We get our hands dirty with Ripstone's new game.
If we were to sit down and compile a list of games that probably don't need to be made, we'd sooner or later add the men's room janitor simulator to the list. In Men's Room Mayhem, however, that's exactly what's involved, from steering patrons to the appropriate facilities, ensuring hand-washing hygiene is maintained at all times, and guiding customers carefully to the exit so as to make room for the next crop of visitors.
This is a wave-based game where the challenge gets steadily trickier as you play. When customers enter the bathroom, you have to draw a line that leads them towards the appropriate facility - to a urinal if they have a yellow drop icon above their head, or to a cubicle if they have a toilet roll in mind. Beware the customers with ticking timers above their heads too, as you'll have to get them to safety before they make a mess.
Once they've attended to their business, you can either shoo them out of the door quickly to make room for the next arrival, or have them stop-off for a handwash at the sinks before leaving. Bonus points are awarded for maintaining thorough hygiene - not to mention spacing etiquette - although this is easier said than done once you reach the later waves.
Each character moves at a different speed, so grandpa shuffles around and holds everything up, while the younger characters whizz around fast enough to easily knock into a character you've already set in motion. If any two characters collide, they'll have a fight where they stand, leaving a bloody mess on the floor before they both leave in a huff. Have a combination of five messy accidents or fights in any single wave, and it's game over.
Between each wave though, you'll get the chance to redeem your bathroom. A cleaning session sees you frantically scrubbing every urinal, cubicle and blood stain to get things ship-shape for the next wave of customers. It's a pretty throwaway addition compared to the more thoughtful thinking required in the main game, but it livens things up a little.
This could have been a very crude game in the wrong hands, but instead it's really quite a charming one. Once characters have arrived at their urgent destinations, little pixellated squares obscure the business at hand, and grins of delight accompany all of your perfectly executed plans. There are also a huge number of different bathrooms to unlock, from dingy nightclubs to circus tents (urgh). Each requires a different line-drawing strategy, and new rooms are unlocked by comleting mission objectives, such as dealing with so many customers in a single wave, or making sure that everyone washes their hands.
There's nothing revolutionary about the core gameplay of Men's Room Mayhem, and it's all very reminiscent of games like Airport Mania and Flight Control. But it is an exceptionally well polished game with an original twist, and the execution of the art, gameplay and music won't fail to win you over.
What's Hot:Each bathroom requires a different kind of strategy, there's bags of character to the game, and the art and audio is superb.
What's Not:The early waves get a little tiresome once you've mastered the game.