Neighbours from Hell
Being a huge fan of all things comedy, I love a joke or two. Perhaps placing buckets of water on top of doors and gluing handsets down is too extreme for me, I prefer the verbal form of comedy so you won’t get a phone call from a distressed boy’s mother about his favourite clothes being wet. Neighbours from Hell is a port of the little known PC title of the same name by JoWood back in 2003, and despite dreams of a next-gen version of Zombies Ate my Neighbours, this is nothing of the sort.
We follow the story of Woody, who keeps himself to himself and loves peace and quiet. His neighbour is quite the opposite, a bully if you will, and Woody continuously finds rubbish from his bins strewn across his front lawn, the dog jumping the fence and his arsehole of a neighbour driving a dirty old bike up and down his road, causing his asthma to flare up. Poor old Woody. But rather than pack up his bags and sell his house to some other unsuspecting sole (which is exactly what I would do), our puny ‘hero’ decides to play dirty. His neighbour, Mr Rotweiler, is of the stocky type and would quite frankly knock our Woody on his arse should he ever dare to complain about the wrong-doings.
And this is where we come in. The premise of the game is to sneak around next door’s house and lay traps for him to fall into, raising Rotweiler’s anger level. Reaching a certain level moves you onto another location, and the best way to do this is to lay consecutive traps so ol’ stocky next door doesn’t have time to recover. Our neighbour keeps on his feet, so you have to be quick on your toes on examining items in rooms for potential naughtiness, and if you manage to come in contact with your enemy, you can either get slapped about a bit and lose a life or hide in or behind an object such as a clothes bin or wardrobe.
You are always faced with four rooms to set traps in, which is immediately where the problems start. The various areas (at home, on a cruise ship) are richly detailed yet so little can interacted with. Perhaps pictures should be primed to jump off the wall into the guys face or flowers to squirt water; the fact that you only ever have four rooms to play with means you never have to adapt to another environment. The furniture just changes round and the scenery changes theme- there’s no feeling that you are actually progressing.
Early on you only have to deal with your neighbour, but as you complete levels you also have to avoid his dog and his mother, who’ll bitch slap you just as much as her son. So you’ll have to plan your route carefully in advance, but seeing as each character has a set routine and walking pattern, you just have to hide and learn their paths.
Tricks are varied, in that you can replace birthday candles with firecrackers and sprinkle ample amounts of sneezing powder on flowers, but you’ll soon tire of the school boy humour, often hammering the buttons to try and skip the animations of your foe in agony, which defeats the object of the game. The jokes played are what the game is all about, yet they become tiresome, leaving you with not much else to go on. If spotted by Rotweiler or one of his cronies, you have two options; leg it or wait to get hammered. There’s no way of grabbing an iron and chucking it at him or ducking behind cupboard doors; the imagination used here was definitely short budgeted.
And…that’s about it. The Aardman-style graphics will pull a few people in (Aardman- Wallace and Gromit anyone? Chicken Run?), yet so much more could have been done. There’s no Tom and Jerry tomfoolery to be had, such as slamming cupboard doors as you run past to knock down your chased, aptly positioning an iron or similar household appliance above a door to drop down or leaving taps running to flood the floor and freezing the water to make the neighbours slip over upon entry. We could have literally had Tom and Jerry, Aardman style. Instead we have rather un-imaginative game whose novelty runs off the older you are, and that’s disappointing.
Four out of ten