Baby love, you are my baby love...

Baby Jo logo

Loriciel * 1/2 meg * Joystick * £25.99 * Out now

Everybody loves a baby - why? It's because they are so sickeningly cute that's why, and Baby Jo is no exception. He screams, he cries, he wets his nappies, he burps, he sucks his thumb and he's yours for only £25.99.

Yes, I'm afraid it's true, those guys and gals from across the old English Channel (that's France just in case you didn't know - Geographic Ed) have come up with a cutesy platform game, but is is any good? Well, read on and find out.

The blurb that comes with the game's instructions reads "Who's the new hero?" and the answer is simple - it's Harry Secombe, but apparently Loriciel think it's Baby Jo. That's fine by me but when did you last see Batman wet himself or when did you see Superman start sucking his thumb?

Right, enough of this superhero business, what do you have to do? Being the kind and considerate person I am, I will tell you. It's simple, Baby JO is lost in the countryside, far from town, his home and his mother, and all you have to do is get him home again.
But have no fear, because Baby Jo is very clever and by using his unique sense of direction he always knows which way is home (Quick, phone the That's Life team).

While trying to get the baby home you have to watch out for hazardous traps and the fearsome baddies. The baddies - all of whom are as cute as Jo - include things like jack-in-the-boxes, flowers, worms, wasps, black clouds with fire lightning at you and even an indestructible sun.

Having all these baddies trying to get poor Baby Jo can be a problem, because babies don't tend to carry Uzis and flamethrowers in their nappies. So what does Baby Jo use to dispose of his enemies?
Well, he uses a more powerful weapon than an Uzi or a flamethrower - he uses baby rattles which are placed around each level. However, they should be used wisely because there are a lot of baddies and not a lot of rattles.

So what else can Baby Jo use to help him get home? Well, there's a first aid kit which restores his energy, and there are also bonuses in the form of fruits and sweets. There are balloons which are inflated with helium so that Baby Jo can climb trees or cross ravines, too.

Baby Jo has a friend called Jock the Duck, who looks identical to Daffy Duck. Jock provides Baby Jo with some helpful clues, but beware - Jock has a Jeremy Beadle-type personality and some of his clues are only jokes.

There is one snag with Baby Jo, which is that he hasn't been toilet-trained and if you eat too many bonuses he tends to fill his nappy rather quickly, thus reducing him to walking rather than running. To overcome this problem you must find a new nappy. There are two types - the ordinary nappy and the super nappy. The latter gives Baby Jo super speed and enables him to cross huge distances in a single bound.

The graphics are really nice and give that added cutesy feel to the game. Soundwise, the in-game tunes get on your nerves after a while, but the sound effects are excellent with Baby Jo giggling, burping and crying all the way home. One complaint is that the scrolling is a bit jerky - and the game is rather difficult!

Overall Baby Jo is another average platform game. Loriciel have tried very hard but it doesn't compete with the likes of Magic Pockets and Robocod.

Baby Jo logo

Loriciel £25.99

Cute platform games seem to be in at the moment, with many releases crowding the shelves. This one tries to be cuter than most by putting you in control of a lickle baby (aah). Although the appearance is very sweet, with some amusing animation, the control method and overall game feel is sadly lacking. Proof that you can't get by with cutesy graphics alone!

Baby Jo logo

Noch 'n Plattformgame? Noch 'n Plattformgame! Wiedermal ein Vertreter der süß- und knuddelig-Branche? Genau! Na denn, nehmen wir uns Loriciels Mischung aus "Chuck Rock" und "Wonderboy" halt mal zur Brust.

Zur Brust nehmen trifft den Kern der Sache, denn hier geht es um einen Säugling mit Heimweh. Mutterseelenalleine steht der kleine Baby Jo in der Pampa und wartet auf einen freundlichen Joystick, der ihn wieder Richtung Heimat dirigiert. Machen wir uns also auf die pummeligen Beinchen...

Vier recht umfangreiche Level muß der verwaiste Held durchspringen bzw. durchlaufen, und überall wollen ihm große und kleine Gefahren an die mickrigen vier Leben. Auf dem Land kämpft sich der Fratz durch angriffslustige Bienenschwärme und Giftpflanzen, im zweiten Level durch garstiges Spinnenvolk. Lavaräume und andere höhlentypische Widrigkeiten. Richtig stressig wird es dann in der Stadt, wo fiese Gewitterwolken und böse, böse Autos den heimwehkranken Dauerläufer den Weg mulmig machen. Schließlich trennt ihn nur noch eine Pickwickwiese mit Riesenmücken, Ameisen und anderem Getier vor der heiß ersehnten Mutterbrust.

Schlußgegner sind zwar überhaupt nicht unterwegs, aber dennoch: Dieses "Kinderspiel" ist alles andere als ein Kinderspiel! Sicher, Baby Jo verkraftet schon ein paar Feindberührungen, bevor er aus den Windeln kippt, und ganz wehrlos ist es natürlich auch nicht. Auf der Strecke liegen die obligatorischen Extras herum, etwa Superwindeln, um höher springen und schneller laufen zu können, ein Schutzmantel für kurzfristige Unverwundbarkeit oder Wurfrasseln, die so manchen Gegner in die Flucht schlagen.

Leckereien und Vollmilch sind auch nicht zu verachten, denn der Kleine entwickelt einen gesunden Appetit, und ohne Vitamine ist bald wieder ein Leben futsch. Aber Vorsicht: Zuviel der guten Tortenüstücke kann ebenfalls in die Pampers gehen, dann läuft Baby Jo nur noch mit gebremster Begeisterung - jedenfalls so lange, bis man in einer der versteckten Bonushöhlen eine Ersatzwindel besorgt. Und schließlich ist das vereinsamte Kleinkind so einsam nun auch wieder nicht: Gelegentlich taucht Jock the Duck auf und gibt Tips, wo z.B. Extraleben zu ergattern sind.

Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, ist die Grafik farbenprächtig, aber geradezu eklig süß. Für hierdurch entstandene Zahnschmerzen entschädigen die witzige Animationen: Wenn Baby Jo in ein Lagerfeuer fällt und mit brennendem Hintern gegen Himmel jagt, kann sich selbst der eingeschworenen Kinderhasser ein schmunzeln kaum verkneifen! Überhaupt sind alle Sprites herzallerliebst, dazu hat jede Level seine eigene schwungvolle Musik.

Wäre da nicht ein paar unfaire Stellen, wäre die Steuerung nicht so haklig, das (multidirektionale) Scrolling etwa weniger rucklig und das Leveldesign ein bißchen origineller - Baby Jo hätte die neue Plattformkönig werden können. So reicht es halt leider nur für "ferner hüpften". (rl)

Baby Jo logo

The French, eh? Sometimes they ask us why we're always saying their games and weird, and - to be honest - we've often got very little answer from them. Sure, Alpha Waves and similar show some decidedly spooky ideas about game design, but for the most part their stuff can be decidedly normal - and in many instances increasingly good.

Nobody could have much to complain about as far as the likes of Cruise For A Corpse, say, are concerned, and if the names of some games (Jupiter's Masterdrive?) or subject matter (the extreme violence of Ranx, the sex in various games) still raise eyebrows, it's increasingly becoming a reflex reaction.

And then we get to something like Baby Jo. On the surface a cute platform game starring a little baby - pleasantly free of the shades and leather jackets of a Brat or Magic Pockets and really rather endearing - it's underpinned by the most, well, French gameplay touches seen in quite a while.

Take the fact that as you eat bonus food, Baby Jo's nappy in the top corner of the screen gets darker and darker (thankfully blue, not the more expected colour) until you suffer death by unchanged nappy. Luckily, collectable replacements are scattered around the landscape - including special super-powered ones! - so you shouldn't come a messy cropper too often.

Or take the ultra-loud slurping and burping after Baby Jo quaffs a bottle of milk - such delight in human bodily functions! - or the comic way in which he shoots up screaming into the sky if he happens to step in an inconvenient fire, a truly Warner Bros cartoon sort of effect. It's the sort of sensibility that prompted programmers to include the notorious bottom-prodding option in North and South, and it helps make the game a lot of silly fun.

Unfortunately though, despite some pleasing animation on Baby Jo himself and the various animal baddies out to make his journey home a misery, there's little else to say about the game. It's a very standard horizontally scrolling platform avoid-'em-up sort of thing, very similar to half of Code Masters or Hi-Tec's output but not as well programmed.

The scrolling is certainly very jerky, and it's hard to see how the game could really command this sort of price point at all. Still, it's hard to dislike it. (And it's very, very French).