Have you ever wanted to try pole vaulting? No? How about pole vaulting into space? By the power of your very own farts? Well thanks to the new Dutch indie developer Ostrich Banditos, you can make that one giant leap using your very own air current, minus the smell.
High Vaultage is a game based around the wonderful world of wind. Smelly wind that comes out of your bum. You start off as a nobody, flinging yourself around your backyard. Over time, you collect team members and locations based upon your skills and how much money you earn. Of course, a game purely about this would be as boring as listening to your granddad go on about the war again. Fortunately, Ostrich Banditos anticipated this and added an… innovative feature that is farting. To build up your gas expulsion power, you have to eat TexMex in midair. Yum.
Being a simple Flash game, the menu is extremely basic with just three buttons; one to start the wind powered experience, one to view your hi-scores and one to watch as the names of the hardworking people fly up into space, presumably via their own farts. Simplicity is the key within this game and it’s a widely embraced quality by the gaming community as a whole. However, once you head into the Hi-scores page, you’re greeted with more options of ‘Unlockables’ and ‘Awards’, which would be more easily accessible if it were on its own in the main menu, under an ‘Extras’ title.
The awards you receive are for your various skills while in the air, typically in how long you stay up, how far you travel and how long you’re flying for. If you’re a petite boy, this will all be less than the great Olympian farting master which you aim to be by the end of the game. These awards are a handful of virtual trophies to show off your gaseous abilities, much like a small boy in the canteen at lunch. They don’t do anything but they’re a nice aspect to flaunt in people’s faces and they add replayability to anyone who enjoys that sort of thing.
As well as earning awards, you’ll find yourself earning unlockables by blowing your way through the levels. You can change the location by paying for new venues such as your school and the Olympics, which adds a sense of variety and a few new gameplay mechanics such as new steeds and more items. On the subject of steeds, achievements such as riding with them and perfectly landing tens of flights are all used to unlock new items, which is a nice boost of encouragement to play through the game as many times as possible in one day, though this isn’t really needed as you’ll mash the play button as if it were giving you free wads of cash each time.
Hi-scores are a large part of any simplistic game such as this one and the layout is just as important as the feature itself. Luckily for us, the developers obviously put a lot of thought into how to set out the scores so that you can easily compare and work on that self-improvement. Rather than shoving a total score into one area, they’ve split them into the three main features (as mentioned previously when collecting awards) so that you can not only get the best score possible but also so you can see just what your strengths are within the game. Obviously the biggest strength of all is the power of your gas-passing chamber, but that’s a whole other story and one not appropriate right now. Though seriously, you must be some sort of superhero, Fartman maybe? Gas Guy? As the game isn’t completely finished yet, we’re unsure as to whether the hi-scores have an online compatibility or not, though we can speak for the gaming world when we say it would be desired and would add countless hours onto gameplay for the competitive players out there.
Despite the game being in a retro 8-bit style, it has a very high level of detail, the bushes have various shades of greens and browns and the sky grows darker as you travel, allowing the stars to really shine, making the journey into the skies even more enjoyable and immersive. The sprites are very well designed, which anyone who’s ever been bored on Paint before will tell you is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming job. Because of this detail, the game has a welcoming, colourful feeling to it, immediately making you comfortable with an otherwise disturbing, prospect and it doesn’t stop there. The format of the game makes you very sceptical from the beginning about the amount of time and effort put into the animation, but I can assure you now that the answer is plenty. Each animal floats across the screen far more gracefully than any pet attached to a balloon would do in real life and you pass by just as smoothly resulting in a more user-friendly experience.
As you’re soaring through the air, a short loop of funky music plays in the background. Sure, it’s no Mozart, but who wants that old guy anymore? Not least because he’s dead. No, this music fits right in with the retro graphics and is so catchy that you’ll probably be singing it through your working day (though make sure to stop while in the toilets in case your boss hears and you have to explain the premise of the farting game you’ve been playing all night). The only criticism is that the loop feels a bit short, it’s not off-puttingly so but a few more notes wouldn’t go amiss – it wouldn’t have to be a whole soundtrack worth, just a bit more to hum along to. However, this could well be a problem that is worked on before release or even in later projects by the company.
In a nutshell (or bottle of bottom gas), this game offers a simple solution to your boredom, no matter where you are. You can play anything from a few minutes worth to hours and hours of flying into the stars fuelled by the power of your bodily wind and hitching a ride on various animals. Completely realistic too. Sure, the controls take time to get used to and it has tiny problems elsewhere but for the company’s first try at a free game, it’s definitely worth a play. Just be warned, you will be completely addicted. High Vaultage blows away the competition with a solid 7/10!