As Buried Treasure slowly awakens from its week-long slumber, I’ll break myself back in with a quick one. UFO Swamp Odyssey is a 20 minute Metroid-like, made as part of the RNDGAME 2020 jam. And it’s a beaut.
Somewhere along the way, the Metroid-ish games wandered down a dark, deadly corridor, their bright, cheerful origins lost in amongst the grim beauty of Ori and Hollow Knight. And as much as I love, well, Ori, I do miss the more upbeat, less difficult versions of the genre. UFO Swamp Odyssey is what I miss boiled down to a concentrated form, then titrated onto our screens.
You play as a cute little robot dude whose UFO crash lands on an alien planet of chunky platforms covered in discarded coins. With the help of the local little green men, you gain three zappy abilities to blow up a device, and then escape. All in about fifteen or twenty minutes, if you take your time. Which you always should. Stop rushing through games, Simon.
There’s only a nod toward combat here – strange dangly eyeball creatures block your way in certain areas, until you’re able to zap them. But they don’t die, only sleep, and while they won’t let you past, they don’t actually hurt you. Which is nice!
Made in ten days, what’s most immediately impressive here is the art work. It looks great, in its strange square-shaped delivery. Gorgeous pixel art, so much detail. But more lastingly impressive is just how smoothly it plays as a platform game. So many platformers get one detail just off, the jump slightly too short or overly delayed, the movement too floaty, the surface too slippery. Not so here. It’s perfect! Even jumping into water feels just right. Which is no mean feat for a week and a half’s work.
This is very jolly, a lovely distillation of the genre, and goodness me something I’d love to see fleshed out into a full-length game. Because it’s adorable. It’s also free, or you can pay what you think it’s worth to you. Splendid!
Big thanks to the inestimable \ on the Discord for spotting this one.