Parenting is a tough racket--or so I've heard--filled with trials and tribulations; joy and sorrow. Though I've yet to father any rug-rats of my own, indie developer Kyle Pulver (operating under his new studio banner, KPULV) has created a game with which I've been able to practice my parenting skills, just so I'm prepared for the aftermath of procreation. Offspring Fling is its name, and it's taught me that protecting one's children is a parent's most important duty, even if that means regularly chucking the little tykes hither and thither.
Offspring Fling is an incredibly charming puzzle-platformer with old-school Super Nintendo-era presentation that's easy to pick up and play, but that also presents some satisfying challenges. Simply making your way through the game is not a masochistic, reflex-driven experience akin to Super Meat Boy, though you will encounter some interesting challenges to overcome, which ramp up nicely over the course of about one hundred levels. That said, each level has three tiers of flowers to earn, Offspring Fling's answer to gold, silver, and bronze medals, which amp up the challenge significantly.
Simply completing a level--regardless of how long it takes--earns you a standard, blue flower. But simply collecting all of the blue flowers only drives you about thirty percent of the way to the finish line. Completing a given level under a certain time threshold nets a gold flower. Rainbow flowers--the most coveted flowers of all--require that you best the developer's quickest run, often requiring pixel-perfect jumps and throws. As a reward, all of the flowers you collect are displayed in a special room: a neat visual indicator of just how far you've come. It's a really neat way to approach difficulty tiers, without alienating less-skilled players.
The player controls a cute, fluffy critter that bears more than a passing resemblance to Pokemon's Pikachu. In each of the game's many stages, the player has to help her rescue her offspring by carrying or flinging them through each level's exit. The strange little heroine can jump, as well as carry stacks of her young that can then be hurled at things like switches and breakable blocks, and (eventually) the exit.
Despite a simple premise and control scheme, Offspring Fling kept me engaged with it's sugary-sweet visuals, gorgeous soundtrack (composed by Alec Holowka), and the subtle and progressive way that it introduces new gameplay mechanics. It also kept me coming back to levels that I'd already completed, so that I could chase those elusive rainbow flowers. The ability to share your replays with others gives the title a competitive, social aspect. From the look of it, user created content that you can peruse and try has already started to trickle in, as well.
Pulver also released an update for the game last week. Leaderboards and a level editor appear to have made the cut, though Pulver notes on his blog that he's also working on controller support and customizable keyboard controls for a future update.
If you're a fan of platformers, regardless of your dexterity, I highly recommend giving Offspring Fling a try. There's a deceptively simple web-based demo and a 15 level downloadable demo on the official website, but they'll let you sample the responsive and fluid controls and take in some of the art and music before you throw down your hard earned dollars. The full game is priced at $7.99, on Steam, and can also be grabbed from Desura or the developer's website.
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