Pendulous

I’m sure there are games out there similar to Pendulous, where the idea is to swing from pendulum to pendulum trying to reach a goal in the shortest time possible.  I already had someone tell me that it’s not all that different from Jungle Hunt, a game I never played.  Jungle Hunt was a product of the Golden Age of Arcades, circa 1982.  I’m a product of unprotected sex, circa 1988.  However, as it turns out, Jungle Hunt is included in Tatio Legends for the original Xbox, which I actually own.  So I fired it up and discovered that the person was totally wrong.  Well, that was a waste of an opening paragraph.

The idea is you swing from spot to spot as a little cog thing, latching onto the nearest swing-point automatically.  Using the left and right triggers (or the stick if you’re an idiot, more on that later), you build up momentum to launch yourself to the next spot.  As you progress through the meager fourteen stages, various traps and obstacles pop up, including one annoying section featuring a red gunky sludge stuff that seemed to bubble up at random and was the only bit of  true frustration in the game.  Well, that and the fact that the developers made a liar out of me.

Dear Datura loving twats: that shit was NOT art. Now THIS is art.

When I reviewed Cuddle Bear, I noted that I would immediately discontinue playing any game at the first instance of a leap-of-faith moment.  So naturally Pendulous was full of those types of moments.  Only I didn’t quit the game.  I kept going.  And thus I’m a big liar.  At least my excuse is good one: Pendulous is a really well done game.  The problem is, there was no need to map the swinging mechanics to both the sticks and the trigger buttons.  The triggers work just fine, so the stick should have been used to move the camera.  There’s just too many spots where you can’t see the next object you’re swinging to.  Or traps that move up and down are off-screen, so you can’t possibly calculate when the appropriate time to jump is.  This was probably related to the porting of this game over from Windows Phone, which the developer noted to me had been the cause of a few issues.

This is where being The Chick is tough, because I have to say something that is probably devastating for a developer to hear: this game was so good that it had a spot on the leaderboard all locked up.  I really loved it.  This is exactly the kind of original, quirky type of game I expected to find in the XBLIG channel when I started this site, and it’s worth your money right now.  The length of the game didn’t bother me at all.  Fourteen quickie stages that are sublime (plus another 14 mirrored ones, snore)  is preferable to a four-hour game that struggles to tread water.  But that damn camera issue was like the iceberg to Pendulous’ Titanic.  Its chances were sunk.  All is not lost.  They already planned to add more levels, and Do Better Games are aware of my concerns, because I sent them a singing telegram.  Only I misread the job description.  It was actually a singeing telegram, who knocked on their door and proceeded to set himself on fire.

Well, they got the message.  The game needs a camera, and then they need to issue what could be the most important Second Chance with the Chick challenge in the history of this site.  They would probably get to it sooner, but because of my screw-up, they first have to clean up a hell of a mess on their porch.

Pendulous was developed by Do Better Games

80 Microsoft Points noted Polish is a nationality, not a race, so that technically makes me xenophobic, not racist, in the making of this review.

You can also read my buddy Hurley’s review at Gear-Fish for this very title.

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

7 Responses to Pendulous

  1. Matt says:

    Did you ever play Carneyvale Showtime? Might be worth a look to see how it compares to this.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      I have not. It is in my Katch-Up queue. Looks good. Might hold out a month just because I don’t want to compare two similar games this closely together.

    • Early on in development, a friend mentioned CarneyVale Showtime and another game called Rotastic. I played both of them and there are definitely similarities. One thing that differentiates them both from Pendulous is item gathering. We’d thought about having cogs or something to pick up along the way in Pendulous, but ultimately decided that forward progress would be our focus and that collection would muddy the simplicity. Also, in those games, speed is generated a little differently; they both use a spin-and-release control scheme, whereas Pendulous is, well…pendulum-esque.

      Comparisons aside, I’ll give a nod to Rotastic for their fun multiplayer. Sure it’s played for points and you’re supposed to be collecting gems, but the real joy is cutting other players’ ropes and sending them tumbling to their doom.

  2. GaTechGrad says:

    I just tried this game, and I pretty much agree with everything in the review. Nice presentation, but around level 4 or 5 I couldn’t see the next swing connection. I used the thumbstick controls, which didn’t give me any problems.

    • Thanks for mentioning it, Grad. Kairi was spot on in the review: the port is the problem. When we brought the game over from the Windows Phone, we made a miscalculation when converting between different screen ratios. It resulted in some nasty clipping that means you’re sometimes in the dark about where to go next.

      Not only are we zooming out the camera a little with out next update, I’m going through and hand-tuning the camera at each anchor to make sure the next target or path is more clear. When we kick it back for Second Chance with the Chick, I encourage you to give levels 4 and 5 another shot.

  3. Kairi, we chatted a bit in e-mail, but I didn’t stop by to leave a comment and say thank you for the review and the honest assessment. Be assured, Pendulous will be back. Now that Chompy Chomp Chomp has rightfully made the top 10 a little harder to get into, our chances for that may be worsening, but I’m still eager to see if we can take care of the reservations in your recommendation.

    • Hello Matthew. I have to say, with Star Ninja now the #10 game, the Indie Gamer Chick leaderboard will be extremely tough to crack. Star Ninja has always been for me the barometer, because I believe (and still believe) that it is the XBLIG that has the most potential for mainstream success. And you know what? I can’t wait for someone to knock it off the board.

      Don’t forget, there is a top 25 coming July 1.

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