Platformance: Castle Pain and Platformance: Temple Death
July 7, 2011 7 Comments
After swearing to my friend that I wouldn’t touch another punishment platformer, I searched online to see if any of them were actually acclaimed, and found some reviews praising a game from 2010 called Platformance: Castle Pain. It was only a dollar, so what the hell, right?
80 Microsoft points and ten minutes later, I had beaten the first stage on it’s easiest setting. One of the many voices in my head said, “well, that wasn’t too bad at all. The controls were a bit iffy but it was fun and challenging. Bring on the next stage!” Alas, no. As it turns out, I had beaten the game. Well, at least it avoided the Hard Game Without Zombies problem of running out of fun before running out of game.
I tried it on it’s harder settings and found that the map was the same with a few added traps. Also, there’s a ghost that follows the same path you take and if it catches up to you, it’s game over. Unlike Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes there is no limit to the amount of lives you have. It just keeps track of how much you’ll die, and you’ll die a lot. Like 1000 Spikes the graphics in both Castle Pain and it’s sequel Temple Death feature NES-inspired 8-bitty graphics and sound, a style which works perfectly for this genre.
This is a little more straight forward then 1000 Spikes. There’s no double jumping or weapon use. Just walk from point A to point B and try not to die. Most of the traps are of the spiky floor variety, but there’s some fireballs and bird shit to avoid too. Also unlike 1000 Spikes, there’s checkpoints. In fact, there’s dozens of them, and thus once you get past one trap you usually don’t have to worry about going through it again. The controls were a bit rough, and I found that getting my little knight to jump the correct height could be occasionally challenging, but it never was too much of an issue, and overall I had a pretty good time playing this. At $1 it was roughly the cost of a round of the latest crappy street racing coin-op at the grocery store, so why not?
Having enjoyed Castle Pain, I decided to give Temple Death a download too. It was also 80 points and the theme switched from medieval castle where everything is trying to kill you to Indiana Jones style jungle adventure. One where everything is trying to kill you. Okay, so it’s basically the same game with a different coat of paint, but maybe that’s all fans of the first game would want.
Actually one thing did change: the jumping physics were vastly improved and it makes a huge difference. Now, every single death is unquestionably on you, and that serves to take the frustration factor out. Because Microsoft are stubborn fuddy-duddies and don’t allow achievements, the guys at Magiko made their own, giving some added replay value. And just to be smart-asses, they added negative achievements called Flopwards that honor your ineptitude. It’s pretty clever and it did give me reason to play Temple Death for a couple of hours. At $1 that’s a pretty good game-to-playtime ratio.
I still don’t care for the punishment platforming genre that is all over the indie marketplace like plague rats but I will concede that the Platformance series are the best of their breed and overall good video games. They’re pretty to look at, sound wonderful, and are short enough to play through without getting bored. They’re the only two indie games thus far I think I’ll likely fire up again after I finished them, because they offer a legitimate challenge without going out of their way to be unfair. But don’t take this as an endorsement, punishment platforming, because the next time I play one of your games and it sucks I’m going to quit gaming all together and take up crocheting.
80 Microsoft Points apiece were impaled and/or shit on by birds in the making of this review.