Ultra Hat Dimension
Originally conceived for Ludum Dare 32's "An Unconvential Weapon" competition and since polished up for commercial release, Kitsune Games' darling indie puzzle game Ultra Hat Dimension is all about hats, and getting punched. See, there was a great ball at Spluff Castle, but for some reason the normally peaceful Spluffs have gone a little bonkers, and are taking swings at our poor heroine whenever she comes near. She'll need to find the Spluff responsible to set things right, of course, but if she can't bring herself to fight back at the Spluffs happily hitting away, what's a girl to do? Well... I suppose you could try dressing up? I mean... whoever heard of someone punching somebody else wearing the same hat, after all? Clever, cute, and fun, Ultra Hat Dimension is an utterly charming and challenging indie puzzle game that does a lot with a little.
In each level, you need to find a key and get to the exit, but Spluffs will take a swing at you when you come near and knock you back a pace in the direction you approach them from. This doesn't actually hurt you, but given how many Spluffs there tend to be, it's easy to get punched around the room, from one Spluff to another, or even just repeatedly bopped back away from where you want to go. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move, and hit [R] to reset if you get stuck. Eventually, you'll be able to pick up and wear hats yourself. While these don't grant you any new haberdashery-related powers, they do make Spluffs wearing hats that match yours hold off on hitting you, so you can get by them un-whomped and without having your course diverted. Picking up a new hat, of course, makes the old one vanish, and there are a finite amount of hats in each level. You can even walk straight into Spluffs wearing a matching hat to push them back a bit, at the cost of your hat, and if two Spluffs wearing different headgear occupy neighbouring tiles, they'll be too busy punching each other to care about you. And what about when running water enters the mix... ?
Ultra Hat Dimension is a perfect example of how wonderful things can happen if you polish up a simple idea and execute it well. If you like your puzzle games smart and heavy on the charm, this is the title for you. It focuses on straightforward gameplay mechanics and uses them to craft mazes you have to plot your every move through to surprisingly crafty results. It would be nice to be able to zoom out and see the whole level, but while they may look dauntingly large, most of them actually require just a dose of straightforward planning to get your way through... so an undo button rather than a complete level reset for the more intricate stages would not have been unwelcome. It does a lot with a little, in other words, and manages to be challenging in a very satisfying way. It doesn't hurt that Ultra Hat Dimension is cute as a bug, either, with its retro pixel style and adorable character sound effects. Put simply, it's the sort of game I wish we had more of... clever, funny, and enjoyable by absolutely anyone. Especially since the included map editor means you can make and share your own stages!