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25 February 2015 @ 09:58 pm
Game Review: Trip World  
I had never heard of this game until a couple months ago when the latest issue of RETRO came out and had a brief article by one of the Retronauts hosts about it. It was never released in the US, and I can kind of understand why after reading the description. A cute platformer with non-violent enemies? The protagonist is looking for a magical flower? A quick trip to Box vs. Box shows what marketers in America thought about the audience here and I bet they just assumed it would never sell, but I knew I wanted to play it. Uber-kawaii nonviolence sounded like just what I needed after XCom and Doom.


The graphics are surprisingly good. Or at least, they're surprising to me. My idea of Game Boy graphics is based on old Nintendo Power articles (adicles?) on Super Mario Land and Pokemon Red/Blue, so I was imagining all hard edges and sharp black/white lines with no gradient. It actually has backgrounds with shading!

After that, the second thing I noticed was the gameplay. It's typical platforming, with running and jumping and pits of spikes and so on, but the enemies mostly just do their own thing and can't actually harm you. Some of them jump on your head, where they sit there contendedly, some of them are dangerous if you approach but telegraph it by, say, sticking out spikes, and some of them totally ignore you. About the only creatures you encounter that are actually a challenge are the boss fights, and there are only eight or nine of those. I think this ends up as a strike against the game, unfortunately, because it's quite easy to be thrown into a boss battle without any real knowledge of how combat works or how to develop a proper strategy.

Though as it turned out, most of the time the best strategy was "Sit on their head and occasionally kick them in the face," which I think is applicable to life, really.

Poor boss. It just kind of twitched its antennae in confusion.

The big problem is that it's more of a concept than a game. It's not just that you don't fight most of the enemies and it doesn't have manshoot cred, it's that some enemies hurt you, some don't, and there's no way to tell which is which until you've already been hurt, which is a problem when you have four health, three lives, and have to start over from the beginning when you lose your lives. Except you don't, because if you press Select at the beginning you can pick any stage you want. The story must have been in the manual, because you're just thrown into the game after a brief into of an evil bunny-man hadoukening an old bunny-man, except the evil bunny-man is actually three cute creatures standing on each other's shoulders? And there's a flower? But not the flower you wear on your head, obviously, because otherwise you'd just give it to...whoever you need to give it to, which is unclear.

I have no idea who those other two are, but they sure look happy.

There are two alternate forms and several powerups that you can get, but they're all superfluous. At any time you can transform into a form with long flappy ears that let you fly and glide, or a fish form that let you swim, but the times you need to fly can be measured on one hand and the times that swimming in your normal form isn't adequate can be measured on zero hands, so there's never any reason to do either unless you want to see the main character's cute other forms. You can also grow a flower on your head that lets you stun enemies by putting flowers on their heads, grow a long tail that can hit enemies from further away, shrink to half size for no obvious penalty or bonus, and turn into a long-legged walker that shoots death lasers. One of these things is not like the others...  photo emot-psyduck.gif

You may also notice I keep saying "the main character." It's actually named "Yakopu," but I only know that because I checked Wikipedia, so I'm guessing that's in the manual too. What Trip World reminds me most of is actually Proteus, in that it's not a challenge to be mastered but an experience to be enjoyed and that is primarily conveyed through the visual aesthetic and the soundtrack, but it's not as good at it as Proteus is. Proteus is obviously complete and all the parts of the game work toward its ends, but Trip World is a bunch of stuff all thrown together with no guiding principle other than whimsy, which is not automatically bad but it does mean the experience of playing it is jarring and mostly not that fun.

Though at least it's short. I started and finished it in about 35 minutes.


The aesthetic is really cute, though. And the music is especially good--I would recommend the credits theme if you had to pick a song to listen to. And rather than play it yourself, if you just want to experience the frankly amazing (for the Game Boy) backgrounds, cuteness, whimsy, and music, there's a Longplay up on YouTube which is probably the right choice, though be warned that the player of that is way more murderous than I was. I figured live and let live, and mostly just avoided everything because of that aforementioned inability to tell who was dangerous and who wasn't. They even do it in 20 minutes, so apparently my cowardice wasted a bunch of time. Life lesson for you all.
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
Current Music: Trip World - Credits