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Forma.8 – Black Blobbed Floaty Samus

Full Disclosure: As seems to be a trend these days, I bought this game like the rest of the plebs. WTF man. Where has all my game street cred gone?

 

Forma.8 - Lava
Forma.8 – Lava and a glowy spider dude!

 

Forma.8 is the newest release from the somewhat-unreassuringly-named Mixed Bag Games, out a few weeks ago on Steam, but earlier on other platforms. It’s a highly metroidvanic joint, with oodles of physical puzzles, and psychological terrors to deal with. You’re this little black blobbed floaty Samus-like, which I’ma call Smookles. Poor Smookles, praying to what gods may exist, is one of many little black blobby bits shot out of the front of this gun-looking ship towards an unknown planet. Smookles lands and starts its journey in an earth-toned shadowy room with only one exit (for now, I guess).

The game initially feels like Metroid. There are puzzles you have to float through. You need certain power-ups in certain places to advance. There is a lot of area to explore. The biggest difference would that Smookles does not feel the effects of gravity. The controls felt really… for lack of a better word… floaty, but after I got used to how Smookles bobs around they felt pretty good. I will say I did notice I was really pressing on the d-pad harder trying to push the little dude faster (to no avail of course), which was kind of annoying. That could be because I was using PS2 controllers with it too though.

Controllers are expensive.

The graphics are simple, but are really nice to look at. While most of the characters and enemies are mostly solid black with glowing dots on them, the backgrounds are grainy textured oranges, reds, and browns that create an idea of a dark deep descent without actually blacking out the screen. I particularly liked the menu screen, not just because you can operate it and play the game at the same time, but because of how it “powers up.” The image below doesn’t really do it justice, but it kinda reminded me of turning on and off an old CRT screen. So satisfying.

 

Forma.8 - Menu Initialization
Forma.8 – Menu Initialization

 

I don’t really have an idea of what the greater picture of Forma.8 encompasses yet, but it seems to be bigger than just Smookles. You meet Smookles’ dead friends along the way, and they give you power ups to help you survive longer on the planet. The power ups and items are a mixed bag. So far they’re all pretty cool, but sometimes the level design is very reminiscent of a Skyrim dungeon in that at the start of some levels you can see what if effectively the equivalent of the famous exit only barred door. While I understand it’s important to have power ups that let you overcome certain situations, I’d like to see more games stretch beyond this type level design. Is there an alternative to this that doesn’t involve excessive backtracking or warping? I guess that’s the question we all have to think about.

I’m nitpicking. It’s good. I’m gonna play it some more.

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6180 The Moon – Up In The Sun’s Grill

Full disclosure: I know the developers of this game at Turtle Cream, but I purchased my copy of 6180 the Moon like the rest of the plebs. ㅠㅠ

 

6180 the moon
6180 the moon – Title Screen

 

This is a bit of a weird one. You’re the moon, and you’ve suddenly realized that the sun has disappeared. So, you, as the moon, decide to embark on a trip all the way to the centre of the solar system to see what’s up. As moons are known to do.

Gravity be damned, I say!

On the way, you make some planet friends (or frenemies? Looking at you, Venus!), hang out, learn some different mechanics, and finally witness a big revelation at the end. It’s an emotional tour-de-force. Yellow jackets for all!

 

6180 the moon - Game Play
6180 the moon – Game Play

 

In 6180 (which better not be either of your birthdays Turtle Cream!), you guide the moon through a series of puzzle platformer levels in space. As the moon, you can do the usual move left and right, jump, and you’re also affected by normal Earth-like platformer gravity. Let’s pretend there’s a large planet just out of view pulling you down. It’ll be fun. We can call it Willis.

The “gimmick” for the game though is based on the lack of top and bottom level bounds. If you fall through the bottom, you’ll shoot around the other side of Willis and pop back out the top, Portal style, forever and ever, accelerating until you reach terminal velocity, which I suppose is a thing, even in space. Monitoring your speed becomes a crucial factor in later levels when you need to make some tight slow-speed maneuvers between blocks, spikes, long spikes, and one-time-use blocks that fling you right into other sets of spikes. It’s like this delicate space dance from beginning to end.

Aww, look at me trying to be poetic. So cute. Seriously though, I was enchanted and stuff.

6180 the moon - Level Select
6180 the moon – Level Select

 

There are a lot of levels, about 50 or so, and there’s a decent progression through the game. And then when you’re done (SPOILERS!), you can do all the levels backwards for an extra challenge.

I decided not to do that one. I might come back to it though.

In short, a good puzzle game that’s not too short that you can pick up and put down easily on the go.

In shorter, good game. You buy.