Review: The Juicer

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I always feel a little bad for games that do everything they set out to do, but just don’t do them well enough. I’m more than willing to give a thumbs-up to a shooting gallery or jigsaw puzzle game as long as there’s enough polish and quality to recommend anything about it. But The Juicer falls into that sad space where it dares not step an inch over the bare minimum it needs to be an actual game. The shooting works, the progression works, and it doesn’t look hideous, but that doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation, does it?

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You play a dopey farmer who I guess gets his pesticides from Umbrella or SinTek or something because it turns all of his crops into rampaging monsters. Each chapter is a series of shooting galleries where you blast your misguided produce to earn coins, power-ups, and juice (hence the title). Each stage ends when you fill up your juice vial, which if I remember correctly is used (in the storyline, not the actual game) to research a way to turn everything back to normal. Functionally, it just means shoot until the game stops sending raging cartoon corncobs to destroy you.

The cutscenes, just like your farmer and his creepy crops, are adorably dopey. However, that’s about as far as the gormless charm can get this game. Each chapter has you fighting only one kind of crop for the duration, such as pears or the aforementioned corn. There are a few variations of each enemy, but generally that just means bigger ones and shielded ones. You can also shoot buses and hot air balloons to stop reinforcements and earn bonuses. There’s an upgrade system, but you only have four things to upgrade and obviously your gun’s power is going to come first and foremost. In my experience, as long as you keep your gun fully upgraded you don’t need to upgrade your fences or grenade stash or even worry about the special weapons like machine guns and shotguns.

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The first time I loaded up The Juicer, it kept me occupied for a good thirty minutes or so. I had some mindless fun shooting fruit people and giggling at the insipid cutscenes, and I really didn’t expect much more than that. However, the moment I closed the game I lost all desire to ever play it again. I almost feel bad about downvoting such a simple, earnest game, but there’s just no reason to recommend it. The gameplay is just hammering on your mouse button as fruit monsters from a Win95 screensaver charge you. There’s no weight to the weapons or impacts, no purpose to the upgrade system… nothing really good about any of it. I can’t say there’s anything bad about it either, but if there’s no reason to play it over anything else, why bother?

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