the writings of a mind

Title: Neighbours From Hell 2
Genre: Puzzle
Big Word: Mangled
Strap: Because misery loves company

To secretly film your breaking into a neighbour’s house is weird and illegal. To then lay all manner of slapstick traps with the expressed intention of seeing him mutilated is criminal. To show this on television is, well, reasonably likely. But that was the original – now we have a sequel.

This time your neighbour from hell has gone on holiday. Good! you might think, a chance to relax, far from his hellish ways, an enjoyable break of peace and solitude. But no, in Neighbours From Hell 2, you are going to stalk him around the world. The concept never made sense, but now we are mystified beyond all comprehension. How is he our neighbour if he’s on a cruise, or plodding around the beaches of China? And why on earth are we setting out to ensure that every minute of his break is utterly miserable by causing him pain and discomfort at his every turn?

His holiday means that instead of having the game ask you to lay traps without getting caught in an increasingly larger number of rooms in the same house, levels are now in all manner of locations all round the world. While you do come back to the cruise ship between countries, the lack of any real consistency takes away one of the few likeable things about the original – the ability to learn the layout and hiding places of the building. These new locations are garishly designed and horribly cluttered with irrelevant décor, each an assault on your visual cortex, obfuscating the puzzles beyond anything that might cause pleasure.

The structure has been tightened slightly. Previously the puzzles had the oddly clashing goals of finding and performing all the various tricks available in a level, /and/ setting them up in such an order as to achieve the highest possible audience appreciation, rather mistakenly reflected in terms of ratings, but triggered by an anger-meter measuring your neighbour’s fury. Confused? We were. This time the ‘ratings’ idea has been dumped, which means completing a level is now only about triggering all the traps, with an optional bonus for pushing the rage levels high. While this makes things slightly simpler when trying to explaining the damn thing to someone else, it also makes what was already a painfully easy puzzle game, far, far more facile. As before, you pick up anything that can be picked up, and then click it on anything that can be clicked on. When you find that the rubber hose should be clicked on the barrel of eels, there’s no sense of achievement. You just do it, watch the ‘incident’ with a morosely blank face, and move on to the next. Or don’t.

NFH2 really seems to believe it’s incredibly funny. But putting an exclamation mark at the end of a death sentence doesn’t make it comedy.

Margin Note:

You neighbour isn’t travelling alone. Not only does his mother accompany him, present to be another obstacle in the levels, but there’s also an enormously bosomed woman to whom your neighbour appears to be very attracted. More endless amusement at the misfortune of others can be achieved as you are required to thwart his efforts to win her heart, and thus removing the last chance of any happiness in his life. The only neighbour from hell in this game is the player character.

 A very bad idea, made even worse. As they say, from hell.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Big Ben Interactive
Developer: JoWood
Price: £15
Minimum System: PII 233, 128MB RAM, 8MB 3D card, 310MB HD
Recommended: PIII 600, 256MB RAM
Multi-player: None.
Web Address: