When it comes to the platformer genre, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve just about seen it all. Whether you prefer the solid gameplay of the Mario franchise, the blood splattered gameplay of Super Meat Boy or the puzzles and humour of Oddworld chances are you’ve found something that appeals to you within the scope of the genre. So where does that leave the developers of the future? How can they help the genre to expand without retreading old ground? Well sometimes in order to progress you have to go back to the beginning, and that’s exactly where Blanco plans to take us.

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Though the game’s initial trailer presents it as little more than a graphical imitation of low-resolution games such as Minecraft Blanco appears to take its influences from several highly successful video game franchises with level designs inspired by games such as Super Mario 64, The Sonic Adventure Series and of course Minecraft. The design of the titular protagonist stands in stark contrast to the colourful level design with a squat, featureless body that clashes with the otherwise vibrant world. Though simple, the characters design is attractive with a thick, black border that immediately brought to mind the iconic hero of The Binding of Isaac. These graphical and architectural allusions to earlier franchises are supported by a solid base of competent gameplay mechanics that are sure to entertain without overly taxing the players abilities.

The Demo’s gameplay consists of navigating various levels and passageways in search of a teleport pad that will take you to the next level all the while avoiding or combating the various mobs throughout. In addition to the somewhat basic enemies, players will also have to have to avoid being crushed or impaled by the many traps that lie in wait. Variable jumping height and the use of bombs allow players to both defend themselves and fully explore their spartan surroundings.

Though the game is still in an early phase of its development the highest point by far would have to be the soundtrack with a mix of energetic and rich funky electronic beats that are a pleasure to listen to. Fortunately, developer 51Pegasi Studios have made the current tracks available to listen to on youtube for free.

In addition to providing free access to the soundtrack as it develops, 51Pegasi is continually discussing the game’s direction and difficulty through both the Steam Greenlight forums and various threads on 4chan allowing for a somewhat unique and continually evolving development cycle in which the fans and gamers play a direct role. So far the game appears to lack any evidence of the site’s particular brand of humour whether it remains that way is yet to be seen.

Ultimately Blanco is a diamond in the rough with all the elements necessary to achieve success. Gameplay concepts are solid with a memorable protagonist though the enemy design has a long way to go. The level designs are fun if a bit barebones at present though they leave me intrigued about what themes will come next. The game’s soundtrack is awesome and makes for an all-around solid platforming experience.

Blanco is currently in the early stages of development with an application for Steam Greenlight currently available for voting and review with a playable demo available for download. You can check it out here.

 

Chris Senz is a freelance journalist writing for PN2

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