Smacky – Whack The Squirrels Game | Whack It
Smacky – Insanity squirrel; because regular squirrels are too mainstream.
Having played more video games than is socially acceptable and indeed medically recommended, I have encountered my fair share of main characters: Heroes and heroines (human and animal alike), unlikely save-the-day types, wrong-place-wrong-time troublemakers, arrogant ne’er do wells and also the downright unfortunate. In all my adventures through various screen resolutions (1024 x 768 is a particular favourite of mine), levels of anti-aliasing and texture shading, I still haven’t ever been presented with the option to play as the humble squirrel. Cue the timely entrance of ‘Smacky’, the angry and likely misunderstood rodent of diurnal behaviour and psychotic tendency, and coincidentally, the flash game of the very same name.
The objective of the game is to engage in tiny fisticuffs with your overly-friendly squirrel neighbours. Oh, you wanted to borrow some acorns for your lunch? Tough! You’ll have to make do with a can of unrelenting rodent beat down instead. Now exactly why Smacky is so filled with rage it is unclear. Perhaps his rage is due to intimacy issues or a social phobia; sadly, fictional rodent psychiatry simply isn’t recognised by the British Medical Association. Nevertheless, fellow squirrels continue to attempt to cheer him up and it is your job to thoroughly ruin what otherwise would probably have been your run-of-the-mill squirrel intervention. What they get up to in their spare time is up to them, just don’t rub it in Smacky’s face, or he’ll come down upon them with biblical force.
Smacky is one of the relatively few games I have experienced which is played in the ‘follow the cursor’ format. Instead of worrying about the need for directional controls, Smacky is a slave to your mouse; wherever you point, he will willingly follow. This format proves to be neither an advantage or disadvantage compared to normal keyboard-programmed directional movement control; it’s really just a mix between personal preference and what is most suited to the game, and mouse-controlled movement appears to be the more practical choice to control our squirrel in this case.
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In a further break from more traditional flash game controls, the left mouse button performs all of Smacky’s moves and variable functions. Whatever move he performs is contextual; that is, the position of the mouse when you press/let go of the attack button is what determines which of the many different attacks you will perform. For example, jumping is achieved simply by positioning the cursor above the horizon line and left-clicking once. Performing attacks is a little more complicated and requires clicking of the mouse in various positions, but not before a thorough perusal of the extensive introductory instructions which are a requirement if you are to get the most out of this game.
Among the moves available are the basic jump/kick, performed by left-clicking and a jump kick results if you press attack while in the air. Relentless kicking combinations ensue if you repeatedly attack the target with a level cursor, and there are uppercuts galore if you do the same with the cursor above the target.
Further complicating matters is the questionable innovation of the ‘special ring’ (no sniggering at the back, please), which is essentially the input method allowing you to perform a variety of special moves including a spinning attack, a violently-charged dash attack, the Street Fighter-inspired ‘Squadoken’ (basically just a portmanteau of a regular Hadoken performed by a rodent; I prefer Ryu and Ken’s version), an uppercut aptly renamed ‘upawcut’ (don’t you just love cute wordplay?) and an spinning throw called the ‘acorn drop’. All of the above is made possible by charging your ‘rage meter’, which is as simple as holding down the attack button.
As if ‘Smacky’ wasn’t already generous to the point of being almost bankrupted of its own reserves of fun, it also allows you to transform into what is called ‘Demon Smacky’, which conjured up images in my mind of a rodent that has contracted rabies and is no longer interested in acorns, but has moved onto human flesh for its light afternoon snack. My overly-theatrical imaginings aside, ‘Demon Smacky’ is able to perform such feats as smiting his enemy, burning them with lasers emanating from his eyes or perform the terrifying ‘fires of wrath’, obliterating anything unlucky enough to be on the screen at the time. At this stage I began to feel that ‘Smacky’ falls on its own sword by having simply too much choice with its moves.
I have to admit that in spite of my initial nagging scepticism, I quite enjoyed my experience with playing ‘Smacky’. In all honesty, my motivation for playing was derived not from the incentive of progress through the levels themselves; instead, I was quite eager to see what ‘Demon Smacky’ had to offer in the way of wrath and wanton destruction. I realise this puts me only slightly above the level of respectability of people who watch formula one racing just for the crashes. I also like to watch extreme speed-chess for the epic and bloody brawls between sessions (this isn’t often publicised but I’m convinced that the prolonged silence and building tension must lead to built-up aggression).
The above admission does not detract from the fact that I was able to obtain some moderate to heavy enjoyment from the game. I recommend ‘Smacky’ to anyone in want of half an hour of harmless (unless you’re a squirrel) fun, and to those who wish that squirrels would offer such high levels of entertainment value in actual consciousness-based reality . I’m not ashamed of the fact that I just wanted to see that little squirrel get angry and vaporise everything in its path, since you don’t often get to see this sort of behaviour from squirrels in their natural habitat. Not unless you live in a radioactive red zone, that is.
Review by Craig Sherratt
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