Play gameAnimalia Dreamland's itch.io page
|Polish and Completeness||#16||2.688||2.688|
|Art and Style||#18||2.625||2.625|
Ranked from 16 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.
This category is reserved for games. Any tools or toys should be submitted to the other category. Mapper 28 compatible entry up to 64KB with NO PRG-RAM is required! Must be free or include a free demo.
This game may be used in a physical and digital multi-cart release and distributed by jam organizers as part of a digital archive (ZIP).
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I thought this was a pretty cute game; thanks for submitting it! I appreciated how many levels it has and I think the randomness is interesting. I think it's actually a bit too random, though; it feels like the jump height can be anything within a certain range, which can make it hard to get a handle on the controls. I think it would be easier to play if you restricted it to just 2 or 3 clearly-different jump height options.
I also think the gravity is overtuned and pulls you down way too fast. You mentioned in another comment that holding jump makes you fall slower, which I didn't discover on my own for the hamster; I don't think this is a normal mechanic in platformers unless the game has an explicit floaty/slow-falling mechanic, such as the blimp in Milon's Secret Castle. I think this mechanic isn't very discoverable because the slower rate isn't so slow as to make it obvious and I suspect most players don't normally hold jump all the way until they reach the ground. That said, it is obvious with the bird because the floating speed is so slow and floating has a unique animation. Outside of speedrunning, I'm not sure you'd ever want to fall at the faster rate, and I'd suggest removing this behavior for the hamster.
The bird is very cool, but also way too rare. I think I only encountered it once when first playing through the game. I like the idea of having different animals with different capabilities and I suggest leaning into that more. It also seems like a cleaner way to mix things up than randomly varying the movement stats of a single animal, because it's visually obvious how it's going to play rather than requiring experimentation each time to understand how you're going to move. More animals also fits well with the game's theme!
Finally, I think a more-structured, less-random mode would be nice to have, where difficulty could be tuned to increase over time, you could get more time with the bird, and you could have levels tuned to specific movement capabilities, but I understand it doesn't fit the dreamland theme and removes one of the game's unique aspects. I wouldn't be surprised if this is an unpopular suggestion!
My other notes are minor or things others brought up already:
• Level transitions after the last crystal are abrupt and should either pause or continue playing briefly before transitioning.
• Level transitions are a little messy. Sprites and color emphasis are turned off mid-screen, so you can get a crystal fragment toward the top and then no crystals while backgrounds are still shown, as well as a different color on top if emphasis is changing. Palettes also change on the wrong frames when switching between the title card and level. It's all very fast, though, so it still looks mostly OK.
• Despite the scroll being 8 pixels down (which is clever!), the crystals in the top corners may be a problem on aggressively cropped and/or curved TVs. While I normally assume a top crop of 16 pixels (and 12 on bottom), for required content, I'd suggest more caution here, at least staying away from the corners. The crystals are pretty thin, and combined with a side crop of up to 8 pixels and the curve TVs tend to have in the corners, I'm not surprised that some TVs would hide this.
• There's a minor hardware glitch your game is triggering that causes a single scanline to occasionally draw from the wrong nametable. This happens when you write to $2000 during rendering; landing that on a certain pixel of the scanline causes the glitch. To avoid this, you should set your scroll during vblank after you're done writing to VRAM, not as the last thing in your frame logic. (If that isn't workable for some reason, you can instead fix this by writing to $2100 when your scroll starts on the right nametable (and still $2000 when it starts on the left nametable).)
• It might be nice to be able to skip the level titles by pressing start to allow dying to be a little faster.
Sorry if this is way too much feedback and I hope it doesn't give the impression I thought it was a bad game! I enjoyed it and look forward to any improvements you make to it or other games you make in the future.
Thanks for the feedback! First and foremost i’ll say: i’ve finally gone and made the manual free, which should hopefully avoid some of those discoverability issues. Image here:
As you can see and probably did not discover during gameplay, there is a less-random mode in which you can choose your jump parameters, orthogonal to the “play all the levels in order” mode. I personally prefer a jump somewhere toward the lower right corner. This certainly doesn’t go as far as you suggest tho!
As for the slow-falling, most of my platformer experience comes from kaizo mario world / mario maker, both of which make extensive use of the slow-fall, and spyro, which has a glide. I could set the terminal velocity a bit lower, but i’m too used to having a slow-fall in the other games i play to consider getting rid of it in this one.
More animals = more good. A friend has suggested a wall-climbing lizard! I was aiming for a 16KB file (8K+8K) which is pretty full, but i actually couldn’t figure out how to appropriately set the header to allow that. If i were to build off of what my header says i have, then i’ve got plenty of space to add more neat bits.
Hm, yeah i could set a bit somewhere indicating that terrain creation has already happened, and then just delay (checking for start) for the amount of time it would have taken to do the generation. It’s a loading screen!
All the little things about like, frame timings, when it’s good or bad to write certain addresses — i feel it shows that this is my first NES game! I’m already working on a second, in a completely different, slower-paced genre. Thanks for the tips, they’ll help a lot there!
Thanks for the manual image; that definitely explains some stuff I didn't notice in-game. I don't think I would have ever found Lucid Mode on my own, heh. That explains the big box on the screen, which I had thought that was actually a placeholder for a picture.
Regarding the header, Mesen has a header editor (Debug -> Edit iNES Header) that you can use to set various properties, including an 8 KiB size. Sizes smaller than 16 KiB are a little challenging to do manually because they require a different, more complicated format added in NES 2.0. That'd probably reduce your emulator and flash cart compatibility, though, since I'd bet some emulators and PowerPak (maybe even Everdrive) won't handle this other size format.
I liked the character animations, and also the whole idea of things being random because of dream logic :)
Some things in case you decide to work more on this game after the compo:
Thanks so much! And I agree that the endings are rather abrupt! I was building for an 8K+8K cartridge, operating under the assumption that that would be cheap, but then went to order parts and ended up with significantly larger ROMs, which means I’ve definitely got 8K to spare for more code!
As for overscan, I had considered it. Every object has at least one 8px row and column wholly within the PocketNES safe area, even if not the whole object. I felt this was a decent compromise between safety and freedom, but perhaps I could have gone for a tighter window.
And the fall-speed is capped! Like in most platformers you fall more slowly while holding jump (especially when you’re a bird!), but everything does seem to be tuned a bit “fast”. A while ago, I went back and played my jam game this was based on and the speed is something I noticed immediately
Oops, I did miss the fact that I could hold jump to fall slowly 😅
(and my comment about possible overscan issues was based on a streamer because my NES is on a LED TV with the exact opposite problem; so maybe it was their setup that had too much overscan?)
Overscan is a tricky beast! My usual emulator doesn’t display the top or bottom 8 lines at all by default, so it wasn’t until late in development that I realized some people might be seeing more of the screen than I was! Ended up modifying my level reader so that it would basically duplicate a row of tiles into the underscan. I’m sure bringing my active area inward by a tile in all directions would make it for sure visible on even the bezeliest of screens though
A cute and charming start. Whether this continued or your next NES project, I'm looking forward to it.
I'd also love to see a digital implementation of your physical game, Ascension, btw. :)
Ah! Thanks for the kind words!
And … a digital implementation of Ascension, eh? There’s been a few times i’ve thought about making such a thing, especially since everyone I’ve seen play it solo has always gotten distracted and forgotten which side plays next lol
Fun game! I enjoyed the variety of music. Animations are nice. Physics are slippery - it can be tough to control sometimes, but I suspect that's intentional. I'd like to see more positive feedback for completing a screen.
Overall, fun! Nice job.
I like the drama of the lead up to the last crystal which seems to always be a 1-way ticket jump. I think it'd be fun if you played that up more. Maybe that last crystal pulses or an aura appears around it to build anticipation once you've collected all the other crystals.
By the same token, I want more of a payoff once I make the jump to get the final crystal; maybe something like a slight pause so I can enjoy my victory for a bit before the trials of the next level. Or the crystal could fly around me and then off-screen.