I have had PICO-8 a while, but never really used it until I watched aarthificial's YouTube video about pixel art. I wanted to try around with a bit of pixel art myself, so I did my 16x8 sized version of the heroine in the sprite editor. Then I remembered playing "Bionic Commando" on my friend's Amiga as a kid, and a long love of Portal means that I started work on this game over the last few evenings.
The basic functionality is all there (running, collision, hooking, pulling, switches, pressure pads, launchers) and I've had a go with music and graphics, but I'm no level designer, it turns out! So this is a work-in-progress job to get feedback on those core mechanics, and ideas for how to extend the game out!
This was really fun! I'd absolutely be keen on a full game if you're planning on it. I like the little bit of parallax scrolling you've got going on, gives even this simple level a bit of a feeling of depth.
- It might be nice to be able to jump for clearing smaller gaps without having to use the hookshot every time. Partly to not overuse the mechanic and make it boring and partly because clearing small gaps with the hook can be a bit tricky.
- It feels a bit awkward have to explain the "dot turns to circle" thing. Maybe when you get close to an interactable object you could have an animated button appear over the object. Or I guess the character in the case of the anchor blocks. It would make it clear what the player needs to do without having to explain it.
- Similarly, maybe a crosshair or something could track to an anchor block when it's in range. Again, it seems more immediately/intuitively clear than "dot to circle."
But yeah, fun! Nice job!
I think the inability to jump should be retained and integrated into the lore. She is a cyborg tool, like Mark from Marathon. She can't jump. Maybe she should also have no fall damage. This is such an excellent demo. The music and animation evoke a cohesive atmosphere. It feels like a foundation for a great game.
I liked it a lot! Kudos on the animation - the playable character looks great.
I don't have any gameplay recommendations. I think it is fun as is, as long as you keep the puzzles reasonable.
I think the help boxes need to be much simpler. Your text boxes look nice, but I think it's a bit too wordy and I also don't like having to push the hook button to activate them - I activated the sign near the draggable box several times accidentally.
You can take this or leave it, but if it were me, I would:
- Make the signs display text automatically when you stand in front of it
- Have no more than 2 or 3 lines of text per sign. For instance, "hold down to crouch. Your hook can grab items while crouching" would be sufficient for the dragging area.
This was excellent. I really hope you flesh this out into a full game. Or, just take what you have now and make a few more puzzles. Well done!
This is a good demo! I agree with what paloblancogames said above, there's a bit too much text and over-explanation, but the gameplay is pretty solid. tbh, you could get away with no text at all, all of the visual indicators are there and pretty obvious.
A couple bugs in gameplay I ran into:
the moving box moved into me and then my character was frozen in place. I felt like I was wedged between the door and the box. I think the box keeps sliding when you step over it or hook it? I'd suggest only doing box physics when hooked, and colliding with the player when she moves (could make some interesting floating box challenges).
- the hook physics felt... off, and I'm not sure if this is a bug or not. I would swing up and hit a ledge on the way up, then could not move a single pixel forward and land on top of it. This led to a lot of going straight up and then falling straight back down, especially in the last section of the demo. I feel like some air control would help things out, even if just a tiny amount of it.
As far as puzzle design goes, there's not really a "new cool mechanic" going on here with the puzzle elements, more with the platforming challenges. You could make boxes collide with doors and then pull them to activate switches on the other side of the door, or do something with weighted scales/elevators/stacking boxes, but that's probably too unmanageable with the current "target closest object" system. I'd almost suggest avoiding complex physics puzzles entirely and just doing platforming challenges, like that To A Starling game by Peteski. Might be good research for you:
Incidentally, that last puzzle is totally cheese-able from here. I know the up-down locked air movement was the point of this one, but I really think that only hurts the rest of gameplay. Flying through the air has a Ghosts 'n Goblins vibe to it.
This is what I like to call a "Relentlessly Creative" kind of game. I thoroughly enjoyed the "Hookshot" gameplay mechanic being used here, and the animation is top notch! I especially like the mantling mechanic for one block high obstacles. Fantastic, gold star work on display!
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