Review: Pokémon Pinball (Gameboy)

By Merman (@merman1974)

Console: Game Boy Color (playable on DMG Game Boys, and Super Game Boy for Super NES)
Developers: HAL Laboratory & Jupiter
Publisher: Nintendo
Release dates: Japan – April 14th 1999, North America – 28th June 1999, PAL – Australia July 13th 1999 and Europe October 6th 2000

pp_box_art_hires

– US box art.

pp_japan_box_art

 Japanese box art –

 

 

 

 

A Pokémon pinball spin-off makes a lot of sense, not least because the Pokéball is round like a pinball. Let us look back at some of the unique features of the first Pokémon Pinball game.

pp_main_title

– Title screen.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pokémon you are catching are of course from the original Generation One game, Blue and Red (as they are known to Western audiences). The game has two separate tables, called Blue and Red, featuring the Pokémon from the relevant game. Unlike other Pokémon titles, you do not need to trade to unlock all 151 in the battery-backed Pokédex – but it is possible to trade high-scores via the Game Boy Color’s infrared port, as well as print out high scores if you attach a Game Boy Printer. There is a unique screen surround when playing on the Super Game Boy attachment for Super NES. Although the cartridge can be played on earlier DMG models of Game Boy, certain features are disabled (including the animated Pokémon in the Pokédex) and the graphics are of course textured monochrome rather than full color.

ppblue_supergameboy

– Super Game Boy surround with the Blue table.

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_DMG_capture – Playing the Red table on a DMG Game Boy.

 

 

 

 

 

The game was a joint development between HAL Laboratory and Jupiter, under license from Game Freak. HAL is of course known for their work on the Kirby games, with former employees and then President Satoru Iwata moving on to become Nintendo’s president. And in 2020 HAL moved part of its staff into Nintendo’s Tokyo Building, meaning it now shares offices with Pokémon creators Game Freak, 1Up Studios, and Nintendo EPD Tokyo. Jupiter is based in Kyoto, with a Tokyo sub-office. The company’s motto translates as “Let’s Play! Let’s Smile!” and it has a long history of releasing games for Nintendo’s handheld consoles – from Game Boy to Switch. Jupiter also worked on the -Game Boy Camera’s built-in software and created an unreleased Pokémon Picross game for Game Boy Color (which was uncovered in the recent large leak of Nintendo data, after only being known about through a few magazine articles of the time).

pp_us_cartridge

– The Pokémon Pinball cartridge with its distinctive shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first glance, the Game Boy Color cartridge for Pokémon Pinball is much larger than normal. At the top is the cover for a AAA battery. This powers the rumble motors inside the cartridge, much like the force feedback found in more recent controllers. This feature is disabled when playing on the Super Game Boy. The Japanese and American versions allow you to switch the Rumble, so it is either on or off. The European cart offers a choice of strengths – Off, Mild or Strong. It is one of a few unique Game Boy cartridge designs with extra hardware inside, alongside the likes of Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, Wario Ware Twisted, and Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation.

 

ppblue_field_complete

– The complete Blue table.

The complete Red table – ppred_field_complete

How do you go about catching ‘em all in this pinball spin-off? There are common modes to both tables, so it is best to look at the first and then explain the differences. The player can enter Catch ‘Em Mode by flipping the Pokéball over the GET light two or three times. A different type of Pokémon will be available to catch if you light it three times. Then the mode is activated by hitting a particular target – Bellsprout on Red and Cloyster on Blue. A silhouette of a Pokémon will then appear at the bottom of the table and must be filled in by hitting the pop bumpers (at the top of the table – Voltorbs on the Red table and Shellders on Blue). This will fill in the silhouette and make the Pokémon itself appear in the middle, so it must be hit three times to light up the word CATCH! (This is shown as GET in the Japanese version). Each Pokémon caught is recorded in the Pokédex, and awards one of three Pokéballs needed to reach the Bonus Stage (lighting up in the middle of the table). If you encounter a Pokémon but do not capture it, its image appears as a shadow in the Pokédex until you capture it another time.

ppred_abra_reveal

– Abra is being revealed for capture.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_zubat_reveal2

– Zubat is almost revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_bellsprout_2hits

– Bellsprout has taken two hits.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_zubat_0hits

– Hit Zutbat three times with the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_abra_2hit

– One more hit to capture Abra.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have caught a Pokémon, the EVO light must be passed over three times to light it up and enter Evolution Mode by hitting the target (Ditto on Red and Slowpoke on Blue). The player uses the flipper buttons to choose between any Pokémon already captured that can evolve. Arrows will guide the player to where the necessary EX (Experience), Evolution Stone, or Link Cable are hidden on the field. The player must collect three of these items; hitting the wrong location will mean the player must send the ball around the outer “loop” of the table or wait 10 seconds for a fresh item to appear and the Pokémon to recover from “fainting”. Both Evolution Mode and Catch’ Em Mode are played against a time limit that gradually counts down. Get the three items in Evolution Mode before time runs out and a hole appears in the middle of the table; flipping the ball into it will secure the Evolution for the selected Pokémon and fill in its new Pokédex entry.

ppblue_choose_evo

– Here on the Blue table, choosing a Pokémon to Evolve.

 

 

 

 

ppblue_evo_ex_token

– An Experience Token to be hit.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_evo_1ex

– One EX token down, two to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the player has three Pokéball icons lit from captures, the Bonus Stage can be activated by hitting the open center hole. Red has Bonus Stages based on Diglett and Gengar, while Blue has Meowth and Seel. Completing both Bonus Stages on either table will then open the special Mewtwo Bonus Stage. Diglett requires the player to knock down all the Digletts and then hit Dugtrio at the top three times; the player only gets one ball on this stage. Gengar is played against a 1:30 minute time limit in the graveyard. Hitting Gastly ten times will launch Haunted; hitting Haunted ten times will see the player facing a huge Gengar, which must be hit five times to complete the stage. Meowth throws coins around, and the player must collect them with the ball; hitting more than one pile in a row increases the multiplier (the first coin is worth 1, the second is worth 2, and so on). Dropping (draining, in pinball parlance) the ball resets the multiplier and costs four coins. Against a one-minute time limit, the player must collect 20 coins to complete the stage. Seels swim around underwater, with their heads “popping up” every so often. Hit ahead with the Pokéball and a point/icon is earned, with the chance to earn multipliers as in Meowth’s stage. The player has 1:30 to collect 20 icons but can continue to earn points after they reach 20 until time runs out.

Mewtwo’s Bonus Stage is more challenging, as the Legendary Pokémon is surrounded by six moving black circles. Hitting a circle earns a million points and hitting Mewtwo himself earns 50,000,000. With just 2:00 to play, the player must accumulate 25 hits on Mewtwo to capture it. Fortunately, each hit also removes a black circle. A clever player can fail and replay Mewtwo’s bonus stage to earn huge scores.

To simulate a Trainer moving around the region, Map Move is used. The starting location is chosen at random from a shortlist, with different areas for each table. Each area also has its own types of Pokémon available. Red requires you to hit Diglett twice to enter Map Move, while Blue requires three hits on Poliwag or Psyduck. Once these triggers on the table are hit, the player has 30 seconds to hit key targets and make a Map Move. This means a player will play three locations from the “Area 1” list, two from the “Area 2” list, and then the sixth and final area visited will be Indigo Plateau on both tables. Mew can be encountered on Indigo Plateau, but its strength means it would take 1024 hits to capture – and so its entry is added to the Pokédex on finding it rather than capture.

ppblue_mapmove_mtmoon

– The trainer has arrived at Mt. Moon.

 

 

 

 

 

At the top of each table, above the bumpers, are three channels. Dropping the ball through a channel lights one, and the position of lit channels can be cycled with the flippers. Passing over a lit light will turn it off again. Note that on the Red table, hitting Staryu toggles whether the player can upgrade the ball using the channels. Once all three channels are lit the Pokéball upgrades, giving a higher score multiplier. The basic Pokéball becomes a Great Ball (x2 multiplier), then an Ultra Ball (x3), and finally a Master Ball (x5). Combined with the basic table multiplier this can rapidly increase your score. However, each ball only lasts a short while and will change back to the previous strength – and draining the ball off the bottom of the screen reverts to the standard Pokéball.

ppblue_masterball

– A Master Ball with its x5 bonus multiplier.

 

 

 

 

 

Also on each table are the CAVE lights (HOLE in Japan) that can be lit up by the ball passing over them. Once all four are lit, the Slots feature becomes active (but only if the player is not in another mode – i.e., Catch ‘Em, Evolution, or Map Move). The slot machine is started by putting the ball into the center hole. The reel spins to offer an upgrade, with the reel slowing down once the player presses A. Among the upgrades are Small and Big Scores, a Pokéball upgrade, or an increase in score multiplier. The ball Saver protects the player for either 30, 60, or 90 seconds (or until the ball is drained twice), while the Pika power-up can be handy. Normally a Pikachu will sit in one of the two drain channels at the bottom of the table and can be moved between them with the flippers. If his power meter is fully charged – by hitting the spinner on the outer loop, filling the thunder icon – then he will fire his Thunder Strike to act as a kickback, saving the ball from draining. If you get the Pika bonus you have two Pikachus, protecting on both sides and able to charge. The Slots can also award an extra Ball (life) or automatically start a mode – Catch ‘Em, Evolution, or Map Move.

ppred_slot

– The Slot is open.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_slot_smallbonus

– The Small Bonus awards a miserly few points.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pika_bonus

 – Gaining the Pika bonus

 

 

 

 

 

 

The player starts with three Pokéballs, but once all balls are lost it is Game Over. Helpfully the Ball Saver is activated for 30 seconds at the start of each life. There is a separate high score list for each table, and as mentioned you can transfer these scores to another Game Boy Color via infrared for your friend to beat. Stats are shown after each ball, awarding bonus points for the number of Pokémon caught or evolved with that ball (times the score multiplier in effect), as well extra for turning the spinner multiple times. As well as flipping the flippers, the player can tilt the table to shake a stuck ball loose – but it is not often needed.

ppred_ballsaved

– Ball Saved! Launch it again.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_slot_saved

– I was going for the Slot but missed the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

Positive reviews of Pokémon Pinball give it a GameRankings average of 81.73%. This included 32 out of a possible 40 from legendary Japanese magazine Famitsu. GameSpot’s 8.7 ratings praised the display and presentation but did feel the physics were poor – and the rumble was just a “nice novelty”. CNET was more positive, calling it one of the best pinball games for the Game Boy Color and “more than a shameless cash-in on the Pokémon phenomenon”.

Looking back, these reviews seem fair. The major problem with the game – as in several Game Boy pinball titles – is the way the viewpoint “flicks” between two halves of the table. Although other Game Boy Color pinball games managed to achieve scrolling tables, the 8-bit processor was slow for moving a large table around. The physics are mixed but for the most part, the ball moves realistically. The flippers take some getting used to as there are limited angles, so it is more about controlling the speed of the ball when you hit it to get the right target. And I found the fixed launch speed unusual; most pinball games simulate the spring-based “plunger” which gives the possibility of different launch speeds and skill shots. Graphics are pleasing with some cute, animated Pokémon – although they do not move around (except in the bonus rounds). It is of course the long-term challenge of catching ‘em all that will keep you playing. Personally, I prefer the Blue table, but both are great fun to play in short bursts.

ppred_hiscore

– Red table high scores, storing the top five scores.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_hiscore

– Blue table high scores, with the names of the companies involved.

 

 

 

 

There are some other interesting problems and changes between regions, beyond the obvious Language selection menu for Europe. Japanese and American versions allow the player to reconfigure all the controls, but European users are limited to a choice of three pre-set control schemes. The Pokédex entries are taken from Red and Blue with a full stop added at the end. But there are spelling mistakes and translation errors in there. The Japanese text in-game displays the Romanised Japanese names (Poppo for Pidgey, Pawou for Seel) but the Pokédex itself shows the names in kanji. The Cutting Room Floor website (https://tcrf.net/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pinball) reveals unused graphics that could have been a third table or layout, as well as an unused Japanese font. Entering the Game Genie code 000-21D-E6E unlocks a hidden Debug menu that allows you to switch between Game Boy Color and DMG mode for earlier Game Boys.

ppblue_keyconfig

– The Key Config screen from the US game.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pokedex_geodude_anima

 

– Geodude animating in the Pokédex.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pokedex_shadow_meowth

 – I encountered a Meowth but failed to capture it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_abra_text2

 – The second page of text for Abra in the Pokédex.

 

 

 

 

 

The music by Go Ichinose is particularly good for the hardware, reusing familiar themes from the games and the anime. Interestingly the Blue Table’s background theme has a melody that appeared in Pokémon Gold and Silver when visiting Ecruteak City and Cianwood City – games that were released seven months after Pokémon Pinball. Red’s background melody meanwhile is from the Generation II games, when visiting Kanto province. Catch ‘Em Mode on the Blue table uses an instrumental version of “Aim To Be A Pokémon Master” – the original opening theme of the anime.

If you have never played Pokémon Pinball, I can recommend it. For pinball fans, there are some quirks to be endured, but Pokémon fans will get a real kick out of it.

OVERALL: 8/10

ppblue_gameover

 – Game Over!

Curious for more? Well, this article is part of a collaboration between various content creators where we took a look back together on the Pokémon franchise. Feel free to read all the other articles by following the links you can find in the hub article.

 

Game Quicky: WarioWare Gold (3DS) ~ Minigame Short

WarioWareGold_HOLLarge.jpgNintendo microsite

For those who don’t know, I live in Belgium. Around late November – beginning December, we have a special holiday.  Depending on the region you are in, you either celebrate Sinterklaas or Sint Maarten. Both days are basically the same thing, but Sint Maarten takes place in late November and Sinterklaas in early December. Now, what is this? Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas Day is a sort of 2nd Christmas day/Santa Claus celebration. I could explain the whole celebration, but I think I’m just going to link to a Wikipedia page that explains it better than I can: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas. Now, why am I mentioning this? Well, during this celebration I usually give my godchild a gift and I get a special gift from my godmother. This year she gave me WarioWare Gold for the Nintendo 3DS. Now that I have finished the game, what did I think about it? Let’s take a look at it! Oh, and before you say: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!” Well, I just want to review this game… Anyways, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

warioware-gold-screenshot-1

While the story isn’t anything special, the voice acting is just amazing. It’s one of the best performances that Charles Martinet as Wario. The voice acting actually gives the story the charm it needs.

The theming of the minigames is perfect. This game is sort of a compilation game of all the previous WarioWare games, the 300 mini-games it has are a blast to play. Especially since you have games where you need to use the microphone, gyrosensors and the touch screen.

There are quite interesting extras in this game like recording your own voice in the cutscenes and the mini-games. There is also a lot of Nintendo history in this game that made me quite nostalgic.

So, the gameplay is amazing. If you played WarioWare games in the past, you’ll feel right at home with this game. If you have never played a WarioWare game, the game works like this. You get challenged by a character that sets the theme of the mini-games. In these mini-games, you have to quickly perform one action to complete a goal. For example; shave three hairs for a chin or blow, blow out a candle, raise a bridge on time… All of this with a simple action or button press. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you go to the next round. The consequence is if you lose, you lose one of your 4 lives. Logically, you need to restart the whole chapter when your 4 lives are lost. The mini-games speed up at a certain point and after a couple of rounds, you’ll face the final challenge of that character.

The visuals of this game are amazing. The game looks colorful and vibrant. The artwork is sublime. There are a lot of amazing references to other Nintendo games and to earlier WarioWare series. I especially loved the nods to WarioWare D.I.Y. with some mini-games having crudely drawn visuals like a casual player would create on the Nintendo DS.

I had a really hard time deciding where to place the soundtrack of this game. I’m personally a bit mixed on it. While the soundtrack has a lot of great tracks, there are a few that didn’t click with me. Now, when I replayed these sections, I noticed that the tracks didn’t click with me outside of the game. So, I can’t fault the game too much for that. So, that’s why I decided to mention the soundtrack in the good section.

The bad

CI_3DS_WarioWareGold_13

So, let’s talk about the story in this game. While the voice acting is amazing and adds a lot of charm, it doesn’t fix the mediocre story of this game. The story just feels incomplete, storylines that go too quickly to their conclusion. There is barely any arc.

I can totally understand that the story needs to be short and bite-sized for the WarioWare games, but I feel that there is a lot of wasted potentials here and that this story could have been more interesting if it was more fleshed out for a Wario platformer.

While collecting the collectibles is a fun distraction and a nice post-game objective, most of them are just useless. In previous games, most of the unlockables had some sort of interesting function but in this game, a lot of them are just images of previous Nintendo products with a little bit of explanation. That’s a major let down.

Conclusion

This game is an interesting one. While I highly enjoyed my time with the game, I felt that there were a few things lacking. I felt that a bit more polish might have improved this game to be even better. But, on the other hand, there are a lot of things that this game does right and nails in the process. Like the voice acting and the visuals.

Personally, I highly recommend this game to everybody who enjoys playing mini-game collections, puzzle games, Nintendo games, and other WarioWare games. Personally, I wouldn’t pay full price for this game and wait for a discount. But, I wouldn’t skip this game at all. I think it’s worthy to be in your 3DS collection or library.

Since this game is one of the only games that use almost all the features of the 3DS and I think that’s just great. Thankfully, they didn’t use the 3D feature or I would be in trouble because I use a 2DS XL.

With that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. And yes, I have left a few things out for you to discover… I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 75/100

First Impression: Iubes 2 (PC) ~ Death To All Cubes?

iubes 2Official website

For this game, there is a death counter on the website that keeps track of how many iubes were killed in action. What are iubes? Well, these are intelligent cubes fighting against other intelligent cubes. So, you will start in one house without any allies and you will have to fight for yourself in this interesting online strategy game. It’s a game where you can’t micromanage your party, but you have to macromanage it. And if you defeat other players, you can become the new king. Interested? Good, I’m too. So, let’s dive right into my first impressions after playing a few matches in Iubes 2. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Survival of the cubes

Iubes 2 (1)So, this game doesn’t have a story to speak off. Well, if you can call the fact that there are 4 factions a story, then there is a story. But each faction has the same abilities compared to the others, so the color you choose only matters to which color you are fighting for.

Something I really like about this game is the UI. The humor put into the UI is really great. Especially the menu system. I really love the design. Also, I really love how there is a button to switch between windowed mode and full screen. This is a really neat feature.

There is one bug I have to mention, that might be fixed when I release this article but switching between monitors in the options menu crashed the game for me each and every time I tried. But, when I launched the game again, it displayed on the screen I had chosen.

The first thing I have to warn players about is the fact that the camera system is something you need to get used too. Since the world is spherical, the camera system is special. At first, it might be a bit disorienting. But don’t worry, you will get used to the camera system after messing with it for a bit in the tutorial.

The tutorial can be replayed whenever you want by going to the help menu and clicking the “tutorial” button. Also, the tutorial helps you get through a basic round of this game and explains everything in detail. But, it only has one opponent. So, you learn only the basics in this tutorial. The help feature isn’t far away if you need it.

RTS with a twist!

iubes 2 (2)At its core, Iubes 2 is a hybrid game between RTS, Strategy and an action game. The game plays like an RTS, but the benefit is that you don’t have to micromanage everything. Unlike games like Age Of Empires and Rise Of Nations, you don’t have to create a boatload of villagers to gather stone, food, wood… for you. The cubes are smart enough to do that for themselves.

This means you can focus on building the right buildings and preparing yourself for war in defeating the other players. While the gameplay is more focused on online play, there is also the ability to play this game offline.

I’m going to come clean and say that I haven’t played this game online yet. Since I’m not the best in online games and I enjoy playing my games more offline, to be honest. I did test out the online game for a bit and I have to say that I haven’t experienced any major issues. So, for this review, I’ll focus more on the offline side of things. If that’s fine with you.

After beating the tutorial, I played several rounds on the easy difficulty. I do have to say that after playing various rounds of other RTS games, this is something you need to get used too. If you enjoy RTS games and you want to play another RTS with some unique mechanics, look no further then Iubes 2.

The fact that I don’t have to micromanage is a godsend. This makes the game fast paced and fun. After I got used to the camera system and the gameplay, I was defeating the AI on easy without any care in the world. It’s true what they say in the Steam reviews and in the game itself. Matches between experienced players can last up to 25 minutes or less.

Visually round

Iubes 2 (3)So, the game is a very pretty game. I really like how the world is designed. The polygon graphics really pop due to the chosen color scheme. While all worlds are randomly generated, I really love the effect that you get when staring down the tube and seeing the hills and trees in the distance. It’s really impressive how optimized the game is too.

The game doesn’t require a lot of resources so it can be played on low-end devices. This gets a thumbs up from me.

Together with the amazing visual design comes an amazing soundtrack. For real, I wish I could buy this soundtrack. Sadly, that isn’t an option right now. I really love the techno-style soundtrack that this game has to go. If I was able too, I would love to add this to my day-to-day playlist actually.

The sound design is good. While I wish there were a bit more sound effects for when thunder would strike or your warriors would attack, I think that the sound effects that are already present in the game do their job pretty well.

So far, I have only been saying praises about the game. Are there any negatives about this game? Well, yes there are. The biggest complaint I have is, there is no save feature in the single-player mode. Yes, you can’t save a match and come back later. So, if your game crashes or automatic updates happen… tough luck, you will have to restart. I understand that this isn’t present since the games are pretty quick to finish, but an autosave from your latest games would be helpful to have the two example situations I talked about earlier.

A second complaint I have is that the tutorial doesn’t explain everything. Don’t get me wrong here, the tutorial is short and to the point, but only explains the usefulness of three buildings. I wish there were more tutorials to explain the other buildings. Or the tutorial could be expanded just a little bit longer to talk about what each building is used for. I feel that this is a missed opportunity. Like, the game has so many features but the tutorial only explains so little. On the other hand, I’m happy that the tutorial isn’t forced upon the players so you can explore and experiment with your heart’s content.

My 3rd complaint is something that can be fixed in a future update. A button to quickly go to your tower when you are either lost or you need to defend it.

And that is all my complaints really. I think that this game is pretty well developed. The game actually feels finished and polished up. I said it before, if you are a fan of RTS games, give this one a go. It’s RTS but with an interesting twist. If you are a fan of strategy and action games, this game is something for you. The game is currently 19€ on Steam. The game only works on Windows and MAC. Surprisingly, this game can run on Windows XP. Oh well, that’s just my nostalgic bone tingling.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to talk about for this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Rip-off With A Twist

Giana-Sisters-reviewOfficial website

Sadly enough, my week off is nearly at an end. I enjoyed my time off quite a lot. But at the other hand, I did some work for my personal life. The consequence of that is that I could barely play games… But hey, I will have more time in the (near) future to write articles again. I also promised to write two articles this week. Perhaps three even. In any case, before I’m going to take a look to this title, first some small history lesson. This game is a spiritual successor to the original Giana Sisters. Why is it not the real sequel? Well, it’s more of a reboot of a controversial series. The original PC game was a Mario rip-off. It was called the Great Giana Sisters. I linked to a Wikipedia article that explains the gist of the history behind this game. When I saw this game on Steam (a while ago), I was impressed. I thought it would be a sort of HD remake. But it’s far from that. This is a reboot with new gameplay ideas, story and it’s own personality while not loosing the charm of the original. But what did I think of it…? Let’s find out, time to write a first impression after playing the first few levels. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Kickstarter

2015-10-11_00002Like a more famous game called Shovel Knight, this game started out on KickStarter too. From what I read, this game was actually a re-imaging of a remake that was made of the original Giana Sisters. Which makes this even more interesting, since the remake was released on my favorite platform of all time: Nintendo DS.

When I found this game on Steam, I was quite interested since it was different from what I played on the DS. In the DS game, it was more a sort of hard Mario-ish game with sisters instead of brothers.

The atmosphere was something else, the story was kind of basic… well, it was so similar to your typical Mario story it kinda hurts. But in my opinion, platformers like these have no real need of a story or can be excused when the story is rather at the generic side. Yet, the story in this game threw me off the hook. Like in the original, the story is barely explained. You had to make it out from the scenery and from the introduction cutscene. This left a lot open for the imagination of the player. How they did it, probably just good game design, the developers of this PC game made it work in Twisted Dreams.

The big twist here is that you can play as both sisters without having to depend on a power-up. In the original game, you had to find a candy hidden in a block (like a mushroom in Mario.) to change into the other sister that could shoot fireballs. Well, in this game, with a simple tap of the button… You change into the other sister.

Changing

2015-10-11_00001Changing in the other sister changes up the gameplay quite a lot. Not only the visuals change from bright & happy to dark & gloomy… The music changes and the whole atmosphere. I got the urge to try to look for a deeper meaning. If a game can pull this off, that means it’s drawing you in. Which is a damn good thing. I usually get easily bored of platformers. But when there is an interesting mechanic involved, well… That gets my attention.

Yet, there is a major flaw with this game and the are the keyboard controls. It might be a lot better on an usual QWERTY keyboard, but on an AZERTY keyboard it bugs out. The following issues I have with the keyboard controls:

  • The up arrow is JUMP. (Which is a crime in itself.)
  • The “W” key is to swirl around. On my keyboard that’s the “Z” key… Why display the “W” and confuse me?
  • A very handy feature to switch from sister to sister is missing from the keyboard controls. (It are the trigger buttons on a controller.)
  • The game showed the wrong buttons often. And what I mean here is that the tutorial showed how you can control the game with a controller…. While I was playing with a keyboard.

At first I thought, you weren’t able to change the controls. But it appears you can. You can change them from the splash screen. Kind of hidden, but okay… I might have gone off on a ramble there. In short, this game is best played with a controller.

The other stuff


2015-10-10_00001This game has two styles. This is a very interesting concept. From the games I have played, I haven’t seen many games do this. First let’s start with the visuals. This game looks very nice in my opinion. Both the colorful and dark side. It gives each sister their own personality. While I would have switched the styles around for the sisters… It works real well.

The level design is brutal in some areas. This gives the player a nice challenge. The developers where kind enough to not work with a life system but with a death counter. The amount of times you died, counts to your final score on that level.

Gameplay wise, this game is a platformer where you switch between two sisters. Each sister has her own abilities and uses. Sometimes you need to switch between the sisters to solve interesting puzzles.

This game has also a mindblowing soundtrack. It’s something I would seriously listen to from time to time. It’s catchy and melodic. I love how one song can sound so good in two different tones. (Like I said earlier, the music also changes when you switch between sisters.)

I would like to say a bit more about this game, but I’ll leave that up for the review. What I personally think of this game right now is that it’s an amazing game and that I can’t wait what they do for the sequel. But I truly hope that they don’t mess up the controls. If you like a platformer with some good challenge and an interesting switching mechanic, this game is right up you alley. I just hope that only AZERTY keyboards got this many issues with the controls… If I’m wrong, play this game with a controller, just to be on the safe side. Oh, and I reported the controls issues to the devs on the Steam forums. Who knows, maybe it’s fixed in a patch rendering my issues with the controls something of the past.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this first impression here. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you and another artilce. Also have an amazing rest of your day and game on~!