|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Can computers think and feel? Do they have emotions?
Don't mistake complex issues of artificial intelligence for Sega's Dreamcast game, Floigan Bros., which is a collection of adventures in babysitting more than anything.
The Floigan Bros., Moigle and Hoigle, run a junkyard that's under assault by the evil Baron. Not only must the pair defend their family real estate, but Moigle has a secret project he wants to build! Players control smart and scrawny Hoigle as they lead the larger, dimmer brother in accomplishing the necessary tasks to save the day in this 3D, over-the-shoulder adventure game.
Hoigle's main endeavor is to manipulate his brother, and thus, the environment. A string of insults can lead Moigle to cry a river of tears and raise the river's water level, or angrily toss his sibling to heights otherwise unreachable. Hoigle must constantly fulfill the big galoot's needs , whether it's for emotional security (give him a hug) or recreation (play Tag, Hide 'n Seek, or High Five). Victory in the various mini-games produce points which Hoigle can use to teach Moigle new games and tricks to advance past progressive obstacles.
The brothers' objectives are not always in agreement. Moigle must be fed before he can learn a new trick, but he may not be hungry when Hoigle wants to play teacher. Moigle's appetite for amusement, however, is never satisfied; by the time the Dreamcast is turned off, you'll never want to give another "High Five".
Oftentimes, the game seems to unintentionally set the brothers at odds. Asking Moigle to help is too direct a route and offers no clue about how to proceed. Hoigle must occasionally just fiddle around, waiting for Moigle's attention to be caught by the task at hand.
Once the method of solving these puzzles is determined, the execution is often without difficulty. The challenges players encounter are solved by simple feats of timing and diligence, often involving tossing bombs or hitting switches. Anyone with the basic skills necessary to be playing video games can perform these actions; several hints are available if you're having trouble anyway.
The playful, nearly comical interaction between characters is matched by the game's overall look. Artists Chuck Jones and Don Martin appear to have collaborated to create the cartoonish nature of the Floigan junkyard and its denizens. Moigle resembles a gangster that Bugs Bunny would avoid. The rest of the characters share this colorful and animated quality, though some angularity is evident. Camera issues are a staple Sega couldn't avoid, with camera movement nearly impossible to achieve in cramped quarters.
Floigan Bros. is an innovative game, but a short-lived one with moments of frustration. An experienced gamer will deduce the Floigans' ailments and assemble the seven-part project in no time, leaving little else to explore. As far as video games go, the junkyard is a small world, and Moigle's games are simple and repetitive; neither invite much replay, and the brothers' mildly amusing antics isn't worth sticking around for, either.
Floigan Bros. shows that toying with people's emotions can be fun, but not without its pitfalls.
This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 20-Aug-01