Review: Crab Dub

Store page / View this review on Steam

I really, honestly don’t understand what compels some people to create the games they do. I understand games like Chaos Domain and A.R.E.S., games that have decent concepts botched horribly. It’s the ones like The Grandfather, where you can barely fathom why they exist at all. Crab Dub falls squarely into that category, a game whose story, art, gameplay, and entire concept are virtually impenetrable. There’s nothing fun or entertaining about any part of this game, specifically because the choices involved in producing it appear to run entirely counter to any sort of logical game design.

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I’m not going to waste time rephrasing the story, so you can have it straight from the store page: “Deep deep down at the bottom of the ocean is where the evil Dr. Taco reigns. His biggest dream is to conquer the entire ocean. Together with his business partner, Mr. Rhino, they sponsor a high-tech project called «Crab Dub».” You are apparently part of this project, sent out to stop “Blue Cassette Player” so that Dr. Taco can rule unimpeded. When you start the game it takes you to an undersea screen where you choose one of three episodes to play, and then you click the right arrow to proceed. That takes you to a platform with your sea-snail looking crab on a pillar, with a selection of guns to the right and Mr. Rhino at a desk to the left. You pick your weapon of choice and then click the pillar to launch off in a rocket.

The first level has you on a tiny platform suspended in the ocean. If you jump off, like towards the one other platform just out of reach, you’ll plummet off the screen and end up in a void where your crab is sucking on a pacifier. The only way out is to hit Escape, restarting the level. It turns out what you’re supposed to do is CLICK on the blue octagon in each level, sometimes after clicking on inflating cats. You might have to do some floaty platforming on jellyfish or avoid toast launched from toasters to get there, depending on the level. You can shoot things with your huge, beefy gun but the only enemies I saw were smug squids.

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Does any of this make a lick of fucking sense to you? Because it doesn’t to me, and I don’t really get how anyone puts together crap like this and calls it fun. Lots of games do the keyboard movement / mouse aiming thing but not on tiny one-screen levels like this, often with no enemies. There’s no indication what you should click on or what you should jump on or what you should shoot, leading to nothing but trial-and-error experimentation. The graphics have little stylistic distinction between solid objects, interactables, enemies, and background details. Nothing about this is good or interesting or well-designed, at all. I never expected to be so repulsed by such a modest, innocuous game, but I only spent 10 minutes playing it and I’m angry I wasted that much of my life.

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