Play Impressions (And the Rest #4)

May 14th, 2009


I don’t have terribly much to conclude on these last two titles, but they’re commentaries that I feel need to be said;

WonderBoy in Monster World

Any game with chunky sprites and googly eyes is a winner in my book, now add some rose tinted nostalgia and you’ve made yourself fine cocktail of retro loveliness. Beyond the sappy cuteness, WonderBoy walks a fine line, mastery of allurement. The slow walking speed, mostly barren landscape, and vanilla combat makes for a rather weary Metroidvania (lite) adventure – it’s almost monotonous – but it’s not and that’s the magic. The trick is a little spice through means of environment. The preset template for WonderBoy is adequate; it’s a 2D, open world platformer with combat elements and an overlayed equipment system. The environments act as both visual distraction as well as steering the game’s momentum. Each environment has some form of gimmick, whether it be swimming underwater, shrinking into a pint-size version of yourself or the series of side-kicks that the small townships hand to you. Each mechanic introduced per stage keeps you on the chain a little longer. The puzzles can be random, and at times too few cues are given to the player, resulting in blind guess work for progression. The platforming and combat is definitely on the lite side, and lacks a succulence to it, but that is after all the game’s motif; from the big sprites, to the simple design, the game is rather primary – it’s Wonderboy. I see this now as an ideal introduction for younger children into more esteemed platformer titles.

PixelJunk Eden

..the commenters were right. I’m still crawling my way through PixelJunk Eden and it’s become painfully obvious on the upwards climb through the later levels just how deceitful this game becomes. Eden for me, is now a continuum of awkwardly-placed, just-out-of-reach fodder designed to tease your patience. Particularly in the stage with the changing gravity (Garden 6?), Eden throws you around the place with no regard to any progress made. The earlier stages do this through height, this stage does it through random gravity switches. Instead of falling to your doom, you veer out of place…to your doom. All progress towards that elusive spectra is lost, and the tag-teaming grimp pair need to begin another journey to some upwards, downwards, eastwards or westwards direction, following the next pulsating, coloured light. There is little discretion for the player, it’s simply maddening the lack of consideration doled out. Jumps from one land form to another, on first glance appear possible, but (with the inclusion of swaying) becomes a dastardly difficult task. It’s a devious dance of clipping and swinging off masses to other, far away masses, failing, being heavily penalized and then forced to repeat. Playing in co-op makes the circus difficult to decipher still, I can never figure out which player the camera is panning too, and which one of us it will follow when the other falls out of frame. Argh, show some restraint please! There’s no way I’m buying encore.

  • While I agree that level is the most frustrating out of the lot, I found that the more I played it the more I was comfortable with it. I also noticed that the gravity will only switch directions when you’re in the middle of the level; hang around the outside and you can delay the switch aiding your quest to collect pollen, grow plants from your seeds and therefore make your attempt for the Spectra slightly easier.

    Now if that level wasn’t circular, it would be the most frustrating thing in the world…

  • Eden definitely loses its charm very quickly as the stages get harder and that time limit, which previously just sat on the edge of the screen not bothering you, becomes a banshee yelling into your ear. Enemies pose more of a problem and falls get longer and hurt more.

    I definitely feel your pain on this one. The game started off SO good and then just peters off in a way that makes you wonder “what happened?” I’m also avoiding Encore.