Join our Discord to chat with fellow friendly gamers and our knowledgeable contributors!

antstream
Written by  :  SomeRandomHEFan (136)
Written on  :  Jun 03, 2020
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.13 Stars2.13 Stars2.13 Stars2.13 Stars2.13 Stars
write a review of this game
read more reviews by SomeRandomHEFan

Summary

An amazing soundtrack bundled with a solid Q*Bert clone

The Good

This is another debut title of the Junior Arcade series. It's based on Q*Bert, so its gameplay primarily consists of jumping diagonally from tile to tile while avoiding various enemies. Unlike Q*Bert, you don't have to land on all of the tiles, though you get points for each tile you visit. You just have to reach the exit.

As the game progresses, it introduces some special tiles as well, such as oil puddles that force you to keep moving in one direction. They add some welcome variety to the mix.

The game's difficulty is fairly tame. Mainly thanks to most enemies telegraphing their next move ahead of time, ensuring that dodging them is usually feasible if you know what you're doing. It's only towards the end that it starts to introduce faster enemies. Plus, the game hands out extra lives fairly generously. Not just in the form of collectables, but also for getting enough points. So unlike Balloon-o-Rama, there's a real incentive to get as many points as you can. It also helps that the game's method of accessing bonus levels is perfectly fair.

I personally managed to make it through the whole game in one run with plenty of lives to spare. So the difficulty level should be about right for older children. For the younger ones, there's always the Junior Helper. Unlike its counterparts in Balloon-o-Rama, this one doesn't break the game outright. It just gives you unlimited lives, which still keeps its essence intact.

Even in the soundtrack department, this game can still give Balloon-o-Rama a run for its money. Composed by newcomer Jeremy Soule, it has a very surreal tone and a lot of variety.

The Bad

Some aspects of the game still leave a bit of room for improvement however.

Such as the game's length. Although not as drawn-out as Balloon-o-Rama, 100 levels is still a bit too much for what is still a fairly simplistic game at its core. For that length, it would've needed a few more gameplay elements to stay fresh.

It's also a bit unfortunate that there isn't any alternative to the game's default control scheme, which involves clicking on the tile you want to jump on. It's easy for children to understand, but just doesn't offer the same level of speed and precision as buttons.

Furthermore, the game's difficulty is rather uneven. There are plenty of levels that allow you to easily get rid of all their enemies (either by giving you access to the invincibility-granting cape powerup or by relying too heavily on moving platforms, which will kill most enemies if you just wait long enough). And few levels continue to pose a challenge after that happens.

Conversely, there are also a few occasions where the game gets unfair, though this thankfully isn't very frequent. Some of the later levels combine the fast hedgehog enemies with tight corridors in which they can easily corner you if you get unlucky. But that's nothing compared to levels 62 and 100. They combine a large set of teleporters with impossible to kill enemies. Which is a recipe for disaster, given that teleporters seem to have random destinations. All you can really do is keep hopping into teleporters until they finally have the mercy to send you to your destination, all while constantly fearing that enemies may end up in your path. These two levels must have cost me approximately 15-20 lives in total.

Finally, much like Balloon-o-Rama, this game's level editor sacrifices plenty of features in the name of child-friendliness.

The Bottom Line

Occasionally unbalanced difficulty aside, this is a solid enough game at its core. There's nothing particularly special about it (aside from some really impressive music), but it's a reasonably enjoyable way to waste a few hours.

(If the rating seems a bit low, that's because I had to give a 0/5 to some elements that don't really apply to this game. I'd advise ignoring my ratings in general, as I can't directly control them.)

antstream