Platform: Macromedia Flash
Release Date: December 20, 2002
Publisher: Something Awful
Some consider River City Hacky Sack a pinnacle of addictive Flash games. Its graphics, sound, and gameplay shine in the field of Flash. While RCHS, like all Flash games, lacks the depth found in commercial games, it is nonetheless a well-made, fun diversion. Unsurprisingly, the game is a parody of River City Ransom, and the style of the characters and the levels closely mimics that of its namesake.
To begin, a player may choose from one of 30 built-in characters, or she may opt to design a custom character. The built-in characters have the advantage of a greater pool of statistic points, but many players create a custom character anyway, because the amount of control a player has over her custom character can ultimately outweigh the benefits of an altogether more powerful built-in one.
The object of River City Hacky Sack is, unsurprisingly, to score points through careful maneuvering of a hacky sack
(which looks somewhat more like a volleyball
in-game). The two main ways to score points are through "hack
s" and "launches". Once the time limit expires or the hacky sack bounces five times without hitting a target, the game is over, and both the "hack" and "launch" scores are added together to produce the final score.
A "hack" is done by punching or kicking a "hackable" angel; the number of times angels are "hacked" before touching the ground determines the number of points awarded for the angel. However, each of the three flying angels in the playfield is invincible at the start. The only way to make an angel hackable is to hit it with the hacky sack, at which point it begins to fall and can be punched or kicked in the usual way. More points are awarded if more angels are hackable at any given time, which leads to some challenging situations, as the player often finds herself juggling as many as four objects around the playfield.
Conversely, "launches" are a simpler way to score points. The player's launch score is simply the highest height the hacky sack has ever reached. There is no ceiling on the playfield, and a height indicator appears when the hacky sack is launched high above the ground. Allowing the hacky sack to bounce on the floor is actually helpful for achieving high launch scores, as the upward momentum of the hacky sack plus the force of a punch is the easiest way to send the ball higher and higher. The catch is, of course, that the player is penalized each time the ball hits the floor, and the game is over after five bounces. As a result, going for high launches is a risky business indeed.
To make the game more interesting, the characters have a number of special moves, in true Street Fighter 2 style. The common special moves are outlined below. In addition to the special moves shared by all characters, however, each character also has a personal ability that automatically activates itself after a certain number of hacks. (The hacky sack begins to glow and flash to indicate that the character's special move is approaching.) As a bonus, with a custom character the special move can be customized in considerable detail.
Uppercut: Up + Punch
High Kick: Up + Kick
Dive: Tap Left or Right Twice, Down + Jump
Slide Kick: Tap Left or Right Twice, Down + Kick
Acro Circus: Tap Left or Right Twice, Up + Jump
Dart Kick: Perform Acro Circus, Down + Kick
Most of these moves prove useful to get across the playfield quickly when juggling many objects at one time.
Perhaps the most amusing aspect of River City Hacky Sack is its set of characters. In a nutshell, the characters consist of:
Generic Characters: Alex, Ryan, Samson, Casey, Narc, Nemo, Francisco, Irving, Turbo
Exotic Characters: Technosaurus, Grim-Grim, P.H.D., Zed, Glorb, Bobby, Broad, Jerk, Robor, Lunch
Video Game Cameos: Donatello (of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame, of course), Mega Man, Scorpion (Mortal Kombat), Bomberman, Ryu
Other Cameos: Hitler, Jesus, #86/68 (a Something Awful meme), Grendel, Kid Dracula, Kool-Aid Man
Altogether, River City Hacky Sack is a well-done amateur Flash game. The gameplay, while simple, is fast and addictive, and the quality of graphics and sound is generally excellent. It's worth a try - after all, who wouldn't want to play as Jesus?
All information is from in-game experience and the supplied manual.
Please let me know if I missed any cameos.