Ragdoll Masters is a game that should have been created 15 years ago, but woefully was not. The idea just seems so brilliant, it's a wonder no one came up with it earlier. The idea is simple: fly around in low gravity while trying to beat up the other player. Though this would have been the perfect arcade game back in the early 90's, it's still a great shareware game. And since it only costs $10, you can't go wrong!
You begin as a lonely white stick figure, looking to kick some butt. After navigating through the simple, psychedelic menu screen you'll find yourself in the first level, facing off with a gray stick figure. The first level is a very simple arena composed of one huge rectangle, although the levels get progressively more complicated as you move on.
As you fly around using your arrow keys, you have to hit your opponent in vulnerable spots, such as the head or body. Whenever you exchange blows, a glow ball pops up where you hit and time is slowed down for a moment. When you hit the gray stick figure in one of their vulnerable spots, the words "HEAD BLOW!" or "BODY BLOW!" will show up in huge bold text on your screen. When you hit them without them hitting you multiple times, you rack up a combo, which can greatly improve your score and also results in each of your hits dealing more damage. After you damage the enemy by hitting them in the head or body, you will notice they slowly get red bands around their wrists. Or if you aren't that great, you'll notice such bands around your wrists. As a given stick figure gets damaged more and more, their red bands grow darker. Once your wrists are totally red, you are close to death. Now, in this game that doesn't mean you just fall down and die. It means you blow up into a million dots that can be pushed around the screen by other stick figures. Details like this are the little things that make this game great.
After you kill your first enemy, you'll see "YOU WIN!" in huge text, and your score will be displayed. You then move on to level two. In level two, you fight a slightly larger stick figure. Level three presents two stick figures instead of one. Lather, rinse, and repeat this pattern several times until you are battling four huge stick figures.
You are probably thinking, "Well, what if my friend (or co-worker) wants to play Ragdoll Masters with me?" Well, you can! The catch is you have to send $10 through PayPal to my email. Just kidding: the multiplayer comes with the game. Now your second question probably is, "But how does multiplayer work?" Well, you both use the same computer and keyboard: one user uses the arrow keys, and the other uses the popular WASD keys. While that may seem awkward, it can be done if you both go on your knees and move your office chair out the way or engage in other creative maneuvers. There are two types of multiplayer: co-op and versus. In co-op mode you and your friend are partners in crime, both taking on the gray stick figures moving from level to level (identical to the single player progression). This is a great mode for people who aren't very competitive. The second mode is versus, where there is no gray AI stick figure. That's right, it's uno en uno (one on one). You two duke it out till one dies. That's pretty much it for multiplayer, which is enough for me.
Sound in Ragdoll Masters is mediocre at best. When you first begin the music seems to fit well, but later it can get annoying. Luckily you can turn the music off in the settings by setting the music volume to 0. The other sounds in the game are good, but they could be better. There isn't much, just the sounds of two bodies making contact. I think a deep booming voice announcing when you get large combos and kills would have been a great addition to the sound.
Graphics in Ragdoll Masters couldn't be more simple, yet they are so well done at the same time. These are probably the best stick figures I have ever seen. The rounded edges, the perfect size of the stick figures' heads...pure graphical bliss. Seriously though, this obviously isn't the next Half-Life, but the graphics are awesome for a shareware game. The glowing balls that appear when you make contact with your enemy are pretty cool, though they are the one thing that impresses me about the graphics. The background of your arena is very Tron-like, with what looks like moving graph paper. This graph paper gradually changes color as time progresses. Try not to forgot about fighting, while you are drooling at the beautiful multi-colored graph.
Overall, Ragdoll Masters is a great buy, and I believe it's worth paying $10 for. The graphics are awesome, sound is OK, and its addictive gameplay is really what makes this game stand out from most shareware games.
• Lots of replay value
• Doesn't have a steep learning curve
• High score board
Cons• Repetitive background music
• Not enough variety of sounds
• Same basic arena every time