Squares are the most fundamental element of video gaming. So-called retro games use pixels and pixel sprites to invoke nostalgia; a whole game has been devoted to the ever present crate (Super Crate Box). Even today squares dominate how we think of movement. Think of Pac-Man – up, down, left, right – or the Konami Code – up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. Even when movement went from four directions to eight (diagonals) to sixteen (diagonals between diagonals). While many games with play with how we use directions, such as VVVVV allowing the player to switch when up is up and when it is down, few challenge that fundamental square. It’s a bit of a head trip when one does.
The hairy men of Hairy Tales, from Arges, live in a land of greenery and hexagons. Some form of corruption has corrupted their land (corruptively). The Hairys cannot walk on this land, but they can heal it back to its normal, healthy state by picking up a chunk of blue glowing stone and getting nearby. Sometimes they need to deal monsters first, going back to the tried and true tradition of eat garlic and breathe on them.
Unfortunately, all of a Hairy’s concentration goes towards not tripping on his beard. This means that he can’t run around with garlic breath and carry a glow stone at the same time, but more importantly he doesn’t actually look where he is going. Given the Hairys live on smallish platforms surrounded by an abyss, you’d think they’d be more careful.
Instead, it’s up to the player to set out a safe path for a Hairy to follow by re-arranging the hexagon shaped platforms. Several of these platforms can be rotated and shifted about, and there are quite a few different pieces that can go into a path. There are pieces with arrows that can be used to redirect the hairy man any direction the player chooses. Fences can be used for minor redirections (he will always go right), and Hairys can even use wells as portals to overcome gaps or lack of space.
While this all seems a simple and cutesy take on a tile-arranging game, don’t let it lull you into a sense of “This will be easy.” With all apologies to the SquareGo mums for language, damn those hexagons. And damn those death-seeking Hairys!
Luckily, the level is considered completed if you can get the Hairy through the portal (collecting mushrooms is just for bonuses). Plus failing too often will present the player with a skip level option. While the first levels of each of the three worlds begin reasonably simple, the later levels can be painfully difficult to just complete. Combine this with points for time, and the replay potential is impressive.
There are a few flaws with Hairy Tales, one of which is admittedly due to being what some in the industry refer to as a “dick player”. These are the players who will bring out the glitches and problems simply by doing what they probably shouldn’t. Go left instead of right. Take the wrong path and shortcut an event. And, as accomplished here, manage to drop a platform outside the game window’s field of view.
The other main flaw will only affect those having problems completing a level. The hint system just throws up the same basic information the player already knows. A bit more helpful would be a vague outline of the solved path.
Hairy Tales is also easy to play for far longer than you should. While you may not think that’s a flaw, the other people needing to use the computer would say so.