Platformines: 2-D MineCraft clone or awesome indie goodness?

Ever feel like wading through an insanely fast-paced, enemy/spike/chainsaw/electricity-infested underground world?

No?

What if there were guns? Guns and really cool hairdos (and a gimp mask)?

See, I knew you’d warm up to it.

For those of us still in love with pixel art <3

For those of us still in love with pixel art <3

Welcome to Platformines, where everything tries to kill you! Why? Because, that’s why! You’re trapped underground, responsible for rebuilding a blocky giant robot-thing that apparently will dig you to freedom. Where are the tools to rebuild it? Scattered across one of the most dangerous, hostile procedural worlds you’ve had the misfortune of being trapped inside, of course! Your only companions are your ability to jump 5 times in style, and an impressive plethora of guns that will aid you in blasting down the immense number of baddies that come your way.

Okay, so the inside cover to this game isn’t exactly stellar. Let’s get into why it’s actually amazing.

Platformines is gorgeous in its simplicity. You have 4 guns: Pistol, Shotgun, Machine Gun and Explody-Thing 3000 Deluxe (also known as a grenade launcher). The only upgrades you get are damage, reload, bullet speed and bullet range, so each gun basically operates the same way throughout the entire game. Incredibly easy to pick up, incredibly difficult to master. The goal is also simple: go to a certain place, get a certain item, repeat. It actually sounds nauseatingly simple… except for one thing.

The difficulty curve. Some games have a really awful difficulty curve (Dwarf Fortress, I’m looking at you and your “fun”). Some games have a pretty good difficulty curve, like Zelda or Super Metroid. This difficulty curve was chiseled by the indie gods on mount MineCraftOlympus. It pushes and pulls you, makes you alternate between strategizing, playing it safe and running frantically for your life. It kills you just enough times to make you get the point that your strategy needs updating. It makes you feel epic in one area, and makes you feel weak in the next… until you get some new firepower and start gunning down everything again. This is a game that you can play and keep playing because no matter how many steps you go up, it keeps you wanting that next step. This game is a feat of exquisite balance. Seriously.

Speaking of exquisite, the thing that sold me on this game is the music: it’s almost all chiptune-esque arrangements of classical tunes. You’ve got a little Gazza Ladra, a little Hall of the Mountain King, a little Nutcracker, and a little Moonlight Sonata, among others. It’s great! It lends itself incredibly well to the frantic pace of your fatal adventures, and really makes you feel immersed in a world that is not graphically outstanding. It also gives the game a sense of silliness that makes you feel less bad about your imminent and inevitable (and repeated) death.

Back to the graphics thing: it’s still in development. This is one of the reasons I’ve got to go easy on the graphics, because I’m sure they’re on the top of the list to be updated. That said, the game is not graphically appealing. The monsters are well-drawn, but seem inorganic. The “Helpful Hint Hobo,” as I like to call him, seems like the first piece of art they did for the game and they just left it in because they didn’t have time to fill the placeholder. Same with “Buxom Buyer Babe”, the only other friendly face in the whole game. All I’m saying is this: Skyrim this ain’t.

There are still quite a few other kinks that need to be worked out, but Magiko Gaming (the developers) seem to be very responsive to criticism. So please, if you buy the game, let them know how you feel about the yellow area. It’s one of the aforementioned “kinks.”

TL;DR: If you like Megaman or Metroid, you’ll love this game. It’s also 50% off on steam RIGHT NOW, so get it while you can! Build your robots, fire your guns, save the world!

 

~AG

P.S. Seriously. That yellow area. GOD.

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About

Isaac Smith is a lifelong gamer and musician. He is deep into the indie game scene, and is a dabbling programmer who enjoys making games and writing music for them. As a writer, he began at Another Gamer's Blog, a blog dedicated to the discussion of video games, their history, construction, social impact and artistic merit. He does much of the same at his new home, here at Last Token Gaming!

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