December 21, 2012 4:00 PM | Staff
[Guest editor Colin Brown profiles the games currently offered in the Xmas Bundle 2.0 from IndieGames' co-created site Indie Royale.]
Offspring Fling is the first of three games released this year by the fantastic platformer crafter Kyle Pulver, based on the remarkably underexploited premise of a mother's instinct to save her young. You play as a cute, nondescript, fuzzy creature who finds her titular offspring strewn into the wind by the wanton rampage of an angry and remorseless dinosaur. Tracking them down and returning them home is a goal that smacks of puzzle platforming, and you're absolutely right. As far as puzzle platformers go, Offspring Fling is among the best in recent memory, using the ability to stack your babies up on your head and then fling them on to switches, over dangers and into baddies.
Part of this comes from the way the levels are built from very simple pieces, but each feel unique. This is a trait shared with fellow Royale game Colour Bind, and it's once that I really respect in platformer design. Each of the hundred levels twists the simple mechanics of jumping and tossing your children around to create a game that's tough, but not impossible thanks to the excellent care that went into the difficulty balance. I wouldn't quite say the game moves into the realm of twitch platforming, but quick reflexes and good timing are quite important, and mastering the game enough to beat the gold scores and the developer records is no easy feat.
And better yet, the game looks and sounds lovely the entire time. Unlike the somewhat stark world of the aforementioned Colour Bind, Offspring Fling showcases Pulver's deftness with pixel art. So many games go for a "retro" look without realizing that retro doesn't necessarily come at the cost of great aesthetics. I've always been a ferocious proponent for high quality, modern 2D art in games, which Offspring Fling certainly delivers. And mention must be made of the fantastic soundtrack by Alec Holowka, which complements the fast but low pressure style of the moderately relaxed gameplay.
Plus, also included is the debut of Namiko, a game jam entry that apes the classic Kirby style of swiping enemy abilities in a whole different genre: top down defence. Showing the same care that went into the art and gameplay design of Offspring Fling, Namiko is surprisingly polished and slick. It's a fitting bonus for any fans of Pulver's work.
[Colour Bind, Offspring Fling, Namiko, and four other games are available now in Indie Royale's Xmas Bundle 2.0.]