As we still await the next instalment in the Mega Man and Metroid series’, (which has been a long time) we look to indie, fan and studio developers to provide us with their best efforts and imaginations to what could come next. Incorporating modern gaming styles with the theme of Super Metroid and feel of Mega Men X, we get titles like Featherpunk Prime for us to plough countless hours into shooting things…and then doing it again.
Featherpunk Prime is a title that really provides a fun and challenging gaming experience. As soon as you begin, you’re thrown into a tutorial that looks to give you the mere basic baby steps. However, once the main game starts it’s a wondrous fusion of chaotic platform jumping, exploration and gun firing. The game is rapidly paced, and each level will variate the more you go back to play it (or by means have to go back due to dying). With intoxicating 80’s disco music and fresh, modern take on NES platforming classics, this title will keep you on your toes.
Gliding on walls and facing bosses (guardians) are just two of the similarities seen in previous games, and working these games from nostalgia for means of modern gameplay are how indie games are done well. One good example of this is Shovel Knight, and not games such as Mighty No. 09. Thankfully, it seems that Featherpunk Prime finds itself squarely in the former’s camp. The game has an innumerable amount of Avian Warbot enemies, weaponry and add-ons which prevent the stages from becoming too stale.
The death and checkpoint mechanics are where the game can be kind, but also fall flat. Let’s just say you’ve managed to reach the first checkpoint on floor six and are now traversing up to the first Guardian on floor 12. You’re inches away from beating them and… boom you’re dead and right back down to floor seven! This can become very frustrating as you will have to fight all of the same enemies, with the only real gaming benefit being that the layout will be randomised like The Binding of Isaac. Then again, the levels can appear repetitive, with the main differences being the increase in enemies and the change in colour scheme after checkpoints.
Once you die a lot there is a method in the game you can play to your advantage, if you enjoy constantly dying and having another go. This entails collecting more Tekcells which work towards upgrades such as health, firepower and shooting speed. The upgrades that you possess remain with you after your death and so give you a better chance in round two. This is most likely to happen upon your first encounter with a boss. Each battle is very similar to Super Metroid, with a huge target, a multitude of attacks and a small room with four walls. Overcoming these bosses is not easy and requires quick thinking and fast paced movement and pistol shooting. Your early weapons are in infinite supply and later ones are recharged, which is one of the kinder and more useful aspects of the game. As you progress, you will encounter more add-ons which become truly necessary, as the later enemies will turn the level into an inescapable gauntlet. Certain levels also provide mini bosses called ‘sentinels’ which, to be honest, can be defeated if you stand out of the way and line your aim up just right (a reoccurring factor).
The plot of the game is that war is raging in the Avereon Galaxy, and that the Cybirdroid weapons company is profiting from the ordeal. It’s your duty as a mechanical flamingo to stop them. With more floors than I care to remember, Featherpunk Prime tests your skills as a gamer and offers you a variety of exciting rewards as a result. The game states it is best played with a controller, and if you do not edit this setting to mouse/keyboard in the options menu, then you will have to deal with some wall glitches and a lack of an aim button.
Super Hatch Games consists of artist Stephen Payne and programmer Dan Jeffery, who previously worked at Sony on projects such as the upcoming PlayStation VR. The two decided they had learned enough over the years to go indie. This is becoming a more familiar site. It seems, then, to have been a worthwhile career move for the pair. While a flamingo stands on just one foot, Featherpunk Prime can stand on both proudly and hold its head up high. I recommend this game to those who love run and guns, a ton of enemies and difficult bosses.