Okay, let's get this out of the way right now: yes, this game was clearly influenced strongly by Nifflas. But if you're going to let that fact dominate your opinion of the game, then you, my friend, are missing out on a grand gaming experience!
Pieces represents the first entry from Guntur "Soybean" Sarwohadi into one of our competitions, and within the first five minutes of playing it, you can already sense its depth and its enormous potential, which it fulfills in ways most unexpected.
You play the part of Proo, a mischievous but good-hearted little girl who accidentally crash-lands her father's spaceship on a bizarre planet, where all who enter seem to forget any motor skills they might have had. Proo must relearn basic skills like walking and jumping, and in order to reach the remoter parts of the planet she'll need skills she probably never had, like triple-jumping, digging, and gliding. She learns through the same process as all of us: observation. Once she sees a skill in action – for example a jumping rabbit – her memory is jogged and that skill is now available to her. However, Proo needs to first realize her inadequacy before she can upgrade her skills (don't we all!). This is sometimes unfortunate, as the screen where you obtain the need for a certain skill is often distant from the place you obtain the skill itself.
Scattered around this strange but beautiful world are all of the pieces of her ship, which she must collect and reassemble in order to fly home. In addition, there are a number of other collectible items: three varieties of herb may be collected for access to new skills, and there are hundreds of gold coins which act as your score. If you're the kind who isn't satisfied until you've explored every single inch of gamespace, you'll delight at this masterPiece of a platformer.
Analysis: Pieces had sort of a rough start during the first couple of days of the competition, due to a few flaws in the level design which could leave a player stuck, lacking the skill required to escape their location. As a result, its overall competition score was not as high as it might otherwise have been. However, I don't think any other game has seen more improvement, or upgrade, over the course of the past few weeks, thanks to the many updates Soybean has made, so be sure to give Pieces another go if perhaps you gave up on it too soon.
With the main problems taken care of, Pieces' inner beauty really begins to shine through. The expansive world dares you to explore its boundaries, and you'll be surprised at just how far you can go. Rising plumes of energy can lift you to new heights; streams of red-hot lava cascade into underground pools; hidden passageways lie in unexpected places. Every coin becomes its own challenge, every herb a mini-quest. Every new skill opens dozens of new doorways, and even as you criss-cross the world for the hundredth time, it never quite gets boring.
Congratulations to Soybean for earning the prize for Best Use of Theme, and for creating such an engaging and complex platformer.
Note: When Proo has learned to jump, the key that controls jumping is the [Z] key, not "2" as it may appear. This has caused confusion for some players, so beware.
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WORLD MAP FOR PIECES
Okay, I've put together a map that covers pretty much the entire game world. (That was a whole heck of a lot of screen captures, let me tell you!)
This is a rather big spoiler (it's effectively a graphical walk-through), so don't download unless you're sure you want it!
The linked zipfile includes:
map.gif -- A map of the Pieces game world
map_index.txt -- A legend that tells you where on the map you can find all the spaceship parts, herbs, skills, and more!
Total file size is about 1.9MB (it's a big game world), so go easy on my poor server :-)
The map is current as of 4:00 AM mountain time, March 25 / 2008 (which is to say, v1.2 plus the "minor update.") I actually started it before the minor update took effect, so there may be some old stuff hanging around in there, but I gave it a once-over and I think I got all the changes.
There are a couple of blank squares (mostly sky) -- I couldn't figure out how to get to them (and am not positive there is a way in). If you can get in there, you're a better person than I!
Anyway, blah blah blah.
Posted by: mrputter | April 18, 2008 6:39 PM