Sunday 3 January 2021

Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise - Final Rating

By Ilmari

When I reviewed Putt Putt Joins the Parade, I was a bit anxious whether I could rate a children’s game fairly. With one Humongous game already under my belt, I think I have a better grasp on what works and what doesn’t in these games. Let’s see if teddy power beats an automobile!
It had to make a cameo

Puzzles and Solvability

Checking a walkthrough afterwards, I noticed that Fatty Bear had some variety not present in the first Putt Putt. For instance, depending on whether I tried to pick up the chocolate chips before releasing the puppy or not, the dog might have snatched the chips and I would have had to find them. I think this gives enough variety for the puzzles that I can bump the puzzle score a bit up. Still, since the puzzles were fairly pedestrian, it won’t be a large bump.
Blowing balloons is as simple as point and click
Score: 3.

Interface and Inventory

Although the inventory looks a bit different from the one in Putt-Putt (Fatty’s trousers replacing Putt Putt’s dashboard), it is essentially the same interface - easy to use and simple to learn. I’ll deduct one point for the interface of the piano minigame, which I thought was a bit too cumbersome.
How is Fatty going to fit this sack of sugar into his pockets?
Score: 5.

Story and Setting

I criticised first Putt Putt for the shallowness of its plot. Fatty Bear is again little more than a fetch quest, but it does have few plot reversals (Fatty dropping through the laundry chute and the escape of the puppy), so it deserves another point.
Climax of the plot: washing the dog
Score: 3.

Sounds and Graphics

Humongous games have all had the same cosy graphical style, with lot of bright colours and friendly faces. Although it might be far from art, it’s still comforting to look at and well suited for the target audience. I have a hard time remembering anything about the music or sound effects, which implies they were mostly non-existent.
Helicopter bunny was one of the imaginative pieces of animation
Score: 4.

Environment and Atmosphere

Although I am definitely over the intended player age group, I enjoyed Fatty Bear immensely. I applauded the fun animations with Putt Putt, but now I’ll have to add yet another point for the nice minigames.
Dressing Fatty is still fun
Score: 8.

Dialogue and Acting

Scott Burns is a lot better choice for the protagonist voice than that whiny kid, who played Putt Putt. Although the acting is thus competent, there isn’t that much of interesting dialogue to go with it.
Also, Kayla's dad seems creepy
Score: 5.

(3 + 5 + 3 + 4 + 8 + 5)/0.6 = 28/0.6 = 47. I still have to deduct one point for the pain inflicted on a dog: even if it was animated, you don’t wan’t to give such examples to small children. That makes the final score 46, which means that Fatty beats Putt Putt by one point! We’ll see later if the second Putt Putt game will turn the tables.

Somewhat surprisingly, we have three people with the closest score guess, Joe, MorpheusKitami and Vetinari, all having chosen 35. Congratulations to all of them!

CAP Distribution

100 CAPs to Ilmari
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing and blogging about Fatty Bear for our enjoyment
60 CAPs for Joe Pranevich
  • Christmas Blogger - 50 CAPs - For playing and blogging about Sanity Clause for our enjoyment
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For the closest score guess for Fatty Bear
25 CAPs for Canageek
  • Let's Play Award - 25 CAPs - For playing Fatty Bear and videoing it for posterity
16 CAPs for MorpheusKitami
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For the closest score guess for Fatty Bear
  • Dog's Funeral Award - 6 CAPs - For inventing a sequel for Fatty Bear
14 CAPs for Lisa H.
  • Christmas Mythology Award - 8 CAPs - For explaining some myths behind Sanity Claus
  • Baking Award - 6 CAPs - For providing measurements for 
10 CAPs for Vetinari
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For the closest score guess for Fatty Bear
7 CAPs for Kirinn
  • Representation Rules Award - 7 CAPs - For giving examples of non-white game characters
7 CAPs for Agrivar
  • Representation Rules Award - 7 CAPs - For giving examples of non-white game characters
7 CAPs for Laukku
  • Representation Rules Award - 7 CAPs - For giving examples of non-white game characters
4 CAPs for ATMachine
  • Trivia Correction Award - 4 CAPs - For pointing out the right name of the cartoonist
4 CAPs for Gareth
  • Son of Stagefright Award - 4 CAPs - For pointing out a correction to Mike McCauley's CV


  1. Perfect timing!

    If you want to see me and my new awesome hair stream Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise and try and speedrun it come drop by

    I'll have it up on youtube later today!
    (I still get CAPS for this, right? I notice in the last four years I"ve drifted out of first...)

    1. Done the casual playthrough, now trying the speedrun

    2. I learned I am *NOT* a speedrunner! Youtube links up soon

    3. Main playthrough:
      TERRIBLE speedrun that I made one attempt at, realized I was SUPER underprepared, and gave up on after that:

      (Um, I'm not seeing anyone commenting on this other then me, is something broken?)

    4. nothing broken! I think weekends are a bit quieter for comments

    5. Thanks Canageek, some CAPs have been awarded! As Andy said, weekends are a bit quieter, and this is an even longer weekend, coming right after the New Year celebrations.

    6. No worries, I was just wondering if I looked like people expected. I do look, um, a lot different then I did four years ago (and even a year ago, not getting my hair cut since The Before Times has had a big effect)

    7. Looking good! Well, that went differently than intended, but I guess live performances always do. And as an amateur composer I could groan extra hard at the piano finale. x)

    8. Canageek: I am not sure if I've had any other mental image of you, except your cybernetic avatar, but somehow seeing your RL face in the stream felt like it was just what it should have been.

    9. That is really nice to hear. I wonder if I'd have had the same effect last year when I was stereotypical nerd #4 XD

  2. You know the scoring system isn't working when, according to the final ratings, Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise is better than Fascination, Inca, Gobliins 2 and Future Wars.

    1. Oh, I'm the first one to admit that the PISSED rating system is far from any accurate measure of the goodness of a game and the least important part of our blog. Indeed, I think that trying to build any objective measuring system of games is just a pipe dream and at most one could hope for a subjectively consistent rating system, and because we humans and our tastes change over time, even that consistency is probably impossible to maintain in the long run. Because we have so many reviewers, the task of making ratings consistent is even more difficult.

      Even so, I feel that the criticism is a bit off, at least when it comes to other games than Future Wars (which is one I did not write about). All the other games you mention fall in the same score decade (40s), which I personally think is the most accurate level of measurement we can hope to achieve with PISSED. That is, Fatty is not "better", but at most "kind of equally good" to Fascination et al.

      And even that is a bit too much to say, because PISSED, like any purely numerical measurement, is a crude tool in some cases. 40s are currently the point where most of games we review land and it might be said to contain at least two different kinds of games: mediocre or "good enough" games, which are proud to be nothing else, and more ambitious games, which strive to get to the level of great games, but fail for few reasons.

      Fatty Bear is a perfect example of the first category. It sets out to be just a fun children's game, with diverse activities to entertain kids for a few hours - and it delivers on this front. Then again, it could never hope to be much of anything else than simple diversion.

      The other games, on the other hand, are definitely more ambitious - and with some tweakings they could perhaps be great games. Inca, appropriately with the lowest score, is, in my opinion, farthest from this. This is, again, a very personal opinion, because it is more of an action game than adventure and I am no action player. Making the action sequences optional would at least improve the game, although I'd say the plot would also require more reworking to make a bit more sense.

      The main failing of Fascination, in my opinion, was its attempt to make a light comedy-action ramp and then using rape (or at least threat of it) as a plot device. Overall, there were other failings of consistency in the plot structure/tone (out of the blue ending) and a final puzzle bordering on impossible. With these fixed, I would have happily put it somewhere in 50s.

      Gobliins 2 is the closest to Fatty Bear, and truth be said, in a different day the scales might have been turned otherwise (I admit of not being a perfectly consistent being). A little bit of trimming in the number of screens would have made the overall game a much more tighter experience. And if the producers really want to use live voices, please use actors with at least some basic proficiency (something which Fatty Bear accomplished better).

    2. Honestly? I think it's not that unfair. How do you rate a game - do you assess it as how you yourself would take it in, or do you assess it as though you were of the target audience? My four year old daughter has played through the entirety of this game. She has also tried to play Day of the Tentacle alongside me (giving me suggestions as to how I might progress through puzzles etc). To her, Fatty Bear or Putt Putt allow her to goof off, give her very clear indications of what she's supposed to do (I only helped her with the spelling of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" the last time she played it) and can be played independently. If I were to compare the two games to her? She enjoys the story and silliness of DotT but could not play it on her own - to her, the latter is more important than the former. Inversely, Inca frustrated, baffled and disappointed its target audience. I know it has its fan base, but it's fair to say that Fatty Bear probably influenced more youths than Inca brought people to the Adventure genre as a whole.

      And besides, we're more about the experience, aren't we? I don't really read for scores. :)

    3. Might I confess: The only time I actually look at the numbers is when I've been betting on the score to see if I've won? I've always thought Chet and Trickster's scoring systems were a bit pointless to be honest.

  3. A few notes: I had both this and Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon when I was a kid. I played this WAYYYY more according to my parents. I don't know how much the randomization helped with that (I assume you didn't notice that, only playing through it once, would that change the score? It is a pretty rare adventure game feature).

    The piano isn't hard to use? You press a note, and it is saved on the sheet music. I messed around with it as a kid and understood it. I think I had to ask my Dad what a rest was though, and I mostly just enjoyed making it make strange noises I think? Anyway, if you watch my speedrun video, you can see my girlfriend Cole and I try and play the theme from Escape from New York on it. We get close, but I um, don't read sheet music and messed up the notes they quickly made up in paint for me. The fish were WAY funnier though, so I think I spent more time clicking on them.

    I agree about the voice acting, but my partner Alex (who used to comment here under another name) can't stand it and that is why they were not around for the stream.

    1. Thanks for all the notes! I don't think the randomisation changes the overall picture. I already noted the possibility of alternative puzzles and gave some boost for the puzzle score for it. Some might say that I was even a bit too generous, since the puzzles on the whole are so simple.

      As for piano, at least I found it to be too different in comparison with the very streamlined interface of the main game. I might have been a bit harsh, when you consider that the piano is just additional content. Then again, the harshness in the interface score is balanced by the leniency in puzzles.

      Sorry that they weren't there, but I am glad we got at least to see you in person!

  4. It's a real tragedy that Humongous didn't make adventures for the grown ups, at least none I can remember.


Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of the reviewer requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game...unless they really obviously need the help...or they specifically request assistance.

If this is a game introduction post: This is your opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that the reviewer won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return.
It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All score votes and puzzle bets must be placed before the next gameplay post appears. The winner will be awarded 10 CAPs.