Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

        I’ve been watching The Angry Video Game Nerd a lot lately, and I got interested in a particular game, called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Nerd did warn his viewers not to play it, but, well, I got curious. And what I found is both fascinating, and every bit as rage inducing as he claimed.
        The gameplay is that of fairly simple sidescroller- the goal is to reach the end of the level, and there are various obstacles in your way. And… that is exactly the issue. The good doctor is heading for his wedding, and thus the level is a perfectly ordinary street, with people and the like.
        Oddly, sometimes they will hurt you on contact, and other times they will not, which is very confusing. However, I did figure out why; it turns out they suddenly start running, and that is what hurts Jekyll. So no one can hurt him… unless they run, which means everyone can potentially harm you, because they often suddenly start running just when they’re right next to you. This might mean the best plan is to jump over everyone you meet, but that would leave you ill prepared for the other traps.
        There is also a little boy who is always running, but luckily, he doesn’t give you contact damage. What he does do is throw rocks at Jekyll, hurting him unless he can jump over them. Cats will not harm Jekyll, again, unless they are running. You can tell when they are by the way they glitch and seem to be jumping as they move, and make a noise. They can be easily avoided when they are a threat, though. Dogs, on the other hand, will always hurt Jekyll, and if you jump over them they will come back to hit you again, though they only do this once. This does ensure, however, that you cannot avoid damage from them at all.
        Spiders hang in trees, and occasionally lower and raise, either getting in your way or letting you pass. They seem to do this at complete random, so there is no pattern to memorize, and all of them onscreen move in unison, meaning you’re not likely to be able to get past two in a row.
        However, the worst threat in terms of damage and frequency is the purple guy. No, not the one from Five Nights At Freddy’s, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re related or something. This well dressed gentleman won’t hurt you himself, oh no. Instead, he drops a bomb when he comes close to you and flees the scene.
        If it damages you, it will hit you multiple times, and, if you’re too close to it, it can wipe out your health completely. As for to avoid that, I find that just continuing to the right and jumping once you see the fuse is lit should dodge the bomb entirely, or at least make it do far less damage than it could. This requires very precise timing, but you’ll develop it if you play the game. You’ll have to or you’ll never get past the first level, because he reappears constantly. If you are lucky enough to be near a house when the bomb is dropped, and the door isn’t in the background, you can actually go inside to avoid the blast altogether.
        There are other hazards, but that is all of them in the first level, and that is likely the only one you will see. Not because it is entirely impassible- no, I have beaten it- but because either it or level two will make you give up then and there. There are no passerby and the rock throwing brat is gone, but the purple man reappears constantly, birds will literally poop on you, constantly, and yes it does do damage. And then there’s the grave diggers, who throw dirt at you in completely random directions.
        Oh yes, and of course there is knockback. Every attack that hits you, regardless of what it is, where it is coming from, or what direction you are facing, will knock you to the left. So, let me paint you a picture of one scene from my playthrough.
        There is a grave digger at the bottom of the screen, who periodically tosses dirt out in the form of three damaging clods. I am on the left end of the screen, out of range. Every now and then the digger peeks out of the grave, and that is your time to move. However, an angry cat will continuously respawn from the right just to force you to jump, which slows you down enough that the digger will get back to work, and likely hit you, knocking you back. It was only through sheer luck that he happened to miss on my fourth attempt to pass through.
        So yes, don’t play this game. Just… don’t. Or at the very least, if you must play this game, do not keep going. Do not try to beat it. Just pick it up, see that my words are true, and move on. Really, you’re doing yourself a favor.
        But since you will be picking this up, or are at least somewhat curious, I’ll go on and talk about how the health and control work. You see, Jekyll does have a health meter, which goes down as he is hit, but he also has an Anger Meter, which shifts as he is hit. As he takes damage, the white bar turns green, and once it fills completely, he transforms into Mr. Hyde. They both share the same health meter, however, so any damage Jekyll takes is carried over to Hyde.
        As for how Jekyll moves, he has a slow but serviceable jump, and can attack with his cane. However, the cane will not actually hurt anyone. The only thing is does seem to do is kill bees when you meet those. Otherwise, it is completely useless, and Jekyll can do nothing to stop the endless barrage of attacks that come at him.
        Hyde plays completely differently, however. Instead of going right, he goes left, and the screen actively scrolls to the left, meaning you have no choice in the matter. Instead of the cane, he can punch, but it is equally useless. However, if you push the attack button and up, he will perform the “Psycho-wave”, which shoots out a ball of energy. However, it moves in a very odd wiggling pattern rather than straight, meaning it can be very difficult to hit anything with it.
        As for what you will be hitting, sadly it is not the townsfolk and so forth that have been harassing you, but instead strange monsters that spawn and attack from the left, the most common being jumping blob things with legs, though I have also witnessed zombie babies and floating heads that stretch their mouths and try to eat you.
        Destroying these foes will leave behind coins, though they do not seem to serve any purpose, and will gradually reduce your Anger Meter. If it becomes white again, then Hyde will revert back to Jekyll, allowing you to continue normal play. It also restores your health.
        The longer you’re stuck as Hyde, the further left he moves, meaning you lose progress. This entire half of the game is basically a penalty. Even worse, if you reach Jekyll’s original location on the level, lightning will strike, killing Hyde instantly. So your objective is to reach the end of the level, and if you are forced to become Hyde, then to destroy enough enemies that you can change back as soon as possible.
        The Hyde segment is actually much easier, despite the inherent difficulties in attacking enemies. I really do dislike this game, but I do admit the concept is good. Of course it is easier to inflict harm than to do things peacefully, and it is the wrong thing to do, and leads to your downfall, much as continuing as Hyde ends the game.
        Similarly, the way the townsfolk, animals, and pretty much everything seem to be out to kill Jekyll could be symbolic of all the difficulties life throws at us, which we must endure without retaliation. If one does give into their more violent urges, it makes them dangerous to those around them, which is shown in game- the transformation into Hyde makes day become night, and causes everyone else onscreen to flee in fear.
        The monsters Hyde faces may be entirely imaginary- like someone dreaming up a monster to fight to get out their anger and frustration in the world, which I actually used to do when I was younger. The way he goes to the left instead of right is a metaphor for one mentally regressing to their primal, violent urges to harm others, rather than making progress in their live by doing more constructive things that move them forward.
        I would like to say all this is what the developers were intending. I’d like to be able to say that they dreamed big and simply fell through in execution. But the simple fact of it is, the game’s goal is for Jekyll to walk to his wedding at the local church, but everyone is inexplicably trying to stop him, both people and animals, as though they all somehow swore to make his life miserable.
        Hyde somehow has the magic power to shoot out a badly aimed projectile to fight demons that apparently attack the town in the night, which he also seem to cause if the day/night shift due to the transformation is any indication. There is no logic behind it, no rationale for why all this is, it just is so.
        And it all adds up to a miserable experience through which I can only get the solace that I came up with some interesting parallels and metaphors. In all other aspects, I can easily say I should not have picked up the game. Don’t make my mistake, dear readers.

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