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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: October 28, 2003
In this age of copycat releases, sometimes it is a refreshing change to see a new title that attempts to break new ground. To do so involves more risks than just issuing yet another “me-too” sequel, and sometimes these creative attempts do not exactly hit their mark, but you sure appreciate the originality of the developers. Such is the case with Neighbors from Hell, the new recreational offering from JoWooD and Encore. Although it plays a bit like the 1980′s computer game Spy vs. Spy, Neighbors from Hell offers a totally new computer play experience. What with the current mania concerning reality television shows, this new release provides a hysterical interactive parody of this popular “art” form.
You play the role of Woody, a crafty practical joker who chooses his high-strung and repulsive neighbor as his target. The setting is a reality television show called Neighbors from Hell, and your objective is naturally to maximize your ratings to keep the show on the air, open up new seasons, and win the coveted Golden Neighbor trophy. Utilizing anything and everything, your successful traps generate applause and approval from the audience and higher ratings needed to complete missions (you receive a rating of “failed,” “success,” or “brilliant!”). Never before has irritating another human being proven to be so tangibly rewarding.
Your tricks are truly diabolical. Among the hundreds of choices, you may incinerate eggs in your neighbor’s microwave oven, leave objects on the floor to cause him to slip and fall, plug up his toilet with excess toilet paper, replace his candy balls with bath beads, explode a birthday cake, and sprinkle laxatives in his beer. Your crafty techniques include holding up your neighbor, luring your neighbor away, or removing or destroying objects, all with the intent of maximizing the opportune moment. There is a wide enough range of pranks and techniques to implement them that your impish tricks never get boring or repetitive. You try to instigate as many gags as possible, optionally within a specified time limit, undertaking increasingly complex and hilarious pranks against your poor unsuspecting neighbor. Since setting up a series of pranks in a row garners the highest applause, you need to plan ahead carefully.
The locale of Neighbors from Hell focuses on your neighbor’s house. The house is composed of a few floors with several rooms interconnected by doors, and from a side view you get to see clearly what he is doing and even thinking. You also can view the furnishings in each room and any objects within them. There turns out to be a ton of items you can pick up and use in your capers, and you just have to figure out what to use where and when. The farther you progress, the more rooms are available. Although limited to one physical setting, there is more than enough within the different chambers of the highly interactive environment to keep you entertained, and you never feel overly confined or restricted.
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