The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: ‘Rasternauts’ and ‘The Hero of Budgie Island’

Monday Monday Monday

Blasting.

Rasternauts is a sidescrolling action-adventure created by mostlyfictional, aka Liam McGuigan. Players will select one of the many scientists that are working on teleportation technology, only to find themselves stuck in an alternate universe where everything has been vectorized.

While there are technically three games within this title, the gameplay loop is relatively the same. I will be focusing on the title game as the main point of reference. Players will find themselves hopping from vector realm to vector realm hoping to find either the missing scientists, or a door that lets them escape. Each player-controlled scientist is armed with a unique gun with unlimited ammunition, able to mow down all of these terrifying vector enemies.

Some enemies may drop colourful orbs — these are treated like the rings from Sonic games as they act as ‘health’. While the player has at least a single orb, they cannot die. But if you get shot without any, it is back to the nearest checkpoint. The handy twist to incentivize not getting hit and collecting orbs is in the top right, where the player’s gun is highlighted. Every ten orbs held will upgrade the player’s bullets to a new colour making them stronger and giving an added effect.

Thanks to how Rasternauts has set up the game, the base game has an open-endedness that lets players pick and choose which ‘door’ they want to go through at any given time. Levels are similar in structure but vary in terms of layout, aesthetic, and difficulty. There is also the other two game modes, titled ‘Being Frank’ and ‘Powered Arnor’. Being Frank is like a demo, as it is three levels tailored to getting players to understand the experience quickly and with as much fun as possible. Powered Arnor on the other hand is a trial-like mode, where players race against the tide; literally. The waters are constantly surging upwards, and it is up to Arnor to get to the top alive so he can rip the bad guy a new one for replacing his arm with a cannon.

It’s quirky and upbeat, which helps Rasternauts bridge the gaps between levels and keeps everything lighthearted and fun. You can quit at any time and return where you left off no matter how far you’ve progressed. It can feel a bit difficult to control at first, with movement being a bit slidey, but that’s all part of the fun of getting teleported out of your safe pixelated home. If you love running and gunning and don’t mind taking out some vector art along the way, this is a great game to try out.

Peekaboo

The Hero of Budgie Island is a 2.5D adventure created by Team Comicade, an indie group based in Australia. Players will visit Budgie Island to save it from an evil scientist named Dr. Angery. Yes, that is actually his name.

Players will jump around the island, talking to citizens and helping them with their problems while trying to draw out the doctor. Much of these problems are dealing with goons that Dr. Angery has employed, so finding them and taking them on is a top priority. They are normally protected by many enemies such as zombies, so players will be mashing their attack button to cut through them all to get to the main prize. Each ‘boss’ has a hilariously reminiscent mechanic, like the first one named ‘Baryl’ who requires players to scale a tower and jump over barrels.

This is a game narrated and explained through the eyes of a child wanting to be a super hero, drawing on the vast imagination that they can have for the mundane events that occur in their lives. This explains why every boss reminds the player of other games, for the kid just assumes that this is a fantastic mechanic to fight against — and who hasn’t thought about how they could take on a barrel-throwing villain? The cast of characters are all silly 2D drawings that one might recall from their own childhood, from an eyepatch wearing salesman to a mayoral parrot. Nothing is off the table, because the mind of a child is too vast to comprehend.

It’s all in the spirit of good fun and wild imaginations, and The Hero of Budgie Island delivers as best it can. The 2.5D art style gives the sense that doodles have come to life.

The game is being overhauled, so the current iteration of the game is not the last time we’ll see Budgie Island. Of course this does mean that any bugs/issues are not really the highest of priority, and unfortunately I did crash out when I went to leave the game the first time. Nevertheless, it encapsulates the wild, imaginative fun of being a kid again. If you’ve ever imagined that your dentist is evil, this is a great game to try.

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