PEGBRJE: Shipwreck and Joggernauts
Finally something more lighthearted. Right?
Shipwreck is a 2D adventure made by Brushfire Games, an indie brother duo from Washington. Players take control of an unnamed protagonist who has been, well, shipwrecked on an island. Not certain where this island is or how to get off, players will grab their sword and sort out their problems in the best way possible; clearing dungeons, finding loot and interacting with NPCs.
Shipwreck is another Legend of Zelda-lite game, specifically the older entries to the series with its top-down camera and 2D graphics to swing swords, block attacks, and explore an entire world. While the world feels a tad more empty than others that I’ve played in the bundle, all 4 dungeons include different and clever ways to learn. The first dungeon does a good job of introducing the style that Shiipwreck is bringing, especially since the shield is locked behind beating the first boss. There are a few elements of tongue-in-cheek attitudes amongst the NPCs that players meet in the town and around the island, mentioning constantly about how the protagonist is in fact, ‘just breaking into my house’. While not necessarily new, it does give a nice flavor approach to reaffirm that the game isn’t completely trying to take itself seriously.
It may be a little obvious that I don’t have much to say about Shipwreck due to it being a smaller and lighter game, but I’d argue that this was somewhat intentional. Shipwreck focuses most of its core gameplay in its dungeons, with the open world sections being relatively quiet and peaceful, which suggests that the duo devs were focusing on keeping the dungeons as the important gameplay pillars of their game. This is, at least to my knowledge, their first game to be officially released, so they most likely focused on keeping their main features as solid as possible to ensure quality. It almost represents a vertical slice of a game due to its length and content focus, but I’d be hesitant to say without more information.
If you’re looking for a small, cute and sometimes cheeky adventure to get off of an island while swinging a big sword, then Shipwreck is right up your alleyway. I didn’t mention much about the aesthetic, but the 2D artwork is absolutely clean and the soundtrack by Dan Waters is really well done with some standout tracks.
Joggernauts is a co-operative ‘endless runner’ puzzling platforming adventure by Space Mace, an indie trio out of Minneapolis. Players are in control of tiny characters being bossed around by the COACH, a robot who blames everyone but themselves for the ship exploding and all of their trophies being thrown around space. So it is up to these colourful characters to recollect all of these trophies across the cosmos to satisfy COACH. Since this is a ‘jogger’ (hence the name) players really only need to be aware of their jumping button and the switch formation button. Sounds relatively easy, yeah?
Word of advice, it’s a co-operative game for a reason. Soloing this game will ruin brains everywhere.
Let’s dial it back a bit and explain — the core mechanic revolves around two characters of differing colours being used to remove enemies and collect items of the same colour. One unit stays in the front, while the other is behind and both can jump utilizing a button. If players are having fun together, each one of them has a jump button. Solo on the other hand, has a jump button for each character on their controller/keyboard which can lead to interesting moments of jumping as the wrong character. Then there is the button to switch who is in the lead, arguably the most important button since there are many enemies along the way that cannot be jumped over. These two interactions make the core of the puzzle solutions, with players jumping over walls and onto platforms that contain their correct colour while watching ahead to see if they need to be in front of the pack to ensure they survive. Even with lives, if everyone dies before each other can respawn, everyone goes back to the last checkpoint.
I didn’t have anyone around to play upon starting it, but saw that it could be played solo so I tried that out. Let me be put on record, I’ve never been more enraged by my own inability to press buttons in a simple sequence. Having to swap the joggers and also jump? It seems so easy, and I was able to get through the first level or two with ease but once the puzzles started introducing locks for trophies and timing jumps and swapping I just lost all of my confidence. I did try mouse and keyboard to see if maybe I would perform better, but even tho the keyboard buttons were simpler I found myself in a similar position.
There are many ways that Joggernauts allows for players to feel more included, even if they are playing solo, through modifiers. Players can increase the number of lives that they have during the jogging sequences, the cost of checkpoints (they cost beans) and the speeds at which the player is jogging. All of these allow players to enjoy the colourfully quirky game regardless of any limitations they might have, such as not having any friends available (see; me). Even if players are playing with 2, 3, or with all 4 they can still modify the game if things are proving too challenging. Joggernauts wants you to experience everything about it, regardless of your skill and ability level.
Joggernauts is a party game at heart, one to play with friends in the hopes of sequencing together colours but probably ending in raging due to blue not switching to the front on time. It has the same collaborative feeling that Lovers in a Dangerous Space in that everyone is working towards a common goal, but may have some hiccups along the way that can cause frustration. I highly recommend Joggernauts to anyone that is looking for a colourful and quirky co-op game, and I tentatively recommend it to people wanting to replicate the feeling of failing to multitask if you wish to solo it. There are trophies and colours galore, so hopefully you can find them all so COACH doesn’t have to be so upset about it.
Links to both titles below, enjoy!
Quite pleasant music design, good graphics, overall enjoyable game with decent controls, not a bad boss battle. I loved…