16/07/2015

PIPI & BIBIS / WHOOPEE! (ARCADE)

I've been to some strange alternate worlds during all my years of videogaming, but today's might be the most bizarre parallel universe of them all: a world where you have to destroy computers to see pictures of naked women! Madness, utter madness. It's Toaplan's 1991 arcade bombs-n-boobs-em-up Pipi and Bibis, also known as Whoopee!


It might actually be called Pipi and Bibi's, complete with possessive apostrophe, but it's hard to tell. Whatever the correct title, I assume that Pipi and Bibi(s) are the names of the two playable characters, seen here standing under the game's extremely colourful logo. Also on the logo, up in the top right, is what I can only see as a tiny, armless, mechanical George Washington, his eyes bulging with righteous patriotic fervour.


Rather than deigning to explain the setting of the game or the goals of its protagonists in a clear, concise manner, Pipi and Bibis instead briefly scrolls through this comic strip which only serves to raise further questions. Why do all the characters look like designs rejected from the Muppets for being "too nightmarish?" What's with the ballerinas? Why has that man pulled down his underwear, and when he says "me too!" what is he hoping will happen to him? Actually, let's leave that one as a mystery. It can't possibly be anything pleasant. And I know I go on about the sinister greasepainted menace that is clowns a lot, but that clown in the top-middle panel is the most grotesque example I've seen for a while. The smirk on his hideous fleshy lips as he ogles a woman's ankles is going to stay with me for an uncomfortably long time.


Getting straight into it, Pipi and Bibis is a series of single-screen missions to avoid the enemies and fulfil your goals of computer destruction. You walk Pipi around the the screen, visiting each of the computer terminals so that you can plant a bomb next to them. Pipi has just accomplished this with his first target - you can see him standing nearby, with his blue suit and his face like a cartoon witch carved from an apple. There's no jump button in this one, so the only way to get between floors is to either take the elevators or walk up and down the staircases. In short, Pipi and Bibis is heavily inspired by Taito's arcade classic Elevator Action, filtered through the bold spritework of Toaplan's own Snow Bros. I'd be surprised if many of the staff that created Snow Bros. didn't also work on Pipi and Bibis. I'm also getting a Bonanza Bros. vibe from Pipi and Bibis, especially with the chequerboard backgrounds and techno-jazz soundtrack.


When you rig the explosives to the final computer on each stage, a countdown begins and Pipi must dash for the exit before the bombs explode, destroying the building and killing everyone inside, be they mad professor types with heads like a surly baked bean or a depressed-looking mafiosi. It's an explosion of such total destructive power that I can't help but feel that specifically targeting each computer was a waste of time, Pipi.
The real trick is making sure you rig the computer nearest to the exit last, giving you plenty of time to escape. This did not occur to me until I was several stages into the game. I am not an intelligent man.


Stage one complete, and my reward is a picture of a woman's feet. I was going to say she's wearing shoes, but on closer inspection I think they're extremely worn socks with massive holes on the heels. They also look like Fruit Pastille ice lollies. You can Google it for a comparison if you like but trust me, they really do.


Back to the action in stage two, which is the same as stage one but with a different layout. Blow up the computers, don't touch the enemies because they have coated themselves in a fast-acting neurotoxin that will immediately kill Pipi on contact. That's why the bad guys look so weird, they're all evolved from poisonous rainforest tree-frogs (I assume). To help in dealing with this villainous menace, Pipi has a weapon at his disposal, which you can see pictured in action above. It's a sort of laser beam / whip arrangement that stretches out in front of you when you hold down the fire button. It temporarily paralyses the enemies on contact, allowing you to walk past them unharmed. However, if you keep someone trapped in the beam for a while, they eventually slide off the floor and drop down onto the next solid level below. That's what's happening to this scientist, and his weird response of "resigned floppiness" is typical of all enemies caught in Pipi's beam. I think it might just make people really, really apathetic, sapping their will to do anything until they become liquid and dribble down to the floor below. If you manage to slide an enemy off the very bottom level, they're temporarily removed from the stage, although they will return via the doors in the background once they've recovered their get-up-and-go.


The Apathy Beam is an interesting method of defence, although it does have its drawbacks: for starters, it only works on one enemy at a time, so there's often situations where you're trying to keep multiple enemies stunned without making much progress because they recover so fast. The biggest issue, however, is that because the enemies fall down there's a tendency for them to all end up bunched together on the lowest platform - meaning the Apathy Beam is a weapon that you end up not wanting to use because it's only going to make things more difficult for you later, like landscaping your garden with hand grenades.


Here is a picture of a skirt. I though it would be a long, long time before I saw a videogame skirt uglier than the ones in Barbie: Fashion Pack Games but well, here we are.


This is the kind of thing I meant, it's a regular Potato-Faced Henchmen Convention at the bottom of that elevator. Luckily, all is not lost - if you make Pipi dash out of an elevator before the doors have opened all they way, he'll slide out feet-first and knock over any enemies in his path as he does so. It's up to you whether you shout "safe!" every time you do this, but that would be my recommendation.


It turns out there's a lady attached to those random articles of clothing! Here she is in all her marble-eyed, big-chinned grandeur, a wry smile on the lips of a mouth too small for eating food larger than rice grains. Well, she looks happy enough to be here, I suppose. Thanks for stopping by, miss.


I'm going to set a new upper limit on the Sarcastotron when I say "gee, I'm sure Toaplan received all the legal clearances necessary to include Disney character Jessica Rabbit in their weird porny arcade game. Mickey Mouse shook hands with the CEO of Toaplan and everything."


So, yeah, cartoon nudity. Clear four stages and as a "special" "treat" you're allowed a few moments to savour the pixellated flesh tableau before you. I have censored this picture for your own moral well-being, but in the original, Too-Hot-For VGJunk version you can see her Pipi and her Bibis, the whole shebang. Thanks, Toaplan? I suppose it could have been worse - at least she seems, if not pleased to be there exactly, then at least gently amused, even with Pipi and Bibi crawling all over her.


From here, Pipi and Bibis repeats the same pattern of clear a stage, see some clothes, clear a few more stages and see a naked woman, spread over several themed worlds. The theme of world two is the circus, which adds a few new twists. Trampolines are the major one: because Pipi can't jump, the trampolines allow him to move vertically, and holding the joystick left or right makes him land on the nearest available platform. The trampolines are interesting addition, because they make planning your route through the stage that little bit more engaging, although it can be annoying when you're using them and an enemy climbs aboard too because sometimes you can't adjust your trajectory and death becomes inescapable. On the other hand, if you zap an enemy while it's on a trampoline, it will automatically fall all the way off the screen, which can buy you some breathing space.


The other thing you get in the circus is clowns, in two different flavours - the pink ones, and the blue ones that look like someone drank a crate of Night Nurse and tried to draw Krusty the Clown. The blue clowns take a lot longer to succumb to the effect of the Apathy Ray than the red ones and are thus more dangerous, presumably because they have made more blood sacrifices to their foul red-nosed gods.


As you can see, it doesn't take long for Pipi and Bibis to get hectic, with the legions of the clown army gaining support from trampolining cats. Knowing what most cats' reaction to being placed on a trampoline would be, I suspect they will feel nothing but relief when Pipi zaps them into whatever holding dimension lurks just off the bottom of the screen.


From behind the wall of this reality, she awakens: Bishoub-Animerroth, the Wide-Eyed Despoiler! Her loyal and remorseless Kooky Klown Kultists have paved the way for her return to our plane of existence, the stars are correctly aligned and soon she will feast on the souls on man and maybe a hastily-prepared slice of toast that if she's running late! Ia! Ia! Bishoub-Animerroth!
As a matter of public safety, I feel I should point out that despite what Pipi and Bibis may imply, clowns cannot be killed by simple dynamite unless it has first been anointed with the tears of a saint.


World three, and Pipi plies his computer-detonating trade beneath the bright lights of the big city. What better way to encapsulate the bustling energy of a major metropolis than with a swimmer enemy who breaststrokes along the floor at you? Oh, what's that you say, there are thousands of better ways than a swimmer? Correct. I think I'm just grumpy about the swimmer because he cost me so many lives, swimming into my ankles at speeds highly impressive considering they're being reached by a man dragging himself along the concrete on his stomach.


Let's get this out of the way right now: if you are a foot fetishist with a side-kink for low-resolution graphics then, yes, Pipi and Bibis is the game for you. A website I just made up - I mean, I really hope I just made it up anyway - called PixelHosieryXXX.net awarded it five blurry stockings out of five.


Who's that at the bottom of the screen? Why, I believe it's Andy Serkis, doing his motion capture work for the next Planet of the Apes movie. I'm going over there to get his autograph!


It seems that Mr. Serkis does not appreciate being bothered while he's working.
This is the closest Pipi and Bibis gets to a boss battle, and it's odd that they went to the effort of making this unusually large, buttock-flashing enemy and then only used him in one of the game's thirty or so stages, but it's preferable to having these guys popping up in every stage. He's standing right on the exit, but it's easy enough to lure him to one side of his enclosure and then quickly run around the top to the opposite end before he can pull his underpants back up.


The next set of stages are casino-themed, in as much as anything packed with terrified-looking cats, punk rockers and trampolines can be casino-themed. Really, get a good look at those cats. They definitely do not want to be involved in this madness, and I'm beginning to sympathise with them. While Pipi and Bibis is a game that's solid in theory and mechanics, and quite fun to play during the earlier stages, as it wears on the difficulty increases in a way that makes the gameplay less and less fun. It's not the extra challenge that's the problem, it's that said challenge comes from situations where you can see death coming but can't avoid it, usually when trampolines are involved, or from having to wait around so long for the enemies to align that you start running out of time.


There's just a bit too much going on at any given time, I think. It might just be my ageing synapses struggling to keep up, although if Pipi was a more nimble character I think I'd be having more fun. It's certainly not a bad game, it just feels as though the latter half of the game was put together with less care and attention than it required in order to be unequivocally good. It's almost as though the development staff were distracted by something else while they were making these stages, but I can't imagine what that could have been.


Maybe they were worried about this poor girl's malformed shoulders. No wonder she's half-naked, she must have a hell of a time finding tops that fit.


It's off to the track for the next set of stages, where Pipi and Bibis' usual dangers are compounded by the gangs of roaming Formula 1 cars. They're kind of adorable, all squashed up like that. These stages also provide another entry in the seemingly endless list of slightly altered Marlboro logos in videogames. Looks like Toaplan were more frightened of Philip Morris' lawyers than Disney's.


Ah, grey socks, the very height of eroticism. I really hope that image pans up and reveals a granddad in a cardigan, smoking a pipe.


It's refreshing that Pipi and Bibis didn't go with the usual forest / ice / lava world designs, and overall the graphics are very nice. The characters are weird, sure, but they're weird in a way that gives them some character. It's ironic that the "sexy" pictures are much less well-rendered than the rest of the game - you saw that girl's shoulders, right? - but it's a good job it worked out that way because you spend a lot more time looking at the in-game graphics than the pin-ups.


Okay, confession time: I have no idea where this final set of stages is supposed to be taking place. Inside a clock, but a clock with no hands and half of another, identical clock face sticking out of the side? A clock full of Kinnikuman clones dressed as ballerinas and floating doorways that dispense very confused cats?


Wherever the hell it's supposed to be ninety percent of it is built from trampolines, making it by far the least enjoyable of the worlds. It's just not fun when agency is taken away from the player, endlessly bouncing back and forth without a moment's peace to electrocute a dog with your Apathy Ray. Oh well, it's almost over now.


Madam, you seem confused about the purpose of a bra.


With all the stages complete, and with no final boss or special event to mark the end of the game, Pipi and Bibis is over. All the girls you've previous seen scroll by and show you their boobs one last time, a twelve-gun salute if you're willing to make a comparison between guns and breasts. The girls all pose for a photograph, seemingly the best of friends but possibly as a support group of women who have had weird, tiny men crawling over their bodies. Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman have been offered a lifetime membership.


Then Andy Serkis reappears and shows everyone his bumhole, because Pipi and Bibis is nothing if not classy.
My closing thoughts on Pipi and Bibis / Whoopee!, then: the very concept of erotic arcade games remains unfathomably bizarre to me. Even if you can somehow get yourself revved up over nude spritework, why would you want to do so in a public place like an arcade? Is that what gets you off, you pervert? Okay, so Pipi and Bibis appears to be aiming for a more playful tone with its grot, a kind of jokey seaside-postcard nudity rather than "porn" but still, it seems like including nudity in your game at all is just going to limit the amount of arcade operators who pick it up.
As for the actual gameplay, I think I've said it all already. It's mostly fun, until you get towards the end - then it's only fun during the occasional moments that the wandering bad guys aren't taking up the most annoying positions possible and you're not forced onto a trampoline. It looks nice, the music is decent and the Apathy Ray is an interesting concept, but in the end it's hard to recommend Pipi and Bibis over other single-screen games like Bubble Bobble or even Diet Go Go. Give it a try if you like those kind of games, if not just play the first couple of worlds and then stop.


Remember, kids: Winners Don't Use Drugs. They look at naked cartoons instead.

3 comments:

  1. I would like to point out that that skirt design is clearly basing itself on the box art for Taboo: The Sixth Sense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I never thought Toaplan was that hard-up for cash.

    ReplyDelete

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