Justice Playthrough #19: Star Escape

Teaching your game is kinda important, folks.

Page 52, Game 30: Star Escape, by Ampersand Game Studios

Fuck this game.

During this playthrough, I’ve found games I love, games I respected but that fell short, games that were clearly no more than trifles, games I simply didn’t “get” … but this is the first one that actively pissed me off.

And, yeah, I’ve avoided trying to be too snarky on some of these games, because charity. But you pissed me off, Star Escape. You pissed me off good.

This LOOKS like a professional product — a polished, cute game that should be a lot of fun. You’re just jumping from planet to planet, racing to get to the top of the screen and picking up stuff along the way. It’s meant to be played head-to-head on the same screen, but you CAN set the other competitors to be bots.

Massive Piss-Me-Off Problem #1: The bots have one difficulty setting: Older sibling who resents having to play with you and wants to kick your ass at this game so severely you break down crying and leave them alone. The bots are fucking MERCILESS. Once you fall off the bottom of the screen, game over! You lose!

So if you’re gonna learn this game, you gotta learn FAST. You have literal SECONDS to figure out what the controls are, because you are about to lose AT ALL TIMES.

This brings me to Massive Piss-Me-Off Problem #2: No documentation. In the narrow-ass windows of gameplay, I FINALLY figured out that A and D rotated me left and right, holding down on the spacebar charged my jump, and releasing spacebar caused me to actually jump. It took me at least a dozen games to figure this out; the first dozen games were literally a few seconds of me doing nothing while the bot was all “I win AGAIN, loser! You suck at everything! Why dontcha go cry to MOM about it?!”

Massive Piss-Me-Off Problem #3: Vertical learning curve. The only way to learn this game is with an opponent who is intentionally tanking to keep you in the race. (Though you can absolutely take yourself out with a shitty enough jump, no matter how gracious your opponent is being.) There’s no other way to learn what jumps are worth attempting, or even the rudiments of how the mechanics work. There isn’t even a fuck-around practice mode to try out.

These problems seem fixable; there might be a decent game here if the devs would graciously provide some mechanism for learning it. As it stands, this game was a miserable experience that I wouldn’t recommend for anybody.

Damn, today’s just been all about the extremes, hasn’t it.

Let’s get something queued up for the next session and call it a night.

Page 11, Game 13: PALACE OF WOE, by owch

“sort your self out”

Another video game. Looks like a lo-fi puzzler. Interesting.