Andrew Morrish’s (interview below) love letter to retro gaming is as obvious as a slap in the face. It’s Tetris! But not quite as we know it. Morrish adds a devilish twist to the established formula and it pays dividends.
Super Puzzle Platformer has the look and feel of Tetris but much like the GBA classic Super Puzzle Fighter, SPP finds something fresh to expand the core gameplay experience. Rather than manipulate the falling blocks, you instead shoot them thanks to your playable character, a gun toting pixel, Mr Chips. As you guide your hero around the claustrophobic environments, blocks fall around you revealing large areas of one colour. When the moment is right, shoot away to execute a combo move and watch rain a volley of reward gems. These gems act as currency to increase your highscore and level up your character to grant him better firepower. Tactical and skillful playthroughs are rewarded when large gems begin to fall which, when enough are collected, can unlock a new world. These gems act as the game’s method in progress but it’s the high score chasing that will prove SPP’s longevity. And what addictive stuff we have here too.
SPP is crazy addictive and blissfully aware of the solid challenge it pits against you. You don’t just have to worry about the blocks piling up to the top, but rather the variety of death traps and enemies that occasionally show up to make your life a living hell. These traps are very similar to ones found in traditional platformers like Super Mario Bros (rotating fireball blades) and Super Meat Boy (circular saw blades). Avoiding these or trying to blow them up is where the hardcore difficulty rises and refuses to back down. It reaches unfairness from time to time but overall it’s down to your own dexterity to collect enough large gems to reach the next level or chase that ludicrous high score.
The graphics are only serviceable but that’s fine. Pixel art is a recurring aesthetic in many indie games today but it works well here and achieves that retro feel while bringing a certain charm with its simple presentation. Better are the tight controls which are imperative given how tough levels can become.
Super Puzzle Platformer is brilliant fun that keeps up the on going indie trend at delivering high quality games at low asking prices. The hybrid of gameplay styles is undoubtedly impressive, delivering a retro flavoured slice of addictive, twitchy and challenging game.
– Addictive, fun and rewarding gameplay
– Great chiptune soundtrack
– A solid challenge
– Occasionally unfair
– Environments are slightly uninspired
Interview with Super Puzzle Platformer developer Andrew Morrish
Developer Andrew Morrish shares his thoughts on his unique retro inspired shooter/puzzle/platformer hybrid.
1) Before Super Puzzle Platformer became a flash game, was the idea behind the game something you always wanted to develop?
Not at all. It was an idea that slowly developed as I was learning to use actionscript and the game changed a lot during development. Most games I make start this way – as a nebulous idea or mechanic that stumbles its way to a point where it’s playable. I never really have a plan, and I’ve never had “something I’ve always wanted to develop,” because why would I wait? I think if anyone has an idea for a game they shouldn’t wait for permission, they should just make it. “I can’t program,” and “I can’t do art,” aren’t excuses anymore.
2) How did the move from flash game to steam game come about? What were you most eager to include or improve when developing for Steam?
The positive response to the original flash game really motivated me to think about where the game could go from there. Multiplayer was probably the addition I was most excited about because I really like puzzle battle games. I think this is how I want to make most games in the future – release it as a simple version first, then iterate on that.
3) How do you feel about the critical acclaim your game has been receiving?
Unbelievable. It’s been great to see people enjoying it.
4) Super Puzzle Platformer feels like a love letter to simple but addictive retro gaming. Was the retro feel and classic ‘one more try’ gameplay important to you when designing your game?
I really like games that are challenging but allow you to get back into them really quickly. To me this is what gives a game the “one more try” feeling and was something I was really going for in SPPD. It’s unfortunate that “challenging” gameplay is often synonymous with “retro” gameplay. Most games have gotten too easy!
5) Which games/consoles inspired you to pursue a career in video game development?
I played a lot of NES and SNES growing up, and eventually Genesis when a friend of mine got one, but these never made me think “I could make games”. It wasn’t until my older brother got some software demo disks for windows 3.1, one of which happened to have a little program called “Klik and Play” on it. If you’ve never heard of it, it was a very simple program for making games. I was a little too young to make anything with it, but it planted a seed in my brain that making games was a thing I could do. These demo disks also had a lot of little weird games on them that really inspired me, unfortunately I’ve never been able to find them again.
6) Can we expect a new game announcement from you anytime in the near future?
7) Will Super Puzzle Platformer be making its way to any consoles or handheld devices?
I think it could work really well on consoles, and possibly on handheld devices that actually have buttons, but this completely depends on the support SPPD gets. First I’d like to look at getting the game on Mac and Linux before anything else.
8) Super Puzzle Platformer boasts a memorably retro chiptune soundtrack. How important do you consider music to be in computer games?
Hugely. All games are different, but for the type of games I like to play/make I feel that the music is more than just a part of the background, it is a part of the whole. The first thing I remember about many great games is the music.
9) Indie games have grown in popularity and importance in the last couple of years. Why do you think this is and will it grow further when the next generation of consoles arrive?
It’s becoming more and more clear that games don’t need 100+ people working on them, with multi-million dollar budgets. These games are hard to organize, stagnant, and lose their intention during execution because so many people have their hands in the game (including marketing departments) and the result is: we get the same thing over and over. The only difference is it took more money to make. Games can be made by any number of people now, and because of the internet these games can be shared freely and openly with or without a publisher. This is important because it means we are able to play new and interesting games from people who love making them. It may be too early to tell if the next generation of consoles is going to be more indie friendly, but things definitely seem to be going in that direction.
10) Describe your game in three words?
A game sandwich.
Super Puzzle Platformer is available on Steam.