Planet of the Forklift Kid

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Rating: 4.3/5 (96 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (24)

PsychotronicPlanet of the Forklift KidPlanet of the Forklift Kid started life as a random mish-mash of unconnected words spat out by the stupefyingly entertaining Video Game Name Generator (warning: adult language). But it took artist/programmer John Nesky to make something coherent out of it. The resulting game is faithful to its title. If ever there lived a Forklift Kid, this would be his planet. It's a lonely place, populated mainly by crates, but our hero seems content with the life he's been given; a lot like The Little Prince, but with forklifts.

Planet of the Forklift Kid is a whimsical physics-based platform puzzle game, controlled with the keyboard. Press [left] and [right] to walk, [up] to press switches, and [space] to jump. Press [R] to restart a level if you get stuck. Each level features at least one forklift, of course, and you can operating these simply by stepping into the cab from the rear. Press the arrow keys to drive left and right, or to move the forklift's tines up and down. Press [space] to exit the cab.

At the menu screen, you can select one of 8 different levels, all of which are available from the start. Your goal in each level is to reach the exit, usually by operating switches to open the doors blocking your path. Switches on the wall may be turned on and off freely, but the big red buttons must be weighted down by crates or even the forklifts themselves. Sometimes the red buttons are affixed to the ceiling, and you must activate them by holding something against them from below. Lucky you've got a forklift!

Analysis: When I say this is a physics-based game, I mean it is physics-based. The Box2D physics engine is the star of the show here, making each puzzle as much fun to play around with as it is to solve. But Nesky has made some smart decisions to fit the gameplay to the concept. Crates react to most other objects according to their visible outline; but the forklift tines actually interact with a smaller box inside the crate's frame, so that you can stack crates on top of each other and then withdraw the forklift without disturbing them. Try making a tower of crates on level 3. It feels remarkably natural.

Unfortunately, the current incarnation of Planet of the Forklift Kid seems more like a proof of concept than a complete game. The eight levels on offer barely scratch the surface of the possibilities, and I was left wanting much more when I had solved them all. In order to be really compelling, the game would probably need some sort of story structure, and a sense of progression. At the very least, there should be a lot more levels.

But the skeleton of a game that Nesky has created is so charming and odd that it's worth playing anyway. The nub-limbed, doe-eyed Forklift Kid couldn't be more adorable. The forklifts are designed to be compact and versatile, so even though they can't turn around, you can accomplish quite a lot by just manipulating them cleverly. They are unusually nimble, for forklifts, and cute. They would make good action figures.

The sound effects are unassuming, but appropriate. The music—well, I love the music, but it may not be to everyone's taste. You may recognize the composer, Kevin MacLeod, from some of Tonypa's recent games, and he is nothing if not versatile. Planet of the Forklift Kid is an all-around well-crafted game that is simply light on content. Here's looking forward to a sequel or an expansion for this brilliant beginning.

Play Planet of the Forklift Kid


Anonymous April 14, 2008 2:49 AM

Ahhh, so frustrating! I just spent a ton of time trying to get the blocks where I need them, and the forklift fell off a lift and is upside down, and I'm screwed. This is like the third or fourth time now that I've had to restart this level because I lost my forklift.

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Wow, another fun little game. I got gold medals (which, judging by my times, is probably the lowest rating) for all the levels except the first. I got unicorn power for that one!

I agree that it could use some more levels. There is definitely a lot of potential there--that was way too much fun for eight brief levels.

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best ranking so far:

The Internet

followed by:

magic unicorn


gold medal

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From the review I though this was yet another crate-stacking game (ooh, fun) but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with the game. Every level is unique and requires you more to play around with the physics then to actually solve a certain "puzzle".

However, the physics are too fiddly to work on larger-scale levels and I think the game would quickly become frustrating. This 8 bite-sized levels are just perfect, in my opinion.

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fun game.
FYI, this was made for TIGsource's video game name generator competition.
other entries can be found here:

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Heh, the names of the games in that competition sound quite hillarious, and the screenshots look promising, but are there on-line versions of the game somewhere (like the Forklift Kid one)?

I'm not a big fan of downloading and setuping if I don't really have to, no matter how amusing the game's screenshot and title is...

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Cool! I like this one a lot. I agree that the physics are a tad touchy, but it's something I can live with.

I thought his other game, Snakeball was fun too.

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Damn you, zxo. I just lost an hour playing that Snakeball thingy. :)

Level 23 is fun.

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I'm fairly sure that electric guitar is better than gold medal.

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Playing through and having a great time.
I can confirm the ranks I've encountered are in the following order:

  • Gold medal

  • Electric guitar

  • The Internet

  • Unicorn power

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Finished all but the last with Unicorn Power. Great find. Thanks :)

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how the heck do you beat level 8's switch section? i feel like i've tried all the combinations and can't get up to the door.

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atomic1fire Author Profile Page April 14, 2008 6:21 PM

On that name generator thing I found this Jack Thompson's Combat Desperadoes

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The very first switch you come to... leave it be. Or go reset it if you've already monkeyed with it. It is pure evil!

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MonochromeMolly Author Profile Page April 14, 2008 11:44 PM

I love that the best score is "Unicorn Power"!

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Really cool game. Does anyone have any pointers for level 6 and 8? Here's what I do:

Level 6 in ~38s (gold medal)

Get into the forklift, lift the big crate the highest possible, drive to the right until the crate falls behind the forklift, back up to push the crate to the left, lower the lift (3 buttons remaining), walk to the right, push the 4 cubes onto the elevator, activate the elevator, push the cubes to the left and pray they'll land on the remaining buttons

I really don't waste a lot of time and I still only get the gold medal, so I must be missing a big shortcut here.
Level 8 in ~25s (the Internet)

Jump to the right into the forklift, back up to the elevator. Near the elevator, I press right in order to slow down. Once on the elevator I press Space then immediately Up to activate the elevator (due to inertia, the character gets right back into the forklift). Go right, once the fork gets under the crate I raise it so that the crate gets projected to the other side. I immediately get out of the forklift while it falls off the platform. Go to the right, activate the switch, go to the upper right, activate the switch above the first one (a platform pops up at the right), then work my way to the top. For each platform I activate the switch in mid-air and lands on the platform as it comes out. List of switches to activate, x = activate, o = don't activate

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Johan Persson April 15, 2008 1:00 PM


Level 6
Get in the forklift and get the big box behind you. Then push it so it covers 3 buttons leaving the two to the leftmost unpushed, then use the forklift to push the last three. Now you can run over the last two buttons and squeeze behind the bar while it drops, it takes a few tries to work but I've managed to get to 19.68s doing that. Only got the electric guitar though.

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Great technique Johan, thanks! I've just tried it and I managed to get the Internet with 18.57s on the fourth try! (edit: 16.14s on sixth! :))

Squeezing behind the bar took a bit a practice but I think I got it. I start from the crate and fall onto the second button from the left, it seems it creates more momemtum, either to the door or to the character. Also, I start by jumping as far left as possible so that buttons don't slow me down. Finally, with a bit of luck you can get the crate to fall right into place: once I'm inside the forklift, I go right until I bump into the wall. The truck backs up a little bit while I raise the fork. Once it's at its highest, I bump into the wall once more and the crate falls right to the good spot about half the time.

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Can anyone identify the music used in this game? Some of it I really like.

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John Nesky Author Profile Page April 16, 2008 3:55 AM

Howdy! Creator of the game here. Thank you for all the kind comments! ^_^ And I'm happy to see people are figuring out how to get those Unicorn Powers!

The songs I used were:
Frozen Star (Title)
AhDah (Level 1)
Cool Blast (Level 2)
How It Begins (Level 3)
Aitech (Level 4)
And the rest of the levels reuse songs from the first four.

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tedweird April 19, 2008 2:09 PM

i want more...

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SonicLover Author Profile Page May 25, 2008 10:40 AM

Am I the only one who's having trouble with level 7? I can use the switches to toss the big crate around until it fills the hole and allows the forklift to cross, but then what do I do?

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Elise, nugnut! April 27, 2010 8:55 PM

I knew this game was good when I got Electric
Guitar as a rank!

Anyone else think this kid`s a girl? Hmmm...

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