Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

F135- Now I Am Become Sloth The Destroyer Of Worlds

Sloth took some really extreme measures to make sure it never has to experience squiggly butt. Although, it is kind of open to being converted into kind of a clown car/Egg mobile kind of dealie. Stay strong, Sloth, there are still dangers out there for you!
Hear me out, toy-makers of the world, children everywhere would in all likelihood greatly enjoy a Greed piloting Sloth action figure set. It's only September. We can get this made for the holidays still!

Quick Critique: Adventures of Pip

As with all people named Pip, our hero is a loser. In this game's world, your resolution is your caste and Pip is at the bottom of that ladder. Those neat little bits of world building are really the only things Adventures of Pip has going for it. The writing is either really charming or awful, with little inbetween. The villain is great and she makes a lot of references to pixels and resolution and game graphics related things (such as the characters referring to discrimination against low resolution characters as being "rezist"), but it's never in your face and crappy like most games when they get self-referential. Then there are some knight allies who they try to go more straight jokey with but none of it is funny (okay, ONE joke got me to laugh). And it's not done in a dad-joke, they're so lame and that's why they're funny kind of way, they're just poorly written, uninteresting characters. There's a "twist" with the knights late in the game, but it's absolutely meaningless. It changes nothing and has no bearing at all for anything that you've been through. Maybe there was more to it and that part of the game got cut, but as it stands, it feels like somebody dictated that there had to be a twist somewhere in the game and they just picked a random spot for it.
The actual gameplay for AoP is almost aggressively average and then saddled with some frustrating decisions. It incessantly beeps when your health is low. That alone is an egregious sin of game design. Beeping when your health first drops or a quick short beep now and again if you maintain low health, those are fine, but a constant beep that you can do nothing about is in no way helpful. Until an enemy randomly drops a healing item or you find a checkpoint, an incessant reminder of your low health does not serve you in any manner. The load times are oddly long and the game gets sluggish and hitchy in odd places (like collecting items from a chest, bouncing off enemies, or riding in a moving platform). The levels can, at best, be described as “inoffensive”. They have super bland music (bland to the point that it's kind of annoying), repeated gimmicks, and the level itself doesn't do anything interesting or push you in any way, or even hint that there's anything grander beyond it. It's like a whole game of level 3-2 in Super Mario Brothers. Nobody remembers what was in 3-2, but you played it and it was probably adequate at the time and moved you closer to a boss fight, but that particular level was just... there. Level 2-1 is the last time you gain any new powers or unlock anything for the town. Most worlds have eight levels and there are five worlds, so the game is front loaded with your new forms and powers and then the item and weapon upgrade shops, and then there's a whole lot of nothing for the rest of the game. The levels are loaded with fake floors and walls so you spend about as much time pressing yourself into walls or head bumping ceilings as you do actually playing that, but the game also punishes you for doing it. For starters, your head can inexplicably get stuck in the ceiling, killing you instantly, but there are also a lot of areas that once you enter them or jump up to a hanging spot on the ceiling to look for a fake wall, you're stuck up there or a platform has passed you, so you have to kill yourself and warp back to the last checkpoint. Most of the secrets are chests, but they pay out so little money that it's not really worth going out of your way to get them. The village does contain some good upgrades like damage reduction, extra health, and some bonus moves, but they're fairly expensive for what chests pay out. HOWEVER, the first screen of the first level is a great grinding spot, so once I got to world 2 and could buy the money doubler upgrade, I just took an hour, farmed that screen like crazy and bought almost every upgrade. This had the major advantage of boosting my defense and life high enough that I rarely had to hear that damned beeping, chests were even less important so I could stop caring about testing for fake floors and walls, and I had a never ending stock of invincibility items, revives, or items that point out where the hidden villagers were (they're the main collectible. Kind of). Probably not how the designers intended their secrets to work. The villagers have the stink of Kickstarter backer rewards or game development members on them. There's just way too much tragic facial hair for those designs to be natural and the most in your face video game references come from them. A terrible reference to "what is a man" is your punishment for talking to them. They also don't seem to really do anything. Outside of the weapon and item shop owners, the villagers have no purpose and you never feel like rescuing them has any impact on the town or game. They just stand around or walk the same route saying the exact same line through the entire game. They never help you, they never give you anything, and they never unlock something, so even in the simple role of being collectibles, they're as awful as their beards.
Even Pip himself isn't enjoyable. The whole game is so slow. Pixel Pip and high-res Pip move at a snail's pace and there are a lot of screens where you're waiting for a hazard to move before you can advance. Rooms are designed so that you're almost always forced to watch the platforms complete a cycle before you can move forward. No matter how quickly you get to that room, the platform spawns just out of your jumping distance, so you have to stand there and do nothing for a cycle even though you know what to do or have been in the room before. It also doesn't help that Pip's second form is the best one and the final form is so disappointing. Level 2 Pip is faster, can wall jump, can swim, and is the one you primarily need to solve puzzles. Level 3 Pip is frustratingly slow, is heavy so he can't interact with walls or springs and sinks like a rock, but has slightly longer longer reach on his attack, but outside of a boss designed to use that reach, that's never helpful. Once you upgrade to level 2 Pip so you can break blocks, level 3 Pip is pretty useless and feels like a drag when you're forced to use him.
So Pip and his game may have heart, but they carry on the namesake's tradition of being thoroughly average and ultimately kind of disappointing.