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On Our Desk - 11

WHACK!

We like the On Our Desk feature as much as anyone, but to be honest we do get a little bit tired of looking at USB drives occasionally. Instead we had a good long rummage around the office this time around to find some unique stuff to throw in this round-up.

For an On Our Desk round-up like this in fact, the general rule is that everyone has to hand something over or get something in for us to look at.

This was my contribution – a USB desktop game of Whack It! that I got as a birthday present from a friend and which was given to me and has been sat on my desk since March this year – despite the fact that my birthday is in February!

Games like this Whack It! desktop clone are hardly a new thing. These days you can get everything from USB-powered drinks warmers and coolers to USB fans, strippers and muffins. This little box of annoyances is just a small, unbranded drop in a very big ocean.

Actually, to say that it is unbranded is a bit of a fib. There is a company name on it – Paladone – but it’s just written in white text on a white background on the inside of a hatch underneath the unit. In the dark. With an owl.

On Our Desk - 11 On Our Desk - USB Whack It! On Our Desk - 11 On Our Desk - USB Whack It!

The game itself is completely straight forward and it turns out that getting it out of the plastic box it came in (unwrapped, sigh) was more difficult than getting it working. There’s two little switches on the bottom of the unit. One is marked TRY ME and NORMAL. The other determines the length of the game; OFF, 15 SEC and 30 SEC.

Finally there’s a start/stop button on the front and a little LCD screen which keeps track of your score.

Playing the game then is easy. Set it to normal, set your game length, press start, press the heads of the little men as they light up (they don’t actually pop out of the base or move at all) and try to ignore everyone else in the office as they graduate from quiet tolerance to wanted fugitives.

The main reason the game is so annoying (to people who aren’t playing it that is) is that there isn’t a volume slider or toggle. Instead the game just keeps booping and beeping away really loudly with every light that flashes up and every round that is completed. It’s as if Spinal Tap and Disaster Area are playing a game of Sonic the Hedgehog inside your skull and they’ve decided to settle things with a shouting contest.

The game is at all times fair though and it is at least annoying to those who are playing it too, mainly by rapidly ramping up the speed faster than you can ever possibly move your thumbs even if you tied each other to a separate jet engine and told the cocaine-fuelled pilots to put the pedal to the metal.

On Our Desk - 11 On Our Desk - USB Whack It!

So, the game is annoying, but I guess that’s part of the point. Realisitically this isn’t the type of thing you’ll play everyday, especially if you actually value the ability to work without being pelted with Jaffa Cakes. That’s why it is more of a desktop novelty than a true game.

The game works OK though, we suppose. It’s far, far to difficult but the score counter does a good job of keeping count and the speed at which the lights start flashing will make you pleasantly panicked the first few times you use it. Or rather, the only times you’ll use it because it really is very, very loud and annoying to tinker with.

In fact, it’s so shrill and incessant in it’s beeping – even more so than an after-dark episode of Jerry Springer in fact – that it eventually gets in the way of all the fun you might otherwise get from the game. Sorry, Ben.

Product Name: USB Whack It!
Manufacturer: Paladone
UK Price (as reviewed): £2.99 (excl. Delivery)
US Price (as reviewed): TBC
Verdict: Brilliant for winding up colleagues with, but little else.