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  • Writer's pictureSofi

Fleazer (2018)

Developer: Namo

Disclaimer: I received this game for free from the developer.

I've had a busy couple weeks of traveling but I'm finally back with a brand new review! I'm coming back with a short one this week, trying out something very different than my usual, am arcade-style auto-run level game. Fleazer is an arcade-style game much in the style of Frogger, except you're a flea trying to get a bite of a human and avoid bugs and other obstacles in your way.

I personally don't have much of a history or experience with Frogger. I've played the original arcade version for a few minutes, and sure, it's a pretty fun and challenging game. However, the developer mentioned Fleazer was actually based more on Frogger: He's Back, a 3D Frogger game for the PlayStation. If you check it out here, you can see it involves less of moving in one direction and more of looking for enemies all around you.

I'll admit, my first impression of Fleazer when I received an e-mail about was "okay, fleas, gross". I still get a little squirmy just looking at the cover image above, since it's such a realistic picture of fleas covering some skin (ick). However, I decided it was a simple game and it probably wouldn't look so realistic in-game. The textures and environments on the first level do show you being on some skin, but it looks much less real and more fuzzy. There's a confusing contrast between the flea that's made to look pretty realistic and three-dimensional and the bug enemies you encounter that look very flat and two-dimensional. What's charming about Frogger is that it's colorful and animated-looking, but Fleazer instead took an approach of trying to look like a real flea on real skin. Maybe that works as a style, but even playing it, I can't help but feel a little itchy and uncomfortable.

Maybe this feels too close to home since I just spent a weekend exterminating my dog's flea infestation...

However, I was willing to put aesthetics aside for the gameplay. When you start Fleazer, you have the chance to check out the instructions, which I highly recommend for anyone who hasn't played a game like this before. There's a lot of different power-ups and enemies, and more controls than you'd expect. I appreciate this descriptive instructions section, since I was going in pretty lost about the purpose. It helped me to know you can pull the camera back between 3 different options - being all the way zoomed out works for me since I can be more prepared for incoming enemies. However, me being the picky person I am, I was a little put off by all of the grammatical errors in the instructions text.

You bounce around as a flea through the first level, which again, just looks like blurry human skin. You start to accumulate points right away just from bouncing around and avoiding enemies, which sometimes run right towards you. The goal is to find the target, which is actually the spot where you can bite the human. Along the way you can also find a little baby flea buddy to accompany you and earn you more points, as well as a timer for additional time. If you don't get to the target in time or you get caught by another bug, you explode right on the spot. Although the sound effects were a little cheesy, the background music is pretty good. It's kind of exciting and changes up for different levels.

Once you get past the initial level, you get more complicated levels that are less "skin"-like and have walls and other obstacles. I found these more fun than the initial level, as they involved more of knowing your way around. However, I come to one of my biggest problems with this game: the way you "turn" is ridiculously disorienting. When I first started playing, I thought I must be doing something wrong. You run straight ahead until you press either A or D to turn, and when you do, the screen just automatically changes to you running in that direction. It doesn't feel like you actually turned, it just feels like the screen flashed for a second. There's no real sense of direction because of this, I feel like there must a smoother way to turn.

A spookier level where it's harder to see the enemies coming towards you. I think this was maybe my highest score?

Eventually I got the hang of the turning and avoiding enemies, and I could see Fleazer being a nice little arcade runner I could play for a while. However, than I ran upon some issues, or dare I say, bugs (I'm sorry). At one point I reached the target and immediately after a bug enemy touched me, and I somehow got the death screen while the music and sound effects continued as if I had just won that level. I tried going to different parts of the menu and the interface UI and sounds stayed stuck that way. I also played a little longer and the level kept restarting on its own without me finishing it, until I decided to close game and restart it.

The score and time, along with the in-game music, were stuck on the screen even after it had taken me back to the title page and even when I clicked on instructions.

Unfortunately, Fleazer not the game for me. Despite this not being my go-to genre of game, I'd be happy to put more time into a simple and fun Frogger-like game if it was more pleasant to the eye and more polished. The aesthetics are a turn-off, especially the environments. I can tell that the developers wanted to pay homeage to a certain era of arcade gaming and did very much care about the gameplay and feel, including the sounds, but more work could be put into making it look approachable and presentable for more people, as well as more testing. If you're a fan of this type of runner arcade game and kind of like a bit of silly bug creepiness, Fleazer be a better fit for you. As for me, I may put little more time in and try to discover new levels, but otherwise there's nothing special pulling me back.

Fleazer is available on PC.

Played on: PC

Last Played: 8/14/2019

Playtime: 1 hr

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