There is something to be said about over-the-top challenging games; you might break a few keyboards or controllers but the feeling of accomplishment from completing the challenge is more rewarding than getting into an Ivy League school. If I can beat a level or a boss the first time without dying, what’s the point? Bob Was Hungry offers this exact kind of challenge boiled down to its essence. There are no power-ups, no characters with special abilities, and no checkpoints. Only your quick reflexes and flawless timing can get you through the 170+ levels as you roll your way to the covered dish at the end of each level. I should be upfront and say that I’m not the biggest fan of games in this genre, but I understand what makes them fun and I believe that fans of “challenging precision platforming” will enjoy Bob Was Hungry.
First let me say that the level design and difficulty ramp are the highlights of this game. The progression from level to level is paced well. Obstacles are introduced incrementally and not all at once, but as soon as the introductory levels are over the game stops holding back punches and demands perfection, like threading the needle through two spinning saw blades as you wall jump off a platform surrounded in spikes kind of perfection. Super Meat Boy, you have some competition in the ‘so difficult I broke 18 controllers’ department it seems.
What I found refreshing about the levels was that it was never unclear what to do or where to go to complete the level; it was always a matter of mastering the controls and timing which to me is frustrating yet the essence of platforming. I like the idea that each painful repeated attempt gets me a little bit close to the goal which in this case is a nice covered dish of … random food?
“There are no power-ups, no characters with special abilities, and no checkpoints. Only your quick reflexes and flawless timing can get you through the 170+ levels as you roll your way to the covered dish at the end of each level.”
The tutorial did try to explain the reward system for completing the level: reaching the goal is a complete but doesn’t record your time while reaching the goal and also collecting the condiment (usually hidden or in a difficult to reach place) records your time and unlocks the hard mode version of the level. But I didn’t fully understand the tiered random rewards for the various states of completion. It seemed to want to incentivize players to repeat levels to try to get all the rewards. This might appeal to more diehard fans of the super-hard platforming genre, but I had little interest in re-doing any of the levels. I had a hard enough time completing them on the normal version.
My biggest gripe about the game is the 2.5D forced perspective. It’s a neat idea and gives an interesting aesthetic to game, but mechanically is frustrating. Some of the objects in the background and foreground blended a little too well with the actual interactible plane. One more than one occasion I jumped to a ledge I thought was there and landed right on a giant buzzsaw. Yeah, I get it, the levels are short enough that it didn’t matter too much, but you need to understand that’s my biggest complaint. If that’s the worst that I could find, that should tell you it’s a pretty decent platformer.
The game does feature a co-op mode where you can compete against or cooperate with your friends in one of four different modes, but I didn’t have chance to test it out. From the sound of it, you can race against each other in speed or number of deaths, as well as attempt to finish levels together. I don’t think a game like this needs a co-op feature, but leaderboards among your friends tends to be good addition to games like this.
There isn’t much more to say about it other than it doesn’t try to be more than it should, which is a good bare-bones, very challenging platformer. It’s definitely a must for dedicated fans of the genre looking for a pure challenge with good level design and tight controls.
I’m a sucker for good level design and this game has it. The controls on keyboard are a little unnatural for me but are rebindable so you can tweak them to your needs. The responsiveness and particular physics make traversing the challenging levels an immensely enjoyable experience. The game is very focused on the essence of platforming which is good for dedicated fans of the genre, but might seem a little repetitive for a wider audience.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***