Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Midnight Snack: Paper Moon

He looks so worried!The Snack is back!  And we’ve got another entry from the boys at Blurst.  Sometimes I feel bad going to the same sources for snacks.  I guess it’s like having a favorite restaurant.  I mean, I haven’t had everything on the Sullivan’s Steakhouse menu, but I trust the chef.

But what about when your chef collaborates? 

Blurst recently teamed up with the Infinite Ammo team to bring us Paper Moon, a 2D platformer in a cardboard cutout popup book.  Its art is primarily black and white, with demented character models that look influenced by but not purely derivative of Tim Burton.

You have a fixed amount of time (five minutes at start, I think) to progress as far as you can in the world, picking up fruit along the way for points.  Reminds me of any number of old NES games.  But what keeps this from being a simple, delightful-looking platformer is the popup mechanic.

Certain elements of the background (or extreme foreground) can be popped in and out of the character’s 2D plane.  You’ll spend a lot of time popping platforms mid-jump to assure yourself a safe landing.  At first, it felt a little shallow:  “You mean I just move forward and pop these rocks in and out?”  But then enemies showed up.  Creepy bats and crabs that can’t be stomped in traditional Mario-style platforming.  You defeat them by popping them out of the book.  It all clicked when I realized I could use my environmental manipulation as a weapon.  The game instantly became ten times more fun.

As we’ve seen in previous snacks, games can live or die by their music, especially in games designed for short bursts with repetitive soundtracks.  Paper Moon does not succumb to this browser-game weakness.  The solo piano score is, frankly, amazing.  It ebbs and flows nicely with the level and picks up as you start running out of time.

I haven’t finished it yet, as I reached the limit before I could find a clock to extend my time.  But I’m diving back in.  Popping those damn bats out of the book is just too much fun.