Last November, Metro Trains of Australia in association with the ad company McCann Melbourne produced a delightful video with a delightful cast of kooky characters that were accompanied by a delightful, if earwormy song that’s nothing short of smile-inducing.
Though the train theme is prevalent in the video, the song’s professions of the “many dumb ways to die” doesn’t lead in that direction till the end. The video has proved incredibly popular on YouTube, having gotten over 60 million views since it was released.
In response to all the success, Metro and McCann teamed up indie game producers Julian Frost and Samuel Baird (credited as Barrel of Monkeys in the game) to create an app appropriately titled “Dumb Ways to Die,” which was released for mobile devices earlier this year. Just what is the Dumb Ways to Die (DWtD) game? Cary, the world NEEDS to know!!
Why yes, yes it does.
Also, SPOILERS follow!
I downloaded DWtD a couple weeks ago and have so far had a wonderful time with it. In the spirit of WarioWare and Mario Party games, DWtD offers a series of mini-games, each one involving a character from the DWtD video. Your goal is to score points to unlock the cast of the video. The game opens at a train station with one character already there, and he tells you how many points you need to unlock the next one. Each time you reach a new points threshold, a new character arrives at the station.
What’s great about the game is that the animation style of the original video is wholly persevered, making the experience of playing insanely cute and only a little macabre. The mini-games also make sense for each character. For instance, in the video one little guy tries to catch his loose balloons across some train tracks. His mini-game involves drawing “strings” from the loose balloons to his hands. Another character in the video game is bitten by his hungry pet rattlesnake. In his mini-game, you have to trace a line of mustard on a hot dog to feed to the rattlesnake.
Is that IT?? You ask incredulously. Well no, there’s more to it than securing loose balloons and putting mustard on hot dogs. You also get to carefully slide a piece of toast out of a toaster without getting electrocuted, fly a plane without becoming dismembered, and duck from a bear’s gaping maw. Fun, right? (Like, TOTALLY fun!) The key behind it all is that each game is timed. The further you progress, the faster the time goes in each game. Also, the games appear in random order, so you’re never sure what’s going to appear next. DWtD demands your FULL attention. Give it anything less, and you might not get very far.
For the most part, each mini-game has a beginning and a goal. But there’s at least one very curious game that involves doing nothing, even though you’re prompted otherwise. There’s also a game that involves blowing into the mic. That’s no good if you’re playing on a tablet like I am. (Thankfully, I discovered that there’s an option to turn this mini-game off. It’s an incredibly helpful and thoughtful option to have included, so bravo to the developers on that one.)
All in all, Dumb Ways to Die is a really fun way to pass a few attentive minutes here and there. As the game gets more frenetic in pacing, it borders on parody yet remains comfortably at the edge of becoming farce. The whole thing is kind of like playing a series of quicktime events, the thought of which may cause some to frown upon it. But it’s really hard to frown at this face now isn’t it?
Er…uh…I mean this face.
With the recent and strange rash of people in the U. S. falling onto subway tracks, perhaps we all need a reminder of the many dumb ways to die. (And to stop being so damn drunk/sleepy/stupid at train stations!)