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Awesome Pea – The Switch Island Review

Awesome Pea is a simple old school platformer created in a style reminiscent of the original dot matrix Gameboy games. You control your protagonist pea using your thumb stick / d-pad and press ‘A’ to jump. Your goal is to collect as many diamonds or coins as possible and reach the end of the level. No game play hooks, just bounce your way along. It really is that simple. There is also a time reward for completing levels quickly.

Give it a short while, however, and you realise the developers must have had sadomasochistic tendencies during their game design process.

From an aesthetic point of view, it’s the classic pea-green Gameboy colour, and the levels are created using the same 8-bit handheld style of years gone by. So, in that respect the devs nailed it! But for the life of me, I can’t understand why they decided to include a CRT filter at the lower third of the screen to create distortion when trying to emulate the look of a system that had none! A filter that I found can at times obscure what’s on the screen, especially as you move forward.

The levels at first glance appear nicely designed, but as the game progresses you realise there’s little variety and it starts to feel repetitive.

For the gameplay mechanics, it’s very much a precise affair. Jumps and movements need to be timed to perfection, any flaws and you’re met with an instant level reset. Couple that with the CRT distortion and you’re met with many a frustration from clipping something you couldn’t quite make out or being done over by something you didn’t even know was coming along. Even on parts of the screen with good visibility, some of the obstacles and levels were just downright evil, and I found myself being stuck on some levels for a good twenty plus attempts.

Level progression also seems disjointed at times. Early in the game I found myself really struggling to beat level four, trying and re-trying, desperately resisting the urge to send my controller on a one way trip out the window. Once cleared (yay, go me!), the next four or so levels were a breeze until I hit the next wall. Absent were the normal difficulty curves found in so many other games, this was more like a rollercoaster.

Now admittedly I’m not the best at platformers, but there was many an occasion where failure felt unfair, and the hit detection seemed too far out of alignment for some of the more trickier areas. For most of the game I found myself persevering through sheer frustration and determination to see it finished, rather than through enjoyment. There are some fun areas, but these were too quickly overpowered by the repetitive feel and the amount of frustration from dying for the 1000thtime.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the soundtrack. It had a great feel from the original Gameboy, and the melodies were catchy. My only gripe is that some of the musical themes repeated a bit too often, making for slightly annoying repetition, but most of the time it complimented the feel very well. If anyone has ever played Jurassic Park: The Chaos Continues on Gameboy, then you will have an idea of how Awesome Pea’s soundtrack compares.

All in, this took me around three hours to complete, but I daresay a more proficient platform gamer could rattle this out in less than one hour. For repeat playability, there is the option to re-visit each level to try and collect every coin and diamond on offer. Not for me though, I value my peripherals!

Overall, this game just left me grum-pea! If you’re looking to recreate the classic Gameboy feel for a platformer, then my suggestions would be to go and dig your old Gameboy out from under the bed along and play one of the dozens of other platformers available for that system, many of which are far su-pea-rior to this and with more heart and soul.

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