There’s always something I find comforting about games that let me use day to day activities to grow closer to people. Whether I’m grabbing some ramen with my favorite party member in Persona or giving an amethyst to the girl of my dreams in Stardew Valley, it’s always nice to feel like growing closer to the characters you care about is the result of a productive day. Well, the folks from Bonte Avond, a Netherlands based studio, tried their own attempts at capturing this magic in the snowman building simulator, Everybody Wham Wham.
First things first, I absolutely love the setting of this game. Everybody Wham Wham takes place at the Wham Wham the Snowman-man Snowman Building Festival; a ten daylong event in the Netherlands where folks can drink hot cocoa, socialize, sing karaoke and most importantly, compete in the snowman building competition to win a fabulous prize. As a silent protagonist known only as Pumpkin Hat Person, your goal is to enter the contest, build the best snowmen you can and of course, have fun!
Everybody Wham Wham basically boils down to two different sections. During the day you’ll have the actual snowman building competitions where you and two opponents will see who can best fit the daily criteria. This normally comes down to having your snowman being a specific size and fitting a certain theme like spooky, fantasy or traditional. You make your snowman by forming a snowball and rolling it around to your preferred height and can add to it by rolling another snowball over to it. I’ve always been a fan of the two tiered snowmen, myself, but it seems like size is only taken into consideration based on height. I saw a few days where my opponents made snowmen that were five or six small snowballs stacked on top of one another that still met the height qualifier.
There are also five types of items that you can decorate your snowman with: hats, eyes, nose, mouth and scarves. You have to go over to a special counter to grab the accessories you want to put on your snowman, but it’s first come first serve, so I had several days where I’d want to grab the vampire teeth for my spooky snowman or the banana nose for my tropical snowman, but one of my opponents would snatch it up as I was trying to cycle through the items. It's also important to pick up some sticks to literally throw onto your snowman to make arms. I had a few days where my opponents would throw sticks onto my snowmen, which hardly seemed like good sportsmanship.
The only thing I wish the game had added was some sort of visible timer for each competition as the only indicator you get on time is one of the judges informing you when you only have twenty seconds left. I only had one day where I found myself scrambling for time, but it would’ve been nice to see how much remained. Once time is up, everyone will be scored by the three judges who rank you based on size, how many items are on your snowman and how well you met the daily criteria. The last of which seems to be the most important because there were a few days where I was the only one whose snowman was the proper size and had the right amount of items, but I still lost that day because I wasn’t able to grab enough pirate themed items from the counter.
At the end of each day you’ll be transported to a small area where you can walk around, chat with people and just take in the festival. This is where Everybody Wham Wham really works with its social environment. The characters that you’re able to talk to will be different every day, but you’ll often see familiar faces in the background enjoying the festival in their own way. Everyone is at the festival to have fun, and it is nice getting to know these characters. I do wish certain characters had more of an actual arc and slightly more to bring to the table, but a few did manage to stand out to me. My favorite narrative in the game involves talking to one of the judges, Rudy the red nosed reindeer, at the hot cocoa stand. He’s a bit stand-offish at first because he’s a former celebrity who thinks you’re just after an autograph. But as you spend time with him and he sees how hard you’re trying in the festival, he opens up a bit more, and has a nice little story line. Other standout characters are the Harvest Prince, who actually does have a pumpkin for a head instead of just wearing a hat like you do and the bouncer who will allow you to enter the Igloo of Victory if you’re able to earn 70 cumulative points by day nine of the festival. I won’t spoil what’s inside of it, but trust me; you want to enter the Igloo of Victory.
Every day at the festival is just a little bit different, which makes it enjoyable. You’ll always be able to listen to the radio station, on one night everybody gets together to sing campfire songs and there may or may not be a killer robot at one point. The game has a good sense of absurdity in its world and dialogue that made me want to fully explore everything the game had to offer. Every line in the game is fully voice acted, with the quality of this acting being pretty hit or miss. There are also a nice variety of songs in Everybody Wham Wham, and if you don’t find yourself singing the main theme after going through this festival, you’ve got a stronger will than I do.
Overall, I think Everybody Wham Wham is a worthwhile experience. I absolutely love the festival setting. The graphics and style work well for this type of narrative and it’s just a sweet little adventure that, much like a good snowman, has the right amount of love and attention put into it. There are a few places where I would’ve liked to have seen more done with what it offered, but Everybody Wham Wham is still worth the price of admission.
Also I still have no idea what Wham Wham means or if I’m doing it properly.
John reviewed Everybody Wham Wham on Steam with a personally purchased copy.