I must say
I rolled my eyes when I saw the thumbnail for this, but I'm really glad I watched it.
the animations where pretty good
This game doesn't break any new ground whatsoever.
Several people have already pointed out that there are a lot of elements shared with Portal:
actual Portals, weighted cube on a platform switch, lasers, bouncy flinging platforms, electric death floor, level panels that get shuffled around to build new levels, the cake, the experiments as a story device...
To be honest, it's not like Portal pioneered all of these platforming or puzzle-solving elements, but as presented here, in this combination, it basically becomes diet Portal with no portal gun.
I don't hate it for what certainly looks like an attempt to capture and repackage Portal, but there are already other 2D adaptations of Portal, and there's no way that making another one is really going to amaze anybody without adding something really new. I would have preferred, if it was really necessary to make the game play the way it does, to find some way to make it more distinct. Change the setting somehow and not make it a human lab rat scenario.
I would actually have enjoyed it more if it was COMPLETELY bare-bones and was just the basic elements without invoking Portal. It wouldn't have been amazing, but it wouldn't have had that bad aftertaste. Even that Gameboy aesthetic that I see floating around these days would've been cool. (I do appreciate the various layers of background & what it adds visually as opposed to making a flat tiled background, and I appreciate the work involved, but it's another thing that just says "hey remember Portal?")
I do like the decision to make the chunks of level shift around instead of just teleporting to a new room at each checkpoint. I think it would've been better to explore that more deeply as a gameplay/design element. There are a couple other games out there that involve whole portions of the screen getting shifted around to form new levels (or manipulate them to actually get through the level) and something like that could have added some much-needed seasoning to this game. The level design is probably the best part of this game. There are puzzles, there are solutions. One thing that bugs me about some of the levels is that the moving parts require you to wait, but you're expected to beat the game within a time limit.
I'm a little confused about the timer. Why is it there? Why 13 minutes? I was able to finish the game in time, but what if I hadn't? (It would've been nice to have a little 5-point consolation achievement for people who didn't make it, assuming there's some kind of "bad ending") The ending scene was extremely short and then everything was cleared out to put in a "back to main menu" button.
Physics need some work. The controls are really slippery, which resulted in a lot of unnecessary deaths and wasted time. Trying to make a jump and coming just short results in getting stuck on the tip of the ledge, and having to let go or actively back up and fall. Push-blocks sometimes slid way farther than appropriate for how hard I pushed them. They also sometimes got a lot of extra momentum on moving platforms. I had some weird results jumping on the bounce platforms. I was killed several times (while on a moving platform) by a laser when I was supposed to be protected by a push-block. Also, there is a level in which I was able to (repeatedly) use the gravity field to fling myself through a laser without dying, and I honestly don't know if that's a bug or an intentional method of beating the level.
Some of the sound effects are especially annoying, and there were a couple occasions in which I almost closed my browser because the sounds of my death were making me really angry. It would've been nice for there to be some music, especially if it wasn't as grating as the sound effects.
A very basic start, but it's a good framework for later variety.
Somebody already mentioned the need for a mute button. The graphics are certainly very basic, but those can wait to be changed until the gameplay itself is adjusted. When you DO decide to switch out the art, I would recommend making it something other than a frog theme. Frogger is fun and classic, but by changing the "setting", it seems less derivative even if the core gameplay concept is the same.
It would also be nice to get multiple lives. 3 is pretty common for arcade-style games like this.
In this current version, every time the frog reaches the loot, the red blocks move a bit faster. For the most part, this just means you follow a pattern of ducking in behind the next row and following it to the other end, stepping forward, and tracing along in the other direction. It gets trickier as the speed increases, but it's mostly the same process.
I have a couple suggestions that might feel like too much of a change from the existing game, but just see what you think. I'll refer to each loot increase as a "level" even though it's one continuous flowing game (I think it was a great idea to go up AND down instead of just teleporting the player back to the bottom every time!).
In the first level, I would have slower (and fewer) red blocks. Maybe some rows are completely empty at first, just to encourage you to test out your movement speed.
Imagine this: you first start the game, the first row and the last row are empty, and there's only 1 red block on the other lines, and they're sitting still. After you get 1 loot, the blocks slowly start moving. Since the "endpoint" rows are empty, a hurrying player has a split second to realize something changed so they can stop or back up to avoid bumping the now-moving blocks.
Next time you get a loot, a block is added to the row on the OPPOSITE side (same reason as before, you don't accidentally bump into something you didn't know was going to be there), so it's not empty anymore. Gradually increase speed or add more blocks (or both) each time you get a loot until it's more like what you have now. By making these changes more incremental, you can increase the number of "levels" the average player can reach, making them feel like they're making more progress and "getting more" out of the game. That's not essential, but some players may prefer it. It also allows for more milestones if you end up getting Medals added in sometime later.
Different kinds of guardian blocks. Instead of all of them going up a speed when you gain a level, maybe only some of them do. Maybe some get faster and some get slower, or even stop. Imagine trying to navigate between some fast-moving blocks and then you suddenly have to tell your brain to put on the brakes so you don't run straight into a slow/stopped block.
Maybe at a certain level, a row of blocks changes so instead of looping in the same direction, it starts going back and forth. This would help break up that player movement pattern I mentioned at the beginning. If you did something like that, I would recommend making those blocks a different shape, or at least a different color (maybe something lighter, so colorblind people can still tell them apart)
Principle 3: Stage progression
This ties closely into that "slow start, gradual difficulty curve, bigger high scores" I mentioned earlier. Maybe the first 5 back and forth "levels" are designed to get you used to the movement and the idea that obstacles will be getting harder, and then you get some kind of "stage clear" screen and move to the next (albeit very similar) board. I just use 5 as an example, it could easily depend on how difficulty would scale. I would use an odd number so that the character begins at the bottom and ends a set at the top. Each set of 5 levels would have a different challenge to learn and apply.
set 1. absolute basics. learn controls, learn that guardian blocks should be avoided, learn that guardian blocks can move (all in same direction at first), etc
set 2. rows don't all go the same direction anymore.
3. rows don't all increase speed at the same rate anymore
4. some rows get faster but some get slower
5. some rows go back and forth instead of looping
6. sometimes there's a guardian block (very visible!) in the loot row, so it's not safe to sit there a really long time.
7. some small portions of some of the grey rows are blocked, so you can't jump to the next row at that particular spot.
8. Some rows cycle through speeds every time they loop instead of when you get loot (slow, med, fast, slow, etc) - maybe have color/lightness cues that change with these speeds.
9. Some rows have just one guardian block that sits still until you get into its row, and then it moves toward you.
10. The room is dark, and you have a glow radius that lets you see a circle around you
11. who knows?
Breaking the game up into segments like that would allow you to change up the art as the player progresses (you could do that anyway, but it would be less jarring if there was some breathing room in between). Like, if it was a medieval fantasy theme, the player sprite could be a knight or something, and the different types of guardian blocks could be different kinds of monsters or enemies. The room graphics could change in each "world" too. Like maybe you start out on a farm, and then you get into the small town, and the home castle, then the forest, mountains, canyons, ice caves, volcano, etc. to some made up villain's castle. The same concept applies if you wanted the setting to be scifi, or animals, or ghosts, or completely abstract.
Concept 4: collecting
Maybe the real "loot" is a coin (or something) that is placed somewhere on one of the rows. You have to collect the coin, or else reaching the end of the board won't trigger the next step, you have to go back and get it for it to count. Then for whatever is the final step in that section (number 5 if we're following my example), instead of a coin it's a key. This gives the player a visual signal that they're about to advance to the next area.
Like I said, these are just spitball suggestions, you can consider any or none of them as you feel. My main recommendation is to get more variety in there. I'd like to see how you can take the basic concept of Frogger and transform it into something we haven't exactly played before.
Good start, good luck!
Bonus bug info: If I use my scroll wheel to go down the page while the game is running, I come back up to find that the distance between various red blocks has changed. Not sure if that's a flash thing or what. It doesn't seem to happen when I use the scroll bar in the browser window.
Yes, there is a strong and apparent message in this game, but in order to bring it forward, the game had to be made bad. Levels are either patently unchallenging or completely unplayable.
The random disability generator at the beginning was a bad idea.
I played the first character I was dealt, but later when I decided I wanted to play as a particular character, I had to restart nine times to get that one.
I would say the game would be better served by providing an ordered list for the player to choose from and directly select a character (Top to bottom: Illiterate, Crippled, Spastic, Blind)
Randomly starting somebody off with Spastic or Blind is a pretty solid way to ensure that they'll just quit the game and never look back.
I was assigned Blind my first time and made it to what is apparently the last level? (where the death block just spawns on top of you) before I got sick of dying and restarted with a different character.
The creator seems to be aware of this obvious disparity in difficulty, judging by the point distribution on the medals.
I then played through as Illiterate, which was completely uninhibiting in terms of gameplay. The signposts don't have any effect on your ability to navigate the levels. The platforming was even easier considering I had already completed all these stages on Blind. Once I was able to see the death-spawn level in its entirety, the level was cake.
After that, I played through as Crippled, and there is nothing to that mode except growing impatient (I realize that's the point, but it doesn't make for interesting gameplay). I don't know the statistics on how many people without functioning legs become sex slaves, but the dialog probably would've done fine to focus on the player being a perceived burden to the cowled figures. Perhaps the sex slave aspect was just there to explain away why the cowled figures would be willing to help at all?
Then I played nearly all the way through Spastic mode. I'm again stuck on that "final" platforming level, which, as I type this, is still going on at the top of my screen, so I can still hear the cycle of "spawn, death block, repeat" and occasionally jump back in and play a few deaths before returning to this review.
There, just did it again. I had a run where I got past three tics completely back-to-back before freezing up above the spikes. I've died at least 200 times on this level in this mode, and I've gotten past halfway maybe five times.
Playing Spastic mode requires the same basic platforming skill as Illiterate mode, but multiplied by a substantial margin of pure dumb luck. Every level is just a matter of playing like you normally would and hoping the game doesn't randomly mess you up (again, I get it, people with Parkinsons or Epilepsy or whatever else have to deal with this fear and anticipation daily, but it makes for a bad game). Without the addition of the shudder before a tic occurs, this mode would be unforgivable.
Okay, I beat Spastic mode. Where was I?
It's something of a cop-out to say "hey, if you're frustrated playing this game, check your privilege because this shit happens to real people" If that's really the message meant to be the focus of this game, stick it in art games and make sure people know that it's an art game first and a platformer second.
I also understand the whole 72 hours thing, so I understand why certain things couldn't be done differently or within the time limit.
I certainly don't expect any major rebuilds of this game, but I'll post my suggestions anyway:
Illiterate: Signposts (or even writing on the walls in the background) have actual clues for choosing a path or the "trick" to getting past some levels. This was really underused in the existing game. I'd suggest pushing this mode first so that players don't already know what the signs say from playing a different mode.
Crippled: I'd suggest putting this mode second because it's still not difficult, but having already played a character with normal speed, you better appreciate the disability in this mode. Also, having potentially played Illiterate first, you're now motivated to see what those goddamn signs say.
Instead of making every Crippled scene about getting a cowled figure to teleport you forward, make more levels about having to take "the long way" around when a short but impossible path is right in front of you. There could also have been levels where the timing was particularly difficult because of slow movement. Since a number of levels were removed because they were unworkable in Crippled mode, they could have been replaced with something to that effect.
The sex slave dialog is unnecessary.
Spastic: There's not much that can really be done to make this one playable. The entire premise is that your input controls are not reliable. This is the strongest instance of "it's not a bug, it's a feature!" That I've seen. I can't think of any level design changes that could make this mode more interesting without just making it too easy to bother. Just don't make it the starting mode.
Blind: This isn't the first near-blind platformer I've played, and this mode was actually handled relatively well. The only real problem I had with it is that the last few levels rely on so many trial and error leaps of faith with perfect timing that without the context of having seen the levels before, it was just a bunch of guessing suicide. Don't let this be the starting mode, either.
The cowled figures present in the Crippled mode could have just as easily been featured throughout all the modes. The other disabilities are just as subject to mockery and cruel treatment, so the figures could be around to mock the other characters or give them dubious advice.
Again, I understand the time limit and don't expect any more changes, but oh well.
Now I'm going to go back through and replay Blind mode, because having beaten Spastic mode it will be easy to finish. I'm doing it for the medal.
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