Dodge That Anvil


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Dodge That AnvilA finalist in this year's Independent Games Festival (IGF) in the Best Web Browser Game category, Dodge That Anvil is a gorgeous and adorable Shockwave 3D platformer with unique and original gameplay, created by Jake Grandchamp of Rabidlab.

The Eastwarren rabbits were once self-sufficient growing crops and fending for themselves until the day it started raining anvils; that's right, large and heavy anvils began to fall right out of the sky. Now all the bunnies have been forced underground and it's up to you to save them. Brave the elements and harvest food to keep everyone fed while uncovering clues about the mysterious happenings in your once peaceful village.

Dodge That AnvilThe game includes several "fields" of platform jumping within which to harvest carrots while dodging anvils and other nasties. To help you along the way, various items can be found, or bought, that grant a special ability or protection from a particular hazard. For example, an armor vest will protect you from a dynamite blast, or from the occasional exploding beach ball. Most items are single-use, meaning once you use it you lose it.

Dodge That Anvil comes with a burrow full of options and features to customize the game exactly to your preference. There are three (3) difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal and Expert; as well as support for three (3) different control options: keyboard, mouse and joystick. I found using a joystick—a fairly standard Logitech Dual Action USB gamepad—with this game to be the most gratifying experience of them all. If you don't have a USB gamepad then you should find the keyboard and the mouse work almost equally well. No matter which options you choose to fit your game playing style, an excellent context-sensitive tutorial is available to teach you how to play.

Select the option to enter Field training to be stepped through the basics of the game and get introduced to the game's unique anvil-dodging gameplay. Once you've finished with your training, you will be off hopping, racing around harvesting carrots like a white rabbit.

Analysis: There is much to love about Dodge That Anvil, not the least of which is the fact that Jake has created the entire game himself. Over the course of about a year of development, the game has shaped up to be a very impressive work, and one that is a lot of fun to play.

Dodge That AnvilI love the design and detail of the rich and colorful cartoon graphics. The choice of rich vibrant color makes the game immediately appealing to a broad audience that includes all age groups. I am also impressed by the realistic physics implementation with respect to the perceived weight of the 3D models and the stark contrast between them. For example, the anvils 'feel' significantly heavier than the beach balls by way of their physical behavior and sound effects. The result is a sense of realism and immersion when playing that really makes me jump when I get hit on the head with an anvil. Fantastic!

Besides how the game looks and behaves, what is even more important to me is how it plays. I enjoyed how the player has to watch for what will soon drop on brer rabbit's head, constantly calculating and negotiating every move. This changes the usual mechanics of a classic platformer and adds a new dimension to it. The player challenge is increased through this additional layer of responsibility. The temporary removal of this added burden in a later level, in which the raining anvils are quieted for a spell, seems as sweet as licking the frosting spoon of a cake—while it lasts. But it doesn't last; and we are thrown willy nilly back to the wolves again. With DTA, Jake has created unique and original gameplay with an addictive quality somewhat resembling buttercream.

Jake has also done an exemplary job with the main menu interface and game play options. Every casual game developer should play this game if for no other reason than to see a game interface done right: Every cut scene or intro screen is interruptible; music and sound effects volume can be controlled independently; advanced video options for tweaking the display output and to improve performance; training option screen and pop-up help can both be toggled on and off independently; and many more control options than you can shake a joystick at. By setting default options for difficulty and control, those select screens will be skipped entirely. This streamlines the interface and allows the player to begin the next game quicker and easier. Very, very nice!

When I first discovered this game about a year ago, it disappeared from the Web as quickly and mysteriously as it had arrived. At that time the game was a bit unstable and it crashed often; however, I was immediately drawn to the game's stunning good looks and attention to every detail. Resembling more of a triple-A title console platformer, it was unlike any browser-based game I had ever seen.

Then, almost a year later, the game resurfaced back in late December with the announcement of this year's IGF finalists, and I was delighted at the opportunity to play it once again. Jake has been hard at work readying a final demo of the game for the contest, and the very latest version up this week (b5) is the most stable version yet. And while the playable online version of the game is indeed just a demo, the three (3) difficulty levels and four (4) different fields of play provide enough challenge to keep many a casual gamer happy until the full version becomes available. Click.

Last week, Gamasutra published an interview with Jake on their website about his experiences with the development of the game.

43 Comments

The Cursed February 9, 2006 4:23 AM

My screen is eternally stuck at the "Loading" part of the game.

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This is easily one of the best implementations of Shockwave 3D to date.

And I'm really impressed that the entire game was single-handedly created.

Kudos to Jake.

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Am I the only person who can't get this to load when I press 'Play'?

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For those having trouble getting the game to load, make sure you have the latest Shockwave player installed. It's not a Flash game, it's Shockwave 3D, and therefore requires a special plug-in that must be the latest version (v10) available.

And I'm with you, Alex. This definitely gets my vote for best Shockwave 3D implementation, ever.

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However, this game is perfectly mindless...one time I was in Antwerp Belgium and I was eating french fries in a little cafe place, very dirty shop, and it had all these weird provincial cartoons hanging on the wall of animals enjoying food. Somehow games like this one remind of french fries.

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w00t! Highest score!!

Good game.

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In IE, it closes the window when I click on the tutorial. In firefox, it just blanks out after it ask it to install the Enchancer... Help?

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Wonderfully good graphics- it's like being in a Looney Tunes cartoon. The game play is fairly easy, but entertaining, with a few little surprises to keep you interested.

Big issue- the tutorial says "CNTRL-Click" to use the various items. With mouse control, at least, you need to right click.

Watch out for the

anvils with devil horns! They follow you around, and will lurk around corners, waiting for you

I wasn't able to figure out where the explosions on the demolition level were coming from. I think the beach balls might be blowing up.

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One of the best games I've ever seen on this site.

Easily.

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This game does have good 3D qualities sort of like Snowfight3D from robotduck, but aside from programming and clever craftsmanship, this game has very little content or meaning. I've never made a game myself, but have an original idea for creating one, but have limited programming skills. Is there a good program that will help make a text-adventure game with graphics that have hotspots. I want to design an adventure game and have a good plan for one which nobody else I've seen online has thought of.

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Wow, this game is outstanding! You can tell he put a lot of care and effort into it. This is even better than some of the games that you have to buy to play!

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Hahahahaha. And just as I posted the above comment, shockwave crashed.

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Such fun!!!!! Jay, where do you find them.?.

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> where do you find them.?.

On the Web. =p

But seriously, as I mentioned in the review, I learned that the game had resurfaced when IGF announced the finalists for this year's competition in December. I held off on posting a review until Jake could get some of the more significant kinks ironed out with it.

The current version is indeed better, and yet it will still crash the browser under certain circumstances, as Wiser noted above. A small annoyance to an otherwise amazing browser game experience. At least it hoses only the browser. =)

And for anyone with a USB gamepad handy: you really need to try it with this game!

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Snyder,

If you have a good idea for a new adventure game, why not seek out a talented programmer who is willing to work with you? Just because Jake chose the solo route doesn't mean it's the only one. :-)

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This game is fantastic. Something you would pay $20 for elsewhere! Absolutely wonderful. The designer gets my highest praise.

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hiram archibald Author Profile Page February 9, 2006 7:48 PM

I agree with all the positive comments-- a commercial qaulity design, interface, and gameplay. And the game itself is fun, too. I can't wait for the registered version to get finished and become availabe

--and I haven't played arcade games since Mario went dizzyingly 3-D on the N-64!

Jake, if you read this, keep up the great work and we all expect impressive things from you.

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Boxtree, I don't know any programmers and I'm not willing to pay anyone. I'm also not willing to get ripped off either. Anyways, the game I'm thinking of making involves first-hand experience of certain events, so it would really be more text adventure. The graphics would be secondary photographs with clickable hotspots on them. I was looking for programs in google that would combine the text adventure with graphics. Sort of like Notpron but more interactive and less riddling. Like one of those kid's books where at the end of a chapter you're given choices (a,b,c) about which page number to flip to. I think I found the right create-your-own-adventure program anyway. After I make a trial version I'll find a real programmer to look at it.

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hiram archibald Author Profile Page February 9, 2006 8:58 PM

I am have trouble with levels not loading, tho. Especially level 4, which nas never loaded successfully for me... [using Safari] Otherwise kink-less.

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I totally agree, this is at resale value. I have bought worse games for twenty bucks, and played them less frequently than I've played this in the last day or so. Impressive gameplay, and it's made all the more amazing that it's been done by one person and one person alone. I'm applauding but you can't hear me.

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I don't why I can't never get this game loaded...
somebody help me please!

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twistofreality Author Profile Page February 11, 2006 10:57 AM

Brilliant! Simply phenomenal. Has anyone figured out what the daisies are for, or do they serve as a glimpse at things to come?

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Daisy:

By visiting the Professor's daughter, you receive a one-up. However, if you bring a daisy to her, she will give you two one-ups.

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Jeremy - do you have Shockwave installed?

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yes, I do, Jay
and it's the lastest version
I thought that was the heavy traffic problem
so I tried again this morning, it still doesn't work at all

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Hmm. Can you play *any* Shockwave 3D games? What OS are you using?

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this is the first time it happens
I've played lots of shockwave games and they all turned out fine.

besides I use windows XP

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I don't know what to suggest, Jeremy. I have an XP box, too, and I have no problem with it at all.

Your XP security settings may be getting in the way, but not sure. You might try emptying your browser cache and try again.

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I've been trying to get the game to work since you posted it, and as soon as I get through the loading screen, the whole browser closes. I installed whatever plugin it asked for and the latest shockwave. Has anybody else had this problem?

btw... thanks for the site, Jay! It's great!

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On Level 1 there is an elevated carrot patch at the back left, at the end of the water. How do you harvest the left side of it? You can set off dynamite on the other side, down at ground level, to get that half, but the other half has me stumped. Anyone?

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Yup.

A few days later and this is still the best game I have ever seen on this site.

I love love love love love this game.

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This is such a little cute game!! I LOVE IT!!

give the lady proff. a daisy, and she will give you two beautiful shining lives :), and if you want it to stop giving you help in game, freezing it and saying "the hardhat is blah blah blah", go to options and turn it off.

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I love this game!

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by the horns! it is too hard
dangerous thing in level:

1.anvils with horns
2.exploding beach balls (maybe no need of dynomite to destroy rocks)
3. big carrots! take alot time to take them out from the ground that much time that the anvil take to drop!
4.need shoes to move quickly in water because the anvil will chase u in water also! and it move quickly as much as u can after wearing those shoes! means anvil can chase u in water fast! they don't need shoes!
5.must have dodging experience to dodge anvils they will drop fast in this level!

-thank u
-Nishant Garg

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Candace Baldanza April 22, 2007 7:00 PM

How do you get to the last hole in level 7-2?

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What?! No Toon mode!?

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I like this game. Watch out...

for the anvils with evil horns,they follow you, they hurt you, they can do anything to you, so watch out.

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mrodsis May 27, 2007 8:35 PM

I love the game but I'm stuck on level 7-2. How do you get to the last field on 7-2 to harvest it? also read that you can pick the daisies to get power-ups? How do you do that?

Thanks!

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7-2, the last set of fields is tricky. The clouds look kinda like this:

l -
. . . l

(hope that came out right) Anyway, it's

three small clouds, then a long one lying at right angles, and another small cloud.

Jumping them accurately was tough; make sure you have flippers because you WILL fall. Repeatedly.
As for the daisies, mrodsis, you

watch for where they are, then stand over them. They'll vanish when you get close, so make sure you were paying attention. Then pick the same as you would a carrot. You'll get a daisy. Most levels have several. Take them to Lavender and she'll give you an extra life.

Now - anyone know how to beat the last level? I've damaged the thing once, purely by accident, and since then I haven't been able to time it right.

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Yay!! euphonium music!!!!

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mrodsis June 2, 2007 12:50 PM

what's the key to unlocking the secret challenges on each level? It has me stumped...Thanks!

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FOX McCLOUD January 27, 2008 12:42 PM

It is just crazy on the Midnight Harvest level

When time runs out anvils come SCREAMING

"IINNCCOOMMIINNGG!"

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG!

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ganondorf champion not logged November 23, 2008 8:54 AM

first boss

is a giant carrot.:)

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