Pink Hour & Pink Heaven

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

Games by Studio Pixel for PC and iOS, originally released in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Pink Hour and Pink Heaven were each released for free as standalone games, providing short adventures that acted as supplements and promotional material for Studio Pixel's Kero Blaster. During the course of the entire game, the lower right corner of the screen displays a banner for Kero Blaster, originally showing the game's release date, which was later replaced by "Now on sale!" following its release.



PINK HOUR
A month prior to the release of Kero Blaster, the developer released a prologue to the game, acting as a teaser of sorts, called Pink Hour. This free download stars a pink office secretary who has lost an important document, and she uses one of the company teleporters to head out into the enemy-filled world to retrieve it and present it to the company president.


The game is only a few minutes in length, and it features a number of the environments and enemies present in Kero Blaster. However, unlike Kero Blaster, which eases the player into many of its challenges, Pink Hour tosses the player directly into heavy platforming intermixed with flying enemies, a low ceiling, and tiny platforms over bottomless pits, making for a pretty tough first taste of a more balanced final product.


The controls in Pink Hour are the same as those found in Kero Blaster, although the secretary comes equipped with a short-range pink weapon instead of the array of armaments available to the frog. The secretary only has two units of health, so one hit will take her down to half her health and a second will kill her, and she has no way to restore her health. She has three lives with which to complete her adventure, and getting killed will send her back to the most recent screen transition. The short game offers a single hidden 1UP.


Once the document is found, a boss fight is initiated, and the secretary must blast away at a sooty black creature as it bounces around and launches smaller destructible creatures at her. If she manages to defeat the boss, she’ll head out to another transporter and return to the office where she gives the document to the President (or not, in the alternate ending). The end credits sequence offers a brief glimpse of the frog, after which everyone goes home for the day.


Following the release of Kero Blaster, the developer released an update to Pink Hour, offering a Hard Mode upon completion of the game. This mode features more difficult platforming sequences, more enemies, and a tougher final boss encounter. Also present is an alternate ending that finishes on a "to be continued..." message, setting up the events to follow in Pink Heaven.




PINK HEAVEN
In the year following the release of Kero Blaster, the developer released a sequel to Pink Hour entitled Pink Heaven, which was also released as a free standalone game. In this adventure, we learn that the pink secretary is sweet on the blue shopkeeper, who she mysteriously encounters standing on some clouds. While she is coming up with an excuse to go over and talk to him, he is abducted by a UFO, and she sets out to rescue him.


As before, the secretary has a pink weapon that shoots a short-range rapid fire projectile, which she can aim to the left or right, or straight up. Holding the FIRE button keeps her direction locked, allowing her to continue firing in one direction while moving freely.


She has a floaty 2x variable jump with very little midair direction control, making it difficult to line up landings on narrow platforms, which are plentiful. The secretary has a 2-heart health meter and three lives (with a couple more to find hidden around the levels). Death returns her to the most recent screen transition, but she has no continues, so losing all of her lives returns her to the start of the game.


With only two levels, this is another short adventure, but it is still more substantial than the secretary’s original outing. There are two different endings, as well as an unlockable Hard Mode that features considerably more challenging level layouts, with smaller platforms, longer gaps, and more spikes. Hard Mode also offers a new enemy type, an added boss encounter at the end of the first level, and a tougher final boss encounter.


At the game’s midpoint, the secretary is asked by a frog “What do you need most…”, with the responses being “strength” or “gentleness”. If the player chooses strength, he begins the second level with a substantially upgraded weapon. It still has a fairly short range, but the projectiles are much larger and do more damage.


If the player chooses gentleness, then the secretary is given a yellow umbrella, which lets her float gently downward when the player holds the JUMP button in midair. The umbrella makes it significantly easier to navigate the environment and line up platform landings, and this is also the choice that leads to the game’s most detailed ending sequence. In Hard Mode, the player does not have access to either of these upgrades.



2D CRED
Pink Hour and Pink Heaven were developed by Studio Pixel, which is made up of Daisuke Amaya, a.k.a. “Pixel”, released as standalone supplements to the developer's own Kero Blaster. Amaya is best known as the creator of Cave Story, a game that he developed on his own over the span of five years, as well as Ikachan. The game was published by Active Gaming Media, which also published Kero Blaster and Gunhound EX.


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