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Brendan
14 Jan, 2005

Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events Review

PS2 Review | How unfortunate.
Credit where credit is due. Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events tries to warn you of the horrors ahead. It literally tells you "do not play this game" when you begin a new save file, for the events that lie ahead are far too depressing and unfortunate for even the most resilient of people. For this, the developers really should be commended - how many games openly tell you they are sub-par? However, this is thanks to copying the story of the books/movie that the game is based on, rather than blatant honesty. Oh well.

Will somebody please think of the children!?

Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events is no doubt an attempt to cash in on the movie of the same name which is based off a series of books, that, you guessed it, also carry the same name. Three young children, heirs to the wealthy Baudelaire family fortune, have been, rather unfortunately, orphaned. First is the eldest daughter, Violet, who is quite the inventor. Next is Klaus, who doesn't have any particular interesting attributes for most of the game other than being male. Finally there is baby Sunny, whose teeth can be more accurately described as a chainsaw capable of cutting through steel pipes.

An unfortunate event is about to occur. Let’s see if we can manage to beat that joke into the ground by the end of the review…

An unfortunate event is about to occur. Let’s see if we can manage to beat that joke into the ground by the end of the review…
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However, these children are much too young to claim the fortune, and are sent off to live with quirky old Count Olaf - a poor excuse of an actor with failed dreams of grandeur. He has a rather dastardly plan to 'accidentally' kill all three orphans and take the fortune as his own. After attempting to please Count Olaf, the orphans quickly realise what he is up to and set out to escape. Naturally, more unfortunate events follow.

How Unfortunate

Unfortunate Events is, staggeringly, a movie license that has been converted into a fairly simple 3D platforming affair. All three orphans can be used in the game - you can switch between Violet and Klaus whenever you want, and Sunny is reserved for occasional 2D platforming sections, when the elder siblings cannot physically fit in a gap. The whole game is definitely aimed at the younger child demographic, as the depth of the game consists of collecting various items and pulling the occasional switch. The items fall in to one of two categories; jigsaw puzzle pieces, which are used to unlock secrets, and items used for Violet's inventions.

These inventions play a huge part in the game. To begin with, the orphans are basically limited to running and jumping (or even just walking in the case of Sunny). As the game progresses, Violet uses her noggin' to come up with some fairly contrived inventions. Klaus gets the brilliant bopper, capable of knocking down most enemies with a single hit. Violet on the other hand gets The Fruit Flinger, a projectile device capable of, erm, flinging fruit over a distance. Sunny gets a fire extinguisher tied to her back to allow her to jump. It's a fairly good balance, with all three characters requiring equal use - occasionally in tandem - in order to progress. The controls for the players are also more than reasonable, with a few exceptions.

Unfortunately (pun not intended), the level design is incredibly weak. The (very few) levels in the game consist of a central hub with a few extra rooms. There are one or two exceptions to this (one of the later levels which involves snake catching has been thought well), but the vast majority of items to collect are placed right in your face - and it doesn’t bode well when this is what most of the game is made up of. Even worse is that there isn't a whole lot of opposition trying to stop you from getting it.

That's right - not only are most of the items obviously placed, there are basically no enemies for the first half of the game, and very few in the second. The enemies are surprisingly varied considering how few there are - rats, crabs, wasps, and several varieties of Count Olaf's henchmen. They are all amazingly weak - women who puff clouds of air and perfume at you and men who throw barrels, among other things, are cliché and boring. Further more, they usually take a single hit before they curl up and vanish – or take several hits in the case of a 'boss'. Then there's the logic flaw of how exactly a man conspiring to commit a triple homicide in order to gain a fortune can afford to hire henchmen, but that's neither here nor there.

To the game's credit, the main levels are broken up fairly well by various other sideshows. Sunny's 2D levels provide a nice little diversion. In fact, they are probably more interesting than the rest of the game, and should have happened more often. There are several other one off diversions, but the most noteworthy is a rather long light-gun style sequence - except without the light gun, and peppermints rather than bullets. It's about as good as it sounds.

Sketchy

The storyline of the game is told in a black and white sketchbook, with a narrator filling in all the gory details. It's a nice effect that captures the essence of the books, but it is overshadowed by a small, petty problem. The captioning for the narrator is in white text - over the predominately white background. Needless to say it is incredibly hard to read. How such an obvious problem like this slipped through is unfathomable.

The in game visuals are nothing special, but hardly visual terrorism either. The dreary, drab look of the movie/books that the game is trying to emulate comes off quite well. Characters are modelled reasonably well, although the animation can be really horrible at times. Standard platforming fare, basically.

Of course, as you would expect from standard platforming fair, the camera isn't particularly good. Get near a wall, and the camera automatically positions itself in the most useless position possible. Without fail. Try to go into first person mode, and wait several weeks before it zooms in. Face a boss, and the camera will automatically lock onto them, making it rather difficult to chase down health pick-ups or navigate terrain obstacles.

A boss! HIDE! SHE WILL ATTACK YOU WITH PERFUME AND DANCING SKILLS! ARGH!

A boss! HIDE! SHE WILL ATTACK YOU WITH PERFUME AND DANCING SKILLS! ARGH!
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Like A Glove

All the actors from the movie have lent their vocal talents to the game, creating a rather disappointing display. Jim Carrey can barely be recognised as Count Olaf, and is very bland throughout - hardly the super villain he is trying to be. The orphans are good, without being brilliant. Although, how Klaus and Violet can translate Sunny's gurgling is rather odd. The sound effects are really average, with generic punching noise #49 accompanying Klaus' brilliant bopper throughout, and an unremarkable squishing sound coming hand in hand with Violet's fruit flinger. The score is quite acceptable though, with a perilous children's film vibe.

More like a mini-series

Perhaps mercifully, Unfortunate Events is an incredibly brief affair - competent players will see everything the game has to offer in four to six hours. There are unlockables, but they don't take any real effort to actually obtain. In fairness though, the game is aimed at younger players, so it will probably occupy them for a bit longer - even if they would spend the whole time wishing they were playing Jak 3.

Zzzz

Whilst the game does does implement many good features, and capture the feel of the movie/books quite well, Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events is just flat out boring to play. At no stage is the gamer challenged, resulting in monotonous levels and an incredibly brief game. Players under 10 years of age who love Lemony Snicket's stories are the only people who might find this entertaining. But, with far better alternatives like Jak 3, Ratchet & Clank 3 and Sly 2 on the market, even the biggest Lemony Snicket fan would have trouble justifying this.
The Score
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is an incredibly simple platformer that most people will find entirely too basic and boring. Young fans of the books/film might get something else out of this game, but there is far better out there.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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12 Comments
9 years ago
how did you go from an average of around 5 to an overall score of 0.5?

either way, it seems i'm glad i didn't win this in the xmas giveaway...
9 years ago
Well I got this game on PC and Im half way through it and I must say far it hasnt been to bad! In gameplay terms it reminds me alot of Harry Potter. But I spose its Opinion.

And I dont know how you worked out 0.5 icon_razz.gif
9 years ago
I was wondering the same thing as you two icon_razz.gif
Someone really needs to rethink that score. Games that get 0.5 should have no redeeming qualities at all.
9 years ago
i'm sure its a typo, but just thought i'd point it out
9 years ago
I thought the score was a relectment of Crusen's judgement, but eh, I can't correct it in validaiton, as I can't judge a score just like that >.<
9 years ago
Quinsisdos wrote
I thought the score was a relectment of Crusen's judgement
icon_confused.gif
Try as I might, I just can't figure out what the hell you meant there by "relectment". icon_lol.gif
But yeah, it should probably be left to the original reviewer to change the score...

ObsoletE: Yeah, I guess it could be a typo, maybe accidentally hit the full stop and the script added the zero... but I'm not sure how the score submission system works, so I can't really say icon_kero.gif
9 years ago
0.5 is the default score... im sure the score was just not changed..
9 years ago
*sigh*...why is this game in my collection...damn you little brother.
9 years ago
Hyperworm wrote
Quinsisdos wrote
I thought the score was a relectment of Crusen's judgement
icon_confused.gif
Try as I might, I just can't figure out what the hell you meant there by "relectment". icon_lol.gif
But yeah, it should probably be left to the original reviewer to change the score...

ObsoletE: Yeah, I guess it could be a typo, maybe accidentally hit the full stop and the script added the zero... but I'm not sure how the score submission system works, so I can't really say icon_kero.gif
I meant reflectment, but I was only typing with one hand and not paying attention to what I was typing icon_razz.gif
9 years ago
*smacks head*

Sorry, my bad - forgot to change the default score.

It's 5, by the way.
9 years ago
If it's as bad as you say, give it a 2 or something. 5 to me is an average game, and while I haven't personally played it, nothing in that review says to me it's anywhere near average icon_smile.gif
9 years ago
But it's far better than a two.

You have to take into account the target demographic. Late teens/early twenties like me were never supposed to get anything out of the game - this is definitely for the under 10s, and it doesn't try to hide it.

The basic make up of the game is actually quite good (find parts, build inventions, goto the next level), but the basic levels - again targeting the kids - are the biggest reason it falls down. Most of the 'bonus' levels that don't follow the standard format are also quite good. In fact, if the whole game was done in the 2D standard the sublevels were, it could have been very interesting.

The review is probably more negative than it should be (was going to go for a 4 overall, but eh), too. Definitely not the worst platformer I've ever played, but really, it shouldn't even be considered when taking into account what else is out there.

And it's far better than that garbage known as GT-R 400, which I scored a 2.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Adrenium Games
Developer:
  14º East
Players:
  1

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