Mr. MothBall 2: Cotton Carnage


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mrmothball2.gifPatrickMr. MothBall 2: Cotton Carnage is a charming shooter from Polish artist Mateusz Skutnuk, author of both the Covert Front and Submachine point-and-click series of games. You control a white mothball trying to shoot down evil red mothballs in an adorable penciled world with pastel shading. The game is a spiritual sequel to Mr. MothBall platformer entered in our 4th game design competition.

You control the mothball man by moving the cursor around the screen and clicking the left button to fire. The single-screen gameplay is nicely staged and starts out with shooting a few red mothballs and works up to annihilating whole groups of foes that cover the board. You grab the occasional power-up while dodging and shooting your way to a high score, though an online leaderboard isn't part of the deal just yet.

Once your health gets low enough you're given a respite to gather energy, then it's time for the boss battle. Except that's just a prelude, then the real boss battle begins. Even though it's a short and simple game, Mr. MothBall 2 is paced so it feels much more meatier than it actually is.

Analysis: The game's control scheme, while easy to pick up, is also the game's chief weakness. When you fire the bullets go in whatever direction Mr. MothBall is facing. It requires some care to make sure they go the right way. Turning shots bi-directional would make the game more fluid and solve this control issue. There's also a major glitch where the game doesn't recognize the final blow against the boss that lets you win the game. This happens only occasionally, but when it does, it's no fun.

A short but sweet game from one of the most creative designers on the web, Mateusz Skutnik.

Play Mr. MothBall 2: Cotton Carnage

15 Comments

well...it was fun even tho its pretty bland. Weapons all do the same thing just different speed and graphic. All same enemies. Also is it just me or can you not beat the last boss?

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The great dane November 8, 2007 8:26 PM

That's just you. ;)
Just keep trying. =)

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I didn't have a problem with the boss.

You have to shoot the guns out first, then when they are destroyed you can beat it pretty easily. Each gun also has a number of balls on it that tells how many more hits it will take

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I found the game way too easy and thus way too tedious. I got up to 150,000 points at full health and then decided to let my health run down because I got bored (and because I read in the review that the boss appeared when your health got down to a certain point--had I not read that, I might have just given up). The first "boss" was easy, and the second boss, while formidable-looking at first, wasn't that difficult once I figured him out.

After you take out the guns, as mentioned in coldfrog's spoiler, you also have to take out each of the red lights on the hull of the ship. Once you do that, the ship disappears and he becomes a regular bad guy.

I think triggering the boss fight based on health is a really bad design choice. I could have kept going until my hand fell off, but what's the point? Also, the bad guys seemed to come in waves--by this I mean real waves, where they would grow in number and then shrink in number again. If they just kept growing in number until the screen was filled with them, then it would only be a matter of time before you ran out of health and it might be a fun challenge to see how long you can last and how many bad guys you can take out. As it is, it's pretty easy to keep going indefinitely, which makes it very tedious.

I think the frequency of the power-ups played a part in that. It seemed that no sooner had I finished one power-up than a new one was dropping from the top. Also, as Larkin mentioned, the power-ups all pretty much do the same thing. With three different types of weapons, it would have been nice to see them have three different effects. For example: a laser (as in the game), a spread gun that shoots normal pellets in all directions (or maybe just one direction), a grenade/bomb that Mr. Mothman can toss in which ever direction he is traveling, a gun that shoots up and down rather than left and right, etc. I think having some variation in the weapons would add to the fun and the strategy.

And, finally, I disagree with Patrick about the control scheme. A lot of games only let you fire in the direction you are facing, and mastering that technique is part of the challenge of the game. Had we been allowed to fire in both directions (I think that's what Patrick was suggesting... not really sure what "turning shots bi-directional" means...), the game would have been even easier than it already was.

I really enjoyed the original Mr. Mothman in the latest competition. In fact, simple as it was, it was one of the more enjoyable games for me. The sequel, not so much.

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Yeah I played for about 20 minutes just racking up points and got bored cause the game went nowhere... why would the bosses only come when your health goes down when you can play forever with full health?

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I personally found it to be a wonderful game for when you're looking for a 5 - 10 minute stress reliever: short, humorous and quirky, and easy gameplay.

Also, I enjoyed having lots of powerups thrown at me. I would have liked a bit more variety in how they behaved, though.

Definitely a fun little game.

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I ran into a bug where the ship didn't disappear when all the red balls disappeared. Just kept firing at it indefinitely... Not quite sure how to reproduce it, maybe it was one of the special weapons taking out 2 of its life and creating some kind of overflow bug.

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Yeah i shot out the guns, then i destroyed the 8 little red balls, but then i shot at him constantly and he wouldn't die so got bored and I figured maybe it was another health thing so I died. Nothing happened lol

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I'd have to disagree, Suho - I think triggering the boss fight based on health is quite a clever design choice. Alas, it's also the only clever design choice in the game. The bosses were acceptable for the short amount of time you fight them, but they don't stand out. The first part of the game is utterly dull, too easy and simple for the amount of time it lasts (assuming you don't intentionally suicide), and troubled by bad hit detection.

Shooters seem easy to make, but a good shooter is hard to design. Sadly, most flash developers settle for randomly placed enemies, bullets always aimed at the player, slap some graphics on, and call it a game. Even graphics as nice as these won't make that sort of design into a very good game.

It's fun enough to play once, but doesn't do anything gameplay-wise that hasn't been done dozens of times before. Does it have to? Maybe not. Maybe it's not intended to be anything more than it is... but if so, it's a shame; it could be more.

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I'll have to disagree with patrick as well. I thought the only good design feature in this game was the control scheme. Well only decent design feature. Everything else was pretty poorly thrown together. the same enemies over and over, i just got bored quite quickly and lost on purpose just to see the bosses, for a change. it would have been nice to see different enemies and power ups. Why bother designing 3 if they all do the exact same thing? Some different enemies would have been nice. It would have been easy enough to just change the color of the enemies and have them move in a different direction. Yellow moves diagonal, and blue moves horizontal. not that much work and would have made the game MUCH better IMO. As it stands it is very repetitive, and sort of boring. The art style is nice, but that's about it.

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Alice:

Sorry, I'm not convinced. Why do you think triggering the bosses by low health is a clever design choice? You didn't really give any reasons. I'll grant you that it's novel, but novel doesn't necessarily mean clever.

"The first part of the game is utterly dull, too easy and simple for the amount of time it lasts (assuming you don't intentionally suicide)"

This is precisely why triggering the bosses based on health is a bad design choice for this game--because "for the amount of time it lasts" ends up being "until either my hand cramps up or I grow bored." If the bosses had been triggered a more reasonable way (say, by defeating a certain number of set waves that increased in difficulty), we might not have a first part that is dull, easy and simple.

Although I'll give you this: had the bad guys increased in number without ever letting up, triggering the bosses based on health might have ended up being clever. Ultimately, these two (the first part and the boss trigger) go hand in hand. You can't trigger bosses based on health and then make a game so easy that your health never gets that low without you intentionally hitting bad guys.

But I think I've carried on enough. :)

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deflective November 9, 2007 5:44 AM

i'm a fan of the health bar boss trigger.

all too often i've quit casual games without ever dieing, wasting all the effort that went into the death programming. this is a quirky way of providing the motivation to explore all parts of a game, even the failing.

big up on suggesting a continuous difficulty grade Suho, i like it.

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Desincarnae November 9, 2007 7:22 AM

Power-ups aren't EXACTLY the same. Each of them has a different width, which will take out more ennemies as they fly through them.

Most narrow is the laser, then comes the missiles, then the cloudy bullet (never really figured what it was).

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Suho:

It's clever in that it's unexpected, and provides a respite and health resupply exactly when the player would think they're about to die. For a moment, it turns usual video-gaming rules on their head. Perhaps not a big, important thing, but I thought it was clever.

Mostly, I agree with you - it does go hand-in-hand with the difficulty of the first section, and it doesn't come off very well with the current design of that part. Changing the first section into "defeat so many waves to progress" would work... I just think it'd be a rather boring, ordinary way to do things.

The first section certainly should have a constant increase in difficulty, and one fast enough that skilled players don't get bored, but I'd add more: perhaps enemies coming from above and below, enemies that move in patterns other than straight lines, enemies that shoot... they could be gradually introduced as the difficulty increases, forcing the player to change their tactics as the game progresses. That, or make the first section ramp up in difficulty so fast that even a skilled player gets "killed" quickly. It should be of a complexity worthy of the time allotted for it, or its time should be shortened to match the complexity.

Also: Yeah, powerups aren't exactly the same... but they're so similar that they might as well be. Given the limitless possibilities for how they could behave, it's a shame that "go forward in a straight line" was chosen for all three.

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It is supposed to be simple and fast and easy. It is a minigame!

And the powerups aren't all the same. The missile can kill several enemies if they are one behind the other. The cloudy thing kill people that are near each other but on different levels of height. AND the laser is normal but looks cool!

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