Can you remember the wonderful green screen of Nintendo’s Gameboy? Every game had a delightful green tinge, and basic retro graphics. Keep focusing on that image, but fast forward to 2020. Now place that picture on your rather large TV screen. That is how your gaming future will look if you decide to take on Pigeon Dev Games’ sequel to Awesome Pea, Awesome Pea 2. A retro platform game which spans 24 stages. You must leap and run through dark dungeons, avoiding deadly traps and creatures, while aiming to collect all of the gold and make it safely to the end goal.
A very simple game that follows a tried and tested gaming concept. Start at point A, miss all the obstacles, and finish at point B. You are given no lives to spawn back in, so death is all but assured. Accuracy, quick reflexes and planning are essential skills if you wish to complete the story. Each stage has a set amount of coins to gather, you can choose to ignore these all together if you wish, as they are not a requirement to finish the level.
With a variety of traps to avoid; spikes, bullets, razor-like cogs and more. Enemies who fly through the air, crawl along the ground, and cling to the walls. There really is a lot of challenges to overcome to say you have mastered this one. The pea himself has only one power, and that is the ability to jump, and double jump. You will have to observe your foes, and find gaps in their movements to forge a path through the narrowest of spaces. With only one life to complete a run, existence as a dungeon crawling, treasure hunting pea can be difficult and frustrating. Death undoes all your hard work, all you can do is dust yourself down, and start again..
This title is strange, you are chucked immediately into the action with no explanation as to why a pea would want to hunt for gold, or even how it was able to obtain its jumping abilities. With no plot, no narrative to give the story meaning, you are just completing stages for the fun of it. It all felt rather; empty, hollow, and absurd. I would have liked a back story to support the rather good platform elements. The developers have focused too much on the retro concept, this style would have worked perfectly 25 years ago, but modern gamers want so much more. A game should take you on a journey. Awesome Pea 2 doesn’t do that, it provides you with the bones of the project, but absolutely no meat to get your teeth into.
The game is presented with a very classic and retro approach; the pixelated models, simple platform management, 2D side scrolling reveals, and colour palette all scream old school console. The action doesn’t just take place on one fixed screen, this leads to leaps of faith, and death on a number of occasions. This could be the straw that breaks the camels back for a number of gamers. You safely traverse the rest of the area, just to be hit by an enemy, or skewered by a spike as you fall through the air. This almost luck before planning approach will certainly not be liked by all players, admittedly it left a bitter taste in my mouth on a number of occasions. Prior to joining a stage, you are presented with a world map. This is little more than a glorified scoreboard, it shows you which level is selected, the completion times, and treasure collected. The developers missed a golden opportunity to make this part of the journey of the game, as it is, it felt like “Oh I’m just selecting another task to complete.”
A classic retro game should be matched up with an 8 bit sound track that sticks in your mind, but is annoying to listen to. Well Pigeon Dev Games have supplied audio that fills this criteria, and much, much more. Each level has its own unique piece of high tempo synthesised music. It really is that bad, that it’s good. The tempo makes you want to play faster, even though your mind is telling you to slow down and think. The sound effects are reminiscent of Super Mario jumping, or Link throwing an item. It’s simple, shrill, and effective. If you are aiming to collect all the treasure in each level, then you are going to find that repeating a stage will be the norm. At this point the music does become particularly obnoxious. So my advice is either mute the sound, or get good at the game. There is no avoiding the retro 8 bit sound when you are a pea adventurer.
With only one action to complete, and moving around to concentrate on, this title could have been created for the simple controls of the Gameboy, NES, or Master System. Unlike other platform titles that I’ve played, I found this one to be extremely responsive, and accurate. With so many tight areas to squeeze through it was essential that it was designed this way, otherwise an already frustrating game would have been much harder. I was disappointed with the lack of camera panning. This lack of freedom reduced the ability to plan ahead, and caused unnecessary deaths, maybe it was just the developers way of amusing themselves at our expense.
With such a simple gaming concept, no story, and no elements that make this title in depth, you’d be right in assuming that there is very little replay factor to be had. Luckily, the collection of all of the treasure really is a tough ask. For anyone wanting to obtain all of the achievements, then you will sadly discover that this can only be accomplished by gathering up all the collectables. Something that I did like was the time element for each stage. This opens up competitions for speed runs, and challenges with friends, and other players. It would have been nice to see this expanded to a global and local Leaderboard to see how you compare to others.
Awesome Pea 2 is 100% a classic run of the mill 2D platform title. Frustration and anger are just 2 of the emotions that you are guaranteed to experience whilst playing this. Unfortunately, it misses a few details that would have added some in depth quality to the overall package. As a platform challenge it absolutely delivers, and has that “Just one more try” element. But as a game that allows you to follow a story, create empathy or loathing for the main protagonist, it unfortunately is truly lacking. If you are looking for a casual gaming experience, where leaving it for days at a time doesn’t affect your ability to play, then this could well be one for you. Would I recommend this? Yes, and no. As a platform game, it is very good. It has just the right level of difficulty, and is a challenge for the completionists out there. I however find that the lack of in depth qualities made me just shrug a bit when asked to start a new stage. Because of this I’m refraining from telling you to buy it now. If you decide to purchase it, may sure that you, unleash your inner pea, get greedy, and hunt for that treasure.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Awesome Pea 2 Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 5/10
User Review( votes)
Life is dangerous for a pea, you are grown, picked, and eaten. If that wasn’t bad enough, you decide to hunt for treasure in a dungeon full of traps and monsters, when you only have one life to your name.
- Nice retro graphics.
- Simple controls.
- Balanced difficulty.
- An excellent platform game.
- Has the “Just one more try” element.
- Music can be annoying.
- No storyline.
- Gameplay feels hollow.