One of the things that happens when I play games is I tend to get rather enthusiastic while playing them and get into them very quickly (if hammily, as the other guys will be able to attest from our games of Dawn of War together). This game, without a doubt, caused me to spout possibly the weirdest (if you aren’t provided with context) comment I’ve ever made in my entire life: “Fear the wrath of the old lady!”
…I swear it makes sense in context, but I’m not able to provide it to avoid spoilers. Sorry, guys, you’re on your own!
Anyway, this game is one that sits in a very odd position in gaming, as it is a sequel to a game that is a spin off of a game that, at the time of writing, is not yet on Steam (although I’m fairly sure that it’s available off of Steam and it’ll be on Steam on the 11th of November, if you’re interested in seeking it out). It’s not a bad thing, to be sure, but, having jumped into this game without having played the previous installment of the series or the original game that Pink Heaven spun off from, I couldn’t tell you anything about them beyond that they exist.
Still, if Pink Heaven is any indication of what to expect from the developer (Studio Pixel, who are probably best known for making Cave Story and, well, the other games connected to this one), then I am going to be more than happy to trawl through their stuff for filler material whenever I have a week with nothing to cover in the future, as they seem like they are making exactly the sort of games that I am going to love…well, when not playing the awesomeness that is Dawn of War and Painkiller, at least!
Pink Heaven is a 2D platformer that harkens back a bit to the old fashioned days when platformers didn’t really have plots (not that they really do now!) and the goal was just “go forth and do stuff”. Basically, you play as an old lady who can throw fireballs (clearly a sign that this game is based in reality…) who is sent to rescue a shopkeeper from aliens by…someone (probably someone from the previous games, I can’t say for sure at the moment). You basically have to navigate two worlds (which have a lot of mini levels as part of them, so it’s not quite as easy as it sounds) and fight the alien spaceship at the end of the game.
…OK, so the plot makes about as much sense as a cheese fire guard, but, let’s be honest, if you’re playing platformers looking for a plot that makes sense on paper, then you’re really looking in the wrong place. What is important is the gameplay, and it is here that Pink Heaven excels, as it is a game which has enough challenge to require you to put some effort into playing the game, but isn’t so hard that you have to have beaten Kaizo Mario blindfolded and without state saves to have a chance of beating it. There’s also an optional hard mode you get from getting the hidden ending which I didn’t bother to get (I know, I’m lazy…), so the challenge can certainly be ramped up if you have the time and patience to unlock the hidden ending. It’s not a very long game (I breezed through it on my first playthrough in about twelve minutes, and I was doing this while in the middle of making dinner, so I had to pause the game at least twice!), but the two endings and the hard mode should be more than enough to encourage at least a few playthroughs.
I also really like the retro style of the art design. It’s still clearly got an eye in modern design work, as the sprites are more complex than you’d have got in the original era of platform games in the 80s, but they still have a pixelated look which gives the game a retro feel that I like a lot.
Really, that’s about all I feel I need to say about Pink Heaven. It’s not a perfect game, as I think the short length could prove a problem if you like games with a lot of replayability, but it’s certainly a fun time killer if you like retro games and, for a free game, you certainly could do far worse than this!