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Review: Totemball

The first game to work with just the Vision Camera was released two weeks ago, and I have battled away with the game since then. I went through a lot. For the first time in my videogame history I actually had sweat running from my brow. But that wasn’t because the game is a tough one…

The Ptask?

The game sees you controlling Pterry the Pturtel (silent ‘P’’s?), and it is your mission to collect “Totems” that are scattered across the map. Each Totem adds an extra musical instrument to the background music, and eventually you create a relatively decent noise. You also need several Totems to open up doors also dotted around the map. This all sounds very simple, and it would be were it not for the rather challenging control system.

Controlling the Pturtel

You have to aim the camera so that you can put each of your hands at either side of the screen. You control Pterry by moving your hands up and down the sidebars. To move forward, raise both hands up. To move backwards, move both hands down. To move to the right, raise your left hand up, and your right hand down. To move left, raise your right hand up and your left hand down. To remain still, centre both your hands. I make this sound rather complicated; getting your hands co-ordinated like that sounds tough right? Well, actually, yeah, it is hard. This is because you can never find the right balance. It’s nigh on impossible to turn AND move. Then if you need to get to a door but have to turn, you will soon discover that it’s impossible to line it up. 8 times out of 10 you will overshoot it, because Pterry spins quicker than anticipated. It gets really frustrating really quickly. This also applies to objects, such as the Totems you need. Getting them is too hard and frustrating. It’s needlessly hard, because the principle is so simple.


You can see the sliders on the left and right of the screen, and Totems on Pterry in the middle

Where’s the fun?

Good question. I struggled to get any enjoyment out of this whatsoever. You will frequently over-run and thus drown in the water that you thought you would miss. The graphics don’t offer much, so it’s not all that great to look at. The music is alright, but that’s not enough to hold me to an otherwise boring game. Multiplayer? No, that’s just as frustrating, because your partner acts as the other arm, so if they do something wrong, you get wound up quickly because it just isn’t enjoyable. There’s a fun-for-a-minute pinball section, that sees you move your arms in order to move the flippers. An achievement of “Get 1,000,000 points in Pinball mode” sounds really hard, but I got it into the second minute of playing. It’s not exciting, it’s not interesting and it’s not worth more than two minutes of your time. After playing through the single player for three minutes, you realise you just aren’t strong enough to keep your arms that elevated, as well as moving them. You will ache. You can pick up little bed icons that give you 8 seconds to rest. I paused for more than a minute.


The visuals, as you can see, really aren’t awe-inspiring

Worth the money?

Well, it’s free, so it won’t cost you anything. But I really wouldn’t bother wasting bandwidth on downloading it, and your time playing it. I struggle to think of one thing that is positive about the gameplay; it really is that poor. It does make you sweat, because you get so angry with it. I’ve played my fair share of poor games, but never have I played something that requires more interaction with so little reward. I had the pleasure of playing Eyetoy on the PS2, and they had great mini-games that were fun to play on your own or with a couple of mates. Totemball offers none of that, and is simply a waste of anyone’s Hard Drive space. It’s a shame, because I specifically bought the camera to play the game, since I’d saved some money by not having to fork out for a compatible game. Looks like I’ll be waiting until Rainbow Six Vegas before I use the camera for any decent purpose. This game makes you look stupid without rewarding you in any way, and really isn’t worth the hassle.

Final score- 2 out of 10 (How do we rate games?)

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12 comments on 'Review: Totemball'

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Combine this and the wii, and videogames will get rid of fat kids.

Only if they have fat arms with this game. You don’t need to move anything else.

If that had fat arms, would be able to play this, in order to get skinny though?

And in English please? :P

If the kid had fat arms, could they play this? Or would the flab just make the motion sensor go all wrong?

Well you only need your hands, so yeah they could play it. Just the strain on your arms is ridiculous, to the point of unbearable for any time over ten minutes. You fat then Trig? ;)

I’m phat, not fat.

Comment by Number13 on 2006-10-22 23:51:22 | Reply

What I find slightly amusing is that PTerry is what a lot of people call Terry Pratchett because he had a character called PTeppic in a book (Pyramids) and someone applied it to him and it stuck.

I wonder if he’ll sue ;)

Comment by J1980 on 2006-10-23 00:27:07 | Reply

Im glad this game was free - its fun I guess in some weird way, but after awhile repetitive

Comment by WhetWurm on 2006-10-23 01:06:47 | Reply

I found that if you have a strong light in front of you that illuminates your hands while you are in a darkish room, it helps considerably. I have a can light over my TV so I turn that on and the controls get MUCH better. I think this a more of a problem with the webcam than the game. Maybe not. How’d the EyeToy work? Anyway, free is free and I only bought the camera to put my face in games and video chat… so I can’t complain at all.

Comment by Hoffer on 2006-10-23 04:48:54 | Reply

I have the camera. I think I played this game for 15 minutes. It is awful. I was so annoyed by the controls. I didn’t mind my arms getting tired. I just couldn’t get the stupid ball to roll where I wanted it to. I wouldn’t mind playing this game with the two analog sticks on the main controller.

Comment by Rusty on 2006-10-23 06:34:59 | Reply

The game keeps pausing itself.

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