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Review: Rakker and the Sinking Cities
The author describes this as "Just a tiny platform game". While his modesty is commendable, he is misleading you. This is a very polished, thoroughly enjoyable click platformer, with elements of humour, adventure and some novel, original ideas, not just some throw-away title.
The game plays like an old Mega Drive platformer, highly challenging, bringing you almost on the brink of frustration before rewarding you with a "Level Complete!" sign and some fanfare midi. This is where the fun lies in a platform game, as so many of today's developers forget (play Super Mario Sunshine and you'll see it doesn't have that kind of "Damn, this game is so hard yet I still want to play" thing about it). The challenge starts on level one - there's no slow build up here. If you make three mistakes it's game over, simple as (you only get one life) - and the first area contains at least three full-length jumps (ie ones you have to get spot on). I actually felt like I'd achieved something when I got past the first level.
This toughness may put off some people, which would be a shame - but they should persevere. This game is not for quitters.
The engine seems pretty much spot on. Rakker the rabbit can do four things - run, jump, crouch and hang on ledges. All three are utilised throughout the game. This kind of simplicity I like, there's something warming about it. A game doesn't need flashy weapons and odd techniques if the level design is competent enough already. Collision detection seems just fine, and there is an absence of bugs which is rare in a click game.
The look of the game very much reminds me of "Rolo to the Rescue", one of my favourite games as a child (screenshot here: http://www.emucamp.com/reviews/genesis/rolo2.gif). Animal-based characters set within a themed world - okay, nothing original or exciting, but solid enough. Rakker the Rabbit was well animated, especially little details such as the ear wobble when he jumped; although some of the enemies were a little suspect (the frogs especially).
The plot, as described during the various in-game conversations, is that an evil rabbit called Keller is run over and goes to hell (that's right kids!). He is so angry that he decides to gather an army of hell bunnies to start digging holes beneath the cities on earth to make them sink. So your man (rabbit) Rakker vows to stop him. Original, I'll grant, and allows for some odd locations, the oddest being Hell.
The conversations, even with spelling mistakes, have a warm humour about them, reminiscent of "The Lost Vikings" if you've ever played that. "It's hot in Hell!" says Rakker, which made me smile. There is also a character called Grumpy Bastard who's sole purpose is to tell you to get out of his house. Nice.
There are some really cool stuff in this game too, especially in the Hell level. Spiked balls create obstacles I've never seen before, like the long bar of spikeys that moves up and down, forcing you to jump in tandem with it. I died a few times on that.
One point in which the game does fall down on is the music. It's bloody awful, to put it mildly. Bad duplicates of famous game music without hideous gaps in between the loops, kind of put me off a bit. The sound effects, although minimal, were quite good when they did make an appearance.
All in all, I really enjoyed playing this game. It's simple without being predictable and hard without being unfair.
Eight out of Ten, Mr. Rakker.
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