MONEYSEIZE / Matt Thorson / PC
Are you familiar with the Mario ROM hacking community? Probably not, so I guess I should elaborate for the sake of comparison. There's all these people that hack Mario games - mostly Super Mario World - and what they generally do is try to make levels that are as hard as possible. Like, you have to have perfect timing, and an intimate knowledge/mastery of the gameplay engine, down to all sorts of little glitches that the designers didn't intend for you to use. It's basically like a hardcore test of skill, sort of the platformer equivalent of the "bullet hell sh'mup" gaming subculture.
Moneyseize doesn't start off quite that masochistic, but it eventually gets pretty close. It's a new-retro platformer that takes a lot of cues from Mario. You play as this stylish chap named Sir Reginald MoneySeize II, Esq., and your whole arsenal consists of jumping, double jumping, wall bouncing/sliding in Ninja Gaiden style, and a weird "dash then suddenly turn and jump for extra ups" move that's kind of clumsy to pull off.
I like the structure of the game - there's 35 levels, six of which you can reach initially. Reginald's goal is to hoard enough money to build the tallest tower in the world, and as you reach certain coin thresholds, more of the tower appears, enabling you to reach more of the levels. Each level seems to have 25 coins, but you don't have to get them all in one go - simply make it to the exit and whatever coins you scooped up are permanently saved, you can then exit and go back to try for the rest of the coins whenever you please. Unlike a lot of these other new-retro platformers that have been coming out lately, there's no "dark" or "philosophical" twist to the game waiting to ambush you - it's just straight-ahead, minimalist, challenging platforming.
I think it's basically pretty well designed, but it gets the Meh Face simply for being too niche in its appeal. The first fifteen levels have mostly fairly easy coins to grab, with a few tougher ones to go back for. If the pattern had stayed like this I think the game might have fared better, but after about level 15 the game kicks into hardcore Mario ROM Hack/I Wanna Be The Guy mode and becomes all about beating your head against the wall as you try to navigate some perfectionist maze of jumps and death-traps. I know some people actually love this sort of thing and that this game is tailored for them, but it's a relatively small group. I think more people will end up getting fed up with this one and wandering away from it after a day or two than perservering through the more ridiculous challenges. In typical Flash game style, the levels are compressed to one screen at a time, so all the sprites are ultra-tiny which is a little irritating as well. And also in typical Flash style, there's no native joystick support, you have to run an external proggy like Joy2Key, though I guess I can't complain too much as there's all of one button to map.
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* Gameplay Video