Up until this point I've been fairly stringent on reviewing only, y'know, 'proper' browser games. Games that are more interested in game play than, say, comedy... particularly ribald comedy.
No more. I will wear these shackles NO MORE! And so, today, we review something that, despite its insensitivity to those with STDs, has made the front page of Newgrounds: Don't Catch The Herp!
The, uh, 'story' of Don't Catch The Herp is half the fun, so I won't spoil what happens, but I can, at least, state the objective: get the hell away from someone who has herpes. Politically correct? No. Funny? I don't think the concept is that hilarious, but the execution is pretty damn clever.
Sitting behind this terrifying drapery is an actual game, and it's similar to, oh, WarioWare in its execution: you need to plow your way through a series of mini-games, all different genres sewn together to make a bizarre whole. Expect a high-speed car chase, a dash through a night club, button mashing that should take you back a few years, and even a Frogger-esque escape through oncoming vehicles. All this is capped off by a trial with multiple possible endings.
Don't Catch The Herpes! strikes me as more of an interactive Flash movie than a game. You have things to accomplish, yes, but the experience is neither lengthy nor difficult enough to stand as a tried-and-true browser game. And don't think for a second that this statement is meant to put the accomplishment down, 'cause I think Don't Catch The Herp! is lots of fun.
Since Don't Catch The Herp! hops between control schemes, how you move your character varies from scenario to scenario. Overall, however, the arrow keys will move you from place to place, and the Space bar acts as an escape mechanism. (Be careful not to break your keyboard.)
The quality of the controls also varies between mini games. It's quite smooth when driving, for example, but the harsh hit detection in the Frogger game left a bad taste in my mouth when it came to using the controls. The controls are never bad enough that the game is impossible, however.
Don't Catch The Herp starts off as a stickman extravaganza gone bad. It's not attractive - and understandably so, since the herpes-bearer looks horrifying:
That said the game gets progressively more impressive as you move on to other sections, and I personally think the graphics during the car chase scene are worthy of an SNES game.
Overall? Mish-mash. Some good, some bad, all suitable.
Don't Catch The Herp! pays a surprising amount of attention to its sound. Where the creators could simply have tossed in some generic horror music and called it a day, they actually composed a few short songs WITH LYRICS to grace the end of the game, and everything leading up to that dramatic finale suits the game quite well. There's also some decent voice work, which, while not professional-level, is just fine for the subject. Big thumbs up on the sound.
Piece of cake. Only the Frogger scenario was at all difficult, and even then it was more frustrating than outright hard. Again, as much a movie you're meant to watch to its conclusion as a browser game. I especially liked that you could restart the final sequence after beating Don't Catch The Herp! rather than going all the way back to the beginning to try for a different ending, as your life hinges on your final decisions.
Don't catch The Herp! is a stupid-yet-terribly-clever piece of Flash that neatly encapsulates Internet humour. Don't play this one if you're easily offended... but jump all over it if you frequent, say, Reddit.
PLAY DON'T CATCH THE HERP!