As an adult, there are few things that truly worry you, but one of them is having terrible neighbours. Your neighbour can be your best friend, and someone you can depend on. Or they can be the bane of your life and cause you nothing but worry and misery. In my latest review title, which category do you think our neighbour sits in? You’d be absolutely right, he’s the latter, the review title probably gave that away, Neighbours Back From Hell is a tale all about our protagonist Woody, and his relationship with his neighbour Mr Rottweiler. This is a remaster of the 2003 puzzle game Neighbours From Hell, and follows the first 2 seasons escapades, and 2 new ones full of crazy pranks, and cruel tricks.
Developed by MIG and published by HandyGames this Remastered title gives its original a fresh lick of paint, and builds on from the shenanigans that Woody created all those years ago. The game’s premise is straightforward, follow Mr Rottweiler around his house, and on his holidays. Sabotage the activities he’s undertaking and watch him blow his top! Why go to all this effort, you may think? Woody has had enough of his disgusting neighbour, and the only way that he can get back at him is to get a TV crew in to record all the action as you set up traps and pranks for the entire world to see.
Each season is set in a specific location; Mr Rottweilers House, a cruise ship, China, Mexico and India. Each of these areas has set sections that you can explore, and certain items that you can pick up and interact with. Mr Rottweiler follows a predictable route, and will use objects in a set order, so it’s easy for you to wander around avoiding his attentions, and setting up your pranks. So, what happens if he catches you in the act? He kicks your ass, that’s what! You are given 3 lives to complete your mischief. If he catches you not once, not twice, but thrice, then it’s game over. Each stage has a set amount of pranks that you can set up, if you want the maximum score, then aim to place them all at once, and watch the steam fly from his ears, as his patience is tested, and he screams with rage. You can progress by hitting a minimum prank level, but where is the fun in missing out on getting your revenge.
The gaming concept comprises lots of short stages that have a repetitive nature. Tricks and pranks are repeated over several levels, and this can make it quite tiresome if you play similar stages one after another. The challenge is also reduced vastly once you know exactly what needs to be done. If you play this in short bursts, this will alleviate this problem, but if you are like me, and get yourself set to play a game during a long session, then be prepared to feel like its groundhog day. The developers have mixed things up and increased the difficulty by adding a guard pet to alert your neighbour when you disturb them. This adds a random path that he will now take, and will force you to hide, and work quickly to set your traps.
This is one of the most fun games that I have played in a while, even if the pranks were childish, and reminded me of Jeremy Beadle’s Beadle’s about. Sneaking around different locations, searching for ways to get one over on your hideous neighbour made me laugh out loud. Though you will see the same tricks and traps repeatedly, they will still keep you amused, even if the puzzle element is somewhat lacking. This is more a title about common sense, and piecing together items, than it is solving puzzles. A keen eye for the path that Mr Rottweiler takes, and a bit of trial and error will be enough to see you through each stage. Don’t come into this thinking you will have much of a challenge, because other than the latter levels, you should breeze through the other trials.
The action takes place on a 2D stage. The colourful, cartoon imagery reminded me of the comic books that I read as a child, and the over the top reactions, and dramatic results of the pranks have a pantomime feel to it. Though Mr Rottweiler is disgusting to look at, Woody isn’t much better with his smug face that slowly chips away at your resolve, and makes you want to punch him by the end of your playthrough (I swear I got him caught several times just to see him getting punched repeatedly). The levels are well designed, and with the free movement of the camera, and the option to focus on your pranks, you felt in control of how you wanted to plan your next trick. I liked how the game would cut to each of the pranks playing out. The faux camera image added to the TV show theme and was reminiscent of an early 90s candid camera programmes. There were a few issues with the cutscenes, but none of them ruined the action, they simply took the polish off for me. Relying heavily on its original gameplay, this would never be much more than a polished last gen game, but this mattered not. This is a game that is about the mischief and the laughs, and not so much the presentation.
Fake audience noise, and in your face sound effects, forms the backbone of this title. I expected to hear some cheesy, almost hotel lobby type music supporting the action, instead it lands heavily on the shoulders of the loud, and at times annoying sounds made by the leading characters. Their noises grated on me after a while, and the lack of variety got under my skin. I found myself muttering like a madman, “Will you just shut up!” I’m not sure this was what the developers were aiming for, but this is the reaction they got out of me. Perhaps you won’t feel the same, and maybe playing it in short bursts would alleviate this problem. The sounds do work well, and the slapstick style adds a layer of tried and tested comedy.
The controls are an area that I feel could have been worked on. Little to no explanation is given to tell you how to select items, and what you have to do. Your first couple of missions will be trial and error, but once you understand what’s needed, it is straightforward. My main issue lies around the button response. At times it lagged considerably, making it difficult to set up traps. Also, if you move too quickly, Woody will stop what he’s doing, meaning that all your hard work is undone. None of these ruins the experience, you just have to learn to live with them, and you soon get used to its little quirks.
What I believe this title is lacking is a high replay value. This could have easily been overcome if an NG+ mode was introduced to the mix. This would have allowed you to replay each stage without a distinct Deja Vu feeling. There is no advantage to playing out all the pranks on each stage, other than for your own amusement. If there was a leaderboard for your score, or a difficulty scale, then this would have made the game much more challenging and would have given you more reason to return. However, you will need to complete every stage if you want to unlock the full achievement list, so this is a target for would be completionists.
Remastered games are two a penny at the moment. People bemoan the lack of originality, but I think there is a place for this market to exist. Not only does it fuel that demand for nostalgic gaming, but it also allows us to relive our youth without the requirement of setting up our older consoles. This is a great example of a casual title that needs to be played in short bursts. It will have you laughing out loud, while you work out how to get your revenge with the next object you find. Do I recommend that you play this? Of course I do. Can you help Woody to prank his neighbour? Grab some harmless household items and have some fun.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Neighbours Back From Hell Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 5/10
User Review( votes)
Why put up with a horrendous neighbour, when you can prank him unmercifully to get your revenge. Help Woody to beat the bully in this puzzle adventure.
- A well made remaster that will have you laughing throughout.
- A simple gaming concept.
- It’s fun to play in short bursts.
- An easy achievement list.
- The controls could be more responsive.
- No NG+ mode, this reduces replay value.
- The sound effects can be annoying.