“ This game is developed by ZYE and published by Interplay for one player. „
Despite some nicely smooth graphics, Boogerman is nothing more than bog-standard 16-bit left-to-right platform fare, only done a little worse. Published by Interplay under what must have been a fairly large budget, this Pick n Flick Adventure relies entirely on an exaggerated toilet humour premise to appeal to the younger demographic that took so fondly to Ren & Stimpy, Toxic Crusaders and Earthworm Jim.
Boogerman is a super-hero who flies around on hot chilli farts and takes out bad guys with an arsenal of bodily functions: he can burp, spit, fart and flick nose goblins. Stop sniggering. Oh wait, you werent. I cant criticise kids for finding the premise entertaining, despite their parents best efforts to raise enlightened offspring, as I remember finding the idea quite funny when I first heard about it on its original release. Unfortunately, Boogerman almost literally takes a dump on enthusiastic players with its entirely mediocre gameplay.
As is standard for all simplistic platform games, an elaborate and insignificant premise is set up to explain why the player controls a snot-flicking super-hero in a strange forest that seems to take its nutrients from a sewer. As expected its pretty weak; no one lost any sleep there. A Star Wars style introductory crawl informs us that environmentally conscious Professor Stinkbaum has devised a method to rid the world of all pollution, by transferring it inter-dimensionally to Dimension X-crement. The subsequent animation shows health inspector Snotty Ragsdale accidentally sneezing on the machine one night while hoovering the lab, resulting in some contraption or other going haywire, and essentially drags him down into its bowels. The plots not important, its mainly there for the cynics, and for once it doesnt even dictate the final villain of the game.
The game exploits toilet humour right from the start, featuring a literal pair of toilets on the title screen, one to start the game and one to input a password pictogram. Selecting either of these toilets by pressing the down button causes the depraved hero to spin into its depths. These toilets appear within the game, providing access to subterranean sewer stages underneath the regular levels, while slimy portaloos act like the star-posts in Sonic the Hedgehog, providing a place from which to restart when the character dies. Levels such as the opening Flatulent Swamps are perhaps not as disgusting as they might first sound, due to the cartoon graphics, but pretty much everything is covered in a layer of bright green slime.
Anyone whos played a platform game before will pick up the controls instantly. Left and right move Boogerman in those directions, generally heading right to proceed through each level, while up and down are handy when climbing dripping vines. The down button is the more useful of the two, providing access to the afore-mentioned toilets, digging in heaps of soil to find items, and also causing Boogerman to duck in a strained position with his rear end very prominent. One of his bodily attacks can only be accomplished in this squat position.
The joypads A button flicks snot from an exhaustible supply indicated by the nose-picking icon in the top left of the screen, B jumps, and C unleashes the burp (or, if squatting, the bottom burp). Holding the C button down for longer will release a more extreme fart or burp respectively, which can dispatch more enemies or destroy rock walls, just like in real life. Eating a chilli gives these attacks a longer range, while milk replaces the snot option with more effective saliva. If the player uses up all their snot and burp power, theyll have to rely on the old method of bouncing on the enemies heads until they locate more slime.
Boogermans graphics are the only real area in which it impresses, although not to the extent of some of its contemporaries. The artists succeed in capturing the exaggerated cartoon style of shows like Ren & Stimpy, The Tick and everything on Nickelodeon ever. The main character moves with impressive fluidity, which is especially relevant on the slick landscape, and if you leave him alone for a while hell go through several animated procedures, based predictably on snot and farts. The enemy designs are also pretty nice, although they dont really fit into the toilet humour side of the game, the best ones looking more like rejects from The Real Ghostbusters. Overall, Earthworm Jim is a far, far more impressive game.
Like EWJ, Boogerman incorporates audio recordings of voice samples, something that was fairly risky in 16-bit consoles as the results were almost invariably distorted and muffled. Picking up items causes the character to praise cool or rad, and every time a new life begins he announces his would-be catch-phrase, Booger! Ill bet whoever came up with that was crossing his fingers that it would become a popular saying in school playgrounds, but fortunately no-one really noticed. The games average sound effects quickly become tiresome, based as they are on slime and flushes. The music is deep and bassy and feels somehow appropriate as the soundtrack to this exploration of the lower bodily functions.
Boogerman has no real value, artistic or entertaining, but was probably snapped up by a small but dedicated minority on its release. Too reliant on the expectation that flicking bogies will make a funny game, it really doesnt last out. I would have been at least impressed if the designers had provided more incentive to continue playing, by making later scenarios or power-ups increasingly disgusting and even X-rated as the game approaches its conclusion, but theres not so much as a single wee-wee or number two. Strangely for a game so obsessed with PG-level depravity, theres a noticeable lack of attention devoted to armpits, and perhaps a tad too much on noses.
Educated comedian Stewart Lee was right when he said that the funniest occurrence in the entire month-long run of the Edinburgh Fringe festival (with all of its avant-garde progressive comedy) would be an old man, by himself, doing a fart in a wood. But would you really base a video game on it?