September 17, 2015 9:40 AM | John Bridgman
When a crowdfunding campaign fails, it can often mean the end of a project, though not always. Sometimes a developer pushes through regardless and brings their game to fruition. One such title, Iggy's Egg Adventure, a cute platformer recently launched on Steam, has had an arduous journey to completion. It was at one point nearly as extinct as Iggy and his prehistoric friends, before the resolve of the developers at Ginger Labs carried them through and saw the game to its release.
Inspired by classic platforming titles, Iggy's Egg Adventure began as part of a project for developer Chris Buchanan's college degree. Taking that basic game inspired by Super Mario Bros. 1-1, and a little creative drive instilled by watching Indie Game The Movie, Ginger Labs was born with Iggy as its debut title.
In that first month, the team worked hard on the game, spending ten to twelve hours almost every day in attempt to have an alpha build ready for November 2013. They also managed to find someone who offered to invest in their project in the event the crowdfunding campaign failed. Dedicating themselves fully to the Kickstarter at the end of December, they watched as the campaign fell well short of its goal.
This failure was in part due to poor publicity, but also because the alpha product simply wasn't good enough to impress potential backers. Also stepping away from the project was their investor from before, leaving the pair out of work with no life line and no financial support behind their aspiring dream project.
At a local science centre in February 2014, Ginger Labs showed the game off at a public event. Watching a young person enjoying the dinosaur character and the act of playing, Buchanan realized that they needed a new start on Iggy. Keeping only the model, they set out to focus on making the gameplay itself the best they could, making sure to focus on having a high-quality product to go along with their ambitions.
This, of course, would require more money. Money they didn't have. As a startup, this was a definite challenge, and because of the nature of the indie gaming industry, the timeline for payback of any loan would have to be unpredictable at best. In the end they managed to find support from their friends and family to support their work over the following nine months.
Those months were spent searching for a final investor to cover the remainder of their expenses. Approaching almost ten different potential investors and being strung along for sometimes months at a time without any luck, they eventually ran out of funds. Calling in one final favour from those close to them, a loan helped give them the last they needed. With nearly fifty-thousand dollars in debt, they set out on polishing up the game as fast as possible.
Another setback occurred in March 2015 as the person working on their music decided to leave the project. In doing so, he also took the rights to the music he had produced for the project, leaving the Ginger Labs team no choice but to remove all videos and demos from every site they had been featured on. Now with only the two person team remaining, and no music, they managed to find a local group - Fat Bard - for music and sound on short notice.
Pushing onward in the following months, with personal losses exacerbating the stresses of work weeks of eighty to one hundred hours or more, the team managed to finally release the game to critical praise. Iggy's Egg Adventure also attracted the attention of some Let's Play video creators, getting over one hundred thousand views in the first few days. Unfortunately for Ginger Labs, this praise has not translated well into sales.
Despite these setbacks, the game is a solid and fun platformer. The team has put together something that not only pays homage to the classic 2D side scrollers of the late 80s and early 90s, but that also has an endearing and charming aesthetic. Iggy the velociraptor himself is adorable, despite being a bit of a killing machine. The game's core mechanic is running to the right, jumping across platforms, and collecting eggs. It's as rote and basic as you can get, but it's well-executed and handles pretty well.
In each level there are several large eggs to collect, and these are used to purchase unlockables. All of these are equally as cute as the base Iggy character, from the multiple different characters to use, to additional skins for them. Indeed, I find myself having difficulty deciding which to choose first when I played, opting for the top hat and monocle clad Dapper Iggy over the charmingly destructive Mecha Iggy.
The music suits the look and feel of the game very well. Upbeat with a solid drum beat and cheerful wind instrumentation, it fits right in with this cute prehistoric aesthetic that Iggy has. And cute is definitely the best way to describe the little orange dino. His big toothy grin and bright eyes are as charming and endearing as can be.
Also the game is surprisingly difficult, with the need for some clever, precise platforming. This cute and deadly combination is certainly intentional, as it shows off both of Iggy's side as a mascot and a predator. When he leaps at enemies with claws slashing, it's surprising to see but also kind of adorable. Especially with the some of the additional skins adding unique sound effects to the actions.
The hard work and dedication of Ginger Labs shines through in every aspect of the game. Iggy's Egg Adventure is as fun to play as it is visually endearing, and that definitely warrants recognition. By managing to combine both a warm, inviting aesthetic with genuinely engaging gameplay, they have created a game that 2D platforming fans should absolutely consider giving a chance.