Action platformers offer a large number of inventive and fun gameplay mechanics, even if they share elements from prior titles. But the visual differences and creative level design can go a long way in making old concepts feel fresh again.
This is the case for the recently announced Kickstarter project Beard Blade produced by Glovebox Games. Funny thing is that I heard about this project before its Kickstarter announcement today, as the studio publicly talked about the games development for a while on Twitter. Now the game is officially in production and the Kickstarter will help it become a larger experience, but the studio wanted to let gamers try the game out before considering donating money into the Kickstarter.
This demo contains two levels and a boss fight, and I fully played the demo as of this writing. I will be sharing my thoughts on the demo and express my thoughts on what is a promising project.
A Hairy Adventure – Gameplay
This game at its very core is a traditional 2D Action platformer, with you exploring levels, fighting foes and using your beard to interact with the world in creative ways. Your beard is a Swiss Army Knife of sorts; you can hold the jump button to spin in the air, attack with your beard morphing into weapons with the attack button and grab objects with your beard.
When you grab a foe, you can aim where you want to throw them or even just use your beard to gab on to polls/objects and when you hold down, you can release the button to fling yourself into the air. While I had issues controlling the game (as I played it using my Keyboard; my PS3 controller did not work with the game), the game felt fine once I got used to things and it does support Xbox One & 360 controllers.
Level design is solid, making great use of your beard mechanics and you can even collect special coins across each level pushing heavy replay value to find every special coin. Special door passages are in the levels, which offer challenge sections to complete. They are fun and the one in the demo used your climbing ability to great effect to get a special coin.
I enjoyed how creative the beard was incorporated into level design, with the demo boss pushing you into using the grab ability and an early bit in the first level of the demo pushing you to use your hovel ability.
I really liked the gameplay here, as these simple mechanics found homes in other Nintendo platformers, but game I felt this took the most notes from is Wario Land. The studio even cites this on the games Kickstarter page, stating it was in inspiration for the end product this title will end up being. I feel this is a great target to achieve; Wario’s 2D Adventures made great ability of using foes to explore the level and some fun platforming mechanics that can push dedicated platforming fans.
Overall I enjoyed the gameplay here and feel it holds so much promise. The studio showed other beard abilities on Twitter and the Kickstarter page not usable in the demo version of the game, making me think the game will have even more depth in a more complete version of the game.
Pixel Art Goodness – Presentation
This game looks great and it popped off my laptop screen as I played it. The pixel art is polished, with the characters in the demo looking very expressive and Game Boy Advance-like in terms of styling. The animations for your player character is well done too, with them looking quite natural.
Music is also quite solid too, with it sounding like a Mario game in some regards. Considering this it paying homage to the Wario Land series in some of it’s gameplay mechanics, this is a fitting comparison to make. I enjoyed it a lot and looking forward to more music being released for the game.
Sadly, I came across two issues with the game. One being that after completing levels, the game crashed on my Window’s 10 Laptop. My other issue is that my PS3 controller did not work with this game, but that isn’t too bad considering Keyboard controls are fine once you get used to them.
I enjoyed my time with this demo a great deal and am very hopeful the final game continues building on the strong foundation presented here. Promising gameplay mechanics, a strong visual style and some great level design; Beard Blade can be a fantastic 2D platformer.