Spike Dash Review

River Play Games approached me about reviewing their newest game Spike Dash. I played the game and there were some elements I liked, and some elements that need to get polished to make this game really good.

The first thing that caught my eye was the funny turtle space guy. He seem to crashed to some evil planet and needs to collect stars (and other objects) in the levels. The main character also has a a weapon that he can use to shoot enemies (although the enemies didn’t seem to care much about the weapon).

The game looks okay (besides the turtle I liked watching the particle effects when you shoot something), but has many small things that need fixing to make this game really enjoyable experience. The following items are all tiny issues, but fixing them would make the game feel polished.

Suggestions for improvements:

  • Target audience: I recommend thinking very carefully who is your audience. 3D platformer (puzzle/shooter) needs to be 100% clear who his players are. Now I think this game is not directly targeted to casual gamers. (More on this on the following points).
  • Camera: Sticking the camera the way it is might be okay, but I would have wanted the camera be closer to the turtle. Now sometimes the camera went in such position that I couldn’t see much.
  • Clear objectives: Gamers need to have information on where you can go, and where you cannot go. I personally think that by simply having text “Collect X more stars” and “Now go to the central portal” would help people to figure out what they need to do. Okay – I got the game’s idea – but somehow in the beginning it wasn’t clear what I’m expected to do. One idea could be to display a 3D arrow that “points to the direction where you need to go next”. It was also bit strange that my char was stopped by an invisible wall when I tried to go look the environment.
  • Controls: The turtle could jump little higher, and somehow I felt that he was sliding to different directions when I didn’t want that. Maybe adding more weight to the guy (so that he stops faster) and adding more power when he moves.
  • Time limit: Maybe it’s my playing style, but I would have wanted more time to explore the level a bit more. Now there’s 1 minute time limit to finish the levels, and for me it was very too little.
  • I wanna play: I died, and could not continue. I would like to see some sort of auto-saving (or unlimited lives per level) system so that I could try the level over and over, until I manage to solve it. Now if I die – it’s game over for good.
  • User interface: The UI was okay, but I believe the star count text could be displayed in different place (like top left corner or bottom of the screen). I would consider using different font color too. The time box graphics could be different too.

Besides the earlier tweaks, there were some errors that would need to get fixed:

  • Grammar: Grammar error in the intro would need to be fixed. It was nothing dramatical, but still makes the game look less polished.
  • Strange mouse cursor slowdown bug: When I clicked “new game”, the mouse cursor started moving very slowly. When I pressed “Play” it went back to normal.
  • I touched a wall and died?: Not sure if this was normal, but my turtle character touched the wall and instantly died in the second level.
  • Weak enemies? Not a big deal… but I was wondering how my character cannot beat those small enemies. My turtle is like 2-3 times bigger, but dies when some small monkey touches me. What about making monsters 3 times bigger than my turtle. Now that would make it scary! :)

The game looks fine, the cool turtle looks fine and this game has potential, but it needs some polishing and final touches to make it a fun game. Adjusting the character controlling, making sure there’s auto-save (or similar), and perhaps adjusting the time limit alone can make this game more enjoyable. Putting more effort to the points mentioned will help this game to leap to the next level.

If you want to try the game, check out River Play Games.

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