Scarygirl

By: Xander

On: April 14th, 2009

scarygirl

Scarygirl finally went live today, and any of you who were once swooned by Eternity’s Child originally and were cruelly mistreated by the final product have nothing to fear here. It’s very good. But how good?

I could start with the way the platforming and adventure game elements work fantastically well together. I could tell you that Toy Cat is simply the coolest animal partner ever. I could explain how the game from the very onset with the lovingly crafted opening video is a visual feast which should turn the heads of any man or woman in this entire industry. I could describe the wonderfully minimalist dialogue trees, where the speech is played out through sketches which animatedly convey your next task. I could simply state how the jump button works more than 33% of the time. I could exclaim that by same manner of miracle this is free to play in any flash enabled browers. I could mention there are a number of sweet retromazing console games to play on the fly as collectibles. I could suggest that signing up in-game with your email address is a good idea as it’ll allow you to save and continue your game wherever you reached last.

I suppose, I could say that it should be annoying that the game has to load each section of the game individually as you reach them. But it isn’t. I could posit that the game would run smoother if there was a downloadable version available, which it might, but human eyes probably wouldn’t be able to perceive any more beauty in each and every frame without detonating. Instead, I know what I will say, which I never expected to come out of my rational mind.

I enjoyed playing an obligatory water level.

(Viva Indiegames.com!)

  • Dusty Spur

    TOY CAT IS LOVE

    SPREAD THE WORD

  • http://www.casualexplosion.com Uesugi

    What’s a platform and what isn’t… I suppose I’ll learn soon enough. Loving the art 100x more than the gameplay, but it’s love all the same.

    Even the porcupines are cute.

  • Q

    guess flash fucked up compiling the exe :)
    nothing you can do than…

  • xerus

    Fuck, this is gorgeous.

    But man, that 2nd level is too much like the under water level of TMNT for me. Traumatizing.

  • http://www.intuitiongames.com fucrate

    Looks pretty, but there’s way too much collecting… And the whole level-as-php page thing is a weird choice for tech.

  • Cobalt

    I don’t like waiting on technology… I have a decent connection, too…

    Couldn’t they just make a binary version instead?! They wouldn’t even have to buy Adobe products. Ah, beefnut!

  • Malasdair

    It’s no fun to collect things if they don’t satisfy. This isn’t Super Mario 64, it’s Banjo Kazooie.

  • Andy Hull

    Yeah, the art and the character design is awesome, but the gameplay is pretty dry (level 1) and pretty terrible (level 2)

    I too had TMNT (Nes) flashbacks with all those Jellyfish everywhere. But the swimming controls. Oh noes! I couldn’t keep myself playing.

    It is amazing how something simple but original, and with tight controls (say Knytt Stories) can be far more compelling than a game like this, gorgeous as it may be.

  • Greender

    It looks very pretty, but the second level was a turn off, I stopped playing. Let’s see if tomorrow I feel like dealing with that level, just to see what else the game has to offer.

  • Tenderfoot

    Great art, great idea.

  • Jimmy Curbstomp

    I loved the art, but the loose controls made me quit shortly after the tutorial.

    I hate to say it, but I think that in some cases the art detracted from gameplay. Maybe I’m just visually impaired, but I kept having trouble telling what was and wasn’t a platform. And the character’s really big animations made it hard for me to tell what exactly my collision area was. (Not to mention the fact that Scary Girl seems to carry a ton of bricks around in her pockets…I haven’t had gravity give me this much trouble since the jumping in Castlevania 1).

    I haven’t played many other Flash platformers, so I don’t know for sure, but maybe some of the loose controls are Flash’s fault and not the designers? I kind of wonder how this would have been if it were made in C or even Game Maker…

  • MisterX

    It’s interesting how very different the opinions are.
    I’ve only played to level 3 so far, but I can definitely recommend going on playing. I was put off by the controls at first, too, but I really got accustomed to it.

    By now, I think that Scarygirl does not only look pretty and sound good, but that it’s also a very good game :)

  • Chris Whitman

    It looks and sounds awesome. It’s mostly the Flash-isms (loose, swimming controls; long load times and lack of gamepad support) that kind of ruin this one for me.

    Does anyone know why Flash platformers always seem to control really weird? Is this just something people like, or is it some weird feature of the application?

  • Vallen

    I played for about 30 minutes, really taking my time and enjoying the artwork and scenery. The hedgehog enemies got annoying after awhile (some kind of stab at Sonic, mayhaps?). I really loved the little console game I managed to collect. I stopped playing when I made it to the top of the mushroom area just left of the starting house. I found a golden fish which caused fish to rain from the sky. I ran to the left against a wall to grab a fish which had fallen “into” it (kind of snagged on the wall), fell out of the level’s “boundary” and promptly died. I quit after realizing it had totally reset the stage, reset all the treasures I had collected, my conversation with Bunniguru and I lost all my fish.

    Bleh.

  • Vallen

    I should mention that I had signed up/saved my game and everything, shortly before the incident. It still doesn’t seem to care about saving my accomplishments/progress, despite trying it in both Firefox and IE. :/

    The strange part is that the egg was still pushed into the hole, despite having lost all the white conversation bubble things that Bunniguru gave to me.

  • http://www.mile222.com aeiowu

    This is jaw-dropppingly gorgeous.

    That said, this is what you get when an illustrator makes a game. I’d rather see the Scarygirl animated short/film/comic…

  • Levi

    There needs to be a downloadable version!!!!

  • The Incredible Freep

    definitely need a downloadable version

  • Eddie

    Bombastic preview of a flawed game. The gameplay is awful – weak controls, tedious and repetitive tasks, shaky colision, overall they should have either hired better Flash coders or gone for another language altogether.

    The obvious positive are the graphics, which are excellent; I can understand why you would want to forgive all the flaws because of the way the game looks.

    Still, being gorgeous doesn’t make a stupid bimbo any less stupid…

  • http://www.touchmypixel.com/ Tarwin

    Downloadable: looking at this ATM.

    Loose controls: You might find that if you load the game in a new window (as opposed to tab) or close other tabs that the game will runner smoother and with better controls. As far as we can tell this is a “mostly” a browser issue, just not giving Flash enough of the CPU.

    Long load times: Hoping it will be faster now, the servers been upgraded. The levels should never load more than about 3Mb, so anyone with a DLS connection should be fine.

    What would make collecting things more satisfying? Can someone explain why Mario 64 is better for collecting things than Banjo Kazooie? Is it the fact that you know there’s exactly X number of items per level (Mario 64) so you know what to aim for?

  • Super Anon

    The intro is fantastic! Unfortunately it’s incredibly slow on the computer I’m on (both gameplay and loading times). I’ll play it when I get home to my super gaming computer.

  • Gainsworth

    Norton seems to think the downloader is a Virus. Irritating.

  • Gainsworth

    Got it running. Damn, it looks good. Really good. A little on the slow ‘n’ slippery side, but hey. With art like this, average gameplay will suffice.

  • http://www.mile222.com aeiowu

    @tarwin

    It runs fine on my MBP, i just think the controls/feel of the game don’t feel particularly great. More to the point though… There just isn’t anything all that engadging about the first three levels (all i’ve played so far). Sure you collect stuff in a lot of games, but they also provide puzzles, challenges, and skill-based manuevers to complete their various levels. The gameplay is rewarding because of those challenges. One way to lead players to meet those challenges is by having collectibles to dare players to risk their 1UP for perhaps an extra 1UP or better score.

    I’m sure that’s in the game and all, but the collectibles are laid on a bit thick ATM. I do think though that it’s hard to get past the clunky controls. If that could be alleviated, then I think players would feel they had a bit more agency in the game and get enveloped into the beautiful world you’ve created.

  • Maimed Fox

    I love the art and even like the gameplay and controls! I’m up to level 5 now. The only problem I have is how far back you often have to go when you die.

    Also of note, I thought this game would get pretty laggy on my laptop but it runs surprisingly smooth.

  • Maimed Fox

    Oh and that’s for normal mode. Maybe there’s more checkpoints on easy =]

  • SG

    The game looks incredible, no doubt. I don’t like the large amount of intertia, I never stop where I want to and that results in a lot of deaths that aren’t really my fault. I stopped playing in the Junkyard because I kept falling in the acid. The controls are too loose to be doing any precision platforming.

  • http://www.spellofplay.com/blogs/hobbe hObbE – Spell of Play

    Beautiful style and story a really cohesive package :) Controls could be a bit tighter though.

    Neat package with game, toys etc :)

  • Spenot

    Love the art style, but as others have mentioned, the controls are too awkward and clunky. Scarygirl just feels too heavy and a lot of the collision detection is way off, so I also stopped playing in the Junkyard, as it requires more precise jumping. Hope there’s some way to improve this.

  • Q
  • MisterX

    @Tarwin

    I suppose the controls feel “slippery” because of the physics applied to the movement. For example when you jump and land on curved ground you slide downwards a little. Most often, though, platformers are hailed for having very exact controls. Basically, I guess, the point is that having full control feels best, whereas in Scarygirl (and the aforementioned Fancy Pants Adventures) you just don’t have full control because of that sliding at times. You didn’t want her to slide but there was nothing you could do against it – you lost a bit of control.

    I can definitely understand why many dislike this, and I felt the same at first. But after playing for a bit I just got accustomed to it and therefore I’m fine with the controls. I rather think that if this slipperinis is necessary to have the movement feel so dynamic, I’m okay with it. I like that there is not just a character sprite that stays the same all the time, but that there is a lot more movement. The character adapts to the ground, when swimming she fully rotates, etc. For me that is a nicely refreshing dynamic which doesn’t seem to be very common in platformers.

    And about the comparison to Mario 64:
    I think the main difference is that apart from the usual coins, most collectibles like the red coins and especially the Stars are rather rare and “hard” to find or reach. You don’t run around the level collecting dozens and dozens of them, but you rather have those few things you want to get. Thus, I think, the challenge is more focused.

    Again, though, I don’t feel that alone would be suitable for Scarygirl. I found that there was a nice balance between the “usual collectibles” you just pick up by the way, and others, namely the treasures, which are in harder to reach or find places. So, just again, at least I don’t have a problem with the concept and think it has been executed well.

    The only real problem I had with Scarygirl in the first levels so far was the difficulty in level 2. While again more indirect, I got to like the swimming controls, as they provided a nice challenge. But those blowfish and at times the jellyfish could be really annoying if you bumped into them and got hit several times with one bad move. I think a simple solution to that would be to make Scarygirl invincible for a notably longer time when she gets hit, at least underwater.

  • Ghede

    I played for about half an hour. I enjoyed collecting everything I could find. Then I died after reaching a checkpoint to discover that you lose all items you collected after death, regardless. I quit in disgust.

  • Chris

    This is a beautiful game and the amount of work put into it really shows.

    Since you seem to genuinely want feedback, I’ll give you some. Please don’t take it too seriously.

    A specific problem I had with the controls was when I was trying to run and jump off a branch on the tree to the left of the house. I was trying to get a diamond. I’m not sure if the end of the branch was non-solid and I was falling before I jumped, but I swear it ignored my jump about half the time.

    In general, I felt it was very hard to jump precisely. I’m not sure if it was input lag due to the platform, a lack of air control, or just my clumsiness, but I felt less agile than I usually do in platformers.

    A few non-control related things that I felt could have been smoother:

    1. I tried to go back into my house to play my new console game, but if I climbed up the ladder I eventually just fell off. Even after I realized I could use the icons on the left, it still seemed odd that I couldn’t climb up the ladder.

    2. Being a dutiful person, I immediately went into the tree to talk to the rabbit. I hadn’t seen the egg, so it wasn’t an option. I wandered around a bit and tried to jump onto the ship. Wasted several minutes before I finally talked to the rabbit again.

    3. I couldn’t figure out what caused the cat thing to come into existence/go away. Bothered me.

    4. At least let me save with a cookie or something. Maybe you have a business plan that requires you to get e-mail addresses for some reason, but I have enough accounts without creating them for individual flash games, even games as impressive as this one.

    I had to pack up my computer and take it to work about halfway through the water level. I don’t really want to start over, so you lost a player by trying to get an account.

  • http://www.zenoclash.com dcalogue

    I could say that the site collapsed (too much traffic) so I can’t really comment on the game… will try later

  • HonochiDonchi

    Xander your review is kinda crappy. Maybe you should leave the comments and reviews up to Derek. No offense though.

    The game looks nice, there are still a few wrinkles that I found annoying but there is one point I would agree with, a downloadable version would make for a better game.

  • Malasdair

    “What would make collecting things more satisfying? Can someone explain why Mario 64 is better for collecting things than Banjo Kazooie? Is it the fact that you know there’s exactly X number of items per level (Mario 64) so you know what to aim for?”

    Banjo Kazooie is kleptomania at its worst, a pile of colorful things you have to tediously pick up to get anywhere. Mario 64 keeps things straightforward while at the same time making individual collection items significant and more involving to get to. The analogy doesn’t really extend that far, though, and Scarygirl is still about a thousand times better than BK. I guess I just feel like without collecting anything I’ll just tear ass through the game and it won’t be much fun, but neither is collectin’ stuff.

  • Malasdair

    to put it a better way: Mario 64 makes you think about and employ its mechanics to collect stars. Scarygirl just kind of has a bunch of stuff lying around.

    I’ll also add that the clonky controls don’t help (particularly the ledge-grabbing detection seems shot) and that I spent about 10 minutes trying to get on top of the friggin’ tree before giving up and proceeding to the left, where the game finally decided to tell me how to super jump. I’ll also chime in on the excellent visual design!

  • Paroxysm

    Art is brilliant. Gameplay is ok to awful. Jumping, ledge detection, platform definition and level design are all half arsed. It’s not unplayable but I don’t know if the excellent style is enough to bring me back.

  • Elmernite

    It’s worth it just for the intro alone.

    I will agree. The game seemed a little slow. (Note, I don’t mean framerate, I mean the gameplay itself.)
    Great job anyway!
    -Elmernite

  • http://www.paul-jeffries.com Paul Jeffries

    The art design is pretty nice (if a little too Burton-derivative for its own good) and that opening cinematic is fookin’ stunning. Sadly I only managed to play it for a couple of minutes before I succumbed to ennui and quit. Granted, I do have the attention span of a kitten with ADD, but still… it’s collect-a-thon, go-to-here gameplay is just *SO* 90s, and the real gameplay challenges seem to be wrestling with the controls and trying to guess where exactly the collision zones for the platforms and enemies begin. Might give it another chance at some point though…

  • http://josephkingworks.blogspot.com Joseph

    This game is fun! The downloadable version would probably be more stable though. Flashplayer is crap at dealing with high-detail graphics.

  • Xander

    Yeah, I’d love a downloadable version now. I think I might have underestimated the annoyance of loading each area. Also the site seems to get hit pretty hard, maybe they’ll offer one up later. I did notice there’s a store on the site that doesn’t contain anything yet. Maybe there’ll be an updated .exe later? Like.. something. I’m sure there’s been game releases like this before? But an example eludes me.

    @HonochiDonchi: Fair enough I suppose, but would you mind elaborating on what you mean by ‘kinda crappy’? I don’t have any intention of stopping, but if theres anything specific I’d like to find out what that is. I don’t intend to review exactly, just to give some impressions at least when it’s a free title. Anything in depth I say seems somewhat moot when anyone who takes an interest can simply play it and form their own opinions, which will be equally as valid as my own.

    Unless I really do intend to review. Just you wait Zeno Clash…

  • James

    The gameplay in general is pretty bad. I couldn’t keep going after level 3.

    First, the controls. This isn’t strictly a function of flash platformers; Fancy Pants Adventure just feels more responsive in general.

    Second, the level design. There’s a fairly linear path you have to take through each level, with a few side passages containing the collectibles. It’s not clear which is the main path and which is a side passage. Worse, all side passages just dead-end, so if there isn’t one part of the magic McGuffin at the end, you feel like you wasted your time. There’s no joy in collecting giant glowing crystals; they’re not rare or anything.

    Third, enemy interaction. The game said you could spin to kill them. One of the first groups of enemies I found was so dense I couldn’t spin twice in a row fast enough to avoid getting hit. It feels sloppy. Now, apparently, you can kill some enemies by falling on them. I don’t recall this being very obvious. It’s also not consistent; sometimes I get hurt when falling on an enemy, sometimes not.

    Very little thought seems to have gone into creating a compelling game to go along with the nice art.

  • r3p3nt

    Good art.

    Blah gameplay, with a *terrible* water section.

  • http://www.touchmypixel.com/ Tarwin

    -= Game Updates =-

    The game has been updated in response to users feedback, with more to come at a later date.

    Changes include:

    * tighter “physics”
    * new control scheme: UP for jump, SPACE for attack and activate
    * no more false virus alerts
    * new servers for faster loading
    * completely new swimming mechanic: you just press the direction you want to go – should be easier for those people who have to rotate maps to find their way.

    Have fun, and please keep the criticism, and praise, coming.

    Tarwin – Touch My Pixel

  • MisterX

    I went on playing to “Forest 2″ now. I still enjoy a lot about Scarygirl, but it also got frustrating. I mainly disliked some “unfair” sections. For example in the Junkyard it was very hard for me to get out of the acid pools again once I feel into them. Usually I jumped out several times before I could finally land on a platform, because I couldn’t jump up far enough most of the times. Because of this I mostly took damage 5 times or so because I could get out. When I fell off a platform, died and had to restart the whole level I quit out of frustration, but went on later. Then I fell down back to the beginning several times upon trying to get the last bike part.
    Now in “Forest 2″ it was similarly frustrating because I fell off the platforms many times.
    More importantly, though, what made me stop playing was a bug. In the upper section of the tree in “Forest 2″, just before its exit, the camera suddenly didn’t focus on Scarygirl anymore. I think it focused on the moveable platforms. I didn’t have this problem if I climbed back down a bit, but there was no way I could commence as I would have had to play blindly.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I will go on playing Scarygirl. I know that Jump ‘n Runs used to be quite unforgiving in the past, but maybe because I didn’t grow up with these I don’t like that. I can’t really tell you what exactly I disliked, but I hope you continue to refine the game, because when I liked it, it was a lot of fun and felt very good :)

  • Eddie

    The update indeed vastly improved the controls; collision issues still remain, and the feeling is very repetitive (not sure about it, but I think less stuff to collect, not more, would be a LOT better).
    Also, I’d like if all the harmful stuff would be obvious (right now I’m supposed to die first, learn later).
    Anyway, thank you for listening and updating the game. Next step: a standalone version, once all bugs are ironed out ?

  • Mikel

    Beautiful game.

    Addictive.

    Pissing me off.

    There are so many fatal glitches in the game it’s ridiculous.

    One can play a single level for half an hour then suddenly she’ll fall through a solid floor or randomly moon-walk off into space. This forces players to restart the level.

    Creatures that she can walk through one moment will pin her to a wall the next moment. This also forces you to restart the level.

    The junkyard took me six tries, including four fatal glitches. The market place has fatally glitched on me nine times.

    I try to load the marketplace from the menu and it sends me to Waking Up.

    The game introduces players to save points, but they’re rarely seen. The easy mode needs more save points, especially in areas like the junkyard where she can easily and instantly fall to her death.

    It’s also frustrating that so many places are death traps, like the acid lake at the bottom of the market. If she misses a jump and falls into the lake, the swimming/jumping mechanics won’t allow her to get out again.