Review Information
Game Reviewed Landborne, by bigpotato
Review Author Pedigree
Created Dec 7 2020, 7:36 AM

General Commentary and Game Overview
Landborne is a game based on bigpotato's entry into one of our previous Game Jams. In this game, you are a cheep cheep that is flopping across the land in search of precious ocean water that has been completely drained. Given that you are a fish, you have to flop onto goombas and springboards to keep from splatting on the hard, hot ground. You play the game by pressing space bar to flop. The mouse and the escape key are used to navigate menus and the R key is used to restart levels.
Pros -A very creative idea.
-A complete puzzle game with a funny little story.
-Optional objectives give you a reason to return to each level.
-Original graphics.
-Floppy mode in options acts as an easy mode.
-The music is pleasant, but...
Cons -...the music is also extremely repetitive. Rarely changing from the initial track you hear at the start of the game.
-Puzzle solving is entirely based on trial and error, which can be frustrating and repetitive.
-Limited options to control your character can cause issues. For example, not being able to choose when your character leaps into the level or being unable to flop left or right at times when you flop into a spring. Both of these issues force you to restart the level repeatedly.
-Transitions from level to level instead of cutting to the new level would be a welcome change to the presentation.
-Character gets stuck in the wall and jitters for a bit.
-An option to display a reticle of some kind where you will land when you flop would be really nice.
-Controller support for a one button game isn't really high priority, but would be a welcome option.
7 / 10
Do not be fooled by the simple, one button control scheme. Learning to flop like a fish across the landscape is no easy task. In fact, you will likely need to attempt many of the twelve levels included multiple times to make any progress in the game. Your fishy character moves on their own, and all you control is when they flop. Without knowing where you will land when you press the flop button, you will be tasked with bouncing off of and between moving objects. The puzzles here seem relatively simple, but will require trial and error to time correctly and solve. While the control scheme and the puzzles it creates are unique and fun at first, you might find your patience running thin quickly.

The ability to control your character is sorely missed in this game, at least when it comes to when your character launches from off-screen into action and with horizontal traversal. As stated above in the Pros and Cons section, you will have to restart the level repeatedly because of these two issues alone. If you were to offer options to resolve these issues as well as provide a reticle of some kind to help you see where you will land when you flop, I feel like this experience would be a lot more fun.

Floppy mode acts as an easy mode, allowing you to flop through the air with ease. However, I don't believe you are able to complete the bonus objectives in this mode. If you are after 100% completion, you may have to settle for the standard mode.

Bonus objectives are available to complete from the level select screen after you complete the game. You may even have achieved a few of them without knowing during the normal course of the game. This is a very nice feature to extend the life of the game but I'll be honest: I didn't feel much like going back through after I struggled to beat the game the first time.

Although I did find this game frustrating at times given the above issues, I did still find it to be fun overall.
10 / 10
Bigpotato is an excellent pixel artist. This game's original graphics are a joy to look at from start to finish.
7 / 10
The flop sound effect is really funny and the music is nice. However, I did find the music ear grating after listening to the same track throughout most of the game. Some variety would be wonderful.

Presentation: (Not sure why this is not a section in the review form!)
The game is presented with a simple but funny and cute story. I really enjoyed it for what it was! However, there are some additional things you could do to bring the presentation up to the next level. For one, level transitions would be welcome. It is jarring to have the game cut to the next level as your crazy fish dives into the level without warning. Another welcome addition would be to provide some controller support. I do know that this is just a one button game, but I personally find holding a controller more comfortable than pressing spacebar. One issue with presentation I do have is that the character will sometimes get stuck in a wall and the sprite will jitter before the level restarts. It's a small issue but one that I feel may be easily fixed, so I thought that I should mention it here.
Final Words
8 / 10
Landborne is a creative and fun game with a funny story. It is definitely worth your time, though how much of your time you will want to put into it may differ from person to person.

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Dec 8 2020, 2:35 AM
Thanks for the review, Ped! You make some fine criticisms. I do think the central mechanic might be inherently flawed. Your only decision is when exactly to perform your only action, and when you do, you lose all control until you hit something. It generates these stretches of time that take up most of gameplay where you're just doing nothing. There's only so much a pleasant package can do to keep that from getting frustrating. The game is left in a weird position where it's too reflex-based to call it a puzzler, but there's not enough freedom to call it a platformer. If I were to do it over I'd definitely want to bring it in one direction or the other. Glad you could find it fun in it's halfway-house state, though!

Solid suggestion for transitions, I'll see if I can work those out.

The soundtrack was a bit of a dumb experiment I decided to try halfway into the jam ("What if I just had one really short song with parts that fade in and out? That'd be cool!"). It ends up not going super well with the tendency to get you stuck on one level for a long time. Hope the volume options could provide some relief.

Re: controller support, I've never tinkered with that before, and I don't actually own a controller. I'll look into it though.

For such a deservedly critical review, I'm surprised by the scores. Thank you!
1 like from: Pedigree
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Dec 8 2020, 3:58 AM
You're welcome! And I do think if you do revisit the idea, pulling it either in the puzzler or platformer direction would probably be a good way to go.

If you need help with controller implementation, feel free to hit up #gamedev-discussion in MFGG Discord. Not sure what program this was made in but I'm sure someone would be able to help you implement them and test them given that you don't have a controller of your own.

Quote (bigpotato on Dec 7 2020, 8:35 PM)
For such a deservedly critical review, I'm surprised by the scores. Thank you!

I'm sorry if it came out super critical. That's not the intention. I probably am a little too analytical when it comes to my review approach. I do like it and hope that much is clear!
1 like from: bigpotato
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