Plugemons: Part 1

As is normal when an XBLIG game is horrible but pretty, I have to start my review of horrible game Plugemons: Part 1 by noting that this horrible game has beautiful graphics.  Really, really beautiful.  That gets you really far in gaming.  It’s the reason I skipped some other review requests and went straight to it.  My exact words to Brian when I saw this on the marketplace were “holy shit, look at this one!”  Even though my instinct told me that Xbox Live Indie Games with insanely good graphics are typically quite bad (Orbitron being one of the few exceptions), I latched onto it, like a sailor caught in the call of a Siren.  Within ten seconds of playing the game, I realized I’d been had.  Again.  Who would have ever thought the XBLIG marketplace could double as Sirenum scopuli?

Plugemon is a puzzle game, not a platformer or a punisher.  This was a source of confusion for me.  You see, in Plugemon you jump from ledge to ledge, swing off of other ledges, jump on enemies heads, and try to acquire various lightning bolts scattered throughout stages like coins in a Mario game.  The game’s own description, presumably written by the Plugemon’s developer, doesn’t mention the word “puzzle” until it notes things like jumping, running, and dying a lot.

See?

So when I tweeted that the game sucked, the developer took exception to this and demanded an explanation.  I gave him a few.  “The controls are horrible and very unresponsive. Scrolling is jerky. There are issues with enemy visibility.”  Now, I expect a developer to defend their product.  It’s their baby after all.  What I normally don’t expect is for a developer to claim their product is something that it is not.  Which is what the Plugemon developer did.  He noted that the game is not a platformer, but a puzzler.

You can see why I’m so confused.  It’s true that a couple of the levels featured the ability to switch from your main character to other members of its species.  Using them, you hit switches.  That’s it.  There’s no real puzzle element that I noticed.  Granted, I only made it to world 1-8 before I finally quit because the game is an unplayable piece of shit, but still.  By the way, the switching element was only in half the stages to that point.  If you’re going to claim to be a puzzle game, step one should be having puzzles.  Instead, Plugemon has fetch quests.  You have to acquire a certain amount of red lightning bolts scattered throughout each stage to activate an exit portal.  This involves searching a level for them.  That’s not really a puzzle.  That’s just a typical convention of platforming games.

Regardless of what genre you call it, bad controls will ruin any game.  Plugemons: Part 1 has terrible play control.  Your guy moves like he just took a bath in honey.  His mobility is severely limited, and he’s not all that responsive to the directions you give him.  Despite being a puzzler that is barely a platformer at all, Plugemon primarily deals with jumping from platform to platform.  The jumping physics are completely broken.  Your character feels like he’s leaping through wet cement.  It’s slow and clumsy.  There’s also some sort of issue with landing.  Sometimes, I would land on the edge of a ledge and then slip off it for no apparent reason.  This happened a lot.  The only way to avoid it is to land dead center in the middle of the platform, but that’s not always an option.

Collision detection with the baddies is a problem too.  The main enemies are spider-like thingies that do electrical charges when you get near them.  This doesn’t actually seem to kill you as long as you land on them properly.  The problem is the actual spot to kill them is too small and more often than not, I would jump on them, only to miss that microscopic hit-point and die.  Later in the game, miniature spiders appear and they are damn near impossible to land on properly.

It’s such a shame because, once again, the game is really good-looking.  And the characters have an actual personality, unlike, say, Oozi.  But the game is unplayable because of both the control issues and the overall level design.  I finally quit on level 1-8.  The idea in it is the level is shrouded almost completely in darkness.  So you have to trial-and-error your way through it.  Which is kind of a far-fetched goal because you can’t see the springs you need to get to platforms, the cannons you need to get to others, the ledges you need to stand on, or any of the traps that can kill you.  This is “GOTCHA!” gameplay.  You walked into a spike that you couldn’t see.  GOTCHA!  You tried to walk to a platform and fell to your death.  GOTCHA!  You jump down off a cliff and into a buzzsaw hidden in total darkness.  GOTCHA!  You land on a platform and an invisible enemy kills you.  GOTCHA!

When the game’s own description notes you die a lot, you would be right to assume that the game tried to be a punisher.  The developer denied this, but there was a very telling moment in our little tweet-off.  When I brought up the bad play control, this is how they responded.

I never brought up Super Meat Boy.  Nor do I ever bring up Super Meat Boy when talking with developers of punishers.  It’s just not a game that I care to invoke.  It’s alright, if a tad bit overrated, but my experience playing it is not high on my cherished gaming memories list.  It just sort of exists.  Yet, whenever I bitch about a platforming game having shitty controls, as sure as the tide comes in, the developer will bring up Super Meat Boy.  The VolChaos guy did it too.  “Your game has shitty control.”  “Blah blah blah Super Meat Boy, blah blah blah, blah blah.”

Look, just because your game is hard to beat doesn’t make it Super Meat Boy.  In some cases, people think it’s a fair comparison just because of the difficulty level.  In the case of Plugemon, it’s clear they were actually trying to be close to Super Meat Boy.  Let’s review.  Advertising that you die a lot?  Check.  Levels shrouded in darkness?  Check.  A stage where you’re being chased by a giant-sized boss?  Check.  Buzzsaws as one of the primary obstacles?  Check.  Hey, I didn’t invite comparison.  They did.  I’m just pointing out the obvious.  The Twitter message is a classic example of projection.  I say the controls suck, they say I expected Super Meat Boy, a game that is nothing wink like the puzzle game nudge they made, elbow.

Insanely Shitty Shadow Planet

I do expect a game to control well though, and I could control Super Meat Boy, a far more complicated game.  In it, you had to wall jump, clear large gaps, and make precision landings on platforms.  I could do all that just fine.  In Plugemons: Part 1, it’s difficult to even leap a small gap, or correctly hit the weak spot of an enemy that’s pretty large in size.  Super Meat Boy also had smaller levels designed around its punisher style.  Here, the levels can be sprawling, yet there are no checkpoints.  If you die, you have to wait while the overly-long death animation takes over before respawning at the start of the level.  This is especially annoying in a game where most of your deaths are going to be the fault of the busted controls and not due to your lack of skills.

Overall, Plugemons: Part 1 is without any redeeming quality.  Yes, it’s pretty, which I’m sure will lead to some very thick people saying “it’s worth it just for the art.”  No it’s not.  What kind of simpleton plays games for their graphics anymore?  It’s 2012 for God’s sake!  Good graphics are everywhere.  If it’s worth it just for the graphics, that presumably that means you’re willing to pay a dollar to watch someone else play it.  Say, that gives me an idea.  Party at my house!  One dollar a head cover charge.  Watch me play this shitty game.  Bring your own beverages.  No fatties.

Oh yea, this is totally a puzzle game, not a punisher. The art work makes that very, very clear.

Plugemons: Part 1 was developed by Bionic Thumbs

80 Microsoft Points think those simpletons are the guys who run Dream Build Play in the making of this review.

By the way, how the fuck did Bionic Thumbs confuse their own game as being a puzzler?  They made a puzzler, Starzzle, and it was not bad. 

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54 Responses to Plugemons: Part 1

  1. Plugemons could have been reasonably fun for a punisher (not my favourite sub-genre) but DEAR GOD THE CONTROLS.

    I often disagree with you on things like this (I had no problem with the controls in Oozi or Volchaos, for instance) but Plugemons controls like ass. That is, like trying to get actual inanimate severed buttocks through an Olympic gymnastics tournament. By kicking them. With someone else’s foot.

    I didn’t play for anywhere near as long as you, but I found I repeatedly died on the first few buzzsaws in the first level. The task each time was ‘walk across open ground, then jump over a single low-lying saw’. Sometimes I could get over them, sometimes I couldn’t, simply because that bastard plugemon would…not…move…enough!

    Even if we accept the developer’s claim that this is intended as a puzzle game rather than a platformer, the fact that you can frequently die due entirely to the bad controls is a serious problem. I didn’t want to moan because I get the impression that Bionic Thumbs did genuinely make an effort. But they should have asked at least one friend to play it before release, so they could have picked up on the hideous control issues.

    One thing I have to point out though: you dislike the trial and error nature of that dark level? So would I, I hate that kind of thing, and that’s exactly why I disliked your former top-10 resident Aban Hawkins. :p

  2. the_hans says:

    “I’m 22 years old. I’m guessing that’s significantly younger than many of you reading this.”

    That is not your problem, your problem are your simply destructive and hamrful comments. I think you can learn from “Alan C with Tea” how a review must be written without screwing up a lot of months of hard work calling it “piece of shit” and similars.

    Alan C with Tea, the game was expected to be a entire puzzle game, something like Cute thing diying violently, with very very short stages. But we have had private problems and the game was frozen for months (8-9). Too many people involved in a little game can be confusing, we lost the initial target somewhere (for example in the prototype Plugemons can be moved, just jump). Anyway, as I say, the came is updateable, so we will try to improve gameplay ;)

    • Kairi Vice says:

      No comment I can make will be as destructive or harmful towards your sales as a potential customer who plays it off a demo. Trust me on that. It’s a very, very poor video game. One of the worst I’ve played on XBLIG. There’s really no nice way to say that. It’s a horrible game. I strongly advise people to try the demo so they can see how bad it is for themselves.

      • the_hans says:

        At this point I can accept the control is not the best in the world but “One of the worst I’ve played on XBLIG” is simply shit, as it was with Raventhorne. With this type of destructive comments it’s normal just to find Minecraft clones and avatar games in the first places.

        • Kairi Vice says:

          When I can’t think of a single gameplay aspect that has any redeeming quality about it, yes, that qualifies it as one of the worst games. You put a premium on graphic design and completely skipped out on gameplay.

          And what does Minecraft clones or Avatar games have anything to do with this? You seem to think that being original (which your game is not, quite frankly) entitles you to positive feedback.

          • the_hans says:

            I talk about Minecraft clones or Avatar games because they are a demonstration of the total lack of real criteria in the service. People and others are forcing developers to do real crap and when any developer try to do something better (although they don’t achive it) instead of acourage them to make it better you simply destroy their ilusions with very destructive affirmations.

            And with that you only obtain more avatar game, more ridiculous clones and more and more basic crap for the service. This is what you want? Congrats. Think on it.

            • Kairi Vice says:

              I want to make this as plainly clear as possible: I don’t care at all what kind of game it is. A Crafter, an Avatar game, a wipe your ass simulator, whatever.

              All I care about is a game being fun. That’s the only criteria I have.

              Your game WAS NOT FUN. The review explained why it was not fun.

              And you deserve no special treatment just because you didn’t make a Crafter or an Avatar game.

              • the_hans says:

                This is not about what you think, this about the way you express it. You can tell us “the game is bad because the controls are poor and level desing is mediocre and enemies are imprecisse”. Ok, that is completely acceptable and we will try to solve.

                But saying “this is a piece of shit” or “this the an horrible game” or “this one of the worst games I’ve ever played” you are only destroying a work, not suggesting us to fix or improve it. And that is very irresponsible. You really think this type of destructive comments make the review better for someone? You only get people feeling bad.

                • Kairi Vice says:

                  That’s how I talk. I’m not here to be polite. I’m here to express my opinion, and do so in the most entertaining way possible. If I reviewed like you wanted me to, I would be boring and nobody would read me.

                  Have you ever actually used an Xbox? That’s how the majority of people who use it talk. I’m speaking their language.

                  • the_hans says:

                    Ah, ok. You do it bad because the majority of people do it bad. Incredible personality xD

                  • the_hans says:

                    There are many ways to write without being destructive, if you don’t know how perhaps you are doing something wrong.

                    • Ok, now it’s time to chill. I’m sure Kairi takes pride in her work just as you do in yours. You don’t have to like the way she reviews, and I understand why you don’t, but it’s her choice.

                      There’s really no point debating this anymore, I feel. You’re not going to change Kairi’s opinion or style. As a developer of a product, all you can do with feedback you find to be harsh is let it go.

                    • the_hans says:

                      You are right. I just expect he will do it more constructive in the future.

                    • the_hans says:

                      Have a lot of readers is really cool but not at any price. I think.

                    • Kairi Vice says:

                      I might not be tactful, but I think I made it pretty clear in that review what is wrong with the game. So you don’t really want constructive criticism. You want someone to tell you what you want to hear. That’s been pretty clear all day, starting with Twitter.

                      And I have to say, your argument that you deserve special treatment because you didn’t make a Minecraft clone or include Avatars in your game is sickeningly pathetic. Your sense of entitlement to a good review is disgraceful. I’m literally stunned by the arrogance of that.

                    • the_hans says:

                      I want to tell me “the game is bad because the controls are poor and level desing is mediocre and enemies are imprecisse”, not “this is a piece of shit” or “this the an horrible game” or “this one of the worst games I’ve ever played”.

                      I see the difference, don’t you?

                    • the_hans says:

                      Critics are accepted, as I accepted what Alan says.

                    • Kairi Vice says:

                      Well, sorry, but again this is how I write. If you don’t like it, to bad. I’m not going to change.

                      Do you want to know what it would sound like writing it the way you want me to?

                      Plugemon: Part 1 is a very bad video game. The controls are not responsive. The jumping physics are hard to manage. The level design is poor. The collision detection is inaccurate. I strongly recommend that you do not purchase this game. It is among the worst games I’ve played on Xbox Live Indie Games.

                      That’s going to suck to hear no matter how it’s said. But I’m not going to write in a way that bores myself. I would hate being forced to write my reviews like that. So I’m not going to. Get over it.

                    • the_hans says:

                      Avatar games and minecraft clones was just an example to ilustrate what type of games are you promoting with destructive comments on others that try to do something better and different. No more.

                      And sorry but I think that pathetic is to write something competely destructive just because “is the lenguage of the majority of the people”, a real demostration of sensationalism and a hard lack of personality.

                      At this points this discussión hasn’t sense. Next time we will try to develop a better game, please, try to make a more constructive review.

                    • the_hans says:

                      About your last point… if you write it well what need was to write it bad too?

                    • Kairi Vice says:

                      “Avatar games and minecraft clones was just an example to ilustrate what type of games are you promoting with destructive comments on others that try to do something better and different. No more.”

                      Okay, now I’m officially stunned. This once again shows that you think you are entitled to special treatment because you didn’t make a Minecraft clone or an Avatar game. You do realize you made a platform game, correct? Oh wait, you didn’t. That was sort of the theme of this review.

                      But you’ve officially confirmed your sense of entitlement by saying that I’m promoting Minecraft clones or Avatar games by slamming your game. I have not yet reviewed a Minecraft clone on this site. Not one. Nor have I ever even played one. I’ve never played FortressCraft. I’ve never even played Minecraft. An Avatar games? Of the 175 reviews on this site, less than ten them are Avatar games. Most of which I gave bad reviews to.

                      And as a reminder, your game is a platformer, which is a very common genre in games. You didn’t really do anything different with the genre. And there are a lot more platformers on XBLIG than Minecraft clones.

                      This is going to be the last comment I address to you, because it’s painfully clear now that this isn’t about what I said. You feel entitled to special treatment because you feel your game deserves special treatment because it avoided some things considered conventional on the platform. You don’t.

                    • the_hans says:

                      I just want you to do your work with respect to developers, because normally they are trying to do it the better they can do, and calling unnecessarily others work “piece of shit” is not the way. You think that is what your readers want? Ok. I think it is vulgar and mediocre and turns your opinion difficult to be consider in the future by no one.

          • the_hans says:

            There are many ways to say something, you have chosen the worst. Luckily I always want to do it better.

            • Starglider says:

              There are lots of XBLIG review sites that will fawn and drool over your game and call it wonderful regardless of whether it is good or not. Not many people read these sites except for devs, because the reviews aren’t useful. There are some that will review XBLIGs with a fairly impartial and professional style. More people read those, but they suffer from appearing to compete head on with more professional game review sites. Kairi trash-talks games and that pulls in readers who otherwise wouldn’t care about XBLIGs. It’s a little painful for devs, but come on, man the fuck up. If you can’t take one site entertaining readers by making fun of your game’s flaws you should run home and hide under your mother’s skirts. Kairi balances the brash style with an extremely forgiving ‘second chance’ feature; no other review site I know of gives devs such a direct chance to fix all the mentioned flaws. If you seriously care about the quality of your game you should take advantage of it.

    • Thanks for the compliment. I try not to be too hard on people who have genuinely tried, because I know how much it stings when you’ve given something your best shot and everyone acts like it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen/read/played.

      There are certainly a lot of things that need to be improved about Plugemons, but there’s also potential. I think being too harsh in feedback risks causing someone to completely quit developing games, rather than to try and do better in future.

      If the developer clearly doesn’t care about making good games (we all know who I’m thinking of here), then out come the big guns, I can punch holes in them all day.

      Developers do need a thick skin to be able to shrug off criticism, but I choose not to make that more difficult than it has to be. That’s just my way. Kairi Vice reviews in her way, and I review in mine.

      • Kairi Vice says:

        Honestly, if the developer is at risk of quitting over bad feedback, they probably shouldn’t be making games in the first place. That’s just my opinion. If every developer packed their stuff and went home after getting bad feedback, all that would be left in the gaming industry is Valve.

        But I feel less sympathetic for Bionic Thumbs now. I said their controls were poor, they said they were above average. I said their game was a platformer. They said I was lying, that it’s a puzzler. I’m not sure if this is intellectual dishonesty on their part or delusion, but I have no patience for either.

        I do know that I’m not here to hold anyone’s hand. This isn’t Bionic Thumbs’ first game. I reviewed their puzzler Starzzle and enjoyed it. I know they’re capable of better than this. Alan says they tried. I think they tried in graphics, but phoned in the gameplay. There is not one single good aspect about the gameplay. Alan, I honestly don’t see how this can be salvaged. There is nothing that went right here. If they fix the controls, the level design is still poor. If they fix the level design, enemy visibility is still poor. And there’s technical issues I didn’t even bother bringing up in the review, like a very skippy framerate, or those beautiful graphics actually getting in the way of being able to see what is a platform and what isn’t.

        Again, I know they can do better. But this a commercial product and it should be subject to a thorough critical evaluation, and I gave it such.

      • the_hans says:

        I agree with you. Even the game is a fail (I don’t really think it is bad but opinions are opinions and we accept them) we will do our best to improve it, because we see the potential.

        Perhaps an open beta for PC will be the solution. Thanks!

  3. the_hans:
    Didn’t get to play much (Skyward Sword is calling my name as we speak) but my breif time with the demo led me to, what I think, is the heart of the control issue…

    Mid-air Movement.

    When I’m on the ground, the dude has some pep in his step. Whin I’m in the air, I lose almost all ability to course correct. This can cause major frustrations to the player, even if death is a tauted aspect of the experience :)

    If you do an update, I highly suggest re-examining how the player moves in mid-air. It can go along way to giving users the responsiveness they expect when navigating the levels.

    Good luck!

  4. Gamertag: Alfred Saxon says:

    I bought this game after playing the trial. It looks beautiful.

    The controls need some work. I agree with some of what Kairl said.

    I do die alot. I call it a Platform-Puzzle game.

    I don’t think it’s a bad game. But i have only played it a little bit.

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  7. Kairi Vice says:

    By the way, it turns out that the developer of Plugemon, who went off on me for “destructive comments” which somehow support avatar games or Minecraft clones (as if there is anything wrong with that) has himself made six avatar games.

    • Indeed, they’ve made THREE TIMES as many avatar games as non-avatar games. I was quite sympathetic about Bionic Thumbs’ feelings here, but now they’re rapidly losing ground. Between this sudden discovery of flagrant hypocrisy and the fact that they’re still spitting venom on twitter 24 hours later, I’m starting to wonder if it was all just immaturity.

      • Kairi Vice says:

        And the guy just said that a retard could understand their game in 5 seconds so they’re not sure what’s wrong with me.

        I’m stunned again by this guy and his playing the victim card here. If you can read Spanish, you should check this out.

        http://www.stratos-ad.com/forums/index.php?topic=14987.0

        • the_hans says:

          You attack me, you attack my work (and others work, see Raventhorne “review”), you lie and you are a hypocryte that only wants to earn visits at any price. Impressive person you are, and amazingly you think you are doing a favor to someone. Deplorable.

          • Kairi Vice says:

            What did I lie about? You made a very specific point to go on an anti-avatar game tirade above. It’s documented. You did say that.

            And what makes me a hypocrite? You’re the one who went off against Avatar games despite having 6 of your 8 games be avatar games themselves. I’m starting to wonder if I’m being Punk’d.

            • the_hans says:

              I didn´t do it, I just tell that your “review” promote that type of games, that are leghion and are becoming the unique type of game for a developer in the service. Seriously, it is difficult to understand? I know my english sucks but so much?

              • Kairi Vice says:

                But that implies that your game deserves some kind of special treatment for not being an avatar or minecraft game. It does not. Your game doesn’t even have a single original gameplay mechanic. There are lots of games where you jump from platform to platform. There are lots of games where you have to collect items to open an exit. There are lots of games where you switch between multiple characters to hit switches. There are lots of games where you swing off objects.

                You are complaining about not being awarded for originality and yet your game does not have one single original idea. Not one.

                Even the characters seem like an offbrand version of Pokemon. I mean, the game is called “plugEMON” and stars an electrified mouse that looks an awful lot like Pikachu.

                Where is the originality you keep bringing up?

                • the_hans says:

                  Tell Alan or other to explain my point of view, I think they understand i I won’t spend more time with this, I have work to do.

                  • Ok Kairi, here it is:

                    Bionic Thumbs (aka the_hans) is at least two people.

                    One of them thinks you make valid enough points but feels you don’t need to be so rude about it because they’re proud of their game and find blunt criticism hurtful.

                    The other person hates you and everything you do, and is determined to shout at you until you go away, and would probably have picked a fight with you regardless of anything you actually said.

                    I can still sympathise with Person 1, but Person 2 has alienated me with his relentless hostility. Again, I’m flattered that they advocate my style of feedback, but this raging fury is too much.

  8. Kairi Vice says:

    For those that missed the fun.

    • the_hans says:

      The fun is someone who earn visits with pure shit articles telling others how the have to do their work. Why you don’t continue attacking Vicente Cartas in your insanity? It was really fun xD

      • Ok, please stop now. You know I fought in your corner to start with, because I could understand how hurtful it is to be criticised harshly. But now you’re at serious risk of alienating your own supporters. You sound deranged, like you’re frothing at the mouth in fury over something that is just one person’s opinion.

        And I think you lost the right to complain about Kairi calling your game “shitty” when you started calling her articles “pure shit”. You’ve lost whatever moral high ground you might have been able to claim you had.

        Take a cold shower, go for a walk, have a nap. Calm down.

        • the_hans says:

          Ah, then she have the privilege to call others work “piece of shit” but when the others do the same we are doing it wrong? I just tell “shit articles” to see her reaction.

        • the_hans says:

          Before develop games I was a critics in a spanish magazine, i wrote more than 40 articles with thousands and thousands of visits. And never feel the need of call anyones work “pice of shit” to earn them. So I can’t understand it’s need, I think it is just a very poor resource. Just an opinion, of course.

    • the_hans says:

      And is curious that you tell others that they are kids when you spend your time writing quotes from twitter, out of context, of course xD

    • the_hans says:

      And please, stop liying about I have Avatar games, it has no sense. As I says, a retarded oen can understand my words in 5 seconds, and I don’y really think you are, just a person confused and angry with the world, so please, don’t continue demonstrating it every new post.

  9. the_hans says:

    “And please, stop liying about I HATE Avatar games,” – fixed

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  12. kairi says:

    Kairi, you are a very bad person and I really, really hope something very bad happens to you. Are a troll, and a monster with no respect to anybody and any disgrace such happens to you be enough to make me happy. But if you think that provoque this feels in somebody it’s right, it’s your way. Your live be so, not only in this, and it’s your fault.

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