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ethd

Try This: Spark the Electric Jester

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Yes, I'm back again, because I'm a preorder whore. In my defense, this is the third project I've backed on Kickstarter and have yet to be disappointed by a single one. Amplitude was a gorgeous romp though abstract neural pathways with a wonderful soundtrack, and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero had beautiful, fluid, hand-drawn sprites mixed with cartoony 3D backgrounds. Its soundtrack, too, was jammin'. But what of newcomer gaming company Feperd Games' first commercial outing? Will it be a disappointment in comparison?

Ha, just kidding. If you've ever played any of LakeFeperd's games, you know exactly what sort of thing to expect - a high-quality game with an outstanding soundtrack, and random oddities contributing to a fun, if unpolished, experience.

Try This is a gaming overview intended to be a less formal version of my ordinary review segments. As such, it won't be assigned a score, but I'll simply attach a tl;dr version at the beginning with my thoughts and whether I'd recommend it or not. I wanted to wait until I could find a half-decent image host that allowed hotlinking and control over my images (since Dropbox doesn't work anymore) but until then, we have the header image and one image a bit further down in the post since that's all I can fit in the 500K of space I can attach stuff in. If you'd like to see all of the screenshots I took for this review, including the crummy ones, you can check out my album on Google Drive.

Anyways, I mentioned it last paragraph, so here's the tl;dr: a gorgeous game with solid mechanics featuring all the same musicians from Sonic: After the Sequel is somewhat marred by lack of polish and lackluster storywriting. Despite that, it still ekes through as recommended, especially if you're into high-speed platformers like Sonic or especially Freedom Planet.

Spark the Electric Jester
Platforms: PC-Steam
Developer: Feperd Games
Release date: April 10, 2017
Price upon release: $14.99
Buy it: On Steam
Review system: Acer Aspire E 15 Laptop
Intel Core i5-6200U dual-core processor
8GB RAM
Nvidia GeForce 940MX 2GB GDDR5 GPU
Crucial MX300 275GB solid state drive
WD Blue Mobile 1TB hard disk drive

15.6" 1920x1080 TN non-touch screen

Spark the Electric Jester opens with a story sequence that sets the tone for the whole game: Spark is a PhD-holding electric jester, who went to jester school and enjoyed his job as an electric jester. One day, though, robots took over, and one Fark the Robotic Electric Jester took Spark's job. No one really seemed to care about the robots taking over - aside from Spark being salty about losing his job he devoted so much time to - until they started destroying Flower Mountain City. Spark, devoid of a life now that he's unemployed, decided that he'd use his electric powers and special abilities to take out these robots so that peace could be once again restored to the land, but more importantly, so that he could kick Fark's ass and get his job back. He travels the world to destroy the robots and eventually get to the central hub and the big boss to stop the reign of tyranny.

It's a fairly basic "epic journey" style plot underneath all the silliness, but if you're playing a platformer for powerful stories that tug at your heartstrings, you should really reconsider what you're playing. Unfortunately, the story or characters fail to be compelling at any point - the story is there to provide a backdrop to why you're going all these places, but poor writing means the jokes fall flat on their faces and the characters are hard to follow.

Anyways, it's hard to deny that Spark the Electric Jester takes a lot of inspiration from Freedom Planet. They are exactly the same type of game (a combat-focused high-speed platformer) with a very similar control scheme. They both have a protagonist with big eyes that bears more than a passing resemblance to the style of Sonic the Hedgehog. They both have a pixelated 2D style reminiscent of a 32X or Saturn game. Their stories even share a lot of similarities, though Spark's is a lot heavier on jokes.

But what sets it apart is the abilities. Similar to Kirby, Spark can take on various different weapons and hats that change his skillset and powers. While his base form has many electrical abilities, he can also use wind powers, use a knight's sword, or become edgy and do whatever edgy things do. That's just scratching the surface, too - there are loads of different powerups to find and they all have unique advantages and uses. Unlike Kirby, those powerups are not gained by eating your enemies. They're just sorta... lying around. You can switch back and forth between your current one and another that you can keep in stock, but if you grab one when you already have two, one of them disappears.

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Let me say it straight: this game is absolutely gorgeous. The spritework, the backgrounds, the foregrounds, and the character designs. This is a prettier game than LakeFeperd has ever made, and he's already had three very pretty Sonic fangames under his belt. The jump to widescreen is an extremely welcome change, as well. It looks a lot better in motion - I was going to take some video of the game but got lazy and just played some more instead of starting OBS and capturing some footage. (Whoops.) But even in stills you can see just how much detail was put in, especially in the vast, sprawling backgrounds in the countryside levels or the detailed close shots of buildings in the city levels. I can't say enough about how good this game looks.

The level design, too, is great. Spark is very fast - you're even expected to use a dash button at various points in the game. Therefore, there are plenty of open spaces, loop-de-loops, and moments of split-second timing in the game, with nary a bottomless pit in sight.

Finally, the music, created by a sound team led by the incredible Falk au Yeong, is outstanding as well. All of the composers from Sonic ATS are represented, from James Landino's chill chords and engaging legatos to Andy Tunstall's fast-paced and guitar-heavy jams to Maxie's cheery synths to the funky bass of, well, Funk Fiction to the eclectic works of Paul Bethers to the epic orchestral work of Falk au Yeong himself, it's difficult to find any bad tracks on this one. I mean, my love affair with Falk's arranging prowess is pretty well-known (one of many reasons I'm hyped for Freedom Planet 2, which has Falk joining GalaxyTrail's team as sound director), but this is just such a good soundtrack, probably one I'll be listening to in my car for the next year or so just like I did with BTS and ATS.

Where things get less impressive is in the presentation. Typos abound. The opening intro sequence almost seeming unfinished. Music cuts off abruptly at times, or sometimes comes on when it's not supposed to. This would be really good for a late beta, but it's the actual release. I just hope it gets better with a bit of patching, because the lack of polish is a bit distracting from an otherwise stellar game.

When it comes down to it, though, the price is right - $15 for a game that needs a little more work done to it but is a very complete experience as it is. Despite the lack of polish, digging just a little reveals the kind of vast, beautiful game LakeFeperd is known for. I would recommend this game.

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Looks like the game can work on 100Mhz PC . I like old games any way .

Ethd , I know you have done hard work writing this .. but Your articles makes me not wanna read lol .

reason is simple ... too much reading .  well , you should just write  " I would recommend this game. "

for we all trust married man .

 

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12379208d971393ef6a8bc5eecd51a07_origina

Looks like the good old sega enterprise is back .

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5 hours ago, Hedgie said:

Looks like the game can work on 100Mhz PC . I like old games any way .

Ethd , I know you have done hard work writing this .. but Your articles makes me not wanna read lol .

reason is simple ... too much reading .  well , you should just write  " I would recommend this game. "

for we all trust married man .

 

No need to read the whole thing, that's why I condensed it down in the tl;dr part. I know I can get pretty wordy :D

I will say that since it's made in the Sonic Worlds engine on Clickteam Fusion, it might run a bit choppy if you try playing it on a super old PC. Fusion is easy to use for developers, but it's not lightweight. I'd try seeing if your PC can run Sonic: After the Sequel well.

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