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Review: Excavatorrr
Author: Del Duio
Added: 30/10/2009

Hempuli's new one is loaded with personality. For starters, the guy's name is the Excavatorrr. Yes, complete with 3 r's at the end. You know why? Because the Excavatorrr is so kick-ass he can have however many r's tacked on to the end of his name as he damn well wants too. Any problems with that and you'll be met by his trusty bright red pickaxe.

Anyhow, Excavatorrr is oozing with retro everything. And this time we have to take the way back machine WAY BACK to the Atari 2600 days. This looks like it could've gone on the shelf next to old classics like Pitfall or Yars Revenge at your local Sears. You'd almost never know it was made like 30 years later the others. To have a game be so well put together that nothing clashes is a testament to great presentation.

The only exception I'd say are the few screens where you have to press "S" or "ENTER" to continue when maybe a "Press any key to continue" might have been a better choice. But that's a tiny nitpick and won't affect this section of the review one bit.

I'll do a brief synopsis of the gameplay using the game show Jeopardy! bit: Random Guy: "I'll take Indie Games for $200, Alex!" Alex Trebek: "You are a guy who has to go into a randomly-generated cavern looking for gold and gems. Along the way you'll find weapons and items to help you kill various monsters also found here. You'll get bombs. You can only hold one item in your hands at a time. There's even a shop. It's billed by the creator himself as sort of a rogue-like platformer." (Random Guy beeps in) BOOP, BOOP, BOOP! Alex Trebek: "Yes, Random Guy?" Random Guy: "What is Spelunky?!" Alex Trebek: "Oh.... Sorry. You'd think so, but that is incorrect. You lose, here's your free toaster!" -- And you know what? I was "Random Guy" at first too, reading Excavatorrr's description. But anybody who plays this for more than 5 minutes will quickly see this is an entirely different animal. For starters, Excavatorrr's difficult but not stupidly impossible like Derek Yu's internet sensation. It also plays out a lot slower than your average action game so it might turn away some people at first. It took me awhile to realize that to get anywhere far in this game, you have to climb up some long ladders and go back for that spare bomb you left on the surface. How else are you going to blow up those 3 trolls guarding that blue jewel? If you take your time about it and use your brain you'll see that Excavator has a fair bit of stategy elements to it too. Intended or otherwise, it's welcome. One last note: The decision to make the game's layout randomized was brilliant because it's handled so well. There are many things I've only seen once or twice and untold others still out there waiting to be.. dug up. For example, I ran into a giant boss monster one time but haven't seen him since. Another time I found "The Grail" which gave me invincibilty while holding it. And if not for an unexpected ladder fall I would've nabbed a very interesting-looking brown gun.

Like I said, this game looks like a top-tier Atari 2600 game. It has bright colors, no shading, no fancy effects, and easily distinguishable characters of both frend and foe. A lot of people might poo-poo Excavatorrr's graphics but from an artistic standpoint it really says a lot that this game is so put together looks-wise. One thing that might get overlooked from time to time by some is that it's HARD to make a whole game's graphics look like they all belong to that same little world you just downloaded. And especially a world from 1982! If Hempuli had gone and started adding shading or something to a few different tiles or monsters here and there because somebody said it'd look "better" he probably would've ruined the overall feel of his game. Kudos for low-bit cohesiveness. Excavatorrr excelsss because you kept it real, home slice.

The game has only one song that constantly loops throughout your time with it (even through death and all.) To that end, it's amazing that not only is this song excellent, it also doesn't ever get boring amazingly enough. Instead of instruments it sounds like it uses more Atari-style beeps and boops arranged in a great way. It totally fits this game. The composer even got the big font treatment on Excavatorrr's splash page!

Again, making the cavern's layout randomized each new game greatly increases its lastability factor. Some plays will have you dropping into a pit with Goron-style monsters that try to punch you in the face while another play gives you a lot of green gems right near the surface. The tools and weapons the Excavatorrr finds or buys can be used for a wide variety of circumstances- Doubly important in a game where nothing's the same each time you play. Couple that with lots of hidden items with cool powers, deadly traps, smart enemies, and even weapons not sold at the shop and you're looking at a few hours of fun minimum. Not bad for a free little game you might have first dismissed as a poor man's Spelunky, eh?

There aren't many Click games that stay on my hard drive for very long but this will be one of them. In fact, it's in the folder right next to another of my favorite games, the classic Lyle in Cube Sector. ..and Spelunky XD Overall, I can't give this anything but a 10. To think how cool Excavatorrr is and that Hempuli more or less just whipped it up in no time flat is amazing. The game seems like it could be expanded upon in the future as well. That'll be something to look forward to if it happens later. In the meantime I'll be taking ol' red down that shifting cavern from 1982 like it is now. After all, I have a brown gun to get!

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Posted by Va1entine 1st November, 2009

I agree its a classic! Good review!!!!
Posted by Del Duio 2nd November, 2009

It gets a lot harder once you hit the brick level. Almost too hard. Even with the grail (I got it again) those mummies fire lightning bolts that pass through bricks and I think they have some sort of melee shielding so you can't hit them with the pickaxe. Of course I couldn't figure this all out because there always seems to be huge groups of mummies and that flying red devil.

The difficulty ramps up a bit too much from the blue dirt level to the brick level but otherwise this still rocks the house.
Posted by Rikus 5th November, 2009

Great Review!!!


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