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Insecticide Package Art
Crackpot Entertainment
Gamecock Media Group


In 1998, Mike Wilson co-founded the Gathering of Developers, or G.O.D. for short -- a publishing studio for indie game developers. In its brief stint, G.O.D. attracted such well known developers as Epic, Ritual and 3D Realms before being snatched up by Take-Two, who later re-branded G.O.D. as 2K Games. Then, at the beginning of last year, Mike Wilson and his fellow co-conspirators decided to give it another shot with Gamecock Media Group Ė an upstart publishing studio intent on a hands-off approach to game development and a subversive ideal of allowing developers to keep their own IP.

This meant good things for developer Renegade Kid, who published last year's sleeper Dementium: The Ward under Gamecock. Nintendojo even held a contest for Dementium a few months back. Now it's developer Crackpot Entertainment's turn with Insecticide for DS. Set in a noir world of insects, crime and quirky humor, Gamecock strikes again. Unfortunately, this time around the results are quite...erm, buggy.


Insecticide is dark and all style. Fans of the well-known sleeper Psychonauts will feel right at home amid the Pixar-like insects which populate the setting's seedy atmosphere. But where Psychonauts is all psychedelic color, Insecticide is noir through and through, sometimes to its own detriment. DS tries its hardest to light each level with care, but sometimes it's simply not up to the task; and even when set to the brightest backlight a DS Lite can muster, the simple polygons which make up Insecticide's 3D landscape are often lost to the darkness. The game does hit its stride in its superb art direction, however, and the hard-boiled main characters all strut with verve in the rendered cinematics that sprinkle the key moments of the game.


Insecticide joins the ranks of Professor Layton, Elite Beat Agents, Electroplankton and Transformers in showcasing DS's audio compabilities. The story is split between the standard text you read and a fully voice-acted script, which is nothing short of superb. You'll find the classic noir motifs here, from jaded cop monologues to the crisp writing of good pulp fiction. In game, the characters often warble with the sort of half-speak gibberish that's come to be associated with Rare's Banjo & Kazooie; and the mood is rounded out by a jazzy soundtrack that oozes murder & mystery.


Insecticide is hard-boiled, fast-shooting detective game set in a festering future city where bugs have evolved as the planet's dominant race. A murder at the powerful Nectorola soft drink company leads police from the Insecticide Squad on a bug hunt through the city's seedy underbelly, and into a mystery of epic proportions.

So reads the PR. You are Detective Chrys Liszt, a kid who grew up on the streets and now uses her street smarts to bust bad guys. Joining her is her hard-nosed parter, Detective Roachy Caruthers. Heís been shot 47 times, seen more crimes than he can remember and is always sucking down a Colombian. Theyíre a regular Doyle and Russo.

Insecticide is split into chapters. The investigation chapters are your typical point-and-click adventure game: walk around, talk to people, solve puzzles and search for clues. This is no accident, as many former LucasArts employees are on staff at Crackpot; but with the familiar trappings also comes the familiar frustration of esoteric puzzles, odd inventory management and bogus branching conversations to lead you astray. To compound this, Chrys stumbles like some drunken cockroach from point A to point B, which will bore you to tears.

Then thereís the platforming chapters. Because itís so difficult to see, jumping is a leap of faith. But youíre likely to gloss over this, because the camera is so much worse. "Where am I going?" you will catch yourself saying. Add in Chrysí stiff movement, and youíve got a winner. You do, however, get to shoot things with Chrysí pea-shooter; but the game largely devolves into, okay, now go here, shoot all those bugs, then jump up here. This is textbook N64, but there's just nothing here. And we wonít even speak of the controls.

So why bother? Well, itís a darn fine yarn... too bad it isnít a book.




The vibe on the PC version seems good, but this DS port proves mediocre. Many had great expectations, but this is not our vision of fury. Gamecock may want a little more hands-on for its future releases.

final score 4.0/10

Staff Avatar Abraham Walters
Staff Profile | Email
"The cake is a lie."

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