Thursday, March 22

IGF 2007: Gelatin Joe

The 2007 IGF awards have come and gone. The winners have been announced, including the recipients of the student showcase award. One of the winners is Gelatin Joe, an awesome little game developed by Team Bigger Infinity at DigiPen. You can download the game here, and, I highly recommend everyone to do so. After you've played the game, come back to read why it is such great design. And if you can't play it, please read below.

The art design oozes (haha) with style

Gelatin Joe, like many other well design games, is formed around a simple and solid mechanic. Joe is a gelatin blob that is out to retrieve color from the Bland Bandits. Joe can pick up different colored gelatin drops with the S key. He can move left and right with A and D; and can jump with space. Joe can also dash left or right with Shift, and shoot blobs with the mouse. However, most of these actions require Joe to possess certain blobs to perform. Joe must have at least one green blob to jump, a red to shoot, and a blue to dash. He can jump higher, shoot bigger blobs, and dash longer the more blobs of each respective colors he has. The game is level based, with the goal of each to reach the final warp hole. Players must navigate through the puzzling environments by using the blobs scattered throughout the level.

There is something wonderful about this game. At first, you feel that you will mess up, by using the blobs incorrectly or at the wrong time or place. But you soon realize that the game is much more trial and error. If you mess up, don't worry, the blobs are right where you left them. This makes the game much less stressful than it would be otherwise. Its fun to just experiment with blobs until you get it right. The level design is fantastic. Trampolines and conveyor belts, portals and spinny fan things fill out the roster of environmental objects. The puzzles are often very clever, and in a couple of cases, absolutely ingenious. Just wait till you get to this one part in this one level...what can I say, its too awesome to spoil. You'll feel like a king when you solve some of these puzzles. And that, ladies and gentleman, is what I call good puzzle design. Challenging but not impossible, and oh so satisfying.

Spin, Joe. Spin like your gelatinous self has never spun before

Gelatin Joe has a great art style also. The thick border around Joe himself bounces and fluctuates with Joe's movements, and is a joy to watch. The various tiles in the above picture mold under Joe's weight, even these basic physics add another layer to the game's unique style.
Lastly, the last level is a boss, and it is a great example of how to present new challenges to players using the abilities that they've already learned. If you haven't played it yet, the download is small and free. Game Career Guide also has a "postmortem" on Gelatin Joe, which is a great post-synopsis of the game's development by one of its creators. Read it if you so desire. Gelatin Joe is truly, an awesome game. Even the most casual of gamers would enjoy it. I can't wait to see what Team Bigger Infinity comes out with next.

Why do you think Gelatin Joe is fun?
Would you change anything about the game, why if so?
What would you add to the game if you were to make it longer?

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