Another finalist for this year's Independent Games Festival (IGF), this one in both the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Innovation In Audio categories, Professor Fizzwizzle is a delight to the eyes and ears and one that will even give your brain a workout while you play. (Requires a download.)
The first offering by GrubbyGames, the Canadian-based duo of Ryan Clark and Matt Parry, presents a fun and whimsical romp around a make-believe puzzle world in which the game's namesake professor must make his way through dozens of levels and back to his lab.
The simple premise on which the game is based puts the player in control of the estranged professor who has been removed from his laboratory by the very robots of his own creation. These Friend-Bots-turned-Rage-Bots have wreaked havoc and scattered all the professor's keys and gadgets everywhere, and it becomes your job to help sort things out.
"I won't give up," said the prof;
"I'll never give in!"
"I've got to get past all the Rage-Bots within."
A straightforward control scheme makes the game deceptively simple to pick-up and play: use the arrow keys to move the professor back and forth, left and right; he can even climb up and down ladders. He is capable of so much more, and yet all his actions are handled automatically within the context of the situation. For example, if he falls down onto a barrel he can ride that barrel by using the left and right arrow keys as before.
The goal of each level is to move the professor to the exit tube (represented by the large red arrow) from his starting position. To do so requires strategy, cunning and even a bit of good timing, the latter of which injects a unique arcade element to the classic puzzle formula.
Analysis: The 2D side-view puzzle game shares similarities with other sliding-block logic-based puzzle games like Sokoban, and yet includes a wide array of special items and gadgets that together add originality and charm to the formula resulting in a truly unique game play experience. Adding to the game's charm is its saturday morning cartoon themed sound effects and music tracks composed by Michael Huang, to which I couldn't help bobbing my head back and forth each time I played. Everything about this game screams: Fun!
In fact, GrubbyGames has pulled all the stops to compile a comprehensive and enjoyable game by including: regular levels, advanced levels, and two (2) sets of levels deigned especially with kids in mind; the ability to play custom levels; a level editor with which to create your own custom levels; and even animated solutions to each of the games 236 puzzles(!) There is so much fun packed inside this very appealing and accessible casual game for all ages, I heartily recommend downloading the free trial version of the game and see for yourself. The game is available on all three platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux. Download.
Or, try the online version to get a feel for the gameplay first.
- Ryan Clark: design, programming, level design
- Matt Parry: design, graphics, level design
- Michael Huang: sound and music
- Victor Zakharov: level design
The IGF will be held at the annual Game Developer's Conference (GDC) later this month in San Jose, California.