Ripple Dot Zero
Okay, let's cut to the chase: Ripple Dot Zero is an action-platformer by Swedish developers Pixeltruss, and it is the objective opinion of this reviewer that it is totally friggin' sweet. First of all, it stars a penguin with a sword, and he uses that sword to blow up all these Cthulhus and ED-209s. Sometimes he also has a jetpack and a crazy exploding yo-yo thing that would make even Ness blush. There's all sorts of dystopia happening, and you have to rescue your penguin friends from each level, and seriously, if you saw an ad for this thing in one of the issues of GamePro that you got a subscription for as a birthday present, you'd have been begging to plunk down the cash for it. Grab some Ecto-Cooler and Cheetos Paws and get ready to dive into a game like it's due back to Hollywood Video the next day.
Once wakened from your cryogenic sleep, use the [arrow keys] to look and move around and [X] or the [spacebar] to jump or use your jetpack once you find it. You will come across data-tablets that can be read by hitting [Enter]. Smash boxes and enemies with your sword with [Z] or [Ctrl]. You will use these same keys when you pick up other weapons. The goal of each level is to make it to the exit teleporter, while avoiding enemies and collecting penguin power pills. Collect enough pills in a level (as shown by the gauge on the lower right), and you will unlock the bonus round where you'll have a chance to rescue one of your fellow penguin buddies. Complete all twenty levels and bonus rounds, beat the bosses, and show the world that penguins can fly!
Analysis: Ripple Dot Zero evokes that time, that glorious time, in the mid-90s where any anthropomorphic-mascot-with-an-attitude could get themselves a half-decent platform game filled to the brim with all manner of Blast Processing. Of course, Ripple Dot Zero is much more than half-decent. It's not quite Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it's ahead of Socket, Aero, and that Bubsy the Bobcat punk. Let's just call it even with Jazz Jackrabbit and move on. Admittedly, the penguin protagonist of Ripple Dark Zero doesn't even have that much attitude, and his design is a little bland. Still, the most important aspects of the genre are taken care of. If you've played any of those aforementioned works, you probably know what you're in for: wide expansive levels to explore, secrets galore to uncover, some killer sprite work, and an awesome chiptune soundtrack that will probably be remixed a dozen times over before all is said and done.
Much like the Cactus McCoy series, Ripple Dot Zero has a certain heft to it that is very satisfying. The plot is intriguing but only minimal: the real star of the show is the world the developer has created, and it's just the thing to happily sink into, one half-hour at a time. Indeed, the main drawbacks of the game have more to do with its presentation than content: a downloadable version with gamepad support and a high steady frame-rate would be just the thing to make an A into an A+. Of course, it's really hard to believe that this won't be a jumping off point for a stellar new penguin-based franchise... Pretty please?
One hates to build it up too much, as no work is without its flaws, but Ripple Dot Zero is really the kind of game that amazes you enough at the start that the nitpicks won't crawl into your mind until you finally take a break. It does something new with something familiar, and that is a hard balance to achieve indeed. Highly recommended.