Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Midnight Snack: Glassworks

I know what you're thinking.  That soapy glass looks...well, disgusting. Sometimes the best browser games aren’t the ones with deep, complicated mechanics or a surprisingly deep well of content.  Often, the best ones (and this can apply to console games, as well) take a single gameplay mechanic and unfold it, much like a single jazz tune might use only one scale or set of chord changes but result in a number of inspired solos.  Nitrome’s Glassworks is one such game.

Were you a fan of the fence-climbing levels of Super Mario World?  This game is all fence-climbing.  Except instead of a fence it’s glass, and you’re using a pair of special gloves to climb on it.  The story is something right out of classic NES.  The protagonist, Kapowski, gets fired from his job at Glassworks for spending too much time inventing his special glass-climbing gloves and not enough time doing some…more mundane work, I guess?  After trading verbal blows with our hero, the Dr. Wily-meets-Robotnik-Eggman boss challenges Kapowski to climb to the top of Glassworks.  Without so much as a promise that it will get him his job back, Kapowski agrees.

Let’s face it, you’re not playing this game for the story.  If you’re playing this game, it’s because you enjoy a spirited use of a classic mechanic.  Glassworks has it all: panels that let you switch sides, enemies you can punch when they’re on the other side, and plenty of obstacles around which to maneuver.  It even throws in a few curveballs, like soapy glass that’s slippery and hard to hold on to. 

The levels progress fairly evenly in difficulty, with only one or two new wrinkles in the formula added per level.  Most of the levels take but a minute or two, save all the time you’ll spend dying because you’re too busy playing with the sense of flight that accompanies jumping.  I’m not sure what happens when you get to the top.  I’m too busy trying to avoid falling wrenches, zambonis, and laser beams while making proper use of flipping glass panels.  It’s intense.