Platformines

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Magiko Gaming for PC, originally released in 2014.
As the name implies, Platformines is a cross between a platformer and the now-popular mining sub-genre of action-adventure games. Players set out across a large procedurally generated world to hunt for valuable minerals, destroy monsters, uncover hidden treasures, and even fight off other explorers along the way. Collected resources can be used to increase your life bar, add to your carrying capacity, and increase your firepower… all of which are needed to get back into the mine and fight your way through more dangerous territory and toward greater rewards.

At the start of the game, you are introduced to the character customization screen, allowing you to choose a male or female character, along with different types of hair, facial configuration, and style and color of clothing. Following this is a brief introduction demonstrating environmental navigation, the shop system, and item storage.

The player has a high 2.5x jump and – rather than the standard platformer double-jump – the player has a pentuple jump, allowing him to perform 4 additional jumps in the air. In any other platformer, this would be considered overkill (or terrible level design), but it’s a necessity in Platformines’ open world, which often features large open expanses with tremendous amounts of horizontal and vertical navigation. Also, player characters take fall damage, which increases based on the height of the fall, so those extra jumps can save you if you take a big tumble or decide to make a leap of faith. Of course, you can also get yourself into trouble by jumping too high while exploring upwards. The audio for the jump indicator changes when you hit your last jump, letting you know that you can’t make another.

The player’s starting point is in the center of the game world, in a circular area surrounded by walls. The only way to get out of the base is via a teleporter, which drops you just outside the base wall. From there, you can feel your way around, fight some enemies, gather some gems, and then teleport back when you’ve filled your sack or drained too much of your health.


Returning to the home base automatically restores you to full health. The only way to restore health while exploring the caves is to sacrifice one of your gems. Of course, doing this means you won’t have as many to sell in the shop, which will slow your progress toward upgrading your health and carrying capacity. And this is the basic structure of the game…

You set out from a teleporter and collect many minerals as you can while fighting enemies. Monster-type enemies occasionally drop cash, with tougher enemies dropping higher denominations, while human enemies sometimes drop weapons or hats (more on this in a bit). Since enemies and minerals do not respawn, you must push your way outward, slowly moving away from the safety of your teleporter… but there are many teleporters in the game, and finding them is key to making progress.


Each new teleporter you find can be used to send you instantly back to your home base. From that point on, you can warp from your base back to that teleporter. Uncovering teleporters around the game world allows you to warp quickly to those locations and to make a hasty retreat if needed.

A fog of war effect is in place for areas that you have not yet explored. A ring around your character indicates how much of this fog will be swept away as you move forward, revealing enemies and treasures as you go and adding the area to your map. As you lose health, the ring decreases in size, making exploration more difficult and putting you in greater danger of attack from nearby enemies that are obscured by the fog. This adds a certain amount of tension and forces the player to weigh the value of continuing on or sacrificing one of his valuable materials for a bit of extra health to see him through.


Different colored fog represents different difficulty levels within the cave system. Your starting area houses the weakest enemies, but this also means that they don’t drop much cash when killed, and the minerals aren’t worth as much. However, by pushing into a more difficult area, you will face stronger enemies and greater environmental hazards, with the tradeoff that you can access valuable materials and stronger weapons more quickly.


There are 4 different weapon varieties: the weak pistol, the strong but short-range shotgun, the fast-firing machine gun, and the slow but powerful bazooka that can damage you if you get too close to the blast. Each weapon has its own set of stats for damage, reload speed, range, etc. As you work your way through the underground world, you will encounter humanoid enemies who are also carrying weapons. Sometimes these enemies will drop their weapons when they are killed, allowing you to pick them up for yourself. A stat screen shows which stats will be improved or degraded by equipping said weapon. Of course, you are free to sell any unneeded weapons back at the shop for some extra cash, provided you have enough open inventory slots to carry them.


You begin the game with a small sack, which limits the number of items you can collect. Money and equipped weapons do not take up any room, thankfully, but everything else does. This means that you must return to the base from time to time to sell off your stock, or to store it in your safe. You can buy upgrades to increase the number of items you can carry, but larger sacks are prohibitively expensive until you get into more difficult areas of the game, forcing a steady progression. With this, the game’s overall difficulty lies with the player. The freedom of the open world allows the player to play carefully and slowly edge his stats upward, or throw caution to the wind to gain rewards more quickly.

Another equippable item comes in the form of hats, helmets, and hairstyles which are sometimes dropped by humanoid enemies. Each of these provides some variety of stat boost, including increased resistance to attacks, and weapon-specific upgrades such as increased firing speed or damage.


Dying at any point forces the player back to this home base with any collected items removed from his inventory and a 5% reduction in cash. The player can also carry a cyanide pill in his inventory for use should he get stuck anywhere in the environment. Death by either allows you to keep your exploration progress intact, but you may be better off reloading a recent save and charging back into the same area better prepared. Players also need to be cautious of the environment, as a long fall can take away a great deal of health, and the lack of an invincibility period means that players will take continuous damage from environmental hazards.


Each new game plays out somewhat differently, and there are infinite varieties to the layouts of the cave systems. Regardless, the objective of each quest is the same: seek out each of the Robodig Block Cannons and return to your home base to construct a giant drilling robot that will allow you to escape the area. Block cannons are placed in increasingly distant and difficult areas as the game progresses. Each cannon fires a different kind of block, and the player must build the robot block-by-block, firing them into place according to the template. A Robodig Block Remover allows you to get rid of improperly placed blocks.



2D CRED
Platformines was developed by Magiko Gaming, the studio behind a number of personality-filled titles.



Platformance: Castle Pain


Platformance: Castle Pain is the first game in the Platformance series, and features a complex single-level layout, packed to the walls with spikes and traps (and spike traps). This game is set during the Dark Ages, and features a knight with a helmet and sword – serving as cosmetic accoutrements only – traveling through a castle to save a princess. The knight makes his way through the area outside of the castle, dodging an active volcano, working his way through deadly caves, ducking under pooping birds, and finally infiltrating the castle itself and dealing with its challenges.




Platformance: Temple Death



Platformance: Temple Death is the second game in the Platformance series, and the setting has undergone a fairly drastic change. Instead of a knight running through a castle to save a kidnapped princess during the Dark Ages, you’re an adventurer heading into the Peruvian jungle in 1947 to infiltrate a temple and rescue an actress who was kidnapped by “savages”. The second game has more of an Indiana Jones feel to it, especially given that the lead character is outfitted in a brown fedora and carries a whip.


The adventurer jumps across vines, rides logs down a raging river, and jumps to avoid a waterfall, before finally infiltrating the walls of the temple, which is filled with its own traps. Rescuing the actress results in various in-game rewards, including (virtual) autographed photographs and the lady’s undergarments. Flopwards make a return as well, as introduced in Bunker Buster.



Bunker Buster
Prior to Temple Death, Magiko released a game entitled Bunker Buster on Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone 7.  Bunker Buster is a flight/bombing game that is meant to harken back to the gameplay presented in an old cassette-based Vic-20 game called Blitz.

In Blitz, a plane moves slowly across the screen from left to right, flying over a cityscape with rows of tall buildings packed tightly together.  The only control the player has is to drop bombs, which will fall straight down, destroying a few sections of the building they hit.  The taller the building, the more bombs you must drop to destroy them, with the ultimate goal of destroying every building to clear a safe place for your plane to land.  As the game continues, the plane slowly gets lower and lower to the ground, so if the buildings are not destroyed quickly enough, you will eventually crash into one of them.  Proper timing and precision bombing are required for success.


Bunker Buster is based around these same basic elements, and features bombing runs on specified targets, as well as destructible environments.  At first, the destructible environments just add to the cosmetic appeal of the game, as a stray bomb may blow a hole in the ground or the side of a hill.  However, as the game continues, the player will be placed in situations where bombs must be dropped to clear obstacles that block the primary objective.  You may have to perform a single run to clear the path, and then fly back over the target to bomb it.


There are 6 different types of aircraft, ranging from your standard planes and helicopters to guys in jetpacks equipped with missile launchers.  You fly through 32 single-screen levels, destroying targets and avoiding friendlies.  Controls are basic, with one button increasing your height and the other releasing your bombs/missiles.  Flight is a bit wobbly, since you will constantly be at odds with gravity, thrusting upward in spurts to escape its grasp, which requires you to fan the button to get through tight spaces.  Some types of aircraft are heavier than others, and you’ll have to fight harder to keep them airborne.

Bunker Buster was also the first of Magiko’s games to feature Flopwards, which are achievements centered around poor performance, such as destroying too many friendlies, crashing too often, or running out of fuel.  The title also features local and online leaderboards.

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