Comedy is something of a rarity in today's gaming market. Sure you may muster a titter or two at the quips made in Doom or the tantrum of a losing sibling in Mario Kart but none of them gets there through actual, full-on comedy. That's where classic adventures shine. And one that does is Xilam's 2000 point-and-clicker Stupid Invaders.
Xilam have had a storied career in animation. The French studio, who are comprised of ex-Gaumont employees, are responsible for the likes of Oggy and the Cockroaches, Lucky Luke and Space Goofs. All great series, with Stupid Invaders being an adaptation of that last one. The show sees a group of five aliens - Etno, Candy, Gorgious, Bud and Stereo - who, while picnicking in space, crash their saucer-shaped space ship on Earth.
In fear of the planet's native species, they take residence in an old abandoned mansion, living their reclusive lives until they can fix their ship and return home of Zigma-B. Called Home to Rent in the UK, where it aired on Channel 4 in the late 90s, it's a fun show with a cool theme tune written by Iggy Pop exclusively for the show. It has that anarchic Ren and Stimpy vibe that was all the rage back then, but a little more kid-friendly.
The leader and the brains of the group. If it's available,
Etno can use the SMTV, a gizmo that can disguise him
On his time on Earth, he has been writing an encyclopedia
about human life on the planet. He may be afraid of them,
but he's developed an endearing affinity for the species.
"On moonless nights, he longs to have a few tufts of hair
on his itchy bits."
The emotional, dramatic one (read: gay). He's the only one
of the five to have adopted fashion by way of a leopard skin
apron. While certainly effeminate in the show, it is confirmed
in the game that he is, in fact, transgender and plans on getting
a sex change from Professor Helmut.
"When Candy kicks up a stink, it's spectacular as it's unexpected."
Certainly not the brains of the bunch, Bud is the one we're
left with at the beginning of the game. He managed to dodge
Bolok's attacks and locked himself in the toilet.
He may "think in slow motion" but his escape using nothing
but a plunger and military-strength toilet paper is quite
The grumpy, mono-toothed Gorgious is the one alien that
really hates being on Earth, with the one exception - food. He
will eat pretty much anything, including items you may
think would be useful in a puzzle (hint: if he does, they're not).
He is often quite disparaging towards Candy, leading one to
wonder if there might be repressed feelings towards him. The
two's jaunt in the sewers certainly raises questions.
Stereo "lives in a desolate world of meaningless facts". Good
for a pub quiz, not so much when escaping alien hunters.
The Siamese twins were left out of the revived season 2 of the
series due to his (their?) apparent lack of popularity, but his (their?)
schizophrenic personality (and gaseous nature) proves helpful here.
The game, on the other hand, skews a little older. While the show has the gang running away from boy scouts or loose fairy tale characters, the game features a sex-pervert in an assless bunny costume, explicitly pooping cows and a little too many barely-disguised penis jokes (if you can have too much of such a thing). The story goes a step ahead of the show too, with a nefarious scientist named Dr. Sakarin eyeing up the intergalactic housemates for his evil experiments. The end of the game acts as an end to Season 1, which was cancelled in 2000 before being revived for a second, more polished outing in 2002.
Visually, the traditional cell animation of the show is replaced with some weird-looking 3D graphics. It's not entirely unpleasant. There may be a fair number of animation gaffs (Gorgious' tooth occasionally clips through his lip) but overall, it has a bright and crisp design. Some of the humans do look like potatoes you'd find in the wonky produce section of your local environmentally conscious supermarket, but at least they're filled with character.
Be prepared for some very rude humour.
For any veteran of the point-and-click adventure, the gameplay will be very familiar. In fact, it's often simplified to the point where the correct action will be automatically selected. You can still cycle through the verbs with the right mouse button, but it's rarely needed. The puzzles are inventory based which is brought up by pressing 'space', yet most puzzles are relatively self-contained. Find yourself stuck in a room? The item you need to get out won't be far away. In fact, expect to use anything you pick up fairly quickly.
Be warned, though. Stupid Invaders does feature that bane of adventure game mechanics - instant, unexpected death. In many situations, the rubbery features of our alien family mean that they are quite indestructible. Except when the game doesn't want them to be. This is more prevalent later on in the game where any errant interaction with a human will lead to instant death. My tip: don't talk to any of 'em. You'll be finding various bizarre ways to kill them anyway (death by blunt object, death by blowfish).
The tiny Dr. Sakarin (and his evil scientist henchman) want the aliens for their experiments (left)
Many cupboards and fridges contain a purple bear with a mallet. Dunno why (right)
The trial and error approach may be a pain, but if you save regularly it's not much of an issue. I found it just as enjoyable to find all of the elaborate death sequences. Where the true difficulty lies is in its moon logic. For example, the potato-faced man in black (humorously named Bolok) is temporarily defeated with the careful use of a wardrobe, pantyhose and a lawnmower. Later on, an exploding chicken Godzilla is key to open the hatch to the sewers. To crawl through the gap under a locked door, you will have to squish one of your characters into a thin, crawling pancake. It takes some out-of-the-box thinking to get to these answers.
It's all very bizarre, and all the better for it, but that moon logic doesn't necessarily mean it's an overly difficult game. If you're lost just use everything in your inventory on every hotspot you come across. There may be many screens but few have points of interactable interest. Couple that with an inventory with a limited six slots that rarely gets full and you'll get past a tricky situation with ease.
Bolok, the man in black hired to capture the aliens.
You can scupper his plans in a variety of Tex Avery inspired ways.
The main draw, though, is the humour. Many of the gags would be a little too blue for a PG rating, yet many may feel that they're a little too juvenile for the average adult. I felt it played the jokes just the right side of shocking and firmly into the absurd territory. It's the kind of humour you might find in a particularly off-the-wall Monty Python sketch - think of the organ transplant scene in Meaning of Life and you get the idea. I would say that the crazy shenanigans the aliens get up to is the highlight of the game. It often left me laughing out loud which is all too rare in this medium.
So, from a gameplay perspective, it's simple, easy and not particularly unique. From a story perspective, it will sharply turn into tangents for the sole purpose of an obscene joke or two. From a comedy perspective, I would say it's a must play. Unless you'd baulk at the image of an alien porno shoot, poo explosions or a dissolving Santa Claus, give Stupid Invaders a go. It certainly lives up to its name in the best way possible.
To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWind to run on modern systems. nGlide 3D Wrapper (included) must be installed. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 1.67 Gb. Install Size: 2.53 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Stupid Invaders (the game) is © Xilam Animation
Space Goofs (the series) is © Xilam Animation
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me