Monday, February 12, 2007

Flash Mobile Game Review: In the Crib with Rob and Big

In the Crib with Rob and Big
Developed by Zodal
Released: February 2007
Availability: OTI (Over The Internet)
Requirements: a Flash Enabled PSP

"This game is not to be missed as it represents perhaps one of the first Flash games created for the PSP platform for a major entertainment company!"

Review by Scott Janousek

In the Crib with Rob and Big

In the Crib with Rob and Big Youtube Video

In the Crib and Rob and Big YouTube Video


"In the Crib with Rob and Big", developed by Zodal (a New Zealand based Flash Mobile development company) has released a PSP Flash game loosely based on the MTV Networks reality TV show characters of the same name.

The game is a “sidescroller” with both old school 80's arcade style play and retro pixel graphics. The objective of the game is to earn points as Rob performs various skating moves, avoids obstacles/enemies, all while grabbing various "goodies" along the way.

At the end of each stage with Rob, the other character, "Big" then contends with various bosses, in which he must fight to help send Rob to the next level (of which there are currently three we know of). The object of the goal score as many points as you can on three unique levels of game play.

The game starts with a splash screen on which the pixelized representations of the Rob and Big characters are displayed. The graphics here set the tone for what you are to expect from this casual, yet rather challenging game. On the main menu screen, the user can select play the game, check out the scoreboard, toggle sound, or get the game credits. Clicking on the "Play Now" screen, leads the user into a rudimentary "How To" (Play) screen that explains the basic PSP keys to be used in the game. Clicking continue here bring the user directly into Level 1, "Beverly Hills".

The game play consists on using the left and right arrow keys to control Rob's skating speed as he moves from left to right in each scene presented. Using the "X" key makes Rob jump over obstacles. Using the "X" key in conjunction with arrow keys, such as when jumping off onscreen objects makes Rob perform skating tricks that earns him points. If you fail to clear an obstacle or mess-up you lose energy from your health bar. Lose enough energy and it wipes out one of your 3 total lives for game.

After each stage is cleared with Rob, Big is faced to fight some baddie. The controls here consist of various key combos that must be performed in exact precise order and within a quick elapse of time, otherwise Big looses health. If the user executes enough moves, Big defeats the enemy and Rob is able to go to the next level. As you progress throughout the game the levels do get harder, and are quite challenging given this is a casual game.

This game is not to be missed as it represents perhaps one of the first Flash games created for the PSP platform for a major entertainment company! It’s a fun, yet simple to play game with pixel based graphics reminiscent of early Sierra games. If you're expecting a nice casual and fun game, then you won’t be disappointed. If you're seeking a Tony Hawk like experience with 3-D graphics galore … well, look elsewhere!

Also, for those without a PSP, there is an alternative web version that you can play directly from your desktop at:

Here are some highlights of the PSP game:

The good:

Graphics: The quality bitmap graphics really set the tone for this game, and really make it one of the first high quality PSP Flash game created for a big name in the entertainment industry (MTV Networks) … that we know of, that is. We love the graphics and style!

Sound: The sound effects are excellent and the custom soundtrack created by Sam Trevethic and Nick Robinson, who form part of the well known New Zealand drum and base band Shapeshifter, really makes the game experience fun. We can’t imagine this game being quite as good without the sound! Kudos to the sound engineers on this project!

Performance: Truly, we can tell that this game has been greatly optimized for the PSP. “In the Crib” is more in lines of a Flash Lite game, than a true desktop game … but for good reason, the PSP has quite a few device constraints and limitations that Zodal has addressed quite nicely here. Once you start playing you won’t notice much performance lag at all!

Challenge: There are 3 fairly unique levels which will challenge you and keep you from getting immediately bored with game. The magic number 3 also makes it an ideal casual game for the train, or other places where you have a few minutes to kill.

The bad:

Instructions: The game instructions are not very encompassing. The game help is unfortunately not available on-the-fly, but rather served up before each game sequence begins. There is no pause during game either. There is no way to save or load your game. But is there a need? There are only 3 levels game play so perhaps not.

Game Play: In regards to game play, we did find it to be particularly challenging on the various "boss" levels with the Big versus baddy duels. You must be quick with key combos, or get your $ss handed to you! Perhaps this is intended ... as Big may not be “fast” but he sure packs a mean punch? We do not know. However, the key combos could be a bit larger here and the difficulty begs to ask the need for easy, medium, and hard settings, particularly in this area one area of this otherwise great game.

We also had one instance of the game freezing during a critical point in the game. We are not sure if this was a genuine bug, or perhaps some flakiness with either the Flash Player or PSP browser. It was not a regular occurence, so we believe it the later.

Installation: First time users to Flash based PSP gaming will have to do some digging in order to get the game installed and running within the PSP browser (but to no fault to Zodal). Unfortunately, at this time, no standalone and self executing Flash content is supported on the PSP. However, for those who are stuck, Zodal has graciously provided some help instructions which can be found here:

How to install "Rob and Big" (PDF)

In regards to the Rob and Big website ... we would have also liked this site to cater to the PSP, but currently it does not. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the near future, as it would perhaps allow another method for players to easily download as well as access the game online. We don’t blame Zodal here, as distribution is handled via another party.

Review by Scott Janousek