The Awesome Pea 2 Review
Awesome Pea 2 is a new game developed by Pigeon Dev Games, who boldly takes the graphics and gameplay of a top end Gameboy game and uplifts it into our modern gaming library. Awesome Pea 2 released on Steam on Jan 31st and followed with a release on all the main consoles on June 3rd. Pigeon Dev Games is a single person with a passion for making games who identifies their brand as “trying-to-be-an-artist”. Can passion alone make a Gameboy game work for the modern consoles? Read below for my review of Awesome Pea 2.
Awesome Pea 2 is a 2D, retro style platformer with “trial and error” mechanics. So before I go on with anything else, expect to die…A LOT in this game! As the Awesome Pea, you have to navigate through 25 different levels, which contain traps, with the aim to collect as many Gems and Coins and reach the end point. This style of gameplay was extremely popular during the era of 2D consoles, so much so that it became the core gameplay of nearly every game during this period and this is something that Awesome Pea 2 wears like a coat of arms. It never strives to be anything other than a great reminder of how simple and fun games once were. Which is something that I respect. Its nice to sometimes jump onto a game which requires little thinking in terms of understanding, such as a complex plot or having to remind yourself, what the controls are. Awesome Pea 2 makes is a game that you can simply pick up and “go”.
Being a reminder of how games once were creates its limitation on how successful of a game it can be. This is something that The Awesome Pea 2 really suffers from. People have played games like this over, and over, through out each generation. Therefore, people usually miss buying/trying these games, but instead opt to buy “bigger”, more mainstream titles. This is a shame, because this game sits on a higher scale compared to a lot of the others attempting this, due to how smooth its controls feel and how reactive they are. Whenever I died in this game, I never felt like it was due to the game having poor clipping or collision. It always felt like I simply miss-judged a jump or miss-timed my reaction. My biggest gripe in terms of the gameplay in Awesome Pea 2, is simply that I want it to be more ambitious. I want more mechanics such as wall climbs/hops, I want to be able to sprint, I want to use unique items which add layers such as platforming puzzles. Overall the game does what it does extremely well, it just needs a little more functionality to set itself on par with some of the bigger indie competitors.
Awesome Pea 2 has an amazingly crisp, pixel art style. It takes its queues from the most popular retro titles and makes them its own and I would say that the closest game to this, as a graphical comparison, is the Alex Kidd games. Its sprites contain quite a lot of intricate detail, but equally exploits it simplicity in design. Pigeon Dev Games really knows how to make its character sprites “pop” and stand out when put onto a 2D background. This is further challenged as the game opts to use a colour pallet reminiscent of the original Gameboy. Everything has a green hue to it, which ultimately is an incredibly risky move, as it would be quite easy to lose track of your character, when moving past the same hue of green in the background. But, the developers have managed to ensure that this never is a problem, as each sprite has been given a nice white aura, to ensure that they stand out clearly from the background. Not only this but shading has been effectively used on each sprite to make sure that a character never seems flat or is one colour. The game by default offers a CRT view which makes the game look like its being played on an old TV. In most games I turn this feature off, as it can distract from the visuals, although Awesome Pea 2, is one of the exceptions to this rule and looks better with this setting on.
The games animation is slick, when you jump your character has a unique facial animation as well as a “spin” when doing a double jump. It’s the things like this, which give the game a little edge and makes it feel more polished in its execution. I’d say from a perspective of animation and design the game is up top, when compared to other indie 2D retro style games. I would say though that I would have like to see an option to have a fully coloured version of this game. After playing for an hour or so, the green tones do become boring. I know this would look better with a really vibrant and bright colour pallet, similar to that of the game PEZ. Although this isn’t a game breaking deal, it just feels like this could have enhanced my experience with Awesome Pea 2.
The Awesome Pea 2 has a beautifully handled “retro” 16-Bit style soundtrack, with some subtle modern enhancements. When playing the game, I was instantly taken back to my childhood. The music reminded me of a time where I would boot up Megaman 2 on my NES and fight my way to the final stages just so I could sit and listen to the Doctor Wily stage music. Awesome Pea 2 may not be quite as epic as these amazing old school tracks, but it certainly does an incredible job of blending in with the music of those times and using the soundtrack to really drive the pace and tone of the game.
One issue with using this era of music, is that it relies heavily on being able to make a person reminisce. For younger audiences, who don’t have a connection or fandom to the 2D classics for example, will find it a lot harder to connect to the monotones of these types of soundtracks, and even with Awesome Pea's enhancements it doesn’t quite hit the mark from a modern perspective. Although, as a game that ties down all of its key mechanics to the 16-bit era, this isn’t something I’d expect from the game. It’s a balance that most modern games in this genre gets wrong and The Awesome Pea 2 sits among those games.
The Awesome Pea 2 released on Steam and Consoles with a price tag of £3.99, which is a fair price, when the game is not trying to compete with AAA indie titles. All in All, the game can be completed incredibly quickly for a player with a lot of experience with games like these, although realistically for the average gamer, I would say that the game has about 5 hours of content. Based on those factors I’d say that £4 is the absolute highest you should purchase this title for you to not feel ripped off. For that price you are getting a really good platform game which will help you burn some time quickly, but the game is nothing more than that.
The Awesome Pea 2 is shamefully the first game that I have played by the Indie developer Pigeon Dev Games, but it certainly won’t be my last. The games controls feel smooth, responsive, and simple. Graphically it ticks all the boxes to appear as a classic 16-bit game. The game is a standard platformer, that intends to be played here and there for short bursts of time. Although the game lacks ambitions, it is not a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination, but it equally does not deliver anything you haven’t seen before. The game feels like it was intended to be played by retro game fans, so if you are not a fan of this era of games, then I would suggest this game is a big “no” for you. But if you are a fan of the retro 2D platformers and If you can pick this game up for anything less than £4, then I would recommend that you give this little game a go.