When I started playing Belly Bag Bonanza, I had zero knowledge of the original show Uncle Grandpa and when I started playing I wanted it to be like that. This way I could see if it stood up as a game alone and to see if the game itself was engaging enough to make me interested in actually watching the show. After doing that I watched the episodes of Uncle Grandpa that were available on Youtube and I found the show to be deceptively awesome. The show began with Uncle Grandpa doing the typical idiot character shtick coupled with a painfully brain dead voice, then moved into some oh so “classic” fart jokes and then the explanation that Uncle Grandpa was the Uncle and Grandpa of everybody in the world. From just that I was ready to write the show off as just another kid’s show that is just trying to please the lowest common denominator and no one else and the whole “Everybody Grandpa/Uncle” thing I was just going to nitpick it and make fun of it. But then this came on screen.
And I laughed my ass off. From then I watched both episodes of Uncle Grandpa and I loved them. It’s kind of got the same charm as Phineas and Ferb’s formula mixed with the insanity from Regular Show which creates an amazingly surreal and funny show. The things I despised about the show, as well as kid’s entertainment in general, mainly the fart jokes just faded away and it really brought a smile onto my face which is great because the game based on Uncle Grandpa is annoyingly awful.
The context is laid out on the first screen of the game, Uncle Grandpa need s to round up his friend in his RV so they can help these kids who have permanent open mouths. Now Uncle Grandpa must go through 16 levels of slooooooooooow monotonous levels so that they can do just that. The game mechanics are simple as usual, Uncle Grandpa is at one side of a level and you must used the given tools; puffer fish, rubber rings, rocket ships, chewing gum, cactuses, Brussels sprouts, rainbows, and trampolines, and place them along the level to get him to the goal.
From just that you can fathom that this is a puzzle game centred on watching Uncle walk through each level and using the items you place along it to finish it as slowly as possible. I guess that should be my biggest complaint to bring up then, huh? Belly Bag Bonanza is just punishingly slow on normal speed, it’s almost ridiculous. After the first level, I just clicked on the yellow fast forward button and Uncle could finally move at a decent pace. That pace, keep in mind, should have been the NORMAL PACE OF THE GAME. The fast forward speed gives you plenty of time to place in items you forgot or put in the wrong place. The regular speed is so slow you could set up one level, start it, get yourself a drink and by the time you get back the level will just have completed.
This leads to the game’s biggest flaw there is zero flow in the mechanics. For games like this there should be a rhythm through gameplay from start to finish but what this game forgets is that the flow of gameplay also takes into consideration the player’s failures. Take for example the game Super Meat Boy, as soon as you die in the game with a simple click of a button you are instantly back into the action with very little time lost. Team Meat (the developers of the game) get extra points for this by having the replay of all your deaths shown once you beat that level. Belly Bag Bonanza’s flow would have greatly been improved if it at least allowed for a one key press restart like pressing “R” but nope, you just have to wait to fail and click the restart at the “TRY AGAIN” screen. Actually to be fair there is a red restart button on the screen at all times but through my playthrough specifically it’s a tad of a hassle to break of concentration from the puzzle to click to restart once you make a mistake.
The other thing that make me want to get a drill and drill through my ear to stop the noise was the sound design of the game. In the show at the beginning and ending of the show (just taking this from the two episodes keep in mind) Uncle Grandpa says his catch phrase “Good Morning” and somewhere during multiple instances in the show Uncle will fart, be it discrete or obvious, Uncle Grandpa will fart. Now in the show this can be excused because the pace of the show is so fast your brain isn’t able to properly assess the context of everything making you more susceptible to the humour. Belly Bag Bonanza doesn’t have that liberty because it’s a puzzle game you are going to take your time to assess everything, usually as slowly as possible and once I heard Uncle Grandpa’s farts and Good Mornings for the hundredth time I wanted to smash my head into the keyboard. If you decide to play the game I suggest turning off at least Uncle Grandpa’s voice, the background music while also very repetitive, it does have a better rhythm that suits a more slow paced gameplay experience.
The puzzles themselves are good. After level 5, the puzzles get very interesting and become a true brain teaser and once I turned off Uncle Grandpa’s voice, the music, and placed on some of my music from Itunes I was actually enjoying myself a little more. And for those who enjoy the game at the bottom of the level select screen the game developers say they plan on making more levels. Sadly I’m not gonna play those levels, the game just left a bad taste in my mouth thanks to its appalling pacing and repetitive sound design. I can recommend the puzzles because honestly they are good but nothing else. Watch the show, don’t play the game.
SCORE: 3 OUT OF 10