Tag Archives: platform

We live in a rainbow of chaos in Runbow

To me, there are two kinds of platformers: good and bad. Just kidding. I’m talking about ones where the platforming exists as a means to get you from point A to point B so you can do action C, and ones where the platforming itself, the jumping and landing and getting from spot to spot safely, is the entire crux of the game.

I like both to varying degrees, though I certainly prefer the former, enjoying more laid-back jumping like in Sound Shapes, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, and Sugar Cube Bittersweet Factory over punishing affairs like So Many Me, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, and Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels. Those are almost instantly frustrating and what I like to call un-fun, though there is a masochistic side of me that continues to return to them, to see if I maybe have the twitch-based skills to jump quick with godly precision. Runbow is a mix of these two platformer types, with some levels being a breeze and others being the sort of wall I bang my head against for fifteen minutes, dying over and over and over until I get the pattern down perfectly.

First off, I didn’t choose Runbow, it chose me by being one of July’s freebies on Xbox One and its bright, colorful appearance. I believe it originally came out for the Wii U a couple years back and was later ported to PC, New Nintendo 3DS, and Xbox One from 13AM Games, an indie team based in Canada. Its origin stems from the 2014 Global Game Jam, and the quick elevator pitch is that it’s an action platformer focused on players trying to reach a trophy at the end of each level, dealing with obstacles, enemies, and vanishing platforms along the way. Players can perform a double jump as well as a punch attack to defeat enemies or gain extra reach while jumping up or horizontally. The rub is that the background of each level constantly shifts between a cycle of colors, causing platforms and hindrances of the same color as the background, such as blockades and spikes, to disappear/reappear. Levels are timed, and you are awarded either one, two, or three coins for beating it under a specific time.

I’m currently working my way through the singe-player Adventure mode, which tasks you with saving Poster District from the evil Satura. Why? Not sure, and it doesn’t really matter. This is just an excuse to complete a bunch of levels–140 in total–until you can take her on yourself four separate times. What is nice is that if you are mainly gunning for Satura, you can forge your own path to her, sticking to green (easier) levels instead of following yellow or red ones (harder). The map is broken into four quadrants, with each one its own theme containing unique challenges and dangers. You can play as a number of different characters, some from famous indie games, like Shantae and Shovel Knight, but they all jump the same as far as I can tell so it doesn’t really matter who you go with; I like male Red Hue dressed as a lumberjack, personally, but you do you.

I’ve not tried it yet, but there’s a mode called The Bowhemoth, which is described as a single, ultra-difficult challenge that takes place in the belly of a colossal beast. Evidently, it will test the skills of even the toughest platforming veterans, so I’m greatly concerned. I’ll give it a shot, but might have to *ahem* bow out if the jumping is too tough. I have, however, tried out the online competitive modes of Arena and King of the Hill, both of which were too chaotic for me to grasp and enjoy. I often found myself unable to find myself on the screen and just hoped for the best, which went as well as you can expect.

 

 

My goal for Runbow is to complete all 140 levels. Yup, you heard me. Not three-star every one, but at least complete them and fill in the poster map. After that, I think I’ll be done with it altogether as I’m not interested in its online competitive modes or its co-op action. Still, it’s a fun, seemingly friendly product, with good tunes and a neat gameplay mechanic that has you strategizing each and every jump. Stay tuned for the eventual game review haiku, hopefully.

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How to train Spyro the Dragon to conquer frustrating platforming controls

gd final impressions spyro 1 gnasty_gnorc_level

I quit Twitter in October 2014 and haven’t regretted it…all that much. To tell the truth, for the years I had it, I never used it for any great means. Sure, there was the occasional self-promotion, the randomness of writing down whatever weird thoughts popped up in my head, the handful of subtweets and then quick deletion of said subtweets, and the liking of others’ better constructed, more engaging updates. More often, I stayed quiet, observing everyone else. However, I occasionally had my moments, and this is one that I still like to this day, posted a few years ago while watching some speedrunners destroying games for Summer Games Done Quick:

Well, almost two years later, I’ve beaten Spyro the Dragon, finishing at a 71% completion rate. That’s fine, really. I have no interest in going after the full 100%, which would require finding the remainder of gems, dragons, and eggs. Though it does look like you get access to some special room/level. Eh, I’ll just look it up on YouTube later. Remember when there was a time that you couldn’t do such a thing? Yeah, me too. Okay, okay. Let’s get on with this post. I know you are foaming at the mouth to read my thoughts about a small purple dragon that tries hard to be mighty, but is diminished by outside technological elements. The camera, people. I’m referencing the atrocious camera, as well as the less-than-trustworthy controls.

First, a plot summary despite probably covering most of this in my last post on Spyro the Dragon. This not-so-nice fellow Gnasty Gnorc–not sure if that’s a cross between a gnome and an orc or an entirely separate, standalone race–has gone and turned all the dragons of the realm into stone statues. For reasons, I guess. Well, almost all of them. Somehow, teeny tiny purple-scaled Spyro made it through the transformation wave unscathed and is now everyone’s only hope. He’ll travel through six worlds, freeing as many dragons as possible while also collecting gems, which are hidden in enemies, chests, and even across the map, eventually taking down Gnasty Gnorc in the final level.

Our titular hero has a decent array of moves for a PlayStation 1 mascot-driven platformer. He can breath fire, charge, float, and even do a barrel roll on the ground. The problem is that, coupled with the unfriendly camera, doing any of those moves while moving fast is a recipe for disaster and death. I found the easiest way to move forward was in chunks: enter an area, spin the camera round to see everything there, and then tip-toe over to the gems or enemy to take care of business. This worked mostly fine until you got to areas where you needed to run down a ramp and gain speed or do some light platforming. Unfortunately, jumping Spyro from one area to another is not as easy as it sounds: Spyro’s jump is both floaty and floaty, meaning you can hold the jump button after pressing it to float for a bit. However, letting go doesn’t simply stop the float in mid-air, so you really need to aim your jumps specifically and accurately. The camera will be your toughest enemy in this endeavor.

While I found a lot of the maneuvering in Spyro the Dragon frustrating, I didn’t outright hate the game. In fact, I loved collecting the gems and dragons and checking the list in each hub to see what I was missing. I know, what a shock. Paul enjoyed collecting things in a game that does a good job of having things to collect and lets you know what you still have left to collect.

Anyways, despite all my progress, I nearly walked away from the Spyro the Dragon when I got to the final fight against Gnasty Gnorc. I stopped counting after ten attempts to take him down. First, you have to complete the whole thing with no mistakes, as the boss fight is made up of three sections and there are no checkpoints. The first section is easy, chasing down two enemies that are carrying keys, and I eventually got so good at this part that I contemplated a career in speedrunning Spyro the Dragon. The second part isn’t too tough, with Spyro using a shortcut to catch up to Gnasty Gnorc and damage him. Lastly, and you can see this in the screenshot above, you have to platform across lava, landing on thin slivers of platforms that are slowly retracting into the wall. It’s not terribly long, but you’ll remember that I mentioned moving fast and moving with precision are not friends in this game. One false step or lack of speed, and you have to do everything all over again.

Truthfully, my mascot-driven platforming journeys are only just starting. Yes, it’s 2016. It’s never too late to dive back into the industry’s history. I bought this digital copy of Spyro the Dragon during a crazy good PSN sale back in April 2014, as well as some related titles. Next up are Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Then maybe Gex: Enter the Gecko. Maybe. I also grabbed a bunch of Crash Bandicoot games though I’m less interested in those as Crash Team Racing is still my favorite game starring the horribly misshapen Crash Bandicoot. That probably says something.