“A platformer that starts somewhere, but ends absolutely nowhere.”
I haven’t any clue when this game was released, but judging by the game’s official website, it was in the third quarter of 2008. I found it just yesterday on Steam of all places. I saw the game listed for only a few dollars in the indie section and thought that it looked like a cute little platformer that was probably like Mario or other similar platformers. As a guy who loves a good platformer, I decided to go ahead and drop a few bucks and give the game a try.
My initial complaint was that I didn’t know how to even navigate the main menu. Upon pressing the “evert button” it was littered with a lot of misplaced text and most keys on my keyboard didn’t do anything, like the enter key. After grumbling a lot and configuring my gamepad, I tried to go into fullscreen mode, only to find that this didn’t even work right. The game certainly did go into full screen mode, but it took the bottom left hand quarter of the screen and stretched it all across my monitor. I could barely even see what was going on, so I opted to play in windowed mode. Immediately, I found that having the window maximized to fit my entire screen caused a bit of a frame rate issue. Since my computer is only a year and a half old and was a beast when I bought it, I shouldn’t be getting frame rate issues from a 2D platformer. That’s pretty bad.
Anyway, after I got my FPS and resolution issues sorted out by settling for a small window size, I began playing the game. The first level was a lot like Mario. There were gems to collect and bad guys I could defeat by landing on top of them. A flag pole even marked the end of the level. Aside from the overly cute graphics, the game was quite similar to Mario.
What was not similar? The music, for starters. I understand that the game was trying to reproduce that retro feel, but the music was just plain irritating. It sounded like the maker of Eversion was simply inspired by a few NES titles, such as Mega Man, and then did a not so good job of reproducing their sounds. If you want to see a 2D platformer that does music right, go look at Knytt Stories, which I’ll highlight at some point in my Indie Showcase.
Controls were terribly awkward. While the game ran at a nice pace and the main character was very responsive to my inputs, I found that the overall jumping arc was very unusual. In Eversion, I was never sure if I would make even the most simplest jumps over holes or to higher platforms because the angle at which the character jumps is just so strange. For starters, it is far too fast. The character in Eversion jumps faster than Mario on some pretty hardcore drugs. The jumping is also a little stiff if you are trying to make very small, precise jumps.
The game’s collision detection is a little confusing as well. In some areas, you can break blocks just like Mario. However, in Eversion, you have to be 100% DIRECTLY underneath the block. If you are off by even a bit, the character will jump and just bump into whatever unbreakable object is beside the brick. I experienced this problem a few times, especially in one “chase” level where I had to seemingly run from a black cloud of.. Well, I don’t even know what it was.
Another problem that plagued me, and was also particularly bad in the “black cloud” level, was the character’s inability to easily and swiftly drop down holes. Just like the bricks, you had to basically be right in the middle of the hole to go down. I found it impossible to drop through holes by walking over them if they were one block wide. The character would instead just march right over top on thin air, and would cost me valuable seconds in my desperate attempt to escape from the dreaded black cloud.
Because of the two control problems above, I died a lot. Nothing in the game was too challenging and I beat it in about twenty five minutes (yes, that’s accurate), but I had countless deaths from control-related problems. There were no sticky situations, no difficult jumps, no hard monsters. There were only very evil and spiteful controls that hated me.
The game’s title also plays a factor in the gameplay. There is an “evert” button that, if you press it in invisible locations in each level (which reveal themselves to you if you mash the button enough), then the theme of the level will change. As you go on, your “evert” power will make each level look more and more dark and depressing until you eventually go from a Kirby-like game to a Tim Burton nightmare. It’s a cool transition, and I will admit that it was interesting how the game started bright and cheerful but ended up being dark and weird. My only gripe is that I wish each level would have started happy and ended dark, or vice versa. While the darker levels towards the end were interesting, they felt very bland and lifeless which rendered them a little boring.
When you boil it all down, the “evert” power just feels like a cheap gimmick to progress the decline of the game world. I would have enjoyed the game more if this happened automatically rather than making me search every area of a level for an invisible evert point so that I could progress past an obstacle.
Overall, Eversion isn’t a bad game. I just didn’t feel that it was a good game, and the price tag of a few dollars was not justified at all by the short length of the game. There are far better games than Eversion which do not cost a dime. I’m not really sure why the creator decided to charge people to play this short game. There was a lot of promise here and, despite the control issues, I really enjoyed the first two or three levels when the evert key only played a small part and I was allowed to just focus on gem collecting and jumping on baddies. When I finished the game and watched the ending, I couldn’t help but just stare at the screen and think to myself, “Is that it? Seriously?”
I don’t know, I have a lot of gripes with this game. It certainly has flaws and I’m not happy that I spent money on it, but I’ll admit that there was a bit of fun to be had here in the beginning of the game.
To the creator, model an entire game after the first few levels and keep the main character but give him some kind of interesting power. Add themed levels (desert, snow, whatever) and I think you’ll have found your calling. You’re definitely good at making platformers, but despite your potential I feel that you missed the mark a little with Eversion.