Posted: July 2, 2014
Let's make this quick as I'm sure your all up to your eyeballs in Steam Sale games.
If you got given this to play with, give it a go. While the scope for this seems absolutely tiny, it's still a well made, bitesize experience that has gameplay that gels together rather pleasingly. The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville
(or, if you will, TPG:DoT), is a 2D sidescrolling shoot-em-up that reminds me mainly of bullet hell games. Thankfully (or unthankfully depending on the player) its no where near as hard but the idea of flying around with a freedom of movement in order to avoid robot bullets reminds me of very, very little that I've ever played. However, there's also an exploration on a slant of metriodvania style exploration where you are free to explore rooms like a pig looking for truffles in a wedding cake to look for power ups and ability upgrades.
In fact, the Metroid vibe is strong here. The story has Mojo Jojo creating the umteen-hundred and twelth deadly robot to use on Townsville. The girls are called, it's business as usual. Well, until Mojo uses a memory thingy that forces the girls to forget their powers, rendering them to nothing but walking. So, your first few rooms are all about looking for the ability to punch and then to fly. From there, the game picks up at a steady pace.
There's a reason I believe this game works pretty well from a gameplay side, as the two mechanics work well with The Powerpuff Girls in general. Throwing powers around is what they do and exploration takes advantage of their ability to fly. Flying gives the player access to anywhere they choose, making exploration effortless as they only have to move in that direction to check something out. Therefore, a Metriodvania style layout for the game is perfect as exploration isn't much of a chore but can still be rewarding if encouraged.
TPG:ToD happens to reward you with the memories of your forgotten powers (I don't know how, but your fighting a chimpanzee with his brain in a fancy bucket. I just roll with it), tokens to increase your generous power and health meters (at least in Normal Difficulty) along with boosters. These are optional buffs to your game that boosts some aspect of your characters. Things like flying faster, taking less damage, recovering your power meter over time. Handy stuff. There's also the ability to have more than one at a time if you explore enough.
The powers rather neat while they mess with what I remember the girls able to do a bit. Your able to switch between each of the three girls with slight alterations between their powers, once you save Blossom and Bubbles from Mojo's robots. You get six attacks; punches, a standard shot that splits if it hits anything, eyebeams, dashing that can allow you to break through certain bricks in walls and a power unique to each girl. Buttercup has a sound blast thing that fires through walls. Blossom has fireballs that cause heavier damage and melt ice blocks. Bubbles has an ice shot that fires a few shards to slow enemies and, for some reason, deactivate purple force fields. Again, I just rolled with it but it does not seem based in logic at all. You would only find that if someone told you or through random attempts with everything you had at your disposal.
The sixth attack is the ability to charge up your moves for something more devastating. While this seems like a small set of unlockable, they're actually pretty well paced and enjoyable to use, with further additions as you move through the game like deflecting projectiles or improving charge times for attacks.
In fact, length is one of the biggest issues I have with this but it's probably not for what you think. The length is short but that means the level designers don't necessarily run out of ideas before the game is through. Your powered up, fight your way through some environments, look for goodies, fight some bosses and then collect all the stuff. Great, wonderful, brilliant. It gives the feel of a flash game that was put on Steam but a very well constructed one.
Now, I do wish there was more game on offer here but it's honestly not because the experience was bad. It was good. I just think the licence has only been flirted with.
The Powerpuff Girls have a bizzare and colourful rouge's gallery; The Ganggreen Gang, HIM, Fuzzy Lumpkin, Princess Morbucks, Sedusa and! And...I dunno, Quackor? Having just
Mojo to fight seems like a major miscalculation as you miss out on one of the best parts of the show. This also robs the game of a possible extra layer of variety. The entire game ought to be one level in a much larger game where, perhaps, you fight the next villain of the week in sequence.
Or, even better, do it Megaman
style and have us choose which to go after first, giving different powers and abilities for each villain you go after. Otherwise, the game feels short-changed rather than just short.
Like I said, it's not for being unentertaining. It's for feeling too much like a demo for something much, much larger that utilised more of the Powerpuff lore. And I damn well hope that is what this is.
Radian Games! If your reading, pleeeaaaase make another one of these! There's plenty to be done here and what I've seen is really promising. If I had to be a bit of a git and set you homework, I would suggest you sit down with Super Metriod
or Metriod Prime
and pick out what they do in terms of exploration as a central concept. I'm kinda inclined to say, the game could use a bit of bite. Maybe only let the players on casual know where the abilities are on the map? It might help, it might not but I am not adverse to a good ol' puzzle to get my shiny-shiny upgrade.
Also, how about adding more from games like Parodious
. A Fair Challenge was the one thing I couldn't get enough of from TPG:DoT. Obviously, going absolutely nuts would be silly but a little more tactical thinking with enemies that's more involved than 'run up an shoot/punch it' would be fantastic. Afterall, adding more baddies could give us more enemy types. The Ameboys could have henchmen that split into multiples of themselves. Or HIM would demand only certain attacks on certain enemies. Because HIM is meant to be a massive ♥♥♥♥♥♥-canoe like that.
OK, I'll leave you guys be for now. I'd hug you all for this game but I don't have the plane fare. Just convince Cartoon Network this needs a sequel. Or at least DLC!
Otherwise, I'd say this was a fantastic start. The choice of both visual styles as standard
is frankly flattering and I appreciate it greatly. Whatever personality and humour they could squeeze in is almost as charming as the show it's based on but it's hard to capture that completely.
Finally, the music design wants you to know your in a computer game...I don't know how to take that. It's certainly not bad, just odd. The music usually does enough to be distinct enough to indicate that one environment is different from another if the visual style doesn't remind you. I also don't remember them ever fading into the background as they all seemed to have little flourishes that made you take notice of them for just a second then slip back into a quiet groove. The most memorable being the cave areas at the beginning of the game when the music builds and then slows to a strange halt.
It's just the use of NES style electronic elements don't feel right somehow...
Is TPG:DoT worth a go? Well, yes. I'm not 100% sure about the price because of everything about it's length and missed potential that I mentioned before. But, it's a decent romp that will not make you sick of it. As far as I'm concerned, there's enough here to wet the appetite between larger games you might have brought. Or perhaps for a sequel? I leave it up to Radian Games and whoever they consider charming enough to ask Cartoon Network about it.
If you can, pleeeeeeaaaase do it! Plleeeaaase?