Henry is Hungry lives mainly through its charm; you control a goat that’s dedicated to eat everything possible in its reach. The game comes with custom sprites and an unique OST, different levels and enemy types, grandiose cutscenes (featuring not only a pissed farmer intimidating the goat, but also a romance-story) and even a small bossfight at the end. There are some small riddles, but mainly it is a small 2D „collectathon“ game were you explore the levels and search for items. The whole thing got some smaller problems – the engine that is used seems to be rather inefficient, and is sometimes overburdened by the objects that are around resulting in slowdowns, ladders are a bit quirky, and at some places difficulty is caused rather through the – Gameboy typical – clunky controls and technically hard to pull jumps instead of a demanding level design; but the game is fun, and so sugar sweet and lovingly done that it isn’t hard to oversee these drawbacks. It uses GB Studio (and could thus be run on original hardware), can be played in the browser (although I recommend using a local emulator) and the assets are put under a free license (making it free software).
The developers later game, Blobworld, features simple, yet beautiful sprites, some really challenging levels, and much more fluid controls. The game plays vastly different from Henry is Hungry, and might be best compared to „N“ or „Super Meat Boy“ – you have to maneuver through short, difficult levels, and might die a few dozen times on the very same jump. The level design is – apart from smaller problems like obstructively placed signs with instructions, and passages where the engines precision can’t fully carry the „chicane“ the dev created – pretty good, difficulty and progression are well measured, and did I already say that the sprites are damn well made? Nothing experimental, ground breaking or even surprising here, but in the end „Blobworld“ is a rock solid, well made little platformer that comes a long way with its rather limited resources.
Blobworld is built upon the „Pocket Platformer„, a free-to-use tool (OpenSource, but not free for commercial use, as the dev doesn’t want it to be used to make a quick buck – which is fair enough as far as I’m concerned) that is used for various similar projects – but I’ve to say that I found Blobworld more captivating than the others that I tested.
I have a sore spot for platformers. Back in the days™ there used to be various greatly perceived underground releases: The output of the enigmatic Fallen Angel Industries, N, or the notorious IWBTG are only some examples from the well known top of the iceberg. The genre seemingly lost some of its esteem in the last few years – developers often hear that they won’t get any attention for them as there is word around that there would be a overabundance of releases (while I disagree, it indeed is rather hard to get anyone to play your platformer games nowadays), and players might be frustrated since many of the remaining releases in the underground sector (but not only there) seem to be rather low effort (which is fatal, as this genre usually requires some intense polishing to work out in a non frustrating way), making the creation of good platformer games to something prettly close to an lost art. It’s nice to find developers who pour – against the trend – time and energy into them and keep the flame alive.