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Cthulhu Saves the World

For:   Also on: AndroidiPhoneiPad
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Darkly dreaming deity

Product: Cthulhu Saves the World | Developer: TinkerHouse Games | Publisher: Zeboyd Games | Format: Android | Genre: Retro, RPG | Players: 1 | File size: 498MB | Version: Europe
Cthulhu Saves the World Android, thumbnail 1
There's an argument that video game parodies never really work. By lampooning the tropes and trappings of a specific genre, they inevitably end up replicating them.

Cthulhu Saves the World just about avoids that particular pitfall, landing its blows in an endearing rather than a smug way, gently ribbing the 16-bit JRPGs it's based on rather than picking them apart.

There are random turn-based battles, a zoomed-out map screen, and pixellated characters, but more often than not these are winking out at you like characters in a stage parody.

For badness's sake

The game, which started life on Xbox Live, tells the story of HP Lovecraft's old God Cthulhu, who wakes from aeons of slumber in the sunken city of R'lyeh. Dragging his bulbous, tentacled head onto dry land, Cthulhu sets about enacting his evil murderous schemes.

Or, at least he would, but a mysterious stranger strips him of all of his evil, dark-Godly powers. After the narrator lets slip that Cthulhu can regain his strength by becoming a true hero, the Elder God sets out to prove himself a good guy in order to once again become the ultimate force of evil.

You're not alone in your adventures, picking up a maiden, Umi, within the first few minutes of the game. Umi is instantly smitten by Cthulhu's dome-like head and deformed, useless wings, and spends most of the rest of the game trying to tickle his tentacles.

You'll also meet a sword called Sharpe, and a variety of other characters who take the mickey out of the heroes and villains you normally found populating JRPGs in the 16-bit era.

Lovingly crafted

You'll lead your band of slightly deluded adventurers through isometric dungeons opening chests, fighting a dizzying array of monsters, and spreading Cthulhu's special blend of insanity.

The controls when you're exploring are a little frustrating. You drag a finger along the screen and hold it to move in that direction, but the input can be erratic, and making quick direction changes is all but impossible.

Combat is reasonably tactical, and the longer a fight goes on the stronger your enemies get, putting the emphasis on getting the job done as quickly as possible. Fights give you XP, and every time you level-up you get a choice of different offensive and defensive powers.

Cthulhu once, shame on me

Alongside your standard attacks you have magical powers, and special techniques that unlock as you play. You can also perform combine attacks, which use up two characters' turns to deal greater damage.

Your weapon and armour can be changed, either for items you find in your travels or for ones you buy from the shops in the settlements you come across. Potions replenish your health in battle, but restocking your MP - which you spend to cast spells and use powers - is a case of clawing back points fight by fight.

Cthulhu Saves the World tips its hat quite cheerily in the direction of the games it's teasing - there are plenty of nods in the direction of the rest of Lovecraft's work, and video games in general.

It makes for an entertaining, retro-tinged experience, albeit one that's probably more fun for its jokes than it is its actual gameplay.

iOS version reviewed.

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Cthulhu Saves the World
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 2 July 2012
A standard dungeon-crawling JRPG, Cthulhu Saves the World is more of a cheeky love letter than a parody, and that makes it all the more enjoyable
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