Flat Heroes from Publisher and Developer Parallel Circles
Not for the faint of heart or easily frustrated. Fast paced platforming with high degree of difficulty.
Flat Heroes is a fast-paced, minimalistic, intense, action platformer. You control a square just trying to stay alive. To do that, you need to jump from platform to platform, landing and jumping off walls to avoid being killed by the enemies and traps that appear.
There are 3 modes to play: Campaign, Survival, and Versus. Campaign is divided into two parts. Normal, which is the standard mode, and Heroes, which is pretty much equivalent to Hard mode. We suggest leaving Heroes until you have completed Normal mode. Most of the levels consist of avoiding the different types of enemies/traps and staying alive.
The game does provide a lot of challenges with 300 levels broken up into 20 worlds between normal and hero mode with boss battles at the end of each world (and we do mean battles). Some of the boss battles take a little bit of time (and many deaths) just trying to figure out what you need to do to beat the boss.
New mechanics are introduced every few worlds and new enemies/traps are introduced every few levels which keeps the gameplay interesting and keeps upping the challenge. If the levels become too challenging we suggest getting a friend to join as you only need 1 player to survive to the end in order to finish the level. Sadly, the game only offers local (couch) co-op. But, it does have drop-in and drop-out 4 player co-op which made it easier for a friend to drop in to help for a couple of levels and then drop out and we could keep going on our own. If you don’t have a local co-op player who is willing to join you there is an option to skip the level but it looks like you can’t skip back to back levels so be aware of that when choosing to skip or not. You are unable to skip the second to last level in the world (the level before the boss battle).
Survival mode, as you might have guessed, is a timed mode seeing how long you can stay alive. There are a bunch of modes to play but sadly most of the modes are locked behind SP, the game’s point system. You “earn” SP by climbing the leaderboards. There is a daily challenge that you can play once for free. If you would like to retry it to try and get a better time it will cost you some of your SP which turns it a little into a currency system. It does have online global leaderboards which is great to see as that adds to the replayability. We did notice that the top scores are all Dev accounts which should probably be removed or not included in the leaderboards.
Versus mode is a battle mode. Much like Survival mode, most of the versus modes are locked but can be unlocked after playing a few games. There is couch co-op for all of the modes and the option to add AI for the versus modes. We would have loved to see different options for the AI as it is no joke; they play to win.
The game carries its minimalist theme throughout from the controls and enemies, to the art style and music. All of this adds to that pick up and play feeling where we can play it for 15-30 minutes here or there, put it down, and come back another time.
Overall we enjoyed the game in spurts, some of the levels were very challenging and a little frustrating as we didn’t know what we were supposed to do during the boss battles. It is satisfying finally completing a level that you died a bunch on and that included the boss battles. The game does not hold your hand, you learn by dying over and over until you learn the pattern or figure out the objective. We would have loved to have been able to play more of the modes without having to grind points or battle the AI.
Flat Heroes is on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Epic Games. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
One Hand Clapping from Publisher HandyGames and Developer Bad Dream Games
Find your voice (or other musical instrument) and play a fun game with 2D platforming and time manipulation.
One Hand Clapping is a 2D puzzle platformer that requires a microphone to play. Why a microphone?? I’m glad you asked! It is because your voice is the main tool you’ll be using to interact with the world and solve puzzles.
During your musical journey you will visit 6 vibrant biomes and will come across 3 adorable characters that will assist you. Each one is more adorable than the last. There are hidden glyphs and other secrets located somewhere on the levels. Some of which are very challenging to find. They are not mandatory but having them hiding there does add to the game’s replayability as the search to find adds additional challenge and things to explore after you’ve mastered the puzzles.
One of the interesting parts is you don’t have to be able to sing. It doesn’t hurt if you can but you can also hum, whistle, or make weird noises/sounds (we did that a bunch). Because of the game’s sensitivity to mic input we suggest warning the people around you that you are gonna be playing this as extraneous noise will make it difficult to impossible to complete the challenges. Or, they might come to check on you because “it sounds like a cat being strangled” and they were concerned.
As expected the puzzles in the earlier levels are pretty easy which lets you learn the game at a decent pace. The difficulty comes with new mechanics including time manipulation in the later levels. Some of the later puzzles were quite challenging and we ran into issues with not knowing what was needed to solve a puzzle.
They have a couple of great accessibility options for the less musically skilled gamers, Educational Mode and Voice Visualizer. Educational mode shows you the notes you are hitting vs the notes you need to hit using a small musical scale displayed on the screen. This would be a fantastic tool for music teachers to help their students with ear training and pitch control. The voice visualizer overlays the waveform of the mic input on the left side of the screen which partially obscures the view. We don’t recommend using it as it seems to get in the way more than it helps. They also built in an “easy button” that you can use to solve the current puzzle if you are stuck or are unable to complete it due to lack of musical ability. This provides a solution to the current puzzle but that is often only part of what’s needed to progress as you will still need to complete the platforming part as well.
The range calibration and sensitivity calibration options are very easy to use. We highly suggest using them before starting and potentially recalibrating mid-session if you find your voice starting to wear out after playing it for a while.
The art style is very colourful (after the first level) with a beautifully hand drawn cartoonish feel and is one of the best parts of the game. At times we found ourselves just looking around the level enjoying the world. The background art is very well done as well and adds a little extra to the game’s atmosphere making it feel whole.
The game/story can be completed in around 5 hours or less depending on musical talent. Sadly, there’s not much of a narrative (or it was somewhat lost on us). The gist seems to be that you need to battle the silence (darkness) and bring back the music (light).
Overall we enjoyed the game and got to make a lot of funweird sounds to solve some puzzles. We just wished there was more to the story and that the characters were a little more fleshed out.
One Hand Clapping is on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition from Publisher Chubby Pixel and Developer Fabio Ferrara
Fun but occasionally frustrating first person platformer where you win by killing yourself.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition is a first person action-puzzler platformer. You play as Sleepin’ Guy, who falls asleep, drops his beer, and needs to wake up before it hits the ground.
Waking up should be easy right? The trick is that the only way to wake up is to DIIIIE! Each of the 31 levels will have you trying to find different ways to kill yourself so you can wake up. Some of the levels have references to pop culture, classic movies, and games including Jurassic Park, Portal, and Super Mario Brothers. All of the levels have a little twist to fit the game’s atmosphere and art style. The levels are physics based which can be kind of a pain since the game is a first person platformer.
There is a collectible statue located somewhere on each of the main levels. Most of these can be found with a minimum of exploration. The statues are of Sleepin’ Guy in a variety of different poses, some a little more comedic than others. The game makes it easy to see which levels you have found or are missing the statue for, by placing all of the found statues on a plate on the table.
The main “hub” is a diner that you work at. The levels are located on top of the tables with a little numbered placard on them. We thought this was a perfect fit for the diner theme they were going with. Level select is available in case you need to go back and replay a level to obtain a missed collectible. However, the levels must first be completed before they can be selected and they must be played in order.
While some of the levels are pretty straight forward and can be completed in just a few minutes, others took us a while to figure out what needed to be done in order to gain access to the next part of the level so we could die.
The game’s tutorial leaves a little to be desired. It does cover the basic controls at the beginning but later when new level specific mechanics are introduced we were left hanging trying to figure out what to do or how to use them. This could make it a little more challenging than expected for people who are not already familiar with the mechanic from the game or movie being referenced on that level.
Overall it was an enjoyable but occasionally frustrating game. We enjoyed the pop culture/gaming references but found the first person platforming to occasionally be difficult and frustrating.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series Consoles. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Moon Raider from Publisher Drageus Games S.A. and Developers Cascadia Games and Crescent Moon Games
Solid side-scrolling platformer. Good story idea but it’s not really developed into a strong driver for the game.
Ava is the young daughter of the brilliant-but-aging scientist Dr. Cavor and Selene, the former queen of the moon. As a selenite, Selene’s life depends on the special energy only moon gems can provide. With none left and time running out, Dr. Cavor enlists his daughter to raid the moon of as many gems as she can find! Ava must survive the treacherous catacombs deep beneath the surface of the moon. Her enemies, a legion of corrupt aliens that now rule the moon with force, are far less primitive than they first appear. Their world is full of terrifying technology, deadly traps, and armed soldiers at the ready. Ava soon realizes that the only way to save her mother is to save the moon from itself. At least that’s what the press kit says. This exposition was presented perfectly in the promotional materials but sadly, the game does not succeed very well at conveying it in the cinematic intro. All of the ‘story’ is told in this intro and a single cutscene at the end of the game. We were only able to pick up the broad gist of the premise for the game from the cutscenes. More cutscenes and more content in the cutscenes would’ve helped to flesh out the world and the characters. But this may not have been a priority for a side scrolling platformer.
Unlike traditional side scrolling games, the platforming elements introduce more verticality in the levels. Some of which have sections that scroll vertically instead of only right to left. The game has a retro feel that reminded us of a mix of Megaman and Metroidvania possibly in part because your weapon is a blaster arm like Megaman. All of the zones are connected by doors and can be returned to if you are willing to do some backtracking.
After completing the first zone you gain a dash attack that is a little overpowered if used well. You are invulnerable while dashing and can use this to avoid taking damage as well as to help access vertical sections in the levels. It can also be used to attack and can one-hit most of the enemies you come across. You will need to kill the enemies, shoot targets, and break boxes to refill the energy gauge that powers your dash attack.
While moving around the levels you will need to unplug power sources to unlock doors on the levels. The doors lock off parts of the levels blocking access to the moon gems needed to save your mother. They did a good job making it clear when you are able to interact with the power plug as a large “Y” button will appear on screen. You will also use the same button to free aliens locked in jars that you will encounter every few levels. These aliens will be asking for your help and freeing them will grant you additional energy.
There are upgrades hidden behind false walls in each of the zones as well as a bonus room that lets you refill your energy and health. The false walls are easy to spot as they have an alien head logo on the adjacent wall, while the bonus rooms are a little harder to find and can be missed if you don’t see the door.
There are a total of 10 zones in the game and each zone has 6 levels. There’s a boss fight at the end of each zone. These fights can be a little challenging as the bosses do a lot of damage, but all of the bosses have a pattern that is fairly easy to learn letting you avoid their attacks and make short work of them.
The game has a decent checkpoint system that creates a checkpoint after you enter a room. If you die you will be placed at the beginning of the room you are in and anything you collected will need to be collected again. Since the game will re-checkpoint every time you go through a door, we started to use this to our advantage to save progress periodically. There’s nothing worse than dying at the very end of a level and having to redo the whole thing.
Each of the zones has their own look and feel with their own environments and enemies. In the later levels new challenges are introduced with underwater and ice physics. Each of these presents unique elements to the game play and mechanics.
It also has drop-in/drop-out local coop. Coop requires that Ava has at least 10% Gem Energy available to call in the coop partner before the other player will be able to jump in. Having a second player can make the boss fights a little easier but the second player has to jump in before starting the boss fights.
Overall the game is fun, has a retro feel but we would have loved more story and some character development.
Moon Raider is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch Apple TV, and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Butterfly from Publisher Xitilon and Developer Grin Robot
Very basic platformer. Issues with the controls and a few other things. At least it’s short.
A puzzle platformer where you play as a caterpillar on their journey to become a butterfly. You will make your way through 40 levels on your journey collecting the many flowers scattered around the levels while avoiding hazards.
Unlike most platformers, this game does not have a jump mechanic. Instead, you can fall and bounce off other objects like bees, selectively marked blocks, and blocks floating in the water. You can only bounce off each object one time. They disappear after being bounced on. You will also use tubes to move around the screen. New mechanics are introduced as you progress to keep a sense of challenge and interest.
Most of the puzzles are very simple to figure out. The “puzzle” is really all about planning your moves before getting too far into the level. Path selection is vital to successful completion. Fortunately, resetting the levels is quick and easy since it’s highly likely you’ll need more than one attempt to get the order right on your path selection and on later levels to get the timing and control right on some of the more difficult platforming parts.
The controls made the game harder than it needed to be. There is no option to use the D-pad which means you have to use a thumbstick for all movements. There is also an issue that causes your character to stutter at times when moving. This became a big problem on some of the later levels that required precise platforming.
The gameplay area has a 4:3 aspect ratio which leaves a large amount of screen real estate empty on modern displays. Between the aspect ratio and the graphics, we were reminded of gaming back on Windows 3.1.
We ran into an issue on a later level that was game breaking making it impossible to complete the level. Since there is no level numbering or level select we’re not really sure which level this was. We have reported it to the publisher who advised that they will be releasing an update that should make the level completable shortly after release if not on day 1.
Update 01-30-2021: The game breaking issue we ran into on the later level has been patched and the game is now able to be completed.
Butterfly will be available on Xbox. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.