Despite this being their first release, the Brothers Lewandowski and Team2Bit already have a storied history; running a successful Kickstarter campaign, becoming reality-TV darlings, and all while promoting and prepping retro beat-em’-up Fist Puncher for release later this year. For now, they’re testing the crowded waters of XBLIG with their ‘IGN’s Next Game Boss’ winner, endless runner Washington’s Wig (80 MSP). Props for the NES-era box art.
The premise concerns faithful canine Dogsworth McFreedom coming to the rescue of General Washington and fledgling revolutionary forces. More pointedly, bringing the good sir his powdered wig at mid-Delaware Crossing and changing the course of a country. If the whole thing sounds like preposterous revisionist history to you, that’s because it is preposterous revisionist history. If you have to be told this and haven’t yet cracked a smile, you are in serious jeopardy, my friend.
You gotta love that soundtrack.
Stressing complete accessibility, the game requires only the ‘A’ button, for jumping (and double-jumping!), sliding, and avoiding Dogsworth’s enemies— other dogs, adorned with the British flag (natch) that try to slow or stop you in your assuredly patriotic quest. As is the case with all endless runners, knowing enemy / obstacle tactics (to jump or not to jump, and when) is key, and is entirely visual, making success a matter of timing instead of memorization.
Though Dogsworth won’t undertake the hairy task alone. You will find aid from other animal allies (via high and low routes) to bypass enemy blockades, as well as powerups for invulnerability and to increase your pup’s speed. Each step on the ice of the Delaware builds momentum; it’s important to note that you should only go airborne when necessary, as speed factors into every mode.
Arcade mode uses your standard level format, increasing the challenge and enemies after each successful delivery, only to be told by Washington that you’ve retrieved the wrong wig (that whole ‘Princess is in another castle’ thing, but with fake hair). ‘Endless Run’ drops progression in favor of one long run and one life, to see how far you can get. Also available is a two-player race mode, and an addicting Time Trial option placing particular emphasis on perfection and speed powerups. Rounding out the package are some solid tunes (the ‘whispering’ title ditty will get lodged in your brain) and guest tracks, and local highscore boards in each category. Time Trial also gives you access to other playable characters, with cameo appearances from the purple goat of Escape Goat, and Tom from A Virus Named TOM. They don’t change the mechanics of the game, though it was nice to see some familiar indie faces.
Ultimately what separates Washington’s Wig from something like Pig & Bullet is personality. It’s still simplistic and arguably just as repetitive, but whereas P&B felt unnaturally extended and couldn’t shake its ‘flash game’ origins, WW uses its humor and quirk to win you over. Having a more varied enemy set and gameplay base on which to build helps as well. Lasting appeal may still elude Washington’s Wig, but fun in the interim will get you your dollar’s worth.