Everyone has had that neighbor before. The next-door nuisance, the fella that you greet with “morning dickhead” in the morning because you’re way past hiding your contempt for them. Maybe they’re guilty of a minor offence such as refusing to mow their lawn, their dog leaves a massive turd on your property or even worse, they blast Leon Schuster music at ungodly loud levels.
Imagine payback. Sweet revenge, backed by a television crew, a camera with the widest angle lens possible and a talent for mischief that would make Loki proud. That was the idea in 2003’s Neighbors from Hell, in which players could harness their inner MacGuyver to exact vengeance on the bastard next door. The idea was simple back then: A 2D layout, point ‘n dick gameplay mechanics and some tense stealth moments between the pranks you’d pull off.
Some creative thinking was required, but once you put two and glue together, lined the tricks up and watched them unfold like a Rube Goldberg machine of anarchy? It was a sight to behold. Neighbors from Hell would eventually make its way to a number of other consoles over the years, including the Nintendo 2DS, GameCube, Xbox, and iOS, but it’s back once again with a shinier package.
Does it play exactly the same as it did before? Absolutely! And that’s just fine, because that core gameplay loop is still solid stuff almost two decades after release. It’s also delightfully cruel, as you subject your next-door nemesis to the most savage of shenanigans. Sabotaging their microwave with a rotten egg, destroying their beloved armchair, freakin’ breaking their foot with a bowling ball disguised as a soccer ball, it’s all par for the course.
It’s also a chunky game, as it includes not only the original Neighbors from Hell but its sequel as well, slapping together a ton of 2D mini-sandboxes together for a massive dose of chicanery. The visuals have also been bumped up, resulting in a product that graphically, has aged rather well. Boasting a claymation-inspired aesthetic at the time, Neighbors back from Hell’s quirky animations may be limited but they’re still well produced and worth a giggle every time you see the dreaded lummox literally break his spine in two after you’ve pushed him off the heart attack edge. That, and it’s levels still look splendid.
There’s a cadence to how the game plays that holds up brilliantly, and even once you can spot the obvious rhythm, pulling it off and watching the house of cards topple down due to your tomfoolery is still a treat. It’s a strangely contemplative game, maybe a bit too old for those players who don’t have the time to ponder the best route for breaking and entering, but it’s still a treat so many years later.
A madcap blast from the past, Neighbors back from Hell doesn’t do anything to change its original formula, but the added spit ‘n shine polish does give the fantastic pranking sandbox a new lease on life.
Last Updated: October 15, 2020