This classic GameCola article was originally published on April 5, 2010.
Over 8 million people purchased Halo 3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sold a whopping 12 million. And Nintendo can’t defecate out Pokémon and “Wii Insert Random Thing To Do Here” games fast enough to completely satisfy the masses. But with all these amazing successes, there have been numerous games and even complete series that have fallen to the wayside. Remember: for every Super Mario Bros., there’s a Shutokou Battle 2: Drift King Keichii Tsuchiya & Masaaki Bandoh. As a proud gamer, I feel that it is my privilege—nay, my duty—to take some time and offer a brief glimpse at many of the games that disappeared into bargain bins and trash bins alike due to overshadowing from more prominent titles, as well as titles that will forever remain sequestered within one region of the world. You’d better be prepared to be educated a little, because there is much that you haven’t seen.
APRIL 2010: Otto’s Ottifanten
GEE, MR. DAY, YOU SURE DON’T LOOK TOO HAPPY TODAY.
You’re right. I’m never pleased when I have to come back and be tormented by an insubordinate narrator.
WELL, I’M NOT GOING TO BE PUSHY TODAY. I JUST HAD A LAXATIVE AND I FEEL FANTASTIC.
I’m glad one of us is a smooth operator. But not even your pleasant demeanor could keep my gruffness level down. I just played this month’s game and it was a rather brutal experience.
SORRY TO HEAR THAT. WERE YOU PLAYING SPAWN: THE ETERNAL FOR THE OLD PLAYSTATION?
I wish I had. Actually, I played a game originally from the land of chocolate, Germany. But it’s really obscure. So obscure that not even GameFAQs knows about it. And GameFAQs knows pretty much every game. Except for this one: Otto’s Ottifanten. And to be honest, there isn’t a lot to say about this poor entry into the monochrome Game Boy’s library, but I’ll sure give it my best shot.
SO WHAT’S THIS GAME ABOUT? AND WHAT’S AN OTTIFANTEN?
Well, I think “ottifanten” is German for “elephant”…maybe. I don’t speak German well. But that would make sense, considering your main character is an elephant-type thing. Not just any elephant-type thing, mind you. He’s a particularly unintelligent one. This elephant may have good memory, but he forgot his brain at home. You play as Baby Bruno—not Otto, as I had expected from the title—who not only brought his “teddy honk” with him to the circus (“teddy honk” being slang for stuffed prostitutional bear), but he also traveled to the circus unattended, leaving me to wonder where Child Services is in that town. Anyway, out pops a magician and he needs a volunteer for his next major stunt. And here is daft Baby Bruno who, in a temporarily blinding moment of orgasmic excitement, offers his teddy honk to fill that role. The magician stuffs the bear into his hat and, as anticipated, it disappears into thin air (or a well-hidden trap flap in the aforementioned chapeau). But this magician has more on his mind than mere visual trickery. He is developing his own fantasy world, and the teddy honk is now a prisoner! So Bruno hops into the top hat to chase down his beloved teddy honk.
I’m going to stop saying teddy honk.
AND I’M OUT OF CHEERFULNESS NOW. THAT STORYLINE SOURED ME.
And I as well. But the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s actually a videogame behind all this foolishness. The game will only be fun for a minute or two, and that’s about it. As soon as you’re dropped into the magician’s fantasy world, you’ll immediately notice that this is a boring place to be! Going with everybody’s favourite type of view—isometric, complete with those stupid controls where up doesn’t really go up, and down doesn’t really go down—your goal is to get from wherever you start in a level to an arrow somewhere else on the screen. That’s right, each level only takes up one screen, so at least you can’t get horribly lost. There are platforms of various heights you may have to get across, but there’s always a way, isn’t there? Just hop around. Maybe catch a ride on a renegade leaf. You know, things that have been explored already in every other game before this one. Ah, and there are enemies around as well. Silly things such as hopping one-eyed freaky creatures and zombie skeletons. Pay no attention to them. They’re just the ever-wandering remains of stuffed things that also succumbed to the magician’s nasty hat.
(Is that something profane protruding from the water?)
Then once you’re done with a level, any time left over from your timer is added to a little scoreboard and when it hits 300, you get an extra life and the game makes a big spectacle of it, including a brand new screen to celebrate your newfound fortune, complete with wavy text common to pretty much every European Game Boy game ever made.
And that’s pretty much it.
Yes, there’s nothing else I can say about this game. Graphics are not impressive for their time, and the music does not bring pleasure to my ears. There isn’t even any music in the introduction. That’s sad. So please, do not buy this unless you love dismally mediocre adventures. Set it on fire. Feed it to a cobra. Append it to a miniature plastic yacht and give it the permanent sendoff to sea it deserves.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SAY BEFORE WE WRAP UP?
What a weird game! How in the world do you stumble across things like this?
I was curious, and I did some “research” on the internet…. Wikipedia tells me that the “Ottifanten” are a family of cartoon characters created by a German comedian named Otto Waalkes (hence the “Otto” in the title of the game, I guess). Also, this is kind of amazing (perhaps even more so because I don’t understand German): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hupBhURnT0Q.
It’s a challenge to dig up these rarities and oddities, it’s true. I wonder if I’ll be able to top these. I’d hate to have to play the Cho Aniki card…
I always like this column, probably because of the column’s historical pun, and also I do enjoy finding odd games in my piles of roms.
Always been a fan of obscure games, and this column has yet to point out one I already know, so it’s a great source of information and finding more.
Looks awesome. Never heard of this, and I love isometric adventures. Looks like it might be a reskin/remake of that GB Adventures of Pinocchio game.
Ottifanten are the comic characters drawn by German comedian Otto Waalkes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Waalkes).
The name is a portmanteau: Otti- refers to the comedian’s nickname, whereas -fanten is the second part of Elefanten (plural to Elefant, the German word for -yeah you guessed it- elephant).
And what cheeky devil wrote this pleasant piece?