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Don't let me die with that silly look in my eyes.

(Apologies to Faith No More for using their song lyric as a review title, again. Yes, I'm that unimaginative. Also, here be spoilers!) =)

Pom Gets Wi-Fi is short, funny and silly. But behind this, I do believe the author is trying to make a serious point about the darker side of some aspects of Internet sub-culture. This creates a slight mismatch, but it also calls for some careful analysis. In the review below, I'm going to look at what works - and doesn't - in Pom.

Originality and concept:

On one hand, the game seems unoriginal - it throws together a number of familiar Internet memes and ideas (l33t-speak, yaoi fandom, fan-art) - but on the other hand, the premise is quite interesting, because the player character and her main companion are dogs. (To understand this, just imagine Pom with all-human characters. It simply wouldn't work that well.) The game delivers an interesting twist on the old "all dogs go to heaven" saw, and though Doggy Heaven is sadly underdeveloped, what we see of it is interesting enough. And while the idea of an internet-addicted dog requires some willing suspension of disbelief, so does being the Chosen One and saving the world.


This is Pom's Achilles' heel, to be frank. The gameplay is quite simple, the battles are basically pauses for jokes or plot progression, and having Shibe tag along with you can make movement a bit of a chore. The battle screen looks clumsy ("Shib Attack"? Really?), though using "LMAO" when an attack misses Pom was quite cute. And the steps required to get the "good" ending (about which more below) seemed rather counter-intuitive, though maybe that's just me.


Now this is where it gets interesting.

On one hand, this is a nice parody of the "adventurer descends into the bowels of Hell to receive the sacred jewel" motif: instead, we have a Net-addicted little dog who goes to Heaven quite unintentionally, but still wants her Wi-Fi at all costs. The use of RPG motifs such as battles and party members (though admittedly part of the RPG Maker interface) make it clear that the author is taking the mickey in a good-natured way, and I can appreciate that.

On the other hand, as Samuel Goldwyn (I believe) said, "if you want to send a message, use Western Union." While the "default" ending achieves the right blend of seriousness and comedy (you win, but it's a hollow victory), the "good" ending takes its moral and hammers you on the head with it, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The result is both jarring and unconvincing, and what's sad is that if the game had been longer, and the characters more developed, it might still have worked.

"But Professor," you might say, "isn't it meant to be a fun little romp?"

Well, if it is, the "good ending" should have been fun and goofy, too. Instead, we're treated to an avalanche of cliches that even Oprah Winfrey or Rhonda Byrne would probably balk at. I know it was meant to come off as moving, but it felt forced to me, and took the shine off what was, until then, quite a fun journey.


I must confess (and this is hard to confess, because those close to me know I'm a grammar Nazi) that the writing in this game was quite the winner. Admittedly, a lot of it was stereotypical Internet talk, but I couldn't keep from laughing out loud when Pom began to write her Shibe / Hus slash fic. Any writer who can make me laugh is doing something right, grammar be hanged.


Are they a little overpowering? Sure. Are they cute? Certainly. They worked well given the game itself, but my eyes did take some returning to normal once I'd finished playing it through twice.

In summary, Pom Gets Wi-Fi is a game that shows promise and talent, and would have benefited from being a little less heavy-handed. Without the "good ending" (or with a more convincingly written "good ending") this would easily be a 4; as it is, I give Pom a 3, a thumbs-up, and a wish that the author's next game has a little more by way of gameplay and balance.