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Shaggy Pals

Published by Artichoke Games
Price $19.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

Shaggy Pals is a Sokoban variant. Players must guide the hair-laden beastie of the title around various fixed screen levels, pushing (but not pulling) dynamite to the correct places on the level so that a subsequent press of the plunger blows up the cell doors that cage his hairy pals.

The black background can make the game look more like an old Mame emulation than a 2005 presentation. Up close, the pixel art is well done.

The game is turn based and plays a lot like the many similar games of its type, such as Fitznik or Rich Diamond. Any of the more than 60 single screen levels can be selected, and some are fiendishly difficult. The most innovative aspect of the game is that you have to rescue four trapped friends at once. Most of the other features or special objects are standard fare.

The graphics are clear if not quite as polished as many games of this type. The main characters are well drawn. The trapped furry friends put their fingers in their ears when your main character stands over the detonator, which is a nice touch. The front end is nice looking enough too, if a little static. The movable objects in the game are easily identified, but still a little plain looking, and there are no backgrounds to the levels. The small vivid graphics on a plain black background can make Shaggy Pals look like an old Spectrum game.

The last level is ultradifficult!

The music too sounds a little old world, but it's nice all the same. There are several tracks that change as you play and it takes a lot of level tramping before it becomes annoying enough to turn down. The sound effects are generally all of good quality, and you get to select a character and hear a thin voice speaking the heroes' names at the start.

The learning curve is quite steep here but the auto-solution option and the ability to select any level should combat that, and new features and objects are gradually introduced as you progress. Overall though, the game doesn't stand out above the many similar games out there. Fans of the genre will get some enjoyment from the extra levels they can find here, but the graphics even in the ageing Dweep are probably better and many competitors have large scrolling levels, built in level designers and generally contain more value.

Shaggy Pals is an average puzzle game of the Sokoban type. The playability is about right, the presentation is somewhat plain but adequate, the programming and user options of the game are up to scratch too, and there are lots of levels for fans of this type of game, but many of its competitors have more content and I don't think that Shaggy Pals is innovative enough to attract players who have tried and disliked the other variations on this theme.

Graphics 60%
Sound 75%
Playability 65%
Longevity 70%
Overall Score 65%
Bronze Star

Published on 22 Apr 2005
Reviewed by Mark Sheeky

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