If you are like me and immediately thought of Monkey Island’s famous insult duels when reading the title ‘Oh…Sir!! The Insult Simulator’, then you are pretty much on the money. Two lingua-dualists pick turns and choose parts of speech (verbs, nouns, conjunctions and short phrases) from a shared pool. The goal is to form a long and funny insult that will drain ego-hit-points from your foe… before she or he does the same to you. It’s dorky and silly, but it’s also brilliant and, when it works, it’s amazing.
To make things more interesting there are a few rules for extra points: if you keep mentioning the same word in each insult, you are rewarded with cumulative combo points and if you join two insults together, you hit for a little extra damage. Additionally, if you find your opponent’s weakness and mention that in your insult (for example, an opponent might be sensitive to family members or his age), you get a critical hit and if you incorporate rude elements, you can interrupt an enemy combo. You can also ‘sip your tea’ in gentleman fashion to reshuffle the two private insults on your hand, once per round. The ‘gentleman’ aesthetic is dominant- prepare for lots of curly-ended moustaches, British pleasantries and witty remarks.
Understandably, all the basic Monty Python classics are here. Basically, they are everywhere: it’s like when you first catch on the whole Monty Python thing when you are young and enthusiastically force all these new wild jokes in every sentence. The Norwegian Blue, the Shrubbery, the Elderberries. Yep, it’s all there. But it eventually feels like a forced check-list and at one point the homage turns stale. Some fresh comic elements would be more than welcome.
A game that’s based on randomly generated names is bound to come up with some silliness- anyone that has looted a Devastating Deathbringer of Deathly Death or a Ridiculous Raging Strapon will agree. However, in this game, it’s one thing to sound a bit goofy and another to be completely illogical- especially if this mechanism is organically tied to scoring, progress and efficiency. For every awesome line that clicks right, you stumble upon ten that just don’t make sense. Example time:
“-Your sense of style dances in the seat and your house has better hair than your country.”
“-Your hat can’t tie a tie and dances like your cousin’s car and your mother is you.”
And no, those are not funny, not even in an absurd Monty Python way. They are just broken products of a random generator without some design limits. Compare them with these gems:
“-Your son wears second-hand clothes and will always be alone and you still use Windows Vista!” (to an elderly lady)
“-Your son admires pictures of your mother and makes me sick!” (to God Himself).
So i think that the fine gentlemen at Vile Monarch could of (just kidding) could have gone the extra mile to add at least a filter that would separate human from non-human verbs accordingly or understand genders. Furthermore, after only an hour or so, the game’s vocabulary (indeed the most important element), reveals that it’s actually paper-thin; the Insult Simulator needs a plethora, an abundance, a richness, a plentifulness, a cataclysm, a cornucopia, a barrage of available words. That wasn’t hard, was it?
However, The Insult Simulator costs 1.9 EUR. These are strange times and the definitions of cheap/expensive walk in a gray, sensitive area but i think we can all agree that this price tag is very, very low. Chances are you can buy the game even cheaper through sales or discounts (i unexpectedly bought the game for 0,90 EUR at an additional 40% discount because I owned Shadow Warrior). We, the consumers, vote with our money. We also reward and encourage developers with our money- it’s our power and we don’t use it so wisely. If we encourage a decent effort from a game with a smart idea, we show confidence and provide the means for it to become even better. The fine gentlemen at Vile Monarch are on to something. It’s not perfect but it can be polished and enrichened. So i say, buy this cheap silly game; it’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message.
And the message would go something like this: “Hey, Vile Monarch. It seems you had an amazing, fresh, wacky idea for an Insult Simulator. You kinda dropped the ball a bit, but that’s ok. Here’s 1.9 EUR, it’s a small amount of money and i can spare it. But i expect of you to iron out the kinks and return soon with another try. I want more characters, a much larger vocabulary and a more refined suitability filter for verbs so that sentences make more sense. I want a larger campaign (2 hours of gameplay is unacceptable), more replayability and a polished multiplayer mode where opponents can’t Alt+F4 to dodge a losing fight without repercussions. And don’t you dare overprice it then, you cross-eyed inbred muckspouts!”