Review – Landit Bandit
Developer: The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Publisher: The Bearded Ladies Consulting
Release Date: July 13th 2010/June 23rd 2010
Price: $9.99 | £9.99 | €12.99
Players: 1-2 offline, co-op and competitive
Rating: PEGI 12 (no ESRB rating yet)
What I liked:
- Pop-in co-op multiplayer
- Diverse gameplay mechanics
- Sense of humor (or humour)
What I disliked:
- Some monotony within missions
- It’s a bit short
As the trailer will tell you, the “semicasual-retro-chopper-adventure” genre has arrived on the PSN in the form of The Bearded Ladies’s Landit Bandit. The game begins with Lander, a disgruntled art thief, landing on a desert island. On the island, he meets Marley, a red-bearded Rastafarian who agrees to help Lander get back to the big city. Lander was carrying with him a suitcase filled with Leonardi DaVinci’s sketches. Using the sketches as his guide, Marley builds what is referred to as a Helivinci, which is essentially a peddle-powered helicopter. Together the two run through tutorials, meet friends and enemies, and travel to different islands to complete various missions.
I was pleasantly surprised by the funny storyline and dialogue, which is emphasized by nonsensical gibberish voice acting. The art style is great from the get-go. The comics that precede each island’s mission set are well drawn and fit the game’s fun-and-funny feel. The bulk of the game takes place in 3D worlds whose graphics are just shy of impressive. They’re not the best rendered objects you’ve seen, but for this title, they work. Most of the music throughout the game has bongo-beating, tribal island undertones which are simple but effective. It’s more background music than anything, but keeps the game moving nonetheless.
The game is split up into six different islands, each with its own number of missions. The first few missions have a heavy Crazy Taxi feel: Relocate this many customers in this amount of time. The gameplay isn’t quite as frantic as Crazy Taxi, which isn’t a bad thing. It took me a few missions and a handful of crashes to acclimate to the speed of the game. Your Helivinci has a healthbar, which is nice because most ‘lander’ games will simply kill you if you approach the ground too quickly, with no grey area between landing and crashing. If you come in for a rough landing, your health bar decreases. If you pick up a repair power-up or perform an especially good feat (fast delivery, great swing, etc.), your health bar increases. This cushion allows the game to be played more loosely, attributing to its fun-factor and casual enjoyment.
The missions, for the most part, are diverse. While the taxiing aspect of the game is recurring through most of the missions, there are more than a few variations to spice the gameplay up. You’re quickly introduced to your first ‘wingman’, an island babe who attracts male customers to your helicopter when you press the ‘O’ button. Each successive wingman provides you with a new ability for your vehicle. Some of these abilities alter gameplay quite a bit, leading to new ways to explore the islands and complete tasks. Unfortunately, the wingmen are a set part of the storyline, meaning every time you play mission B-3, for example, you’re going to have the same two predetermined wingmen at your side.
Pop-in co-op. It’s done right. At any time a second player can turn on a controller and join the single-player campaign. The screen splits vertically, which is nice considering you’re probably most concerned with the up/down movement of your Helivinci. The missions are automatically altered in order to accommodate a second player (more people to taxi, more humans to knock off of ice floes, etc.) The competitive mode consists of six different types of duels; one for each island. The duels range from a king of the hill-type art stealing duel to a reverse CTF-type “plant the cannibal” duel.
Overall, the variety of “wingmen” and gameplay mechanics put to work here is impressive. The levels within which you employ them cater to them perfectly. There’s a fair amount of stuff to find and a number of different strategies to finishing each objective, making the game replayable… to a point. The difficulty settings only determine how quickly you have to move in order to receive a gold or silver medal for a given mission. Otherwise, the game is the same each time you replay it. And while 20 missions sounds like a lot, I’ve been through the game three and a half times today: once in co-op, once on easy, and once on medium. I’m halfway through hard, the only trophy I have yet to earn. The ability to mix and match wingmen would be nice, and a slightly polished , straight up dog fight competitive mode would fit well with the bevy of duel modes present. It’s a creative, genre-defining title that’s refreshing on the PSN. Unfortunately, it just runs out of fuel a little too quickly.