Title: Neighbours back From Hell Released On: October 8, 2020 Genre: Arcade, Puzzle Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 Developer: Farbworks, THQ Nordic Publisher: HandyGames MSRP: $14.99 USD / $17.49 CAD
Who hasn’t had that neighbour who constantly gets under their skin? Playing music too loud at all hours of the night? Letting their dog do their business in your yard? Or just being a general irritant with an overly-crotchety attitude? Neighbours From Hell was a classic TV show from the early 2000s that sought to exact pranking vengeance upon the worst neighbours, with the help of a camera crew. And now they’re back.
Neighbours back From Hell is a remaster of the classic game Neighbours From Hell, which originally released in 2003 for Windows PC, followed up by a console port two years later. The remaster includes both the original game as well as the sequel, which takes your pranking international. Not much has changed in this remaster, the arcade-y puzzle gameplay and simple controls make for an enjoyable, laid-back experience.
After some more-than-unpleasant experiences with his neighbour Mr. Rottweiler, our protagonist Woody decides to take it upon himself to exact some colourful revenge, with the help of a camera crew to catch all of the mischief. And on that day, the hit tv show Neighbours from Hell was born.
Neighbours back From Hell is an arcade puzzle game, that tasks the player with executing successive pranks against their dastardly neighbour. You can discover opportunities for traps to set all throughout their house by interacting with the various objects to discover new items. You then combine these items with specific locations to concoct the most devious of domestic traps that your neighbour will unknowingly walk right into. Sometimes with a little coaxing.
Though the concept and controls are extremely simple, the execution typically is not. Your neighbour is on the prowl through his house and if you are caught in the same room, you’ll lose one of the three lives you get per level. He thankfully likes to keep to a strictly regimented routine, which additionally helps with setting up your pranks, but you have to be aware of his movements at all times if you want to successfully disrupt them.
As you progress through levels, additional floors and obstacles require the player to adopt a more thoughtful approach to their pranking. The neighbour’s routines become harder to track, and the addition of a watchful parrot or a sleeping dog makes creeping through the house more difficult. You can switch your camera perspective at any point between Woody and your neighbour, which both makes it easier to keep a watchful eye, and provides an up-close perspective so you can witness your traps execute.
Since this remaster includes the second game, we’re also treated to some vacation time in India, Mexico and China, where Mr. Rottweiler has tried unsuccessfully to escape his Woody woes, alongside his mother and another less-than-cordial member of the neighbourhood. After spending a lot of time pranking around your neighbour’s flat, there was a renewed sense of invigoration to prank abroad. In addition to Mr. Rottweiler, you’ll have to track his mother and other neighbour’s movements, as each of them can end up costing Woody a life.
The gameplay does get a little repetitive – especially in the first dozen or so levels – as you make your way through each, checking all of the usual spots and laying some of the same traps. The addition of the second game provides not only a handful of new locations to visit, but some much-needed additional challenge, as some of the later areas require more thought and pre-planning to execute the best pranks. You don’t have to execute every single prank though; most levels require about 75-80% of the pranks before you can leave, unless you want to get a perfect score.
Not much has changed with this remaster of Neighbours From Hell almost two decades later, apart from improved framerates and higher quality graphics, but there is a relaxing sense of nostalgia that hits you from the moment you load into your first level. It successfully hearkens back to a different era of gaming, focused on a simple gameplay loop and level-by-level completion, with the challenge being based on your ability to deduce each puzzle.
Even if you never played the original Neighbours From Hell, the remaster is certainly worth your time; arguably more-so. Having never experienced the games during their initial life, I was delighted at the chance to take control of my own prank TV show, and playing on the Nintendo Switch felt like the perfect way to kick back and cause some mischief.
Final Score: 8/10
Neighbours back From Hell doesn’t change the formula of the original games, but hits home with a perfect blend of challenge and nostalgia.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.