PITIRI 1977 / Ilikescifi Games / PC

Oh boy.

A big-headed child runs and jumps through a stiff clip-art-ish world, sometimes descending into shadow and meeting with grisly demises ... stop me if you've heard any of this before.

After making a worrying first impression, however, it turns out Pitiri 1977 is actually a little different from Every Indie Puzzle Platformer Since Braid/Limbo Ever. First of all, it has a really impressive opening animation for such an obscure small-budget game (though I suspect that's the only place in the game outside maybe the ending where you'll see something like that). The bit where you're thrown into shadow also turns out to be a relatively brief introductory room, and the game moves on to a much wider and more colorful range of locales after that. It's also way more talkative and generally has a more cheery tone than the standard Games As Fart platformer. I actually felt it had kind of an Earthbound vibe at times.

The setup reminds me strongly of Eric Chahi's Heart of Darkness -- you're an innocent kid on an incredible fantasy quest looking for your missing brother, but there's also some really nasty monsters about that will kill you in grotesque ways if they get their hands on you. Pitiri never gets nearly as gory as Heart did, though, probably thanks mostly to a low budget and lack of a proper animator. The primary foes seem to be these odd bird/bug combinations that will go aggro when they see you and charge through you, sending you flying in an Alucard-like spray of blood. You gradually gain psychic powers as you progress, some of which can be used defensively, but mostly you have to either run from enemies or bait them into falling into a meat grinder or drowning themselves or something like that when they mindlessly charge.

I didn't finish the game, but it seems like the 1970s theme actually isn't really put to use other than the character wearing bell bottoms and some references here and there to sci-fi movies of the period. I didn't finish the game because the means of progression is just inexplicable sometimes (complicated by English not being the designer's first language, making attempts at help and direction confusing sometimes) and the level layout isn't great -- the game has a penchant for making you slowly re-tread a lot of tedious territory if you errantly time a jump or just plain get lost and are wandering around trying to figure out what the designer means for you to do here. This is exacerbated by a lot of "physics" junk lying around in every screen - gears, crates, boards, etc. - that appears like it might be part of a puzzle solution yet ends up serving absolutely no purpose whatsoever (except to maybe block off a walkway if if falls the wrong way). The physics engine here is also definitely on the amateurish and wonky side and takes some adjusting to, between that and the somewhat stiff control, movement about the game world can get frustrating sometimes.

The game is also still very obscure even by indie standards, and I couldn't find a walkthrough anywhere if you get stuck. People on Youtube don't seem to want to play beyond 15 minutes of it either.

Though the game uses the stiff, low-animation "clip art" style common to budget games, that's not to say that the hand-drawn sprites and objects look bad. In fact, a lot of the game's objects are rendered in nice detail, even if the environment as a whole is a little basic. Music and sound are very limited -- it was too bad the game was wrapped up in one .exe file, as I was hoping to find a way to add NES Metroid music to it, it seemed very fitting for some of the areas like the third chapter where you double-jump around a crashed, partially submerged ship.

Pitiri is sometimes frustrating, obtuse and needlessly slow, but also sometimes pretty fun. And on the whole it's interesting enough for a 3 at least, I think. It's a little more ambitious than the usual Braid knockoff (if not as well designed) and also gives you a more enjoyable game world. I'd like to see what this gal/guy/group could do in the future with more experience and a little more money for polish.

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