Just how cute is Adventure Islands' Heart Star? So cute, it gives kittens serious self-esteem issues. So cute, just looking at the title screen gives you your daily recommended amount of sugar. So cute, it automatically removes your ability to enunciate "L's" and "R's," thereby making this puzzle game a tale of two widdle fwiends from diffwent wowds who need youh hewp to... hold on, let me look away for a second. Ahem. These two interuniversal buddies need your help in order to reach the one place where they can be together... Or more accurately, they need your help to help each other! They each live in their own, pink-and-blue color-coded universe, with its own obstacles and hazards, but while neither can see nor feel objects from each other's world, they can still touch... each other. D'awww. Run and jump with the [arrow] keys, and when one character can't go any further, swap over with the [spacebar] to give your partner a helping hand! You can carry them across spikes, push buttons to open their path, or just offer up your head as a platform so that the two of you can get to where you need to go. Originally developed for Ludum Dare 30, designer Jussi Simpanen has taken his original concept and expanded it into a full, ludicrously charming puzzle platformer, with a plethora of tight puzzles to compliment its cupcake-sweet looks.
Many games have you controlling two or more characters in an attempt to reach the level's end, but what makes Heart Star especially enjoyable is the emphasis it places on having the two characters interact with each other, and their respective worlds. Rather than simply make you navigate one set of obstacles twice, you've got to make your way through two different layouts in each level. The game eases you into things gently before ramping up the difficulty, making you learn both sides of each stage while you use your partner to strategically fill in the gaps. And as it turns out, what you don't see CAN hurt you; if you put your partner on a collision course with spikes in their world, simply switching over to your world won't save them! The game toys with these central mechanics in different ways right up until the ending, keeping the formula on its toes. It puts your spatial awareness and memorization skills through their paces, helps both sides of a level feel truly connected, and cultivates a sense of real teamwork. It also provides a vehicle for some surprisingly precision platforming segments, as your partner is a fairly small stepping stone. Since your jump is large and wide, this can make some of these tighter jumps a little more tense than they should be, as it's hard to make small movements in the air. But there's very few of these setbacks in this otherwise delightful game. Sweet as it is, there's more to Heart Star than a cutesy-wootsy face; it adeptly melds many familiar elements into a neat and unified whole.
Play Heart Star