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For: iPhone


Product: Plushed | Developer: Blacksmith Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Plushed iPhone, thumbnail 1
There's nothing wrong with ambition. Ambition is one of the few drivers that gets things done in this world, but it's a double-edged sword. 'Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself. And falls on the other,' an ambitious playwright once put it.

Plushed is an ambitious game. As a platformer, it looks for its inspiration to the motherlode of Super Mario Bros, while drawing on the sort of distinctive art style that's characterised by more recent titles such LittleBigPlanet and Braid.

That it's not successful in either comparison is hardly surprising - these are pinnacles of gaming history.

And, to be honest, it's not that far off. The art style is perhaps more of a personal taste issue: Plushed's hand-drawn graphics slip into sketchy on occasions.

No, the real frustration is the quality of the platforming action.

Plushed and cuddly

To set the scene: you're a plush toy bunny in a twisted fairytale world trying to find your owner, a small girl who's somehow become queen of the realm.

The game is split into side-scrolling levels in which you wander around jumping over things, avoiding certain death, interacting with the locals, and collecting ladybirds to build your high score.

Of these tasks, interacting with the locals is the most fun. While you move bunny with left and right buttons on the bottom-left of the screen, tapping the screen anywhere to jump. You can also place objects from your inventory directly on the screen.

This works beautifully, with mechanics such as getting pizza-eaters to move by dragging a pizza in front of their open mouth to get them to move. Feed them the pizza and then you can jump on them for an extra high bounce.

There are similar mechanics with creatures, such as a venus flytrap and others that are attracted by your perfume. Other tricks include button-operated doors and gates, as well as shaking your handset to get items down from trees and rocks to fall on boss characters.

Death of the bunny

Where things become much less fun is the certain death part of the game. This is because Plushed ignores two fundamental platformer design rules: let the player avoid or kill enemies and don't allow single-touch death.

The clearest examples of these are Mario's bounce attack, which enables you jump on enemies and turn them into useful objects in the process, and Sonic's golden rings, possession of which effectively acts as an extra life.

In Plushed, however, you have no direct offensive capability and if you so much as touch an enemy, you're dead and it's back to the last checkpoint. And, frankly, there aren't enough of those either.

For hardcore gamers, this is all part of the challenge and various collision detection issues and odd object reset bugs aside, Plushed certainly provides that challenge. The basic jumping mechanic is solid and enjoyable in a way you'd expect from a good platformer.

For average gamers, though, the requirement to perform 20 consecutive perfect jumps over moving enemies, pots of green gloop, onto disappearing ledges and avoiding falling spikes goes beyond the point of frustration to the point of 'find another game to play.'

Brando bunny

It's a real shame, because with a bit more polish, and thought (maybe even with just a few more save points), Plushed could have been a contender.

As it is, taking over an hour and 50+ attempts to clear one part of the third level of a nine-level game has to be seen as a fundamental misjudgement on the part of the developer, especially when you immediately go on to experience a similar situation in level four.

Sorry - this time, the bunny gets it in the neck.
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 23 December 2009
Plushed is an ambitious game that for various big and small reasons fails to deliver on its considerable potential
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