REVIEW: Blue Beacon

Not to be confused with significantly-expired bacon that should be discarded (you know who you are), Blue Beacon ($1.00) should be a familiar romp for most: Mario‘s bread and butter platforming and mechanics, paired with sort of-Adventure Island‘s graphics. Actually, it’s ‘sort of’ on both counts, as though it borrows from popular and not-so popular titles alike, it doesn’t quite match up to them in its execution.

First, the setup. Our protagonist Sasha is on a mission to save the world. To do so, you’ll need to collect three ‘Discs of Power’, with each found at the end of a string of levels. That will entail the requisite running and jumping, plucking impossibly-suspended items in the sky, and using your head to bust through bricks to find crystals instead of coins (collecting 100 will earn you an extra life, of course).

Even the enemy foot soldiers are comfortable stand-ins / cheap knockoffs for the ‘goombas’ and hard-shelled ‘koopas’ from Mario‘s universe; you can stomp on one, and send the other careening into his friends for a tidy point combo. Taking on the abilities of animals (or insects, in this case) via powerups is also on loan from the plumber, granting you the innate skills of that particular bug. The Beetle suit allows you to burrow through enemies and bricks, accessing secret crystal caches, while the Butterfly and Grasshopper variants give you additional traversal options (flying short distances and jumping higher, respectively).

The suits are presented in sequence, with the levels generally well-designed to accentuating their strengths… and showcasing the game’s very slippery controls. Take note: Sasha will walk on a good four or five steps after you let go of the stick. Not the responsiveness you need in a platformer. If nothing else, the suits will come in handy as ‘extra health’, as taking damage from unintended mistakes will only return Sasha to default form, with the next hit proving fatal.

Blue Beacon - Screen

In that regard, Blue Beacon also goes a bit old school with its difficulty, giving you a limited number of lives to reach the end, with no continues or checkpoints for good behavior. The aforementioned crystal-collection is thus made all the more important, as is careful maneuvering and patience / restraint with the controls.

The end result is a short, potentially-frustrating, and pretty generic platformer; acceptable if you like those kinds of things, though it’s a pale copy when compared to its chief inspiration. Blue Beacon‘s challenge and hook of using ability suits might hold your interest at first, but if its parts don’t add up to much original fun in total, what’s the point of taking a sub-par journey? Play Mario instead.

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Review on Game Bias

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: Blue Beacon”

  1. Not to be confused with significantly-expired bacon that should be discarded (you know who you are)

    O:-)

    ^^^^ ZOMFGROFL BEST.REPLY.EVVA!!!”!11!11!!”!1!!

    Hey, writing like this makes you feel 20 years younger. 🙂
    … and by reading the civilised conversation below I feel rather silly now.

    I’ve downloaded the trial and yes, the controls are a bit slippery, but were not much of a problem once I got the hang of them. Of course, having only played the trial I can’t really say much, but from what I’ve seen (and heard) it seems to be a decent game.

    1. WR1T!NG LYK3 TH15 ALS0 G3T5 U A B35T-S3LL1NG GAEM 0N XBL1G!!!!1! So long as you use zombies it it!!!! Just ask Ska Studios. 🙂

      Blue Beacon IS decent as a platformer, just underwhelming and bland where it counts: its personality. The slippery controls don’t help matters either. The music is pretty good. I wish I knew the name of the tracks used in-game, but you can find more of his work here: http://coda.s3m.us

  2. Glad to see another review of this one. I was pretty curious what you and others might think of it. It is indeed slippery, but I found the weird touches in the game endearing. Also got a kick out of the ending.

    1. You know, I did sort of like it at first. Endearing, as you said. I was going to let the ‘slippery controls’ slide, seeing as though momentum would carry you a bit, and the insect suits were a nice touch. I wasn’t exactly in favor of the difficulty choices (I don’t get why people harbor such enthusiasm for the ‘old days’, when everything had to be hard as hell in order to mask the lack of content), but I understood what it was going for. I actually agreed with your article (which I’ll link to from here), saying that the game’s deaths were meant to make you play more careful. Mario games are (typically) easy stuff, and most players have amassed 99 lives by the second or third hub of worlds, making death more of a ‘temporary setback’ than something that should be feared.

      I think what ultimately tipped me the other way, other than the controls and the lack of continues / checkpoints being a little frustrating, was that it was almost ‘too much like Mario‘. You’ve got the platforming, hidden secrets, the enemies, and the suits from those games, but what does your game do that I can’t see done much better in the original games? I found the game didn’t have an answer for that.

    2. The slippery controls cannot be ignored; my review couldn’t overlook them, either. The slippery feel is a risky move by the developer that will either make or break the game for people (Adam just commented on Game Bias and said he’s going to consider toning down the slipperiness).

      I certainly understand your viewpoint. Here’s where I sit: I won’t say Blue Beacon is better than Super Mario Bros., but I would rather replay Blue Beacon right now than replay Super Mario Bros. The reasons for that are numerous: wanting to see the weird but evocative ending again, reliving my childhood days in a different way, hearing the music again (which I didn’t even mention in my review), etc.

      In any case, I’m glad Blue Beacon and Shipwreck can get fair reviews from people like you and Cathy. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but video game cloning has become a contentious issue that comes with a lot of unenlightening politics. It’s just good to see reviewers taking these games for what they are, good or bad.

    3. The ending, I’ll admit, was a kind of ‘funny’ weird for me, if I was seeing what I thought I was. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody else, but it worked, I agree. The music, too. I didn’t mention it beyond the ‘cool soundtrack bro’ tag I’m so fond of using, but I liked the tracks. Particularly the ‘Butterfly’ set of levels, which sounded like a sort of 80s rom-com / Madonna style-song, at least to me. 🙂

      I have been trying to catch myself from using ‘clone’ with these kinds of games, but some slip through. So long as it’s not blatant, I’ve been leaning towards ‘inspired by’ more often than not. Thanks for the kind words, and of course, I direct that right back to you. Always enjoyed your articles on Fate of the Game, and now with Game Bias. We’ve got a pretty solid Indie community going, not cheerleading the games / developers as much as being fair and offering constructive feedback. Makes it a win-win for everybody all around.

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