Eets Chowdown

May 11, 2007

More people need to appreciate puzzle games. There’s something special about clearing a level using only your wits, and Eets captures that feeling perfectly for users of Microsoft’s popular Xbox Live Arcade.

Eets exists in a world of prankster whales, radioactive ginseng, and mood-altering chocolate chips and marshmallows. The game borrows a lot from Lemmings but is different enough to carve out its own niche instead of feeling like a knock-off. The concept behind Eets is a simple one: guide the titular Eets through each of the game’s 123 screen-sized levels and collect the puzzle piece at the end. The catch, however, is that it’s impossible to control Eets directly. Instead the player places items on the playing field that either affect Eets‘ mood or change his location. Prankster Whales, for example, have the ability to suck Eets into their mouths and launch him great distances while Chocolate Chip Clouds can make Eets angry by firing chips at him, or they can make him happy by allowing him to eat the chips instead of hitting him with them.

In addition to altering the environment and moving Eets, some items alter Eets‘ mood and his abilities along with it. When frightened, Eets will move slowly and turn around if he reaches a ledge. When happy he will hop from ledges, and when angry he will jump as far as possible from ledges (about twice as far as when happy).

Something that many puzzle games feature in great amounts is frustration. Things move too quickly or levels must often be restarted wholesale upon failure, but Eets is different. Items are placed at your leisure, and the action doesn’t start until you say so by pulling the right trigger. Even then, if things are moving too quickly, Eets‘ speed can be altered by pulling the left trigger; if things don’t go according to plan, then pull the right trigger again to return to the item placement interface with all your items placed exactly where you left them. The emphasis on trial and error is much more fun when there’s no punishment associated with forced re-placement of items.

Eets isn’t pushing the envelope graphically, but it is a joy to behold. Much like Alien Hominid HD, Eets‘ Flash-inspired graphics create a world that feels like it was pulled straight out of a comic book or Saturday morning cartoon. The cute presentation should be at odds with the game’s head-scratching difficulty, but it works.

Also of note is Eets‘ included minigame, Marsho Madness. While the main game is a puzzler, Marsho Madness is an action game for up to four players. Here Eets is trapped in the center of the screen while enemies constantly move towards him. To dispatch the enemies, the player must enter a button sequence above their head and pull the right trigger. For local multiplayer, Marsho Madness gives Heavy Weapon a run for its money; the only way it could be better would be if the game supported online multiplayer as well.

If you’re hurting for a good puzzler, then Eets is an easy purchase. Unfortunately, the difficulty of the later levels and the lack of action ensure that Eets is not for everybody. Fortunately, those that are still on the fence can check out the freely available demo.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.