Movie tie-ins and games made for advertisement deals are often meant to be forgotten. They serve to push some momentary business goal forward, not to make a lasting impression on the gaming scene as a whole. Yet for years now I have seen people play and praise a little Doom clone that was once included as a promotional gift for an American cereal.
Welcome to our review of Chex Quest. Throughout December, Stian and I will be reviewing a variety of games that acted as advertisements for fast food, candy, and other unhealthy foods. A little cynical realism to spice up the jolliest month of all.
Chex Quest is a Doom-like first person shooter where you take on the role of the Chex Warrior, a buff man in a powersuit made of cereal. The planet Bazoik has been invaded by slimy Flemoids, so the Chex Warrior must repel their invasion and rescue the planet’s inhabitants.
You start the game with only a peashooter that uses ammunition called Zorch, as well as a spoon for melee attacks. Rather than killing the Flemoids, zorch only teleports them back to their home planet. A cute story detail to make Doom kid-friendly. You later upgrade your arsenal with a variety of weapons, including a mini-BFG, a better spoon that replaces the chainsaw, a shotgun, and different machine guns. All kid-friendly variants, of course, which does bring the added downside that every weapon looks alike.
Chex Quest only comes with five stages, which also means it has to rush through all the available weapons. Even without hunting secrets, I’d sometimes find a new weapon only a minute after the last. The stages are lovingly decorated, however, which also makes up for the lack of corpses to mark your path. Walls and floors are often coated in slime and some of the decorations and textures were well done.
Enemies and pick-ups have also been given a cutesy treatment to fit the style. Health power-ups are fruit and bottles of milk, and the Flemoids have some real character to them. There are different kinds of Flemoids to fight and there is something amusing about trying to find your way the game’s mazier levels while hearing them in the distance or behind walls you have yet to find a way around.
Perhaps some cynical marketing people intended the game to be just a promotion forgotten about in a few months, but developer Digital Café crafted a quality conversion of Doom here. The game is well-themed and enjoyable, it has the solid gameplay we know from Doom, but also some surprising innovations and tricks.
And that is how a Doom clone about a cereal mascot ended up becoming a hilarious little bit of gaming history.