Release Date:October 13, 2009
Summary:Wildly gross and offensive, feed Mr. Dumb increasingly obscene amounts of food to score points and eat more food. Vomitingly fun.
I don’t follow the world of competitive eating, but I am familiar with the I.F.O.C.E Nathan’s International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest, the world’s most famous eating competition, and one that Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi has reigned supreme as eating master until Joey Chestnut, a Bay Area native, took over his title in recent years. Looking up Joey Chestnut, some of his eating stats are unsettling, to say the least, and just reading them kickstarts some borborygmus and peristalsis. 10.5 pounds of macaroni and cheese in 7 minutes? 231 Gyoza in 10 minutes? Or, my favorite, 103 Krystal Hamburgers (think the Southern version of White Castle burgers) in 8 minutes? Egad. That’s one iron clad stomach. . . and one well-suppressed gag reflex.
Most of us can’t claim similar abilities, nor should we ever want to, but there are plenty of times when hunger hits like a throat-constricting, sucker punch to the gut, complete with salivation and water grumbles echoing from deep within that aching abdomen. In the game iChowdown by ZENUXLAB, your character, aptly named Mr. Dumb, takes his unfortunate name to heart when hunger hits with unexpected force and he sees a restaurant advertising an all-you-can-eat $5.00 buffet, instant relief and chops licking success etching his mind. As anyone without the word “dumb” attached to their name may agree, a $5.00 all-you-can-eat buffet just screams food-poisoning, past expiration, indigestion, diarrhea and a whole host of other ills that generally will lead, yes, to instant gratification, but also an instant run to the bathroom.
Mr. Dumb and his crony make quite a pair. After parking the car, the app has a shot of them walking to the buffet, their Beavis and Butthead illustration and animation style only adding to their lack of appeal. Mr. Dumb has messy brown sideburns, and wears a backwards red baseball cap and a baggy yellow t-shirt hiding what may be his unsightly beer belly despite his gangly, smallish frame. He has squinty eyes, and a yellow, snaggletoothed countenance, pimples, a double chin, and possibly the most blank expression of any video game character I’ve come across. His friend is a spiky blonde and possibly part of an 80′s biker gang, complete with studded black, intimidating, leather uniform.
Obviously, Mr. Dumb is hungry. He wants to be fed. When in the diner, you must tap the “call chef” button to order items off the menu, dragging foods with your finger to the table slots below. The chef, a black woman with cerebral palsy, says “okay” in a high-pitched metallic voice when your order is up, otherwise you may open the Menu tab to see which of your ordered items are available for you to chow down on. To eat, drag the food to Mr. Dumb’s open mouth and then, with your finger, open and shut his mouth rapidly to chew, then swallow (swallowing has you trace patterns with your finger and then possibly pop soda bubbles if he needs some coke to wash down his throat). Initially, the available food options are a sandwich, a hamburger, and a slice of cheesecake. You may select up to four of these foods at a time, and it may be in any combination – but, keep in mind that some foods are worth more points than others, and some may lead to a greater possibility of rejection. Rejection, you ask? Mr. Dumb can only handle so much food at once – feed him more than his gullet can handle and he starts regurgitating half-eaten food in his mouth, and it becomes your job to shove the food back into his mouth so he may start chewing and swallowing again. Hey, you have to get the biggest bang for your buck, right? Mr. Dumb is a smart one.
iChowdown as two objectives per round. The main goal is simply to pass the level by feeding Mr. Dumb enough food points (the first level is only 20 hunger points, and this increases quite a bit with each level), but you can also earn bonus points by completing missions detailed on the Goal Screen. The first level, for example, gives you 5 bonus points if Mr. Dumb overeats more than once, eats more than one steak, or eats more than two sandwiches. Bonus points aren’t a necessity, but then do allow you to purchase new food items at the shop. Foods like buffalo wings and roast chickens require 40-50 bonus points, and as you migrate your hunger to Asia, and later Europe, other regional foods like sushi and boiled octopus become available. Expect to see a lot of green and food-flecked vomit if you want to earn major bonus points.
The two sandwiches objective from the first level is pretty easy since loading two sandwiches at a time in Mr. Dumb’s mouth is no problem. Try to load two hamburgers and you’re in for vomit city, unless you roll up your sleeves and cram that amylase saturated beef back into his throat. Make sure you slap him silly until he regains consciousness – can’t miss any more valuable time to shove more and more food into his mouth. Hamburgers come with a spicy sauce, apparently, because his mouth and eyes alight in flames, which you must douse out by touching the bouncing red lights with your finger.
Gross, with insipid graphics, and hokey diner music that has just a hint of malice, iChowdown is not for those with a weak stomach. Despite such offensiveness and foul entertainment, it is, nevertheless, a fun game. I’ll give ZENUXLABS kudos for making an original and incredibly interactive game, even if it’s one I won’t add to my favorites file. Fans of Beavis and Butthead may enjoy the game’s style, and succeeding to the next round, especially once you reach Asia, makes for challenging play. However, with the constant chewing, the constant choking and needing to cram food back into Mr. Dumb, the swallowing – it all becomes very repetitive, very quickly, without the mindless, trance-like addiction apparent in other games like Balloon Drop Hollywood. Besides, it really kills your appetite.
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