Well, there’s one bit of genius for you. If you’re going to release a game as patently ridiculous as Shannon Tweed’s Attack of the Groupies, you might as well release it on April 1st. I mean, seriously: I bought this at least partially because I assumed it was a joke, and I suspect I probably wasn’t the only one. I mean, who would really release a game based on Shannon Tweed, famous for 1) taking her clothes off for Playboy in the 1980s, 2) taking her clothes off for erotic thrillers that provided Channel 5 with 90% of their televised content for their first three years of operation, and 3) living with and eventually marrying Gene Simmons from KISS?
Assuming this was a joke is a mistake on par of “it’s fine, guys, we’ll be in and out of Afghanistan in a month.”
Shannon Tweed’s Attack of the Groupies is not a joke. It’s an HD re-release of a mobile game, which… you know what? A mere description cannot do it justice. Journey with me through the game, and find out for yourself.
After an introductory cutscene that was almost certainly designed for screens with a resolution lower than 1024×768, not least because of its utterly horrible bitrate, I’m in the game. I’m apparently playing as Shannon Tweed, or playing as some omniscient being that’s assisting her. Apparently, she’s having trouble with groupies. They’re trying to get their hands on Her Man, who goes unnamed but is presumably Gene Simmons. Apparently, this is bad, and it’s up to Shannon to beat them back with the power of makeup remover.
With daughter Sophie Tweed-Simmons providing tutorial instructions, I’m thrown directly into Plants vs Zombies. I don’t mean a game like Plants vs Zombies; I mean it is actually Plants vs Zombies. Only with makeup removal guns instead of plants and groupies instead of zombies (which is, let’s face it, an academic distinction at best).
Level 1 starts things off simply: I have one lane, and Sophie telling me what to do. I plonk down a Sunflower – sorry, a “money tree” – and save up the cash for a basic makeup removal gun. It shoots the approaching groupies. I win. Apparently they’ve spent ages doing their makeup to meet Gene Simmons, and now that their makeup is ruined they have no choice but to leave.
So, okay, yeah, Shannon Tweed’s Attack of the Groupies isn’t exactly inspired, but it’s not offensively terrible.
The music is offensively terrible. Jesus Christ, it’s actually burrowing into my brain. This is the music: a five-second guitar riff repeated two or three times, followed by a slightly different guitar riff repeated once. That’s it. That’s the entire musical score of each level. This from a game centred around the woman married to Gene Simmons. I’m going to take a wild guess that KISS wasn’t exactly jumping to be associated with this, and that’s why I’m not planting makeup removal cannons to the strains of Crazy Crazy Nights.
I’m now being introduced to the wonders of upgrading turrets, which is done by saving up money, pausing the game, and then clicking the upgrade button. This can only be done a little while after a tower has been put down, and it increases the damage very slightly and puts a little silver crown around them. If I then leave them a bit longer, I can upgrade them again, which turns the crown gold and makes them do more damage.
Also, I’m now fighting across three lanes. Still no actual strategy required, but I’m pretty sure Plants vs Zombies took a lot longer than two levels before making it even remotely possible to fail if you’d ever played a tower defence game before.
Then I’m introduced to a new enemy via a brief Q&A session. Yeeeah.
Level 3 passed without incident, and unlocked a new weapon – the “Skunkinator”, which is apparently a bomb that smells bad. I plonk it down, it blows up, and any groupies in roughly a 3×3 radius of the explosion are immediately so disgusted by the smell that they run away. It’s pretty much entirely unnecessary considering how easy these early levels are, though. I mean, that second groupie mentioned? I can’t tell any difference between her and the ones I’ve already encountered.
Four lanes, now, and a new enemy. This one actually takes a bit more of a pounding, but she’s still entirely beatable with my basic strategy of “put down a single makeup removal gun in each lane and then upgrade them.”
Music update: I’m now actually hearing those same two fucking riffs even when they’re not playing. I want to turn it off, but this is presumably the Intended Experience so I’ll suffer through it for you, dear reader.
This level also results in my unlocking the first of what appears to be five family albums, which have photos of Shannon and Gene. Like the one below.
Not sure that’s much of a reward, but okay.
I’m sufficiently bored that I’m now just throwing as much shit down as possible to see what happens. Then I win.
Now I have bouncers. They’re Wall-nuts. They stand there and then the groupies come up and ineffectually claw at them and then their makeup falls off because Shannon Tweed has set up scientifically improbable makeup removal cannons and they run away crying.
I’ve apparently beaten the first set of levels! Hooray! Now I’m, uh… doing exactly the same thing, only somewhere that looks slightly different. I guess the first area was by the stage, and now I’m backstage? Great. No fundamental difference except that I’m up to five lanes, now.
Beating level 13 has introduced “Barcelona”, a new enemy type that is absolutely not a thinly-veiled Paris Hilton. A socialite heiress famed for scandal who’s named after a European city? Naaaaah.
It’s apparently quite hard to remove her makeup, and worse still, the Bouncers have presumably seen her sex tape because when she walks up to them they get little love hearts above their heads and they just let her pass by. Fortunately, I can now ruin the floors of everywhere I visit with lake-sized lumps of chewing gum, which slows down anyone silly enough to walk into it. Hooray.
Still no actual strategy, and these levels take forever. Seriously, even on double speed, the game actually runs significantly slower than pretty much any other tower defence game you’d care to name. It’s like defending against encroaching ice ages. In real-time.
And fucking hell, that music.
Six rows. Groupies on stilts which absolutely are not ladder zombies. No, really, they’re not. They don’t “use” their stilts when they encounter a turret, because that would probably be too hard to code. They just walk through everything.
Still fall very quickly to upgraded makeup removal guns though.
At this point I got sufficiently bored that I actually went and Googled for pictures of Shannon Tweed, most of which involve so little clothing I can’t actually link them here. Then I alt-tabbed back to discover that the game automatically pauses when the window doesn’t have focus anymore, so I actually have to sit here while groupies are very slowly defeated by my not-at-all cunning defences, listening to the horrible horrible music, waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Now I have a point-blank range thing that gives people a terrible hairstyle. Not a Chomper – not least because I don’t think it can attack from behind Wall-nuts. I mean, bouncers. Either way, who cares? Makeup guns. Upgrades. Win anyway. Oh yeah, and at some point I also unlocked guns that fire green slime. These slow groupies down. Definitely not Snow Peas. I’ve started putting them down and upgrading them too, because why not?
Music is so bad and so ingrained into my head that I think I can actually taste colours now. May be having a stroke.
New area. Parking lot. Functionally identical. Decide to just throw down basically everything. Win. Unlock “dark hipster” enemy who has a sonic scream which instantly destroys any turret she walks into. Yaaaaay.
Can I win without upgrading anything? Yes. Yes I can. Also, those mirrors make a single groupie freeze for a short time, because… they’re so narcissistic that they can’t pass one up without staring at it. Ha ha! Ha. Hee.
Getting quite disturbed by Shannon Tweed’s mid-level barks. Fully half of them are nonsensical, but some of them are just bizarrely offensive.
“Eat your heart out, Superwoman!”
“It’s called extinction! Look it up!”
Shannon, you’re removing their makeup. You’re not killing them.
“Ding-dong, anybody home?”
Uh. No, really; what?
“I hope she doesn’t forget to update her status – getting her ASS kicked by Shannon Tweed.”
Shannon, I’m beginning to worry about you.
“Careful, you’re gonna pop those things.”
Shannon? What things? What are you talking about?
“I’m no psychic, but her future might involve glitter and a pole.”
Sorry, what? Did a former Playboy model who then retained fame by taking off her clothes in films, marrying a rockstar, and then starring in a reality TV show just disparage strippers? Really?
“A little heavy on the makeup there, ladies.”
These barks. Over and over and OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Endlessly. Occasionally the same one plays again as soon as it finishes. I’m not sure whether to take that as lazy design, or whether to take it seriously and assume that Shannon Tweed occasionally forgets things that happened several seconds ago. I would too, if I had to listen to the same five-second guitar riffs over and over again. Oh look! That’s what’s happening right now.
Music update: DUN DUNDUN DUN-DIDDLY, DUN DUN DUN DUUUUN