You remember Bubble Bobble don’t you? The arcade classic with the fruit and the jumping from platform to platform. The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole is like that except there’s wizards instead of dragons and nothing much else.
So what’s the synopsis? Well there’s a couple of wizards and they’re walking along and they fall down a…well, you read the title. Besides a few half-arsed attempts at meta jokes in the cut-scenes (consisting of them stood side-by-side), it really doesn’t leave much up to the imagination. You have to jump up through about 100 levels with a few bosses interspersed throughout and…look, it’s Bubble Bobble okay? They’ve tried to recreate Bubble Bobble.
First things first, the best thing I can say about The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole is that it works. Everything is functioning and the characters move where you tell them to go. I noticed no glitches and, if I were a tutor grading this I’d give them a pass saying ‘well done, you got the basics down, have a certificate of completion’. That’s all it seems to be, though; a high-school project that someone thought they could put up on the market. It all feels a bit cheeky to be honest. It’s simple to say the least and maybe very young kids could be fobbed off with it if it were on a tablet or something, which incidentally it’s not. Then again, with all the alternatives out there why choose this? I cannot honestly say I’d pay this a second glance.
The whole thing seems innocuous enough, and if I saw this on the internet then the best I could say is that it’s inoffensive. That being said, I probably wouldn’t look twice at it, as it wouldn’t even register.
Where Bubble Bobble brought about a whole new genre with the arrival of the comical action platformer, this, I’m afraid to say, doesn’t really offer anything. I understand that this is a small indie studio and it doesn’t give me any pleasure to have a bash like this, but, to put it quite simply, they’re charging for a game that belongs on free browser games site. Play for a few minutes, if that, before moving on, whilst they get to collect a little ad revenue. First project and they move on to bigger and better things. Done. Why anyone would want to pay for this, let alone bother to spend time downloading it is beyond me?
The level designs in The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole get really boring and repetitive, as all they seemed to have done is shift the platforms round slightly with no real visible form of progression. Oh yeah, sorry, there are bosses at points, whereby they’ve simply enlarged one of the smaller sprites to roll back and forth along the screen, whilst you stand on a platform out of harm’s way and shoot (what is it; stars?) at its big dumb head until one of you passes out. Sometimes you’d even find yourself trapped in a small space, leading me to wonder how much thought they actually put into individual level-design (if any). Everything just felt lazy and uninspired, like they were simply looking to complete the bare minimum required needed to pass it off as a game. Even the music sounds as if they ripped some copyright free loop and whacked it over the top. They do have a lot of different fruit, though. Could I mention that as a positive? There’s apples, grapes, pears…they even have some cherries and melons. You can also jump on a spring to get them, up and down and…
The thing is I understand that a game doesn’t need factors such as flashy graphics or a high-budget to create a engaging and entertaining experience. We’re very much past this point in the world of indie gaming now. But, whilst your Papers Please and Undertales may not be able to compete in the realms of big-budgets, they can provide innovation and inspiration that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. This offers none of that. Why do I point this out you ask? Isn’t it just a cheap time killer? Yes, except it’s not cheap for what it is, ultimately nullifying the one redeeming feature it may have had. It, therefore, just comes across as opportunistic and crass.
One good thing about The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole is that it reminded me of how much I enjoyed Bubble Bobble. Did I tell you that already?