Super Walrus Chef
A Commentary by Paul Harrington
In April of 2004, Red Maverick Zero hosted a silly game contest on Castle Paradox. This differed greatly from the Terrible Games Contests, since the objective was to create a funny game that still worked as a game, rather than just turning in an unplayable mess with jokes. The contest, unfortunately, didn't get much attention, and the number of entries was extremely small. I have to thank him for running this contest though, because without it, I likely wouldn't have made this game.
I've made a lot of OHR games (though only a few actually count as games), and Walrus Chef remains my favorite. It's my only real game that doesn't have a turn-based RPG battle system, and instead features Iron Chef-like cooking tournaments. While the tournaments are pretty simple (select opponent, meet judges, choose three ingredients based on the judge's tastes), I still find them fun and rewarding, even if the game is far from perfect.
Though the contest allowed for far more time, I only worked on this game for one weekend. Due to scheduling problems, I wasn't able to devote nearly as much time to it as I'd wanted to, and this is one of the reasons for a few of the game's flaws, which include the following: There isn't enough variety in ingredients and in the tastes of judges. Though every judge has his own likes and dislikes (which you can research on an in-game computer), too many of them share similar tastes, and you can win most matches by just selecting "ham" three times. There should have been more types of meat than just ham and fish. The condiments should have had a greater impact on scores, and possibly should not have counted as main ingredients. I had wanted to implement judge biases for and against certain opponents, but did not have time and thus each opponent's score is a range of random numbers based on his difficulty level. There should have been more to do in town. I had planned on implementing other mini-games that you could buy with prize money. There should have been more people in the town, although there was already a decent number compared to most OHR games. Some of the jokes are dated and lame, and Walrus Man's all caps speak gets old fast, even when his jokes are funny. Too many of the jokes rely on people playing Walthrus first, and since this game uses a completely different style it's kind of grating.
But enough of the bad. What makes me enjoy this game more than any of my others?
For the most part, I really enjoy the characters. None of the slimes are funny, but I love Walrus Man and his grandpa, Cookie Monster as a pirate is still funny, and it still makes me laugh to see Phillip from South Park selling cheesecake cartoon girl pictures in the back of town. If you haven't played the game, yes, there are a lot of pop-culture appearances. Possibly far too many. I can't say I regret this, because cooking a meal against Zangief while Spider-man, the Loch Ness Monster, and Zeus judge your worthiness strikes me as cute and amusing. There's very little intelligent humor here, but that's not what it's going for. It does get a little too dumb at times, but the good parts make up for that. Going into a repair shop and finding Jesus there to help you renovate your home is certainly not everyone's cup of tea (in fact, I did get some angry messages from people for putting Jesus in the game, regardless of the fact that he's not portrayed in any negative way and is in fact one of the only kind people you'll encounter in the entire game).
While the gameplay is simple, there are a decent amount of extra things to do. Money won from tournaments can be used to make repairs to your house, buy impressive bling, or buy naughty pictures. All wholesome activities indeed. Talking to the game's NPCs is generally pretty amusing, since each has six to eight different messages to trigger, and you'll need to talk to everyone at least once and buy all of the items from the game's stores to get the best ending, although you can beat the game with far less effort. Also, this game has the best character stats of any OHR game yet made.
Yes, they're randomly generated, and no, they don't do anything at all.
I do plan on updating/remaking this game some day (I've been saying this for far too long) and there are some easy fixes that would make it much better. The game should stand on its own a bit better, so I would either cut some of the Walthrus references or add a more in depth introduction. The in-game computer is rather clunky and awkward to use, and would probably be replaced with a mouse-based interface now that the OHR has mouse support. More ingredients and actual descriptions of each one are certainly needed.
Overall, I am quite fond of the game, even when its jokes embarrass me. The silly banter between contestants, and brutal yet loving cruelty of Grandpa Earl, buying a gigantic golden statue of yourself in the middle of town, and the fact that you can use a Walthrosian Fish as an ingredient will likely always make me laugh.
I've always felt that this game is proof that you don't need a huge amount of time to make something fun. More time would have certainly made it stronger, but you definitely don't need to spend years working on a game to create memorable. This is a lesson I myself really need to remember. But hey! I might as well announce Walrus Chef 2 for the fifth or sixth time. Maybe this time, I'll actually get something done!