Saturday, July 10, 2010

Four Quarter Friday - Along Came A Spider

This Friday's one dollar game is worth much more than what you pay for it. Once upon a time, however, it was worth five times that amount, and I regret not buying it then to support such a great game. So, hopefully, I do some pyramid scheme magic here and get four of you to purchase Along Came A Spider so I can sleep well tonight.

Along Came A Spider is a platformer with a little bit of physics thrown in for good measure. You know, outside of the normal things like gravity. It does what I like about some indie platformers and says to hell with the story and goes right into the fun. It's just you, sixteen normal levels, and four bosses. The platforming isn't normal either as instead of just walking and jumping you climb up silk threads, hang and swing by your own webs, and even use your webs as trampolines when you need to.

When it comes to presentation, ACAS is like a music video or a dancer. Simple snapshots make it look alright, but in motion and with its amazing soundtrack ACAS is a creature of beauty. Your spider, the flies you catch, even the simple lines of web you walk and climb on are all so beautifully animated and so fluid in their movements that the game feels alive. The lighting and simple backgrounds somehow help bring this out even further, and it's one of my favorite looking games in motion on XBLIG. As far as the music, it IS my favorite soundtrack of any indie game on the service, even above Soulcaster, Prismatic Solid, and Protect Me Knight. The music spans across trance, synth, and a little hip-hop. It sounds like a lost collection of Samurai Champloo tracks (yeah, that makes me a nerd), which is quite possibly the best compliment I can give a game.

Controls start off pretty simple. Use the analog stick to run, hit A to jump, and hold A when you're on a web to climb. As you get further into the game, you earn new abilities, such as creating and hanging by webs and using them as trampolines. You can only create a web when you're close to a spot that allows it, indicated by a little spot of light that helps you know when and where things will happen. It's a great system that takes a lot of the guesswork and random happenings out of what would otherwise be a frustrating experience. One of the other things you'll have to do is create a web, drop down while hanging on it, and use that to fling yourself high and far to another platform. You'll fail at this a lot and it lends itself to trial and error experiences, but the frequent checkpoints keep this from becoming too frustrating.

There isn't much else in the game besides the platforming. You can go back through to snag the flies you missed along the way, but otherwise there aren't any leaderboards or secrets to keep you interested after the initial play. Luckily, that will last you for a few hours of platforming joy, and I personally thought the game was exactly the right length. I do wish the game had some sort of reward for collecting all the flies, even a better congrats screen, but I had a great time regardless. The only thing that confused me was the lack of a credits screen. I seriously wanted to know if there was more information on the developers or the soundtrack that I'd buy in a heartbeat. If you're looking for a good platformer on the 360, this one should be near the top of your list. If not, try this one out anyway. The art and sound of the game alone make the demo a must download for every XBLIG fan out there, and the lower price turn it into an impulse buy you won't regret later that night.

Along Came A Spider from Wobbly Tooth Games is available on XBox Live for 80 MSP. Played game to completion, went back for any missed flies, and have been looking all over the internet for the soundtrack for this game. I WANT IT.



  2. Whoever you are, Anonymous, THANK YOU. :)