At GDC 2012, Kalypso's lineup included a secret little gem of a digital-only game called Alien Spidy, a combination platformer, physics and puzzle game that they've funded from the ground up with developer Enigma.
Alien Spidy has you playing as the game's namesake, Spidy, a cute alien arachnid. As Spidy, it's your job to climb, crawl, sling and swing your way through 70+ levels as you scour the planet to find the three missing parts of your spaceship as well as your lost friend, Virgi. The levels are spread out across three environments — Caves, Forest and Ponds — each being designed after its namesake, and featuring challenges and puzzles unique to its format. For example, in the Ponds levels, you'll often have to avoid water by bouncing across lily pads, using your web to grab onto outcroppings (and swing over water) or gathering air bubble power-ups to make you temporarily immune to drowning. Each level also features a whimsically distinct art style.
As you make your way through a mission, you get immediate feedback as you pass checkpoints. When the checkpoint turns green, it means you're doing fine; if it's red, you had better hustle if you hope to finish the level with enough points. You can rush through levels if that's your thing, but you'll probably fail to earn enough points to unlock the boss level for the environment — and therefore fail to find a spaceship part. It pays to try to find different ways to finish a level with a mix of speed and point collecting.
Within just a few minutes of play, we found the game to be pretty challenging, but not impossibly so. There are all sorts of obstacles, both animate (wasps kept cutting our webs while roly poly bugs kept blocking our paths) and inanimate to keep you on your toes. The game essentially shows you the most efficient path through an area at the start of the round, though it leaves it up to you as to how to follow that path. In our demos, for example, one person followed the platforming exactly as shown, bouncing off mushroom trampolines and slingshotting via webs off outcroppings while another demonstrator showed us how to accomplish the same thing in a completely different way (staying on the ground with lots of running, jumping and short bursts of web slinging). This is the kind of game that gives you some help but doesn't hold your hand. It also has that "I'm going to try just one more time" quality that keeps you coming back.
There are a lot of cool little elements in Alien Spidy in both the art and the puzzles. Spidy is a pretty funny little guy, and his idle animations hearken back to the days of Bubsy the Bobcat, where if you sat still for too long, the character yawns, looks right at you and stretches out as you push his patience. Little puzzle elements kick up the platforming a notch because they're tightly woven into the level design. For example, in one demo level, you wall-bounced like crazy, avoided mushrooms that spewed poisonous gas, and then shot like a rocket straight up at a very hungry bat. Again, Kalypso's demonstrators showed multiple ways to pass this simple bat "puzzle." One showed us a cherry that was hanging next to the bat, and if you timed a web shot just right, you'd cut it down, causing it to distract the bat and let you slip by. Another demonstrator ignored the fruit entirely, and when launched at the bat, fired machine gun-quick shots of webbing to slow him down; this stopped him just outside the bat's reach so he could happily scuttle along. It's pretty rare to have two people give a live demo of a game and show how it reflected their own play styles as they gave the demos, but it proved that you can play the game as you'd like.
Alien Spidy will appeal to gamers who loved the more challenging old-school platformers, like Ecco the Dolphin, Bubsy, etc. It's also welcoming and friendly to non-hardcore players and should offer a fun time for all. Keep an eye out for it on PSN, XBLA and PC this summer.
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