It is time to go forth into the archives and revisit the reviews I did at a simpler time. There’s the Sonny series, but we can wait till Sonny 3 comes out for that. There’s YGS 2000, but that was more of a training programming. Hmm, hey, what’s this game in the corner with a big “WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?” sign over it? Oh… this. Not one game, but rather an entire series of games that might have been a lecture on economics, social commentary, or a surreal horror experience that David Lynch would be tip his hat to. Ladies and gentlemen, one of the scariest game series I have ever played for this column: the La La Land series.
La La Land is one of those games that is scary just for being plain weird. It doesn’t try to embrace a certain fear or even violence; it is unsettling because it forces you to play in a universe all its own with rules that only it knows. In this series of games you play as a cat person named Biggt… and that’s about it. Each game has a different style of gameplay or gimmick and the only other thing tying them together is a fish skeleton and a group of fish people that show up in a few games. Therefore, each game will have its own section.
In the first La La Land, you play a game that is horribly distorted, as though it was a cart-based game that wasn’t completely pushed down. Biggt is able to shoot random crap at little orange squiggles that need to be collected. Once he collects 50 orange things, something will appear and needs to be shot. This game is surprisingly frustrating while also setting up a surprisingly effective atmosphere. The frustrating part of the game is that Biggt kind of teleports as he walks around so it can take a while to figure out how you get him to the orange squiggles. At the same time, it has a similar atmosphere to Alphaland with it being in an unfinished/corrupted game and the sounds and music that play are strange and distorted (the song is actually Kate Bush’s “Babooshka” played backwards and made horribly distorted), making the playing experience slightly unnerving. The thing at the end is a bit scary as well, so overall, this is an okay game.
La La Land 2 has very little gameplay. A fish head asks you to steal from the rich so it will have money to buy food. You walk to the left to steal money then walk right to give it to the fish head. You repeat this several times while some kind of earth mother song plays. While the fish head and the way things jitter around can be disturbing, this episode is overall pretty damn funny with its dark ending.
La La Land 3 has Biggt being sick of his usual diet so he goes out looking for something new to eat… and that’s it. To spoil this episode would be a crime, so just be ready for more of the black humor that was present in 2. Also make note of the music, which has a gentle sound that contrasts with what happens, making it all the funnier.
La La Land 4 actually has gameplay beyond moving left and right. The plot is especially weird in this one. Biggt is in a chef’s hat and weird things happen. Of the five episodes, this is the most unsettling. Things are very random and digitized voices are used. When these two elements are combined, it creates a terrifying experience with a climax that really unnerved me. This is also the only game you have to close by pressing ‘escape’ upon completing (the others close automatically).
The final game, La La Land 5, is a rather interesting one. The game is told as a flashback and uses three real songs (Two are the odd choices of “This thing called Amway” and the anti-evolution song “I Ain’t no Kin to the Monkey”). Biggt has become a bible salesman to the fish people and makes his money every time one of them falls asleep on one (press the down key to toss bibles). As the days go by, he has less customers and the screen gets more distorted each day. While it isn’t particularly unsettling, the use of music and the ending really leave an impact.
Overall, La La Land is one of those weird games that is hard to judge properly. It lives in its own world. While the episodes do have lessons, they’re so strange or just wrong that it’s obvious they aren’t meant to be taken seriously. The games do make effective use of music and atmosphere. However, since this is a game without much gameplay, I can’t really give it a proper score. If you want to play something that is just plain weird and a tad creepy, however, you’d be sore to miss this collection.
Games can be found (hosted by Auntie Pixelante): HERE
Freeware Friday is a series by Gabriel B. That casts a spotlight on some of the exemplary (or just plain weird) games that are completely free to play.