Author Topic: ANTONBLAST (Switch) Preview  (Read 602 times)

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Offline lolmonade

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ANTONBLAST (Switch) Preview
« on: April 18, 2024, 01:02:49 PM »

ANTONBLAST is a beautiful disaster of a 2D platformer.

I’m concerned for developer Summitsphere’s well-being, because their Kickstarter funded game Antonblast is the kind of shared fever dream where if it were a child of mine, I’d be regularly checking their temperature and considering when to take them to the hospital.  The game is billed as inspired by the likes of Warioland.  I haven’t played that series since the black and red monstrosity on the Virtual Boy, and while I could find the connective tissue between the two, I couldn’t anticipate how the intensity has been cranked up to eleven and a weird factor that is off the charts.

Either as Dynamite Anton (or Annie), the player is equipped with a dash, dive, and hammer.  The hammer is a tool of destruction for enemies and breakable environmental barriers like blocks, crates, and heart containers.  It also acts as a high jump by jumping and hitting down plus attack, creating a bounce that is higher but can feel unwieldy.  The dive can be used as an attack, and in some cases is the only way to open pipes that funneled me to the next section of stage.  Anton has the heft you’d expect from Wario – inherently slow with a locomotion that can get out of control if ramping up to top speeds.  Like rolling downhill, trying to pump the breaks is folly.   The levels in the demo are shaped around Anton/Annie’s character traits, and while manic, feel designed tightly to their range of motion.  Those levels are so full of destructive obstacles that make both the dash & dive critical.  A door may be blocked by a pile of boxes, and large gaps between platforms make the dash essential.

The levels are a journey of bounding past obstacles, including blocks that can only be destroyed by pulling the pin on a box, four of them total with the different suits of a deck.  Those open up the next sections, which eventually ends in what is lovingly described as “happy hour”.  When the alarm hits, Happy Hour turns the levels into a timed race back to the level’s beginning with sometimes wild changes such as a hot air balloon crashing and creating a pit to fall into.  There’s also opportunities to collect more points that look like poker chips and make a slot machine jackpot sound while grabbing them.  In the demo, neither of the happy hour end chases had me running up against the buzzer, but given they’re early levels, I could see it becoming a more distinct risk/reward situation.

I mean this in the nicest way possible – the characters and levels are ugly.  Everything has a layer of grunge to it, and there’s an asymmetry that adds to Antonblast’s unhinged nature.  Anton’s facial expressions, body language, and brief snippets of dialogue give the impression that he could be Wario’s long lost brother who took a road trip to burning man and came back changed, worse for the wear.  It’s an intentional ugliness well executed, and evokes memories of Earthworm Jim and Ahh Real Monsters.

Antonblast is primed to be one of the more fascinating 2D platformers of the year, bursting with character and a layer of filth that makes me want to get down in the mud with them.  Antonblast will be available on Nintendo Switch this year.