Fireboy and Watergirl game review
The platformer genre is one of the oldest and most traditional video game genres out there. It originated when video games were very simple, and couldn’t process full three dimensional environments like today’s consoles. Instead developers made complete use of the two dimensions they were given: up and down, and left and right.
The most notable example of how creative and ingenious this use can be is found with the original Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the first Mario game ever, however since this primitive age the platformer has been a tried and true, well-loved genre for everyone.
And now with the internet allowing small time and blooming game developers to gain a spotlight, the platformer is one of those rites of passage they must go through before making it big. There are plenty of platformers available on the internet, but some of them really stand out over others.
Fireboy and Watergirl, for example, is a great example of just how great a platformer can really be. It puts the players in the role of the titular characters and gives them complete control as the two characters, Fireboy and Watergirl, make their way to the exit of each level through a seemingly deserted and hazardous temple.
The 2 players control each character separately and must work together, or the single player must use both of them, to solve a series of cooperative gameplay based puzzles, one for each level. Each character has certain obstacles they can go through that would otherwise kill the other, while they both have others that they should avoid altogether.
There are other switches that only one can use or the other, so keeping all this in mind the player or players must think outside of the box and put their minds together to make it through each level.
The Game Mechanics
As the first game in a new series the gameplay of Fireboy and Watergirl is very solid for what it is. Platformers as a genre often suffer from sticky or slippery controls, which can cause unwanted mistakes or an irritating necessity for complete precision, which ruins the flow of the entire thing.
A platformer should run smoothly and keep the areas where the player is not moving to an absolute minimum. Fireboy and Watergirl manage to meet this balance, and the only time the player has to stop is because they’re waiting on the other character to catch up. This type of cooperative gameplay can also be found in titles such as Penguin Couple Adventure and Twin Cat Warrior 2, as a couple of examples of how this infectious type of co-op two player game has come to spawn almost an entire subgenre of platformers.
This game is inherently multiplayer, based locally off of the same keyboard. Fireboy is controlled with the arrow keys in a standard platformer fashion while Watergirl is controlled with the WASD keys, in a similar layout. Each player takes their desired character and plays through the game, keeping it two player and very fun.
Of course any single player may also take control of both characters but it either requires more patience to move one, then the other, or a very keen mind to control them both in tandem, and the ability to think outside of the box.
The levels themselves are all designed with the cooperative play in mind, and right from the tutorial level you learn how one character may have to stay back to let another one through, only to be let through again later. Careful consideration should be given to each level and moves planned accordingly, but the rhythm of a platformer is all there so that once you start moving, the next move will always seem obvious.
The controls are tight enough that if you make a mistake it is likely your own fault, so it gives a lot of room for perfectionism. Of course the gameplay and the levels of this first instalment were not all perfect, and the same and similar levels can be found instead in the future sequel to this game, Fireboy and Watergirl 3.
Platformers always offer up a solid challenge to the players, whether it be the puzzles they’re based around or trying to beat time scores through the levels. Sometimes the greatest enemy in a platformer isn’t the obstacles, but the controls themselves, and many platformers embrace that.
Fireboy and Watergirl is a fine example of all of these, and definitely something that should be checked out if you really think platforming is your genre. It offers outside thinking and unique challenges to all of those involved, and shouldn’t be neglected because it has a bit of a rough design. There’s something for everyone if you really think you can handle it.
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