“Tri, Un, Chwech, Un, Deg…”

As I begin, a young girl is counting, randomly it seems, in Welsh. “Naw, Saith, Deg, Pedwar…”, she says. I press the Start button.

Eyes Of AllardThe young girl’s counting is replaced with techno beats and I find myself staring at the eyes of J Allard. As Microsoft’s bald-pated overseer of the original Xbox looks at me, he seems to be supressing a knowing smile. Normally that would seem odd, but I have little time to think about it as enemies begin clicking their way down the playing field, Tempest-style. They are shaped like the ‘X’ from the Xbox logo.

I open fire from my hooves and (I’m guessing), my mouth. It’s hard to be sure, considering my giraffe is shaped much like an inverted CND symbol. Somewhere, Gary Oldman calls for “EVERYONE!”. He is determined to see Leon dead. I always loved Leon.

Killing a few ‘X’s, I pick up my first jump pod. A soundbite suggests that I “enter the ballpark”, and “steal the ball”; I think it calls me “Jim”. Allowing my Power Zone to fall to the baseline I stop firing. Then I wait for the remaining ‘X’s to come closer, then trigger my jump and, ramming sideways, charge them off the rail. This seems to raise my multiplier. I bellow like a bull and pick up another jump pod.


GIRAFFETASTIC!” the screen proclaims, and my giraffe says a lot of encouraging things. “Top Hole” it says, “Well Done”. Then I am faced with the following message;





You Are Getting Respectable

and so ends the first level of Space Giraffe.


Jeff Minter GDC 2007You gotta hand it to Jeff Minter (sometimes known as Yak), but when the veteran games developer sets out to make something new and fresh, he’s capable of making something quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. Released in the Summer of 2007 for Xbox Live Arcade, I bought Space Giraffe straight away, as much out of respect for Jeff Minter as for interest in the game. It seemed like this was an ‘Indie’ game; before there were any ‘Indie’ games on Xbox Live. This was before Community games had even been announced for the Xbox 360. It was interesting and original, and a shooter; and everyone loves shooters, right? But it was also really strange (I swear, what I’ve written is an accurate description of the game!), and it was very hard to know what you were supposed to do. Visually it’s so psychedelic that keeping track of opponents and their attacks can be as much about luck as skill, and strategies for getting great scores have to be discovered rather than just learned. So, first time, I got nowhere with the game. And that was a shame. Because underneath the craziness, perhaps even because of it, there’s a really special game here.


Having returned to the game in the last few months, I can honestly say, you’ve never played a game that looks or sounds like this. Even loose similarities to the great Tempest are soon forgotten as you get to grips with the complex strategy. Where else can you rebound enemy bullets to the sound of dialling a touchtone phone?! You’ll collect sneeze bonuses while the screen swims with distortion and your giraffe thinks you’re lovely! You’ll gorge on flowers collected with your own hooves from bonus rounds, and listen to many bleating ruminants (possibly llamas, but don’t quote me on that). And after all this, you mightn’t like it. You might really not like it. But don’t you think you owe it to yourself to find out? With the whole experience available for only 400 Microsoft Points and the always free demo, there’s a game here touched by genius. For some who can invest enough in the game to really get to grips with it, they’ll find a game that rewards their patience. It’s clever and weird and challenging, and quite simply, it doesn’t feel like any other game out there.

Who knows, maybe if you’re very lucky, you’ll get to be called Super Mega Awesome! like me, or even Caprichoso-tastic!

“Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!”







3 responses to ““Tri, Un, Chwech, Un, Deg…””

  1. Andy T avatar
    Andy T

    Space Giraffe was an exercise in the bizarre…I’m not sure I ever truly got fully to grips with it but it was certainly an interesting ride…I wish they’d Xbox live Llamatron or Attack of the (mutant or space I forget) Camels they were “Super Mega Awesome”

  2. Simon avatar

    I tried it, my brain burst like a water balloon in a microwave, I stopped. Maybe it’s time I revisited.

  3. Susan avatar

    I tried it too, and my eyes happily melted. Can’t wait to give it another go when I get home 😀

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