Growing Pains

UPDATE: Growing Pains is now 80 Microsoft Points.

Confession time: I never played any of Smudged Cat Games’ previous titles.  They must be pretty dang good, because they managed to get a game released on Xbox Live Arcade called The Adventures of Shuggy.  I swear, one of these days I’ll get around to it.  Growing Pains is my first experience the Smudged ones.  It’s a 2D punishment platformer, with the twist being that the main character continuously gets bigger.  Why they named it after a horrible 80s sitcom starring a horrible religious nutcase is beyond me.  Wouldn’t “The Adventures of Bob: The Jovial Malignant Tumor” have been more catchy?

You play as a spiky, hedgehog looking thing that has to jump around a psychedelic wonderland collecting little rainbow pill things.  Okay, so maybe it should have been called Sonic the Cancerous Mole but I’m sure Sega would have sued over that.  Despite it’s gimmick, Growing Pains has fairly straight-forward dexterity based platforming.  There’s no action buttons at all, just the ability to jump, wall-jump, and increase your own rate of growth if the situation calls for it.  There’s nine levels, each with three difficulty settings: Bronze, Impossible, and Fucking Impossible.

I thought Growing Pains was okay as a game, but it’s riddled with problems.  First and foremost, sometimes the main character is so small he’s practically invisible.  I have a television that could comfortably double as an aircraft carrier and I still couldn’t make out my tumorhog thingie sometimes.  Sometimes there’s an arrow indicating where he’s at on the screen, but it’s not very helpful at all because you can’t get any perspective from it.  It also doesn’t help that the character, when he’s small in stature, gets lost easily among the psychedelic backgrounds, and so do the enemies.  In the later stages there are cannons that shoot missiles that explode into four spiked thingies.  Those can be very difficult to spot, like the clitoris of a flea.

The controls aren’t always perfect, either.  Part of the problem comes from how the jumping physics seem to over-scale, depending on the size of your anamorphic lipoma.  There were often times I found the movement too fast and my dude’s jumps too springy to clear a stage.  And mind you, this is all on the bronze difficulty settings.  On silver, the game is maddening.  On gold, I’m not fully convinced the game isn’t the first step in some evil scheme by a super villain.  It’s cruel, as if you’re being shamed by the game.  For the life of me I can’t see how anyone could have fun playing a game this difficult.  But remember, I’m a child of the 21st century.  Games from my era didn’t come prepacked with a box of tissues to cry in and the number for the suicide hotline.

Even with all these problems, I liked Growing Pains because it was just so damn quirky.  It’s a novel idea, one that didn’t always work so well but at least it’s different.  Sure, I couldn’t always see my dude.  Sure, the game’s non-retard difficulties could legally charge you by the hour in Nevada.  Sure, the online leaderboards never even worked when I tried them.  Sure, I think it’s way overpriced at 240MSP when it really should have been 80MSP.  But I still liked it.  Ultimately, it’s fun.  This is exactly the type of game I started IndieGamerChick in search of.  Plus, I can appreciate any game whose protagonist was cast straight out of the pancreas of Steve Jobs.  Too soon?

Growing Pains was developed by Smudged Cat Games

240 Microsoft Points showed me that smile again.  Don’t waste another minute on your crying.  We’re nowhere near the end.  The best is ready to begin.  As long as we got each other, we got the world spinning right in our hands.  Baby you and me, we gotta be the luckiest dreamers who never quit dreaming.  As long as we keep on giving, we can take anything that comes our way.  Baby, rain or shine, all the time, we got each other sharing the laughter and love.

Um, in the making of this review!

I’m celebrating 50,000 unique page views by giving away 1600 Microsoft Points to one lucky follower of mine on Facebook.  All you have to do is follow me for a chance to win!  Click the link, hit “Like” and you’re in!  The drawing will be held December 1, 2011.  I don’t spam with my Facebook.  I just post article updates and the occasional “thank you” when my site hits a milestone.  So what are you waiting for?  Enter already!

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

7 Responses to Growing Pains

  1. Lee says:

    I burned through the whole game on bronze mode last night and it was a blast. I don’t think it’s on anything like the same level as an N+ or Super Meat Boy difficulty-wise, so ‘punishment platformer’ seems harsh… unless you play on silver and gold levels. You know that the springy jumps are a deliberate part of the game too, right? When you land from one jump, you get a growing circle under the character and if you jump again when it’s big, you’ll do a massive spring jump. I thought it was a strange mechanic at first, but it works really well. Anyway, great review again. Keep ‘em coming!

  2. Incidentally if you tap the left shoulder button (LB I think it’s called) it switches view mode so that your hedgehog is always the same size, and the world shrinks around you instead. Might be easier when you’re really teeny :) (It should probably tell you about that button somewhere)

  3. clitoris of a flea? :-))))) Ha ha ha

  4. Craig says:

    I didn’t know fleas had girl parts. :/ Hearing the lyrics to the Growing Pains theme, brought back some great memories.

    I don’t care what you say Kairi, the 80s were magical!!!!1shift+1

  5. Pingback: The Chick’s Monthly Top 10 Update: November 2011 « Indie Gamer Chick

  6. Pingback: Gateways! « Indie Gamer Chick

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