Gumboy's a sort of impressionist take on Kirby, a thoughtful puzzle-platformer stripped down to the very barest essence of movement and collection. There's no combat of any sort - simply use of the environment to get the rolling, floating or flying (altered by occasional pick-ups) Gumboy to a level exit. While it's stripped down enough to just about qualify as casual, it does require a dawning understanding of momentum and reflex to progress far through its slightly sinister world.
Sporting a beautiful hand-painted look, and an endearingly weird lead character who communicates only in excited squeaks and gurgles like some untroubled multi-amputee baby, it's like the arthouse brother of Wik and the Fable of Souls. It may be lacking the immediacy and universal appeal of Geometry Wars or Peggle, but it approaches the current indie fad of game physics with a huge amount of charm and depth.
Graphics & Sound:
Gumboy: Crazy Adventures has a very alien feel to it. The 2D worlds are comprised of furry hills, jagged trees, black water, and many other landscaping oddities that give the game an overall unusual feel.
That being said, I like the look of the game. The aforementioned odd worlds makes me feel like I am flipping through some fantasy art book filled with magic and wonder. The look of Gumboy himself is also just a bit off, but seems to fit well in the unusual atmosphere of the game.
Gumboy's audio isn't all that typical either. The music has an earthy Congo feel to it while the various sounds coming from your character sound high-pitched and short, making you feel like Gumboy is a little creature in this big, weird world.
My first impression when booting up Gumboy: Crazy Adventures reminded me a lot of the PSP title Loco Roco, but I quickly found this to be a very different game. Where Loco Roco has you bumping and jiggling the planet in order move a group of furry blobs across a level, here you have direct control over Gumboy. In both games, you are trying to move objects into a safe zone, but in Gumboy you feel like you have more direct control over the situation.
A level in Gumboy typically takes several trips back and forth across the crazy alien landscape of that level. This is because you are trying to guide objects scattered about the level into a particular area near your starting location. In the first levels, this back and forth action is very noticeable since you start by finding the place where small silver dust particles will be generated from, find the switch that releases the dust, go back to the beginning to get the ability to "push" the dust and then you guide it back to the portal that lets you into the next level.
Not every world works in this style. For instance, in the second location, you don't have to "release" the objects that you are trying to get to go into the portal, you just have to get the ability to push the objects and find them and guide them to their destination.
Earlier I used the phrase push, but you aren't pushing in the standard sense of the word. Instead, the pickup that you grab that lets you move these objects creates a magnetic field (of sorts) around Gumboy that causes these objects to go flying away from you.
Other pickups that Gumboy will find and need to use along the way are hiccup seeds that allow you to jump small distances and various morph objects that will change Gumboy's form so that he can travel in air or water easier.
Gumboy: Crazy Adventures' toughness seems to have a nice, gradual climb throughout the game. The first few levels get you into the feel of how to control Gumboy, while the last ones require that you use different combinations of the various forms of our hero in order to move to the next level.
Since Gumboy is such an unusual game with a very different control scheme, it has a series of tutorials that I would recommend anyone attempting to play this game go through. The first time I booted up Gumboy, I flew through the first couple of levels, but quickly found myself stuck (not to mention the fact that I wasn't really sure what I needed to do). But after taking the time to go through the training, I was able to make steady progress through even the more difficult levels.
Probably one of the more interesting aspects of Gumboy: Crazy Adventures is the way the 2D game uses very real feeling physics. When you are sloshing through water, you can feel that the faster you spin, the more the water around you is churning and if you could just reach an edge or some piece of land, you will go flying in the direction you're spinning.
These solid physics are also present when you are guiding your objects to the portal. One of the prettiest parts of Gumboy is in the first world and you can see the dust settling on top of your repelling field, or in the second world where the little bean-shaped dolls go flying around when you get them at just the right angle.
Gumboy: Crazy Adventures is an interesting mix of new mechanics and standard gameplay that makes this game worth the download.
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