Somehow, I managed to miss the Hugo ‘phenomenon’ back in the early ‘90s, when the Gallic troll graced a TV show in pixellated form. Perhaps I was too busy wearing flannel shirts and carving ‘Nirvana’ into school desks.
Colleagues have since explained that the Hugo game involved ringing in to a Saturday morning children's show and using your new-fangled keypad telephone to direct the sprite's movements on TV, which was probably as much fun as it sounds.
Now Hugo has returned to besiege our homes once again in a simplistic, high score-chasing survivathon that you’d need some seriously rose-tinted spectacles to enjoy.Minecraftless
Taking its design cues from the original TV incarnation, Hugo Retro Mania's gameplay centres on collecting diamonds and avoiding traps.
Viewed from behind, Hugo runs at full pelt into an endless mining tunnel and you can only make him step right and left, and jump when necessary. The onscreen icons are large and responsive, which is handy because the game is ridiculously difficult.
The aim is to collect as much treasure (diamonds and gold) as possible without colliding into dynamite, falling into holes, being grabbed by spiders, getting attacked by witches, or being swiped by mine carts.
Yes, it’s moderately entertaining to see how long you can survive, but the sheer number of ways to die means that even those with lightning reflexes will often slide past one obstacle straight into the path of another.
On Easy, Hugo Retro Mania is simply frustrating. On Hard, it’s laughably difficult, with some games lasting mere seconds.
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The big problem is that the collision detection is unforgiving, with - what should be - exciting near-death experiences proving fatal almost every time. Having three lives does extend the experience slightly, but they disappear in no time.
It doesn’t help that Hugo is such a charmless creature: one who, as well as obstructing your view of any traps directly in front of him, thinks its a good idea to berate you after each death.
Tapping on the screen, he makes sarcastic quips like, “Hello, is anyone there?”. Only your phone's Gorilla Glass will keep you from punching a hole in the screen to get at him.
Dedicated retro fans may find some limited nostalgia here, but with only one level, limited graphics, and an irksome lead character, Hugo is one gaming memory that probably should have stayed repressed.