Video Game Rentals Delivered

Eets: Chowdown (XBLA)

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-05-12 00:27:05

Eets: Chowdown (XBLA) - Rank C

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Date: 4/25/07

Another version also available on PC (Rank B)

Eets: Chowdown is a puzzle game in the vein of Lemmings. You're tasked with guiding the cutesy protagonist, "Eets", from his starting location to a golden jigsaw piece (I have no idea - just accept that he needs gold-encrusted puzzle pieces). You have no direct control of the little bugger; instead, you place objects in his path that affect his progress. Then you hit the start trigger to get him moving, and activate those objects as necessary.

Take a look at that screenshot above. You hit B to activate the Prankster Whale (again, just accept it) which belches explosives through its blowhole that destroy a barricade on the left. With the launch trajectory clear, you can use the Prankster Whale on the left (X) to heave Eets up to the platform where the jigsaw piece awaits.

That's an extremely simple level from the demo. There are 119 more in the full game that are far more involving, with complex mechanics. For example, you can shoot Eets with Radioactive Ginseng (one more time, just accept it) which angers him, causing Eets to leap furiously whenever he reaches the edge of a platform. There are marshmallow bits that conversely cause Eets to become timid and turn around at precipices. There are pigs that fart out smaller pigs that explode, precarious mine carts to ride, trampolines with eyeballs, chococlouds that spew chocolate chips, and other such whimsical route altering "tools" and environmental features to manipulate.

The indie gaming community has latched onto this game with the fervor of acolytes embracing a new religion. They fall over each other trying to lavish Eets with increasingly grandiose praise. It isn't quite that good. Don't get me wrong, Eets is imaginative and interesting, with versatile tools and multiple solutions to the puzzles. However, as you work your way through the multitude of stages, distinct patterns of puzzle solving emerge and it becomes somewhat repetitive. Worse, the physics model can be frustratingly unforgiving. You might have a puzzle solved on a conceptual level, but say, because you placed a Prankster Whale at just the wrong angle, Eets might not quite launch high or far enough to reach the intended target.

Eets: Chowdown also comes with a minigame called "Marsho Madness", but it's stupid - just ignore it. It's a monotonous "punch in the correct button sequence to blast enemies" diversion. You'd be better off playing The Typing of the Dead.

My grade for this game is fairly harsh considering its many strengths. Eets does have stylish visuals and charming animation. It features eye-popping color palettes and grin-inducing zany designs everywhere you look. Eets himself is quirkily likeable, especially as he responds emotively to the ridiculous machinations you place in his path. The puzzles are complex and satisfying when you solve them, or you can ask for hints if you're inextricably stumped. I suggest you skip the XBLA version and download the PC original instead, which features vastly greater flexibility via a level editor. It's even more challenging to create good puzzles, than to simply solve them.

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