I’ve played some really great games while doing these articles; Pinesquest, Ghost Toasters, and Rumble’s Revenge are just examples I can think of off the top of my head. I even played some really bad games like BearShark The Game, and Belly Bag Bonanza. Li’l Gideon Shrinks Back is without a doubt the worst out of all the games I’ve played thus far, thanks to its horrible gameplay, droning music, and lazy level design. The only reason I would recommend this game to anybody would be to have them use it as a sleeping aid or a form of really boring torture.
However let’s not get ahead of ourselves, what’s the contextual story for the game? Well it’s the sequel story to the episode Little Dipper, where Dipper uses a magical crystal tied to a flashlight to make himself bigger then Mabel. Gideon managed to snatch it from Dipper and Mabel and planned on shrinking Stan to take the Mystery Shack. The twins manage to tickle Gideon into submission and return to their regular size. PS. This was my last favorite episode of Gravity Falls. While in the rest of the series there is a comradery and respect between the two, this episode brought in this almost nasty sibling rivalry with zero build up to it, making the whole adventure seem forced and contrived. Glad they made an episode out of that, because Shrinks Back’s contextual story is just that episode’s plot again, but instead focusing on going through three similar levels, then a fourth where you’re jumping from Gideon’s fat flaps to beat him.
The game is your basic platformer, after choosing between one of the two twins to play as, you use the arrow keys to move and jump, and the space bar to shrink and grow to get past some obstacles. To best describe how this game plays, let me ask you, my reader, something. Have you ever used the software Gamemaker? If you haven’t it’s one of the basic game making softwares that beginner game designers use to practice making platformers, shooters, diving games, etc. But for most people, like myself we started our look at Gamemaker by creating a platformer with some pre-made sprites. This game plays exactly like that first attempt to program that platformer, completely floaty movement, platform textures not mixing with the background leaving ugly lines throughout the game, and GLITCHES. Lots and lots of those. It’s like the heads of the department who program these games was bored one day and wanted to skip work early and he piled the responsibility to make Shrinks Back to the coffee boy who’s worked there for 2 hours. Amateurish.
But wait, this game doesn’t just have boring platforming and ugly level designs, it has a boring last level “boss” stage too. Basically at the end of each level you will run away from the level’s boss whether it be a goat or Waddles until you reach a sign. That’s it. You won. Now during my playthrough I kept outrunning these bosses each and every time. While recording to get my screenshots I had to slow down and turn around to get the boss in frame. If I can just outrun the monster by holding the right arrow key why the hell have this feature in the game in the first place. This actually brings up another point. For these reviews I started to record most of my gameplay footage (can’t record sound though so I can’t post it for you guys to see) so that I can get more action shots for the screenshots. Now for most game’s like Pinequest, this brings down the frame rate a little bit because my computer has to play the game as well as record footage but I’ve never had any problem with using both. Until Shrinks Back that is.
When I record and play this game at the same time the game literally becomes unplayable as the frame rate drops drastically and it takes 5 extra seconds for your button presses to reach your character’s tiny brain so they can actually do them. So, I had to resort to playing in short bursts and only record small sections of the game. Playing the footage back it makes me look like a spaztic gamer who just runs and jumps into walls a whole bunch. This actually broke the game three times at one point where I actually jumped THROUGH the platforms and ended up at the bottom of the screen with no way to continue.
Oh and just to mention for “replayability” you can collect all the gummi koalas, but if you die and, if you’re like me, running various other programs in the background of the game you can die and have to restart the level all over again and collect all the gummi koalas ALL OVER AGAIN! Is this some kind of joke? Who in their right mind thought this game was fun? Who thought it was ready to please the fans who come on their site? Just… what were they thinking?
Final thoughts? Well if it were just a standard platformer I would have just given it a 3-4 out of ten for terrible but functional but nope. This game isn’t getting off that easy for not only being a standard platformer but also for being a broken, boring and lazy experience there’s just no other rating I can give it but a 1. Do not play this game, even if you are one of those people who like watching bad movies and playing bad games for the cheap thrills. This isn’t like that, while movies and games like The Room and Mickey’s Magical Mirror are terrible but have a certain absurd entertainment value that makes it fun, THIS is just boring. Boring and a waste of everyone’s time.