Does it not count as a licensed game if the license in question is completely unknown in North America?
I stared at the box for hours. “Where have I seen this guy before?” I asked myself. “Have I ever seen this guy before? I know this is a licensed title. The press releases said so. So why am I totally dumbfounded as to who this Hugo guy is?” After an unusually large amount of Internet research, I found out, but not before I had already completed the game. What I found is that this game is an example, nay, the very archetype of misinformation.
The premise is that Hugo’s three children are trying to put together a magic mirror that their dad got put in by a witch named Scylla. So what’s misinforming? For starters, the game is called “Hugo™: The Evil Mirror,” yet Hugo isn’t even in the game. He’s in the beginning cutscene and the end, but nowhere in the game itself. Secondly, the back cover states that one must “Free Hugolina from Scylla’s spell.” I’m guessing Hugolina is Hugo’s wife (weird that they would have a pair of names you would normally give siblings, like Ed and Edna) pictured on the back cover. But she’s not in the game either. She’s not even in the cutscenes. Finally, on the cover, Hugo is shown busting out of a mirror triumphantly. However (aside from the 7 years bad luck Hugo will get), the point of the game is to actually put the mirror back together. And I believe, right now, at this very moment, I have put more thought into this game’s premise than everybody else in the world combined, including the developer.
As for the game itself, once Hugo is trapped in the mirror by this witch, Hugo’s children do what any loyal and loving children would do. They get their freeze rays and start terrorizing woodland animals and people of Scandinavian ethnicities. Yep. You read that right. First they freeze beavers, then squirrels, and finally… Vikings. Yes, Vikings. As in horn-helmeted, Europe-raiding, Nova Scotia-discovering, Thor-worshipping Vikings. There are about sixty levels in all, and in each level you do the exact same thing: freeze enemies and push them off cliffs -- and occasionally fight a boss that you just have to freeze to death. And uhhh… that’s it. Really. That’s all. It’s short, but it feels long because it’s so tedious.
The game looks neither ground-breaking nor like something masterfully designed, although there is an uncharacteristically high quality of animation in some of the enemies. The backgrounds look nice until you beat a level and the game zooms in on the character to make it look all pixelly. The music is surprisingly quite pleasing, much better than I had expected. It’s just such a shame it had to be coupled with a below-average game like this.
As for what Hugo actually is, that is still somewhat confusing for me. The core intellectual property of Hugo™ appears to be a Danish “Interactive TV Program.” That is to say, he was already a sort of a videogame before. Sort of. At least that explains why he is so unfamiliar to me, and more than likely you. There is no question about the game, though. It is below average.