Spoiled Meat Boy
Video games have had an interesting evolution through the years, with each era brining its own look and gameplay. In the 90’s that usually meant a platformer, of which there truly many. From Sonic to Mega Man X to Banjo Kazooie, the choices were plenty. The popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, and were are beginning to see a resurgence of this once beloved style. Potion Games seeks to honor the past but build to the future with some new ideas.
There is no story given, but it seems that you are a small starfish type of robot that must fight his way through a space ship full of evil biological creatures that appear to be like slime. You can navigate this spaceship by sticking to any lightly colored surface, so you can simply walk your way on the ceiling over the traps and enemies below, all the while keeping your momentum. You can jump from surface to surface, even double jumping soon after you start. You cannot stick too all surfaces, and you also have to avoid the deadly saw blades strewn throughout the area, along with the incredibly fast purple ooze monsters. You have different weapons and powers along the way that drastically change the play style and difficulty as well.
To start, StickyBots has an amazing movement system that feels organic and real. It is so enjoyable to move around in these areas where you have to anticipate being able to stick to the walls, and also include jumping in order to avoid all the obstacles. Also, because all the momentum is conserved every time you move, it feels organic and deserved when you accomplish even getting by a few sawblades to safety. It feels like the character has weight and is alive because of the way it moves, jiggles, bounces, and resists both movement and stopping that movement precisely. It’s a different approach then say the ultra-precise movements of Super Meat Boy, but in its own way adds more to make it feel alive, and even develop feelings to want the character to live beyond just getting a good score.
However, this great movement is often ruined by the haphazard combat that must eventually rear its ugly head. To begin, you are given a gun, which is fine since most platformers have some kind of action element to them, but here it’s the enemies that are the problem. The slime enemies are hyper aggressive and move like lightning, often beginning their attack well off screen and are moving so fast by the time they are seen, that it comes off as cheap, not challenging. Testing reaction time honored tradition of video gaming that I fully endorse, but it has to be earned. Reacting to an enemy from off screen that kills you doesn’t feel good even if you somehow happen to avoid it, you feel lucky more than you feel skilled. Add to that you have to kill these enemies with the gun and if you don’t they will chase you harder than any other enemy is any game I have ever played and you get a recipe for rage quitting.
The combat does more to ruin the experience by halting the very smooth movement, which really messes with the flow of the game. There isn’t much worse in a video game than having a great time, just to have it immediately brought to a stop to hide or to run away from an enemy you can’t beat, and that seems to happen multiple times per level in StickyBots. When you hide, you can also notice the cutesy atmosphere and character designs which would normally be nice, but then you see graphics like the sawblades that seem more at home in a flash game from 10 years ago, then they do in a steam game from 2019.
Cheap games are usually the same as what you pay for, and that seems to be the case here. As of right now its $8.99, and for that price it’s not a bad buy if you are fans of older platformers, if nothing else for the interesting level design and movement system. Also the addition of a multiplayer mode is novel and can be a lot of fun, but the great movement also gets ruined there, just messing up what could have been a great platformer.