Bump! by Aaron Steed, recommended for you to play.

Bump!

Bump!

What it is:

Bump! is a turn based platformer with randomly generated levels. Like Earl Spork and Fuel, it’s a 7 Day Roguelike Challenge entry. Also like both its predecessors, it’s quite fun but would probably be more fun as a real time game.

Gameplay:

It’s a fun game. Fairly simple (just movement keys to use) and short. There is no difficulty level, but the game itself ramps up pretty quickly in difficulty so that’s not a problem. Typically it took me less than five minutes to get to a point where I either made a mistake in movement or in tactics leading to my death.

Your goal is to beat your score from previous runs. While not the highest stakes, it does provide enough incentive to play again and again.

The elements in the level includes blocks, gems in blocks, bombs in blocks, and two types of spikes. This small set of elements provides a surprising amount of variety. A vertical stack of blocks can be bumped from below to gather the gems in the blocks, explode the bombs, and cause spikes to fall down through the blocks. This presents interesting tactical challenges since the spike fall all the way through the bottom of the level, taking out everything along the way. Using this fact can help you get rid of enemies and clear new paths.

There are a few minor bugs, but nothing that detracts from gameplay. The only two obvious ones are that you can jump up through a double spike (but not a triple one) safely and if you reach the top of the screen you can hover by repeatedly bumping up. Because these are consistent and your only goal is to get a better score than previously, they’re not really a problem.

Aesthetic Design

Stylistically the game looks a lot like a Game Boy game. It has rudimentary black & white graphics which lend an old-school feel to it. Unfortunately the player character and other elements have differing levels of blockiness which causes the visuals to look a little inconsistent.

The sound is well done. While simplistic, the sounds reinforce the basic gameplay well without being annoying.

Game Design

The game starts with a simple screen showing the command set, which uses only keyboard controls. There is no description of story or goals, but it does record what your highest score so far is, which provides a reasonable enough goal. There are no other menus or options, just the game itself.

The levels are randomly generated. It appears that the generation doesn’t allow for horizontal gaps too wide to cross, but often vertical features are frustratingly out of reach. Because the game scrolls as you move, and doesn’t scroll back, you can’t reach any areas you pass by once you get higher up on the screen.

The basic interface is nearly enough. Without a guide to how far into a jump or what your maximum jump is, sometimes you find out you’re just one or two spaces away from where you want to be when your jump runs out. Thanks to your character flipping upside down when falling, it’s easy enough to tell when you’re done jumping.

Movement is allowed in six direction, the cardinal four plus diagonals upwards. Down is only useful when falling where it acts as skipping a turn. Jumping diagonally doesn’t work quite as well as you might suspect since you can’t do it properly if there’s a block next to you either vertically or horizontally in the direction you want to travel. This makes maneuvering a bit more difficult than it perhaps should be.

The basic mechanic of bumping a vertical column to activate everything in it is novel and enjoyable. Causing spikes to rain down is a lot of fun, especially when you can get them to crush the moving spikes in your way. Sometimes timing your vertical movements to catch moving spikes is an exercise in frustration though. It’s also unfortunate that a bomb in the stack keeps the stuff above it from being activated.

The game rules are nice and consistent. The elements always behave the same way, so once you experiment and figure it out you don’t have to worry about them randomly changing on you.

Suggestions for Improvement:

For the most part the game is really solid, but there are a few minor areas that could use improvement.

It would be very nice to be able to move diagonally if the diagonal space is free, regardless of the vertical and horizontal spaces having blocks in them. It would also be nice to be able to simply skip a turn rather than awkwardly jumping at angles to pass odd numbers of turns while waiting for a moving spike to be in the right spot. On the subject of controls, numpad support would be appreciated as well.

And last but very much least, some sort of story about what’s going on and why collecting gems and killing spikes is important would be nice.