Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl Review—Maybe Yes, Maybe No
Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is based on a graphic novel, Scarygirl, by Nathan Jurevicius. I am not familiar with the graphic novel, so I can’t share any connections between it and the Mini. Actually, this Mini first appeared as a Flash game a few years ago. Unfortunately, the game went offline and has been replaced by a news snippet about its Minis version that points the reader to the game’s page at TikGames’ website. I am not certain if Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is a direct port of the Flash game since there’s no way to confirm.
This project by TikGames is rather new for them, albeit weird. They are known for well-made clones (very well made, I’ll say) like Rocks N’ Rockets, Panda Craze and Shapo. This time, TikGames is in with an original title, which is radically different in spirit compared to its previous endeavours. Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is a little niche title, leaning more on being fanservice than gaining new fans.
The graphics on the PSP are, to put it bluntly, hideous. They are stretched, muddy and pixelated. Given the phenomenal artwork and vibrant color scheme of the source material, it’s a shame it does not translate well. I don’t know what is wrong with the game’s graphics, but they do give me a headache. The way the background “moves” against the moving Scarygirl is nauseating.
You control Scarygirl, a zombie/octopus/pirate-looking girl in search of Dr. Maybee to help her with the mysterious man of her dreams (literally). So, you begin by jumping inside your room collecting fish. The various fish in this game are important. The blue fish in this game provide rudimentary healing; the huge pink fish give a healthy boost. You can also collect jewels floating around everywhere and break eggs that may or may not contain fish or jewels.
The controls are what you expect from an action-platformer: D-pad for movement (analog nub can be used, too), X/O for jumping and Triangle/Square for spinning attack. The controls do change, but not radically, depending on what level you are on. The second proper level (I didn’t count the room level as a proper level) is situated underwater, so the controls are suited for what is needed in that level. And, the game offers helpful tips, too. You are not going to be running blindly.
Beyond the controls, though, the gameplay of Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is immensely bogged down by its atrocious game design lacking visual cues. You don’t know which elements are harmful, which platform is truly a platform to stand on and which platform is simply a background. You can jump and hang onto ledges, but this doesn’t work on all platforms. There’s no consistency whatsoever. There are no visual cues to let you realize which is which. Though you can learn things naturally, I have doubts that those players who are looking for a solid platformer would be equipped with the patience needed to enjoy this game.
The soundtrack is awesome, with an atmospheric and eerie sound that complements the art. It’s one of the few good points of this game. The art design is really wonderful, but as mentioned, it’s ugly to look at on the screen. The level design is also commendable because you don’t have to sprint in one straight direction. You go spiraling over levels looking for things needed to complete the level, like cogs or keys. There are also twists and turns in how you control Scarygirl, so it doesn’t get boring. The boss battles are also good. Still, it’s difficult to arrive at that stage when checkpoints are few and far between. Controlling Scarygirl is a pain, too, not as painful as in Ninjamurai, but the experience is further worsened by the game design mishaps.
This title should be bought by the OC-completionists out there. The quantity of the collectibles is far too many, running around the hundreds except for the giant jewels. The locations of these collectibles are a challenge to reach, and even if you reach them, you must survive both getting them and going back to your main objective.
Dr. Maybee and the Adventures of Scarygirl is a disappointment, given the source. Also, since it was developed by TikGames, I was caught with surprise by the lack of tightness and optimization (loading times are longer compared to other Minis that have more dynamic content). Its surreal art and vision are startling, but as a game, this Mini is mediocre at best.