You might think that the combination of Boys' Life, the monthly scouting magazine for ages 6-18, and retro-action-meister Hamumu make for an unexpected pairing. Heck, I was a cub scout and even I find it a little strange. However, I do know that when the creator of the Robot Wants series releases a flixel platformer based around a trio of differently-abilitied characters fighting their way through an alien landscape, I don't care if it's Tiger Beat or Cat Fancy: I'm there. That game is Mad Planet, and it's got quality worthy of a merit badge.
Generally, using the [arrow] keys to move, the [Z] key to jump, and the [X] key to fire your weapon, you and your animal companion traverse the five biome of the Mad Planet, ranging from the flora and fauna filled Deep Jungle, to the robotic Scrap Yard. Before each level, you choose your player character to control, each with various strengths and weaknesses: Pedro (Boys' Life's mailbag burro mascot) has a double jump, the ability to throw block clearing mail, and can float on water. Pee -Wee Harris (the First Class Scout who appears in a monthly comic) can jump off of walls, has a slingshot which releases a barrage of rocks when fully charged, and is an accomplished singer. Dredd Speed (... who's an astronaut I don't recognize, and likely showed up after my subscription ran out) has a jet-pack that allows you to hover by holding the [Z] key, a comparatively weak laser stream with excellent range and aiming, and sinks like a rock in water... Part of the fun is discovering the different paths and strategies you use for each character in each level. Coming along to help is an animal companion of your choice: Mad Monkey, who attacks enemies for you, Blockatiel, who shields you from attack, and Flutterguy, who occasionally heals you. Collecting the various power-ups scattered around the levels increases your abilities, with a specific one for each character. Good luck!
I suppose that the elephant in the room is that the sponsorship seems a little out of place. Truly it has no real bearing on the quality of the game, but really, there haven't been mascots so blatantly tacked on to a concept since that NES game where the Noid battled people with trading cards. However, judged on its own merits, there's quite a bit to like. The multiple characters allow for some interesting customization options and borderline non-linearity, the graphics and sounds are classic arcade, and frankly, I'm probably going to enjoy most games that let you have a lower-primate on your team.
A word of warning though: this game is tough. T-o-u-g-h, tough. While it's not quite I Wanna Be The Guy, it's at least "Early Castlevania Game" level: lasers fly around the screen, health is sparse, perfect jump timing is required throughout, and those friggin' birds could give the ones in Ninja Gaiden a run for their money. It took me, like, six tries to beat the boss of Sticky Swamp (just barely, using Dredd Speed), and that's only the second level! Be sure to pick up every power-up you see. You'll need them.
While its challenge might be above the 6-18 demographic, Mad Planet is really a lot of fun. The levels are few in number but offer quite a bit of replayability with the different characters. When it comes to difficulty, though, by comparison, making a fire with two sticks is easier.