ROSE AND CAMELLIA / Nigoro / PC

Give me 60 years in which to sit and do nothing but brainstorm game concepts and ideas, and I'll bet you I'd never once think up an aristocracy slapping simulator. So, kudos to Nigoro for bringing something genuinely new and fresh to gaming.

The game is sort of the feminine version of Punch-Out. The titular Rose is a woman "of low birth" who married into a wealthy family. Tragically, her new husband dies shortly after the wedding. By law, Rose is entitled to his estate and fortune, but a number of harridans are hovering around trying to take it from her due to her social status. How will we resolve this conflict in a mature and adult manner? SLAP FIGHT!

Rose goes through five levels of increasingly difficult slap foes; apparently, if you beat them all, there is now a second game that can be unlocked with a new main character and five new fights, although personally I wasn't able to slap my way past the boss of the first game. You alternate between attacking and defending, and have a limited window in which to do both. To attack, you draw a line with the mouse across the opponent's face; each opponent has a secret area that nets you a critical hit if you cross it. When defending, you have a limited time to simply draw a line behind Rose's shoulders; if done right, you dodge the enemy attack and get a very short window in which to perform a Counter.

The game is almost more of an elaborate Flash-based joke than an actual game, however I feel it has enough depth to seperate it categorically from Bin Laden In A Blender and other similar Flash hackwork. My only complaint with it is that the controls are kind of cumbersome, particularly when you defend. You have to click an icon that pops up, all the way on the other side of the screen, then scroll back over to Rose and draw an accurate line behind her, and there's really only just enough time to do this without making a mistake. The final boss is also kind of a nightmare with almost no room whatsoever for error.

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