The Pretender: Part 2
Created by Tristan Clark and Tim Knauf of Launching Pad Games, The Pretender: Part 2 is the continuation of Part One, a cute and fun platformer originally designed as part of a games competition. The titular hero is performing one night using a neat prop, an old magic book, when disaster strikes! He and the souls of his audience were transported to a strange alternate dimension, where he needed to rescue the poor folks using powers he'd never had before, all the while his lovely assistant attempted to help from the "other side". In the second installment, the hapless prestidigitator must continue to rescue his audience. But his poor assistant is fading, and there is interference from the owner of the grimoire, a real magician who may or may not be evil, but who certainly seems to have an interest in the proceedings as well as your assistant.
Navigation is by the [arrow] keys, and use the [spacebar] to trigger your powers. You can also use the [spacebar] to click through the dialogue in the story scenes. The Pretender: Part 2 has also added new tools like seeds. The seeds can be blown around the scene when you are in air mode, and can be watered in water mode to create climbable vines. There are four different environments to navigate for a total of 32 new scenes. Can you save your audience and your assistant? What exactly does that sorcerer want?
The basic premise is simple: travel around the area, collect the poor souls, and escort them to a door which will lead them back to their bodies, still stuck in the theater. Blocks in the scenes allow you to alter your very form; an "air" form which allows you to ride the currents of the winds, an "earth" form which allows you to push boulders and break things, and now a "water" form which allows you to swim free in the liquid medium. Simply walk (or fly, or swim) to where a soul is sitting. When you pass them, they will follow you as you lead them to the door. However, only one ghost can follow you at a time, so you need to think ahead in order to save each of your audience from a fate worse than death.
Analysis: The Pretender was quite a delight the first time around, and Launching Pad Games has gone to great pains to keep all of the fun and quirkiness of the original, while ramping up the gameplay with new power-ups and scenarios. The levels start out fairly easy and progress to some real tricky ones by the end, with enough variety to keep the game interesting from beginning to end.
The little characters are delightfully Victorian, and the voice acting only adds to the illusion. The story, music, art, and voice-overs turn what could have been a standard platformer into a charming, quirky bit of fun. Add in the new powers and abilities and you're looking at some seriously satisfying casual gameplay.
The controls are still a little tricky, though, especially in tight spaces or in moving from ladders to platforms, requiring that the player find just the right spot to allow your hapless magician to keep moving. This is the only complaint, though, about The Pretender: Part 2. Amusing, challenging, and quite a bit of fun, this is a puzzle game that will keep you coming back for more. What are you waiting for? Get rescuing!