 levels of shameless fun wrapped around a solid shoot 'em up dynamic that works well once all the niggles are worked out by the player. It's a shame that it will doubtlessly be overlooked by many, because it can often be an involving experience. The relief felt after stemming the flow of enemies on one of the later, much more frantic levels, is equal to coming first in a racing game at the very last corner, or beating a time limit with a split second left on the clock. That such a simple premise can be so engaging has the hallmarks of a modern classic. Try the demo first and see for yourself.
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Whilst playing Space Giraffe for the first time I noticed that it would be a hard game to demo due to its totally crazy style and its difficulty level. If you can stick with it, you’ll find a fairly deep game with a lot of extra value in it. The fact that it’s only 400 points makes it worth checking out but only if you are willing to persevere. Space Giraffe offers something that you’ll find hard to find somewhere else, despite that it’s not for everyone. The game offers a very frustrating learning curve but once you pass that you’ll uncover a pretty decent game with a lot of replay value. It’s only flaw are it’s visuals which feels like you’re at a drug-induced rave, it’s just a shame it doesn’t have a chill out mode.
At a mere four hundred points, this game feels like a bargain; provided you can get into it, that is. Space Giraffe tries so hard to be different that it winds up being nearly unplayable for a casual gamer or someone without the visual acuity to really understand what's going on. Try the demo first because you will probably know immediately whether or not this game is for you. Space Giraffe is an interesting title for a multitude of reasons, but the headache-inducing visuals and punishing difficulty will ultimately be a turn-off for some. At the very least, Space Giraffe is a departure from your typical shooter and should be looked at based on the sheer novelty of the idea.
For the hardcore shooter enthusiast, this game could be a wonderful audiovisual experience. The trance-like soundtrack, pumping visuals, and very deep gameplay mechanics all come together to form a cohesive, unifying factor that is not seen in many games today. However, the accessibility of the title caters really only to the most dedicated of gamers, and the massive, uneven difficulty spikes ruin what would otherwise have been an amazing chillout game with frustration and anger.
It would be great if we could say that the long months of waiting for the Xbox Live Arcade game, Space Giraffe, were completely worthwhile, but alas, the game's over-the-top, seemingly drug-induced visuals will probably hamper the ability of the average game player to experience all 100 of the unique levels lovingly crafted by creator Jeff Minter.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that Space Giraffe is a tragically wasted opportunity on so many levels. The expectation was there, and the time was right for Jeff Minter and co. to show the world the kind of rare talent that have been missed for so long. Yet what they've delivered feels wilfully, almost criminally self-indulgent to the point that even the most ardent hardcore shooter fans will question some of the design decisions. Even if you make allowances for the game's exceptionally niche appeal, Space Giraffe misses the mark for the simple reason that it's too busy projectile vomiting colour over the indistinct enemies to let players get on and enjoy what might have been an intelligent progression of an all-time classic. As many exasperated Londoners might be exclaiming at this point, you're 'avin a giraffe, Jeff.
When the (catchy) electronic music is pounding and you're in tune with the game, it's an exciting, transcendent few seconds; it just never lasts, as you're brought back to earth by the sheer inanity of what you're involved in. All of the clever level names ("Another Day at the Orifice"), Internet memes ("Your giraffe is in another castle"), and silly sound effects (phones ringing, animal noises) give the game another dose of cleverly kitsch personality; it's just a shame that it completely buries the fundamentally sound shooter beneath it at the cost of all the wackiness. I'm all for entertaining one man's vision of what a shooter should look like and how it should operate, but gameplay always comes first. At only 400 points ($5), it's a bargain if you're looking for something unique (or are hardcore to the point of masochism). It would just be nice to see a little subtlety exercised next time.
Ultimately, the game falls apart when the player is bombarded with harmless background colours and life-sucking enemy bullets at the same time. The two become almost indecipherable from one another.
At the end of the day not many people will want to spend more than an hour with Space Giraffe. Maybe if the gameplay were more endearing to the casual gamer, or if the visuals didn’t make half of the people who play the game foam at the mouth, or perhaps if the levels weren’t designed to cheat the player, then maybe, just maybe Space Giraffe would have been as cool as its designers had hoped. As it stands this game is most definitely not giraffetastic. But it does have J Allard’s face in it, that has to count for something.
I certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked and I probably won’t spend much time on it after this. I found the combination of graphics and sounds to be mindblowing and at times humorous, but during the gameplay it was mostly distracting and way too muddled on top of the already challenging task at hand. It’s like trying to do a tough sudoku…but the paper is on fire and there are a couple of madly barking dogs—or, in respect to Minter, we could make them loudly bleating sheep—just inches from your head.