Hugo Retro Mania doesn’t have anything to do with the recent, Oscar-winning Martin Scorsese film. It’s based, instead, on a Danish cartoon character from the early 1990s who was apparently the star of a series of children’s TV shows and video games popular in Denmark, Turkey, and Vietnam. The “Retro” in Hugo Retro Mania apparently refers to the way this iOS app brings back the gameplay of a series of games which neither I nor anyone I know has ever played.
Maybe it’s not fair to review this game as someone who wasn’t an avid reader of Świat przygód z Hugo as a child. Would someone be qualified to review Kingdom Hearts if they had no idea what a Donald Duck was? Maybe I’m also not qualified to review this game as someone who isn’t a small child, as that’s who it seems, at first glance, to be targeted to – it’s bright, inviting, and simple. Hugo, a gremlin creature with big bright eyes, green overalls, and a mullet, seems like he might be appealing to small children, especially if they didn’t have particularly high standards.
Then again, what kind of child has one of the $700 sexting devices required to play this game? I’ve never understood iOS games for children; an expensive, fragile iPhone or iPad doesn’t seem like something a small child should really be playing with, compared to a more resilient input device like an Xbox controller or even one of those cute ergonomic mice for children some companies put out.
The game doesn’t even seem like it’s made for children, though – it’s way too difficult. The two nearly-identical game modes consist of “Maze,” in which you run inexorably forward while moving left and right to avoid obstacles in the hope of surviving to the end of the level, and “Mine Run,” in which the possibility of success is removed and the game becomes a Sisyphean exercise perfect for teaching children about the inevitability of failure. My first attempt lasted under five seconds, as I was killed by a spider I couldn’t see (this, by the way, is a major problem – Hugo is positioned between the camera and the obstacles in such a way that your view for twenty feet in front of you is blocked off by Hugo’s mullet). If you make it to the end of a level (which you may not – it took me several tries to finish the very first maze), you’re presented with some ropes, a prostitute, and a cage full of other gremlins. You touch a rope, a boulder falls on Hugo, and then the prostitute scratches your iPhone. It’s almost Dadaist.
All of Hugo: Retro Mania is like this: a mish-mash of connected animations and headache-inducing shrieks. You die a lot, and Hugo sounds like Gilbert Gottfried voicing a drugged-out chimney sweep. Like many iOS games, there is nothing here which I would consider “fun.”
Then again, it’s difficult to critique this kind of game. It’s a dollar – when compared to the other stuff you can buy for a dollar (a candy bar, a couple of plastic army men, something from the McDonald’s value menu), it seems like you’re getting your money’s worth. It suffers when you compare it to something like Super Mario Land 3D, but at 99 cents, it’s not really competing with Super Mario Land 3D: it’s competing with a Snickers bar.
+ It’s 99 cents
+ May shut your child up during a short car ride
- It’s not any fun
- Barely qualifies as a game
- Prostitute/witch lady has visibly erect nipples, so it’s not really appropriate for children
It’s not the worst game I’ve ever played, but it’s not at all fun or interesting. Save your 99 cents for a cow-byproduct sandwich. Avoid it!
Hugo Retro mania was released on February 22nd, 2012 for iOS devices.