Review: Funk of Titans

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Gaming platforms carry expectations. There’s a big difference between what you expect to see (or are willing to tolerate) on your iPad and what excites on a powerful PC or console. Like a dude in ripped jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt who shows up at a black-tie dinner event, Funk of Titans, A Crowd of Monsters’ mythology-themed endless runner, feels like a free-to-play iOS title that accidentally ended up on a new-gen Xbox One.

It starts with a ridiculous and poorly implemented premise. As Perseus, the son of an African-American Zeus who bears a not-accidental resemblance to Laurence Fishburne, you’re tasked with restoring the glory of funk by taking it to the titans of pop, rap and metal and their minions. Kanye, you’re on notice again, apparently.

Why exactly this is necessary is silly and pointless, but that’s okay — Brutal Legend was silly, too, and that game managed to entertain. The problems here begin with the way in which your hero accomplishes said task. There are 39 platform levels here, and about 80 percent of them are exactly the same–run, jump, collect, slash and repeat. The enemies’ look may change from hoplite to troglodyte depending on which music type you’re supposedly eradicating, but there are only three basic types, and you’re never going to use more than two face buttons to dispatch them. By the time the game finally — finally — introduces a handful of new mechanics (levers! Whoa!), the end is in sight.

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In addition to repeating the same couple of moves ad nauseam, Perseus also helpfully repeats the same painful catchphrases. And believe me, “Cool, Daddy-O!” and “Boomshakalaka!” are not phrases anyone should be repeating more than once — not in NBA Jam and not here.

Every idea here seems like a pale — like as in almost transparent — imitation of something copped from another far better game. If you squint your eyes to the point where they’re actually closed tight, you can see hints of Rayman Legends in the jumping and bouncing. The Pegasus-riding bonus levels you access by collecting enough gold albums look an awful lot like the jetpack levels in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, even if here they look like garbage and don’t control even slightly as smoothly.

Bosses are placed to break up the run-and-jump action, but killing them requires nothing more than three waves of simplistic quick-time events. Zeus doesn’t need Perseus to handle these throwdowns; he needs a third-grader.

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You’d think Funk of Titans would naturally feature a kick-ass, funkadelic soundtrack with deep samples of all the warring music genres, but that’s inexplicably missing as well. Perseus might as well be trying to restore the grandeur of rugby at the expense of lacrosse, flag football and ultimate Frisbee.

Collecting gold albums leads to the game’s only genuine sliver of fun — unlocking the dopey helmets, headgear and weaponry that can customize Perseus’ look and, occasionally, pave his path to special in-game weapons littered in the levels. Unfortunately, donning an oversized foam Trojan helmet can’t offset the boring level design.

As a final insult, every time I scored an in-game achievement, the game logged me out of Xbox Live. It quickly took a Herculean effort of will to force myself to log back in and dial up another forgettable level. I have a feeling that’s not quite the legendary experience A Crowd of Monsters had in mind.

SkipIt

Pros:
+ A few fun customized unlockables

Cons:
– Repetitive, dull platform gameplay
– A game about music with an utterly forgettable soundtrack
– Technical glitches kick you out every time you unlock an achievement

Game Info:
Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters
Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Release Date: 1/9/2015
Genre: Platformer
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.