Genre: Platform / Run 'n' Gun
Developer: Magiko Gaming
Year of Release: 2013
Recently we here at RetroGameGeeks struck up conversation with those cool French dudes over at Magiko Gaming which culminated in an incredibly fun little interview about what they’re up to at the moment alongside their various retro-based inspirations. They kindly asked us recently if RGG would like to review the PC demo of their latest offering: Platformines. Of course, already being fans of their prior work, we jumped at the chance!
So yet again here in The Portal, this reviewer doths his indie cap once more to, this time; uncover the world of Magiko’s hot new title. Welcome to Olly023’s official review of Platformines!
Now, it is worth stating this is a review for the demo version of the game. Magiko have at least assured us that the version in the currently available demo (that you yourselves can try for free, dear retrobates) is actually the final build of the game and representative of the final product. The main difference being the addition of it being timed, so keep this in mind during review.
The initial reaction to the game is quite simply that it is a thing of beauty! I kid thee not, sirs and sirettes. If you were/are a fan of the Platformance titles, then you half know what to expect. Gorgeous, customisable sprites and cleverly designed levels hit you with immediacy as you launch Platformines on your PC. It tells you from the off that it is control pad friendly, which is for sure a good thing, because in the mind of this reviewer: you’re going to want/need it. Then again, unless we’re talking late 90’s/early 00’s, this gamer struggles using a keyboard and a mouse. Such is the woes of being a console fanatic. Alas!
Overall presentation is sharp and full of charm. That classic 2D sprite-based fare that one has come to expect from Magiko Gaming is out in force here. Once again Magiko have hit a home run with the visuals on show with Platformines. The sprites are a perfect blend of pure humour and utterly magical. It’s impossible for the 16-bit styling’s on offer to not induce nostalgia in any retrobate, no matter your preference. The graphics, are quite simply: stunning. That is all I can really say in a word: stunning. I was in love from the moment the demo loaded. No doubt.
With the immediate option to customise your character, straight-off you get a sense of freedom. Which is essentially what this is, but more on that in a bit. Once you’ve chosen your nose and pant colour (obviously the most important things), you head into the game. The initial screen is reminiscent of the Platformance series, with the zoomed out perspective. And that is when it really hits. You’re treated to a little bit of a tutorial in the first section, before naturally testing out the controls. Just as you would hope, they are as fluid and responsive as ever. The ability to multi-jump your way to infinity is infectious. When utilising a wired X360 pad (or in my case, a wired PS3 pad emulating an X360 pad) everything just feels correct. Which is a good sign for if the game is to be ported outside of Steam.
In terms of difficulty, I can’t help but feel Platformines is immediately more accessible than the original Platformance’s. By this, it’s a lot easier to set yourself in motion without the worry of dying at the very first misstep. It’s a kinder, fairer game in that regard and anyone who was previously put off by the old-school frustration inducing ways should be much happier with the way this plays out. Although, that’s not to say that fun-induced frustration for the retro lovers among us has gone away completely! Thankfully so, I say.
Platformines is all about exploration and discovery. In an indie world where the likes of Minecraft reign supreme, you cannot fault Magiko for going this route. In a decidedly differing way, of course. The worlds within the game are marketed as infinity by the developers themselves. How true this is, I can’t officially comment right now – but the idea of randomly generated levels for the purpose of the exploration factor and, quote: ‘extended longevity’ is a truly remarkable feat. There is RPG elements cleverly woven into the games fabric, also. The idea of upgrading your character to re-tread once too difficult areas will soon stick as an absolute necessity, yet never detrimental to the immersion of the game itself. Very good stuff.
The other obvious elements are that of a run-n-gunner that may induce senses of Metal Slug, which is far from a negative. In fact, it’s a massive plus in my book! But hey, you’re a fan of side-scrolling collectathons? Well, luckily for you Platformines has you covered there, too! Collecting ‘loot’ from disposed enemies, multiple hidden chests (which goes back to the discovery elements) and further random generation in the form of weapons just add to the already ridiculously epic fun factor.
The music is another purposely well-crafted effort. There is a fair mix of chiptune awesomeness combined with atmospheric tunes that will make you glad you put your headphones on for this one. I can only hope Magiko seek to release the full OST in the future for download, as it’s something I’d enjoy having in my possession, for sure. The sound effects are standardised in the positive form, too. Typical of what you’d imagine to emanate and never out of place.
After all is said and done I can happily give Platformines top marks for Magiko’s sheer scope alone. This is an indie game where there is a clear heart and soul, with much love going into the making of it. The sense you get from them when they talk about this, you know it’s a game they truly hope people can connect with. Well, Magiko? I connected. I’m sure there will be many out there who, too connect with this utter, utter gem. I’ll eat my hat (the aforementioned indie cap) if retro gamers don’t get a massive kick out of this. Platformines is as close to a work of art as any indie game, anywhere. That’s the truth.
The sheer fun factor and genre-defying elements that form this outstanding little indie title should be enough to make you wanna rush out and buy it as soon as you’ve fired up the demo. If it doesn’t, you’ve probably got issues. On behalf of RetroGameGeeks, I (Olly023) implore you to download Platformines post-haste. That means NOW! Go on, what you waiting’ for…GO!
Overall 9 out of 10
Verdict:- Much of me wanted to give this a solid 10/10, but being the demo I felt it just wouldn't be right. That said, as soon as the full version is released and a few play-throughs more, I wouldn't be shocked if I revisited this review and actually up-rated it.
It literally has top marks across the board and being as unique of a title that it is, it's impossible to dislike. The infectious charm of Platformines is beyond fantastic all wrapped up in a game that looks and sounds absolutely brilliant.
For anyone who claims that the contemporary games industry is devoid of talented individuals hard at work pouring their blood, sweat and tears into titles that ooze heart and soul - well, I present you with this. As mentioned, the demo of which was reviewed here is available for download from Magiko Gaming themselves (and is linked to in the interview article here at The Portal, no less). So I implore you to nab it up while you can as it's some of the best hours of fun to be had for the least amount of coin. In that, no coin. Coz its free.
Platformines is utterly magnificent and I must say, I will be a day one buyer of the Steam launch for this. It'll be well worth the money, no shadow of a doubt. This may well be a strong contender for Game of the Year Candidate. At least in Olly023's shortlist.
Second Opinion:- What he said...
With a few more claps and all round mind blown appreciation.
This is fantastic.
Transbot Scores:- 9 out of 10