So, Temper Tantrum is out on Steam, officially. This event makes it clear once more that store owner Valve isn’t closely looking at their submissions or they would have noticed developer Digital Homicide’s track record. The miniature arcade game is made by the same people who put Forsaken Uprising and The Slaughtering Grounds on Steam, where the latter caused a spat upon the developer’s barely sane tirades over criticism. Since then, the company’s product has ridiculously dropped in value and as such, Temper Tantrum launches on Steam with a 76% discount, putting it down to €0.24, day one. You should know our stance on price dumping by now.
With that in mind, it’s surprising to see the latest release learning from past mistakes. Where the studio previously cobbled together assets in a stylistic abomination, the arcade title at least sports one pleasantly cohesive whole. Saturated colors and soft shapes are abound in the three houses that are present, though some textures may look more glued on than others. A gentle soundtrack loops in the background to resonate with the kid-friendly theme and with sparkly effects and zany texts, this almost looks passable, from a static point of view. It’s equally true that the sounds are highly repetitive; camera angles frequently break apart the house and the playable character skids across low-resolution floor textures. In context though, the artistic value is a dozen steps up.
As a game, Temper Tantrum is fairly simple: Touch furniture until it breaks and repeat the process until the house is barren. In the meantime, an increasing number of ghosts will hover slowly towards the child, to force it to nap. This results in a life stock getting depleted. At times, seemingly triggered by eating treats found on the floor, the demons will turn green, making it possible to temporarily blow them up. No one explains that, however, Temper Tantrum is strictly a “learn as you go” experience. Its design will tell the story. Still, there is an announcement on a Steam page that lays out the rules, where game couldn’t. As both are movement-based, that post compares Temper Tantrum to Pac-Man. Since it’s Pac-Man’s 35th birthday this very day, it’s one timely homage indeed.
As aforementioned skidding may reveal, the controls are terrible and views of the house are directed only by the game’s folly. Luckily, bumping into furniture requires no effort and it’s about the only consequential thing that needs to be done. That said, not knowing the kid’s position with cameras cutting off the entire screen is a pain, even when the running fury of the child can be contained. That doesn’t count the ample times a blind spot will hide a ghost and cause loss of life. A jump function is also necessary for exactly one item in all three stages, rendering it the most useless gameplay addition of all time. It’s literally one mounted TV in the first location that requires a jump; everything else can just get ransacked on the floor. Monsters also arbitrarily start rounds before the countdown is over. As the child is still locked in the starting position, it means a life will be lost at random, whenever the game feels like it. Especially as monsters increase in numbers in later levels, they become nearly impossible to avoid. It’s not exactly hard to finish a level in a minute or two, after getting the mapping down, but it’s a madman’s task to circumvent the game’s failings. We tried for over an hour and got fairly far, but then Temper Tantrum swiped away three lives in as many seconds and returning to it seemed more like torture than anything else. There are no options or anything, by the way. Once the play button is clicked, the nightmare is never-ending.
Another thing working in Temper Tantrum’s favor is that it has Steam Trading Cards. As such, investing the 24 cents can eventually lead to three cards that currently sell for about 10 cents each. Sellers receive 8 cents for their share, nicely making up for the purchase of the game. The downside is that buying a copy supports Digital Homicide. Again though, the developer has made worse atrocities than this tiny, shoddy, repetitive arcade game slash one-note joke. It’s not even 100% bad. That’s an accomplishment within itself. It doesn’t make Temper Tantrum a good game, which it really isn’t, but it has to count for something, right? Credit where due? We made a gameplay commentary to go along with this review, which you can check out below.