Posted By Shaun K. about 9 months, 1 week ago
For the back half of this week’s column I thought we would do something a little fun and different again. Last time I devoted this portion of the column to showcasing games from a specific team of creators. This week I thought why not present games (official or otherwise) all based on various TV shows I (to varying degrees and for often very different reasons) enjoy. So let us start this mini-spotlight with a more recent show that is already building up quite the audience of fans, adult and children alike, for itself. Gravity Falls feels like nothing less than Twin Peaks by way of the Simpsons. Yet even that description does not do justice to a show that in only seven short episodes has proven itself as adept at relatable character moments as it is at wacky comedy and supernatural shenanigans of both the amusing and disturbing kind. And if you have not previously hear of the show before now, then this simple but enjoyable point-and-click adventure is not a bad way to go. Check it out and then check out the show as well when you have 22 minutes or so to spare.
Look I will not lie: Rizzoli and Isles is far from the best show on TV. Heck it is not even the best summer procedural airing at the moment nor it is one I particularly go out of my way to seek out. Nonetheless, it is an entertaining enough show that my parents adore greatly and I enjoy the odd times I catch it when flipping the channels looking for something to watch (albeit usually more for the cast than the writing). Be that as it may, the show has also led to a surprisingly decent adventure game being made based upon it and now that game has a sequel. Much like the show itself, it is nothing startlingly original or new, but the game is well made and there are certainly far worse ways of spending your time out there.
If you have not at least heard of Breaking Bad… Well honestly I am not sure we can be friends anymore. Breaking Bad is a dark slice of TV perfection and has become one of the most acclaimed (and justly so) shows in all of TV Land these last few years. This is not a show for the faint of heart and its morally grey (to say the least) characters inhabit a world every bit as complicated as the ones inside their heads. Which is a big part of what makes the bright and colorful setting of Cooking Mama the perfect juxtaposition to Breaking Bad. Even if you have never watched the show, you will still find plenty to enjoy in this delicious (and very unofficial) homage to two very different properties. But seriously, you should watch the show.
I have talked about the whys and wherefores of both My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and my reasons for loving the show plenty in the past. So I will not waste your time by rehashing any of that and instead move onto the game itself. This marvelous officially licensed retro-style game actually has its origins in this fan-favorite ad for the show. Indeed the response to the ad was so strong that the people at Hasbro and The Hub decided to make the mock game a reality. And what a reality it is.
Not only have they nailed the translation of the aesthetics of the show into ones that match the pre-8-bit era of gaming, they have also managed to create a game with a surprisingly large amount of replay value thanks to some inspired level designs. You see each of the show’s main cast can eventually be unlocked for play in the game and each has their own very unique play style and abilities. There is real joy in replaying the same levels with each character and realizing just how different the experience is from character to character and all with only minor changes to the levels between playthroughs. This is a licensed game that does as much work to be true to the ‘game’ part of its remit as the ‘licensed’. And while some of you have no doubt already written the game off because of its license, I urge everyone to give it a try. Most of the pony-themed games I feature in this column I genuinely believe you do not have to be a Pony fan to enjoy; that goes double for this one. Give it a chance and it might just surprise you.
MUST PLAY OF THE WEEK!
And thus we leave the world of TV and return back to more original environs for this week’s MUST PLAY. Though that being said, I could easily imagine Super Adventure Pals being an Adventure Time game. Certainly the characters, world, and story in both share similar thematic elements and both have a fairly sharp sense of humor permeating their writing. Which is not to say that Pals is ripping off Adventure Time or anything; it is not (though I would not be surprised to learn that AT influenced Pals to some degree) and Super Adventure Pals is clearly its own game.
It is also a game with that is not afraid to be difficult to beat. Really difficult. Nearly Super Meat Boy difficult by the time the final levels roll around. Oh the game starts out easily enough and you might forgiven for thinking Pals would be an enjoyable breezy romp at first glance. An then this game that mixes one part Super Mario Bros. and one part Zelda II begins to unleash levels with the kind of devilishly tricky platforming segments that would bring a tear to the eyes of the creators of the NES-era Mega Man games. These are the kind of segments that can lead to serious hair pulling and fist slamming is what I am saying. It is enough to make one almost hate Pro, but the game’s dead on controls and well-designed level layouts always ensure that when death does come, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Now normally these days I do not tend to play to completion games as old school hard as Pro gets by the time its credits role. I just do not have the time nor really the inclination in general but here is where Pro really separates itself from the pack: its story. Like I said, the game has some terrifically clever writing and it makes great use of humor throughout to help make the challenge of its gameplay more palatable. Think of it like the video game equivalent of that, as the song says, spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down (the medicine go down, medicine go down). Combine that with a good amount of gameplay and gorgeous flash-based graphics and Super Adventure Pals is a perfect slice of gaming for anyone with at least a little bit of patience and decent reflexes. Oh and the next time Cartoon Network is looking for someone to make an Adventure Time game for their website? I have the perfect team of creators who I think they will find could do the job with aplomb and ease.
D(LC)elightful Treats is a weekly column by Shaun Kronenfeld dedicated to sharing a sampling of the amazing titles that have been produced within the amateur and indie game developing communities. Look for a new D(LC)elightful Treats every Sunday. Comments, opinions, and game suggestions are both welcome and greatly appreciated. Feel free to follow Shaun on Twitter @bigred_13 if you feel so inclined.