Avatar Falls Down Stairs and This Is Hard

I’ve met a few developers who don’t totally hate my guts.  Or at least I don’t think they do.  One is a dude named Daniel Steger, who has made a couple of games I’ve reviewed here that, while I didn’t detest them, I didn’t actually love them or anything either.  They were just sort of there to exist.  I get the impression that Steger has the talent to do better than he actually does, but sort of just falls in line and pushes stuff out.  He’s had a couple successes on the XBLIG market.  He’s the proud developer of the #8 all-time selling game on the platform, Baby Maker Extreme.  Haven’t played it yet, and I don’t intend to.  I have played a couple of his non-hits, Blow Me Up and Lots of Guns.  I’m noticing a theme with his games: they tell you exactly what they are, right there in the title.  Blow Me Up involved blowing a dude up, Lots of Guns involves shooting lots of guns.  Okay, so I don’t think Baby Maker Extreme involves a sperm bank and a turkey baster, which is the only true way to make babies in extreme ways.  Well, besides parachuting while having sex, but I hear the rights to that are tied up by MTV, who plan to include Parahumping in the next X-Games.  Of course, no actual babies will be made during it, because I’m sure they’ll enforce a strict “condoms only” rule.  MTV is all about the safety of its competitors.  Jesus, this has gone off topic.

The graphics are colored at random and sometimes completely match the flooring in a way that you can’t see them unless you tilt the camera the right angle. Just like that third test from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, only not as fun.

Today’s “truth in advertising” games are Avatar Falls Down Stairs and This Is Hard.  Well, I guess in the case of Avatar Falls Down Stairs, it only falls because you push it.  Otherwise known as “murder.”  Details.  It’s sort of an XBLIG version of the popular game Stair Dismount.  I liked Stair Dismount.  It was good fun for the whole family, and by that I mean I took pictures of my family, stuck their faces on the ragdolls, and pushed the ragdolls down the stairs.  It was cathartic, and a good way to blow off steam.  Steam that accumulates from playing horrible XBLIGs, like Avatar Falls Down Stairs.  The concept is just not as good.  Stair Dismount awarded points based on the total physical damage you inflict upon the doll.  AFDS (sounds like a football league) awards points based on hitting orbs on your way down.  It doesn’t really work well, because you really can only hit so many of them.  Once you shove, you can’t move your avatar anymore.  And, unlike Stair Dismount, you can’t target a specific area of your avatar to shove.  You can angle it around the midsection, but that’s it.  It feels so stripped down and half-assed that you can’t help but shake your head.  Graphics are horrible and the physics are pretty weak too.  Stegs told me he built the game in only a week, and I believe it.

I figured that while I was talking about Stegs, I would get to this week’s way late Katch-Up and use it on This Is Hard, his punisher from two years ago.  I’m not a huge fan of this genre, and This Is Hard doesn’t really change my mind about it.  It’s got a lot faults to it.  It is one of the loosest controlling games I’ve ever played.  It almost feels like he was trying to achieve a Super Meat Boy sense of speed and jumping, except that, as Brian just pointed out to me, that came out AFTER this did.  Either way, it becomes one of those punishers that’s really only difficult because it controls like shit.  Once you get used to that, the levels are just typical trial-and-error, memorize the layout type of stages.  It’s not a total abortion, but there’s much better punishers on XBLIG, both in playability and in looks.  If you’re desperate to get your ass kicked, you’re probably better off going to a screening of the Avengers and screaming out “Where’s Batman?”

I will give This Is Hard this: it’s playable.  Avatar Falls Down Stairs is only playable in the sense that it doesn’t make your organs shut down.  I still like Stegs, but there’s something missing to his games.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s that sense that I’m playing something special.  He’s had some best-sellers, but he hasn’t quite had that game that just is overwhelmingly fun.  He makes stuff that is good enough to entertain for thirty minutes, maybe an hour, and then toss away and forget about it.  I actually enjoyed Blow Me Up and Lots of Guns, but they wouldn’t be high on my games-to-recommend list.  I’m willing to bet he’s capable of doing better.  It’s like watching a bad Al Pacino movie (which is pretty much everything he’s made after Insomnia) where you can totally tell he’s like “you know what, fuck it, I’m not even trying.  I’ve got boat payments to make.”

Avatar Falls Down Stairs and This Is Hard were developed by Stegersaurus Games

80 Microsoft Points apiece think Steg needs to start getting trailers up in the making of this review.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

6 Responses to Avatar Falls Down Stairs and This Is Hard

  1. 0penwide says:

    Good looking blog, check out my indie game “Bummermann”.

  2. I don’t mind This Is Hard, though it’s a genre I don’t really enjoy. Avatar Falls Down Stairs offends my sensibilites, though. Hmm, Mr Steger’s output is very inconsistent. I’m a fan of Mega Monster Mania but not much else of his.

  3. I figured for once I’d actually post a reply to a review, instead of just observing it in silence. I’ll try not to play a defensive role, as I know how idiotic it is when the creator of a game says “your opinion is wrong!” and just stick with my own opinions of my own games.

    First let’s approach Avatar Falls Down Stairs. It isn’t an experience with depth and I knew this 3 months ago when I made it. In fact, I knew most people weren’t finding it fun to play either. Stair Dismount is a better designed experience. I find it funny IGC calls Stair Dismount cathartic, because for me that is what the development of Avatar Falls Down Stairs was. Falls Down Stairs was made because I enjoyed building it. I had been in a really big slump after spending about 3 months on a game I wasn’t enjoying making, and being able to spit out Falls Down Stairs in a week was fun for me as a developer. Some would say if that was the only purpose of it I shouldn’t have released it to XBLIG, but I’m always surprised by what there is an audience for on XBLIG, and try not to hold releases back if I’ve made a releasable title. Falls Down Stairs isn’t the first of my games that follow this pattern, and probably won’t be the last either. In fact, I have another 1 week game in review right now that I made after a larger project I’m doing hit a development snag (though the one in review seems to play well even if it isn’t ultra-deep).

    This is Hard is definitely an acquired taste. It WAS in fact based on the design philosophies of Super Meat Boy after I read the design article at http://supermeatboy.com/13/Why_am_I_so____hard_/ about it. I didn’t want to be identical to SMB, but the lessons in the article made sense to me as I tried to grow from them. I chose floaty controls because I disliked precision platformers where you’d die if you jumped 1 pixel too early off a platform or some bullshit like that. I feel like This is Hard had a bit too many leaps of faith, and that the jumping mechanic was a bit TOO floaty in terms of how you held jump to keep low-grav jumping going. I’m working on a sequel which I plan to replace the super-float jump with something a bit more practical. Jumping is definitely where a lot of disagreements in TiH come from. Some people don’t mind it, and others hate it. I’m proud of This is Hard because there is a good selection of people who seem to enjoy the game, even if building the levels drove me a bit mad I think it came out respectably.

  4. GaTechGrad says:

    This is Hard – I liked the gags in this game, especially the chalkboard at the beginning of the levels showing how many times you died. The Thwomps are obviously taken directly out of SMB3, so Nintendo may not be too happy about one of their copyrighted characters being used in an XBox Indie game. As others have noted, I gave up after encountering the first leap of faith, which was the stage where you have to jump down a hill under about 20 Thwimps, but there’s no way to see where you’re supposed to land. Camera scroll controls or just scrolling through the whole level as a preview before starting the stage would fix this.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: