Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition is as mad as a flaming bag of rabid otters. It’s relatively incoherent, leaves more unexplained than it dares to offer in terms of exposition, and that lack of information is what makes this a delight for many reasons.
As mentioned in the news piece, just a hint of David Lynch and I’m in – I don’t care if it’s watching Dune on repeat for 12 hours flat, I’m a fan, so seeing hints of Twin Peaks interwoven in the narrative of an aubergine (keep your eggplant) who works for the FBI is a winner.
That is undoubtedly Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition’s strength; the quirkiness of Flamingo’s Creek, the nutcase characters and one of the best VHS filters in gaming history. But how does it play out? Read this in a YouTube voiceover: let’s find out…
Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition Switch Review
Said aubergine (really, I’m not using eggplant) is Watracio Walpurgis, a name that doesn’t roll off the tongue, and when reading the earlier press for the game, I assumed they were a household name.
Well, Baobabs Mausoleum, from Celery Emblem and Zerouno Games, was released some years as individual chapters. One would assume that this was a bit of a cult following as it’s pretty low-key and has all the hallmarks of Easter eggs, in-jokes and fanboy references.
With the Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition, all three chapters are available from the outset, but unless you’ve played them, why start anywhere other than the first?
A simple explanation then. Watracio has broken down in Flamingo’s Creek, and he’s up there without a paddle. All he wants to do is fix his car and get out of town, but he’s balls deep and realises that his visit might not be a flying one.
If you’re looking for value or a bit indecisive on what you want to play, Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition tackles several genres all in one go. From the starting Zelda-like top-down view to turn-based RPGs, side-scrollers to first-person, it’s all here, but how does it gel.
From the get-go, the top-down view felt suited to the game with the character interaction, exploration and general feels of the location. The first introduction to the turn-based sequence was a change in direction but short-lived, like a few other sequences.
But by far the worst experience was the first introduction to a first-person mode. It was like a different group of developers worked on it. While the vibe was there, the gameplay experience was not. After a few wasted minutes of walking around a maze with what I thought was a pea shooter (it was his cigarette), the task took me to a jumping section which was atrocious.
After a dozen or so attempts, I was then playing hide and seek with four flat characters in a 3D environment. It wasn’t a highlight, but soon after, I was back in Zelda territory and seeking advice from snails to solve a fridge puzzle. Seriously.
Easter Eggs In March
I was quite dismissive of the mini-games/genre dabbling as though they weren’t that enjoyable, they were over pretty quickly, and it was back to kooky goings-on.
Like any game that makes pop culture references throughout (an early cameo by John Carpenter immediately secured my interest), there’s bound to be hidden objects. You can collect these throughout, mostly by chance.
Finding items or knowing what to do is a bit of a linear affair, and there were quite a few moments of wandering back and forth where there was only one solution to a problem, and you had to do this before moving in. It made Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition a little restrictive at times.
Still, the presentation matched the atmosphere as the visuals were often erratic; sometimes they were quite sharp, other times a bit rushed – but I liked that approach, which gave the game more charm. The same as the VHS filter.
Watracio Walpurgis, Mighty Pirate
Besides being a scanline whore, I seldom use filters, but this was great. It gave it a piratey feel (as in copyright infringement, me hearties), and that it was all a little bit ‘off’ – perfect. That instability and ambiguity were excellent.
The music side of things was a bit hit and miss. On the one side, some really great tunes served as anthems to Flamingo Creek, while others were a little too chirpy for my tastes. One thing for sure, they were quite repetitive and grinded a bit if stuck in an area, the same as the sound effects.
There were often repeated assets, out of place, like constant frog/toad sounds. I don’t claim to be a zoologist; they could be a different species. However, it did make me laugh when a croak would come out of nowhere, and my daughter would flip her head around like The Exorcist, demanding where the noise came from.
Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition covers niche subjects and pinpoints many pop culture references that will have many fans salivating, but it doesn’t discriminate as such. It’s pretty much playable for anyone willing to experience something quite… unusual.
Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition Switch Review Summary
Quirky characters, video nasty effects, nods to beloved cult classics – Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition caters to many tastes. A variety of videogame genres are covered too, but they were perhaps the weakest elements. As for storytelling and creating some wicked oddities, it hits the spot, but a little short and restrictive in places. Worth exploring for the flamingo’s alone.