Category Archives: interview

Rescuing a village of emotional fruit people is just what you do in Karambola

karambola-final-impressions-capture

Here’s a funny coincidence: I played Karambola, and then, the next day, ate some carambola, for the first time, as part of a fruit salad when visiting family for babies and a BBQ. I found the starfruit to be quite sweet, but maybe my taste-buds are off as I was the only one to think this. Others claimed it as bitter. To me, it tasted like a sweeter grape–no, not the cotton candy kind–and I am officially a fan. I’m also a fan of the point-and-click adventure-in-your-browser game Karambola, strange as it is, an artsy mix of bitter and sweet, a satisfying snack in the end.

First, if anything, Holy Pangolin Studio’s Karambola has reminded me of a great sin–that I’ve not yet played Samorost 3 this year despite totally saying I wanted to. These games swim in the same bizarre and silly point-and-click adventure pool where everything is all at once familiar and slightly unsettling. I mean, in this one, a flock of evil bird-thoughts–which I assume are standard endothermic vertebrates that happen to bring about unwanted thinking to those they encounter, like gray clouds hanging overhead–attack a village of peaceful and, might I add, emotional fruit people. Unfortunately for our titular protagonist Karambola, all of his friends scatter, lost to their own inner demons, and it’s up to you to bring them back via some smart if unconventional puzzle-solving clicking.

Each distraught villager is its own scene and puzzle, and some are easier to figure out than others, but all clues are directly in front of you, distorted or purposefully blurred, hidden in the environment for you to find. Still, everything is eventually doable with enough thinking and clicking, and you are then treated to a little animation of the emotional fruit-headed villager coming back to reality and happiness, color washing the screen clean. Then it is back to the Mega Man-esque level select screen to save the next downer, until all hope is returned.

Music and sound effects are vital to Karambola‘s storytelling, especially since you only get a screen of text at the start to explain the setup and then nothing more. Audio helps sell these villagers as villagers and sets the tone for each scene, whether it is the rhythmic lighting up of windows or muted guitar chords as a pinecone-headed figure cries into a wooden tube in the woods. A lot of the music is low, soft, clearly atmospheric, and it mixes strongly with the colorless, almost sketch-like artwork of the fruit people against the water-colored backdrops. There’s also a really fantastic little musical loop that plays when you click on the evil bird-thoughts to get a glimpse of unspoken story in their silhouetted bodies. Some of the bands on the soundtrack include Bird of Either and Avell, which are both new to me.

Lastly, some linkage. I know, I know…I just linked to some bands’ Facebook pages, but these are the more game-relevant ones. First, check out this interview with Karambola‘s creator Agata Nawrot. Second, give this oddball of a game a shot by clicking here and enjoying it in whatever browser you like to use. I played mine in Mozilla Firefox, for what it’s worth. Lastly, fruit flies are the worst, but evidently evil bird-thoughts are much worse, so don’t let your guard down. After all, there’s never been a better time to be playing videogames than right now.

INTERVIEW TIME: Tara Abbamondi

Tara beat a videogame a couple weeks back–namely Professor Layton and the Last Specter–and I just had to know why this game got her good. So I came up with some Qs, and she came up with some As. And with this, I try out interviewing people on my blog. I’m probably going to do it again. Heck, if you’re reading this, there’s a high chance I’ll be pestering you very soon with questions. Ready yourself. And read on…

Name: Tara Abbamondi
Age: 25
Loves: Milk, comics, Rush, Snoopy
Hates: Joffrey Baratheon
Limit Break: Red Curl Crush
Linkage: Twitter, website

Hi, welcome to Grinding Down. You have a really interesting last name. Any relation to me?

Well, thank you for having me, and funny you should mention that…for those who don’t know, I’m Pauly’s wife.

Please tell us some of your gaming history. Did you solve a lot of puzzles as a kid?

My childhood gaming systems were the Atari, Nintendo, and Super Nintendo. I was in high school by the time I managed to get my hands on a PlayStation. I played a lot of Mario games, my favorite being Super Mario Bros 3. Also in my “frequently played” stack: Street Fighter, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country 2, Chrono Cross, Ironsword, Mickey Mousecapade [sigh], Evil Zone, DDR….and the list goes on.

What was it about Professor Layton and the Last Specter that got you hooked?

The story and art are what first drew me in, the animation sequences are gorgeous and the story kept you guessing. What also kept me playing was the fact that it was on the DS. I could go lay in bed and play, I can sit on a bus and play, I could sit outside and play. You can do a few puzzles and then put it down, and you can save at any time.

I went through an “Animal Crossing” phase last year and would play every single day. As a gift, I got the same game, but this time for the Wii. I enjoyed it for awhile, but I can’t even remember when I last played. The logistics of the DS better suit my needs as a gamer (especially when the room that the Wii and the other consoles are in is consistently an ice box. BRRR).

Did you have a favorite or least favorite puzzle?

My favorite puzzles were probably the ones I spent the most time solving. I started to get wise to the way they would fool you into choosing the wrong answer. Sometimes the answer would come too easy and you find yourself second-guessing. Always check out that negative space!

I heard a rumor that this game made you cry. Without getting too spoilery, wanna tell the world about that? Were you surprised by how emotionally connected you were to Luke, Emmy, and Layton’s adventure?

I actually can’t really go into it, basically ANYTHING I say will be spoilery. Though, if you know me well, and I know you do, you’ll know at which point that it was, that is when you finally get there. [HURRY UP, I wanna talk to someone about it!!] đŸ™‚

[ED. NOTE: I’m almost done with the game, I promise!]

This is the first videogame in some time that you’ve finished completely. What other games have you similarly devoured?

A lot of the games I play don’t seem to ever have real endings to them. When I played Animal Crossing, I kind of eventually stopped playing because I was pretty much done with it. Though, I did recently pick up Dragon Quest again, so hopefully now that I finally know where I’m going… I can continue and finish the game.

Most of the games I’ve played to the end were NES or SNES games and a handful of PlayStation games. My shame keeps me from listing them all.

How many hint coins do you estimate you used?

Hmmm, I’d say maybe 40 or 50? I stored a lot for a while, and I had up to 90 towards the end, I started using them then, when things got a bit more tricky.

Interested in seeing more of the series? You have the opportunity to now play them out in chronological order.

Of course! That’s the plan and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Thanks for the interview! But before you leave, can you solve this puzzle I came up with…?

C. The answer is C.

And that’s a wrap!