Monday, February 27, 2012

Pirate Kart #2 - 1 2 3

So, I'm only on my second game, and I've already broken my rule. I played Mike Meyers 1 2 3 for only 4 minutes and 15 seconds. However, this is by no means a knock on the game, beyond to say that it is short and sweet. I was able to complete it, in its entirety, in those 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

The game is a sort of tongue-in-cheek Super Mario spoof about hitting blocks in a very specific order. You get a super-deformed child Mario who apparently has the ability to not double, not triple, but quadruple jump. The ability of course leads to some fairly nasty obstacle designs for you to try to maneuver through.
The game itself is well-made. While the graphics and sound are clearly minimalist, they are done so very functionally and the game has a lot of polish. For example, falling a great-distance creates a nice screen-shake effect that gives the world more of a physical feel. The 13 short levels are fun, though the first 3 are really just tutorials. So you get 10 levels that are mostly platform skill challenges. The physics feel a little floaty at first, but not so bad that you can't get used to it, and it works well for the Asian-martial-arts-movie-levels of air-walking that you'll be engaging in.


Presentation: 2 / 3. Generally solid presentation, though obviously isn't going to win any graphics awards.
Originality: 1 / 3. Collecting items in a platformer, even in a particular order, is not new at all. However, 1 2 3 manages to provide some interesting challenges and brief but quirky humor.
Fun: 2 / 3. It's gone in 4 minutes, but if you like challenging platformers it's certainly worth a playthrough.
Bonus Point: 1 / 1. It's fun and well-made, and I found myself smiling while playing it. Worth a point to me.

Final Score: 6

Definitely worth a playthrough, but it's over and done very quickly. I suppose that successfully doesn't outstay its welcome and just gives you a pleasant and short experience.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pirate Kart #1 - / Escape \

I decided to sort these by Game Title. Going by author meant I'd be playing a lot of games from the same person in a row, and I think that would be less interesting than mixing it up. Coincidence of coincidences, I knew only 1 game going into this experiment, and it happens to be the first one. Also, a quick disclaimer, Joshua Schonstal, the co-developer of / Escape \ is a coworker of mine at Kongregate, and is partially known for the very creative XBLA co-op microphone game PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPew (yes, 9 "Pews").

/ Escape \ is an "escape" game with a cute, punny twist - it uses only the "escape" key on the keyboard to play the game. The concept is simple and not terribly original - you jump up a thin corridor with a laser chasing you ever faster, and you can't hit the spike strips on the side. There's no "winning", you just want to get the best score possible.

In terms of design, the game does a number of things very well. The graphics are crisp and detailed. There's enough going on that you can imagine a variety of stories about what exactly is going on here. What is this little glowing purple creature? Why is he trapped? What kind of city is in the background? Why does this construction site have laser beams?

The controls are very tight, generally making me feel like when I lose it's my fault. There's a good sense of physics and momentum that you can build up when timing your jumps, though generally this gets to be faster than you can reasonably maneuver very quickly. The music is effective, and the very few sound effects add just enough auditory feedback to make it all gel.


Presentation: 3 / 3. This is a very slick and polished game given its scope and development time.
Originality: 1 / 3. The setting is interesting and I like the character design, but truth be told it's not a particularly original concept or implementation.
Fun: 2 / 3. The game on its own can grow a stale before too long, but if you have a few friends competing for high scores it can be surprisingly compelling (which occurred in the Kongregate offices).
Bonus point: 1 / 1. The game is tight, silky smooth, and just feels good to play.

Final score: 7

Finally, hours of jumping off walls in Super Metroid have paid off! The game is fun and definitely worth playing...just one more time...