Jamal and the Wasp Bunker
Brand new from Gamesheep is this charming, albeit frustrating, little side-scrolling platformer starring an adorable vegetarian spider that is able to walk, jump, and swing from its own spidey-thread.
In Jamal and the Wasp Bunker, terrible enemy wasps are suspect to the recent disappearance of inhabitants of Golden Claw Village, and Jamal sets out on an heroic adventure towards the Wasp Lair to rescue its friends.
To control Jamal, use the arrow keys for movement, [left] and [right]; press [up] to jump, and [down] to crawl. These are fairly standard controls for a platformer, and yet Jamal puts a spin on the classic formula.
Instead of providing the usual double-jump to get across larger chasms, the Gamesheep developers have equipped Jamal with the ability to shoot a thread with which to swing from and climb on.
Press [shift] to shoot a thread; hold down [ctrl] while pressing [up] or [down] to change the angle of the thread that shoots. Once on the thread, you can press [right] and [left] to get a better swing going; press [up] to climb, [down] to descend. Press [shift] again to jump off the thread.
Collect fruits while avoiding an array of enemies as you make your way through each level. Progress can be saved only after levels 3, 6, 9, and 12.
Analysis: The art direction for the game is excellent and contains gorgeous backgrounds and tile sets. The animations of the creatures are all wonderfully detailed and gives each of them character consistent with the insect theme of the game. The over-world map is a nice touch that gives the player feedback regarding progress toward the ultimate goal of the game.
Separate controls for music [M] and sound effects [S] are provided and very much appreciated; unfortunately, the single music loop that serves as background soundtrack for the game will likely have you pressing [M] before completing even the first level. A more sophisticated audio implementation is needed consisting of switching often between several different loops that serve to establish mood and for situation setting themes. Audio is an often neglected component of Flash games that can significantly affect the overall quality and value of the game play experience.
The physics in the game also needs some polish. Jamal seems to float a little longer in the air than I would like, which gives a feeling of lag to the action. I prefer platform games to have a higher gravity constant that makes jumping feel a bit tighter. Maybe I've been spoiled by Nintendo's work in this area, so this may be just a personal preference. The absence of the ability to "run" was sorely missed on long straightaways that made going for those distant fruits a bit painful.
The game is quite difficult to get through due to some very brutal level design and its less-than-desirable physics implementation. This will make Jamal and the Wasp Bunker a tad frustrating for the casual gamer; however, the more hardcore gamer may find that it offers just the right amount of sting to get caught up into. You decide. Either way, it's very pretty to look at.