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.
From the start, I want to point out that I feel that QUALITY of this game warrants a higher rating, but the inclusion of microtransactions (and the fact that the game forces you to wait a certain amount of time before allowing you to continue, unless you participate in the microtransaction system) is something I consider to be in poor taste, ESPECIALLY on Newgrounds. As such, it has detracted from the gameplay experience and made it less enjoyable, and so I award it fewer stars.
As far as the game itself is concerned, I do enjoy what part I'm actually able to play. The music is simple but charming, the graphics are simple but charming. I don't think there's enough polish to warrant asking people for money, though. There are some interesting things going on behind the scenes, but from the players' perspective this is a game finished enough to be posted on Newgrounds, not enough to be posted in a marketplace. I want to be clear about that. This game is good enough for sponsorship, or even between-level advertisement, but it is not yet good enough to warrant asking the player for money, no matter how little money at a time.
You've gone to the trouble to add a player-customization system, but the advanced customization system is quite bland. There is an illusion of deep customization presented in the form of a bunch of options with one or two available styles, and a full range of color palette, which unfortunately just makes room for some really ugly color combinations. Randomizing is definitely not recommended. You can choose to have 1 type of scar, or be covered in unsightly boils (at last!), or choose from a small handful of hairstyles, facial hair, 2 body types, eyeglasses that look out of place, a single earring, etc. Granted, these choices don't have much effect on the in-game sprite, but the portrait is still a reminder. There is a lot of missed potential here.
If you're going to have character-customization, why not add more hairstyles or facial styles, which give the player a closer connection to their avatars? Or make the various craftsmen customizable (or at least make 3 or 4 pre-fab combinations for each craftsman).
It's a genuinely good premise, and there are intricacies that I would like to explore further, but I promise you I will not be purchasing tokens to supplement my gameplay experience. A good microtransaction system is the kind that an interested player can take full advantage of, but the uninterested player hardly even knows it's there.
(The rest of this review is a diatribe about pay-to-play and microcurrency games)
At first, I realized that certain shop upgrades could be purchased with tokens if you didn't have the full amount in gold, and I thought that was a smart implementation of the system. Later, I realized that certain commodities were only available by purchasing tokens (less of a big deal, since I didn't have any use for those commodities). Then it tells me that after 12 in-game days have passed, I have to wait for a timer to tick down before I can advance to the next day. I literally can't play any more right now unless I spend tokens (Thankfully, I type long-winded reviews and my turn will probably come up while I'm typing this). Finally, I see that certain item production recipes must be "unlocked" by throwing tokens away. You are withholding content from your audience. It may not be the audience you're hoping for (see: "paying"), but Newgrounds doesn't really strike me as the kind of place that would welcome games with a micropayment model.
There's a huge difference between making your game more accessible or faster to play with microcurrency, for "casual" games that people spend 5 minutes on in the bathroom at work, but it alienates people who really want to explore the game.
It's nice that you've at least included a free 100 tokens, so that people have their choice of what portion of the game they'd like to have less restricted. I'll probably use mine on buying extra days, before I give up on it entirely.
I got three extra days out of waiting the time it took me to type this
I like the inclusion of different elements and enemies on different levels, although to be honest there's room for a lot more level shapes.
I think maybe certain things should be unlocked for so many crates collected in a single life, and other stuff could be unlocked for (much higher) cumulative collection.
Hit detection could use some work. Since this is very heavily Mario-themed, it's frustrating to be killed when hitting an enemy at a Mario-acceptable angle.
I didn't play Super Crate Box in advance, so when I started playing I assumed it was going to be more like arcade Mario Bros. but that's my fault. Though I wonder if maybe that's why you used a SMB 3 theme.
I don't like how each box makes you cycle through the various powerups, though I do understand that's a gameplay choice used in the original. I didn't like how one of the powerups was just normal big Mario. I understand that this was meant to pay homage to Super Crate Box but I would have like the powerups more if a given power expired after a certain amount of time, encouraging you to really get to that next box quickly or else face a more difficult challenge getting to it without a power.
How about adding a Kuribo Boot enemy?
I'm normally not into bullet hell games, but I love collecting stuff. This is the first time I've played a bullet hell game where there's something to collect more than once every minute or so (a powerup or something).
I don't claim to have the raddest computer around, but I typically don't experience this much crippling lag when playing games, even with many moving components. Regular levels work splendidly on maxed out graphic quality and effects, but during boss levels, even with all effects turned off and low-quality graphics, the response is brutal. I have to press the space bar in short bursts because the gun gets stuck. I can understand the ship movement slowing down during firing, the way it does when you're using a shield, but the gun won't stop firing and then the ship traces back through cursor movements from five seconds ago, but the bullets and the boss aren't affected in this way. I also have to click the shield activation repeatedly to get it to kick in, presumably because of the performance issues.
Thanks a lot! I appreciate the feedback
This review has more criticisms than praises.
I'm not trying to crap all over your game, which obviously has a lot of work put into it. I'm hoping my input can inform some game design choices in the main project you mentioned. Most of my grievances deal with the information presented to the player, and how level design can inform or confuse the player.
I quit after dying once at the first boss. If an enemy is going to cycle through the same pattern and has to be "killed" more than three times, it needs to have a health bar or else the player is going to question whether what they're doing is really working at all. I have no idea if this boss has to be re-killed five times or twenty, and I guess I'm not going to find out. It should either have a different pattern (speeding up isn't enough), a health bar, or change sprites each time you re-kill it to show that you're making progress. Or just die after 3 cycles.
"Is that water? Is it quicksand? Is it safe to go in there? I could just jump over it..."
Went down into the water, air bar hit zero before I got into the little breathing area, but nothing happened. I didn't bother to check if waiting around even longer would deal damage or kill me outright. I would make the air bar take away smaller chunks rather than 1/4 at a time. Seeing how far I still had to go with a little sliver of air really made me think it was designed to kill me until I could come back later with an air tank or increased lung capacity or something, but nope. Got to the breathing area, got the Melee Attack, and got out. And then I jumped over all the enemies because there's no known incentive to kill them, and because using the melee attack would require putting myself close enough to take damage. So I went out of the way to put myself in more perceived danger for a prize that I had no use for. Also noticed that this was the only water section in this part of the game.
At the first bridge section, I was able to physically jump up and touch the switch several times before I acquired the gun. Up to that point, all the game mechanics revolved around the platforming elements. I know shooting switches is a common mechanic in games, but it's more prominently-used with energy-based weapons. I'm sure a lot of people immediately got the gun and knew to shoot straight up at the switch, but since I tend to overanalyze to a fault, I didn't arrive at the logic of "shoot this manual override switch with a bullet" until I managed to jump up to the switch and press Down (and again with Space) and have nothing happen. Maybe make the ceiling high enough here that you can't even get your body close to the switch, especially when you put the switch up between two parallel walls in the same room where you get the ability to scale two parallel walls.
In the room where you get the grenades, I was so distracted by the box of grenades that once I got to the health station wayyyy up in the air, I didn't notice the exit path tucked away up there. This kind of misdirection is great when you want to hide the path that takes you to secret content, but since the exit is there, it could use more "level" on the right of the health station to indicate that there's a reason to travel to this side. I assumed (again, dangerous) that the grenades had something to do with the face boxes that were introduced before the grenades. of course that was not the case, and after leap-of-faith killing myself off the right of that screen, I explored around until I found that exit up top again.
I assumed it was intended to be at least a slight challenge to land on the platform to collect the grenades (it was, and it took me a couple tries) but it was less of a platforming challenge and more of a "fighting against the controls" challenge.
Dicked around with grenades trying to lob them up into the other bridge switch (which, again, is just low enough to suggest that one MIGHT be able to jump up there) and then made my way to the
I assume you're not going to edit and resubmit this, but I hope you'll take it into consideration for next time.
If all 'negative' reviews were like this one I'd be very happy! The biggest reason for making this game was to make it a target for criticism which could then be applied to the bigger project which is in the pipeline. Your suggestions are very good and thoughtful. We will not be editing and resubmitting this one, but I am hoping that the changes I apply as a result of your suggestions will enable you to enjoy it more than this one. Thanks again!
It was really slow going the first time, but as somebody who really isn't into horror, I was pretty surprised at how many I recognized.
I assumed it would randomize the order every time because I noticed that there were some characters who weren't used the first playthrough, but then when I read that the image was made by somebody else, I understood that characters weren't added specifically with the intent of including them in a game.
I would have preferred to have the game enclosed within a border, since the screen autoscrolls with the cursor, and some of the targets are very close to the edge, and also the existing HUD elements cover up some of the characters (although none of the actual required targets seem to be covered up by them). An external border would allow for the various buttons and target list to be displayed, as well as time, score, found, fails, etc. without having to open the menu to check relatively trivial stats.
The menu wasn't explained very well in advance, so I didn't bother to look at it on my first playthrough. That being the case, I didn't know about the "skip to [x]" option until after I beat the game. Maybe add a splash screen after starting a new game, with a quick rundown of the contents.
Because the "win" screen doesn't close, when I actually DID open the menu after my first win, everything was covered up and there was no way for me to see what was on it. Maybe add the ability to close the win screen, or add buttons on it to specify your successful graves or to take you back to the main menu.
I really dislike the fact that when you unlock a new level, it skips ahead a bunch and you have to manually back up to get those targets. Even if I knew about the "skip to [x]" option, it wouldn't necessarily get me close enough to not have to click the arrows a bunch of times to get to a valid target.
I DID like how if you found a target and the next target was already checked off, it skipped you ahead to the next still-needed target. I wish it did that after #100 and looped around so I didn't have to do it manually as described above.
I had some issues with graves/medals in that I only had 3 left to collect today but in-game it said i still needed 5. I couldn't tell which other 2 I wasn't getting credit for because all the graves are identical and have no text explanations. Even without adding text to them, maybe you could add little horror-themed icons on each grave so that we can identify them in-game.
I had a hard time getting the "Cheat" medal. I tried all kinds of tab-tricks and right-clicking, but nothing paid off, so I ended up checking the walkthrough to see if it explained how to get the medal.
It's nice to see what is essentially an escape game turned into something with a story. I didn't play the first part so I didn't really have any context. The puzzles were more interesting than what I'm accustomed to in this kind of game. It's usually just "click on everything until you find a key, keys keys keys more keys, and make sure you look at the clock because the time shown on it is actually the combination to the lock, etc."
This was very reminiscent of Myst in that regard.
The lighter action event was a little weird. I appreciate the work (and resulting variety) that went into adding it, and it made the story more interesting than just walking through a door, but since it was the only time-sensitive action "puzzle" in the whole game it felt out of place.
People who are having problems with the Book puzzle: I'm not going to spell it out for you but I'm going to give you a fat hint: There are 26 symbols in the book, and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. Are you ready? Here comes another hint: The symbols in the book aren't printed in alphabetical order.
To be fair, one of the planets isn't spelled the way most of us are used to spelling it, but it's still possible to solve the puzzle.
The game is fun to play as long as you don't want to win.
Medals seem to be bugged, first of all. At least 3 of the achievements successfully unlocked in-game were never awarded as medals, even after refreshes and replaying.
The game has a solid concept but it's very frustrating to play and doesn't feel like skill is as much a component as luck. It reminds me of a game called Spin Jam on the PS1, but in that game the player could control the rotation of the cluster. I think the impact-based spinning physics are a cool addition but it makes the game too frustrating. Sometimes a bubble will hit and the force and direction don't match up.
The instructions don't explain much except for encouraging you to use the color-bomb pieces, but it doesn't explain the fact that color-specific bombs must land against the same color piece to work. It's sort of appropriate that the instructions only focus on the bomb bubbles because that dumb luck is the only way i've gotten close to winning. I hit round five several times, nailing break after break and can't even make it close to the goal unless I get a Wild bomb. Also, the pink and red Wilds look very similar and i often have to stop and squint, wasting time to make sure I don't shoot it the wrong way.
Also doesn't explain that every time your shot doesn't cause a break, you lose a heart, and once your hearts are gone, more bubbles appear from outside. The first fifteen times I played, I didn't even notice anything was happening with the hearts and I thought new bubbles just appeared on their own. Then I got mad because when those new bubbles appear, the cluster keeps spinning and the timer keeps going, but you're unable to shoot for a few seconds. I understand that may be considered part of the "penalty" for not magically making a break with every single shot, but it mostly just screws up the subsequent shot once your lock wears off.
Speaking of not being able to shoot while time is ticking, it's INCREDIBLY frustrating to watch the first three seconds tick down before you even get your bubbles to shoot. ESPECIALLY when you get to the fifth level and you hardly get any time to start with.
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