Flash Game R&A : MoneySeize

READ: Check the R&A homepage for an explanation of the various ranking categories.

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PLAY: http://www.kongregate.com/games/YMM315/moneyseize

MoneySeize is a game about a noble gentlemen, collecting coins so that he can build a really, really tall tower… the tallest one in the world, in fact. This involves collecting hundreds of coins from across multiple levels. That doesn’t sound too bad. But to say that it IS “bad” would be an understatement. This game is intensely difficult.

But high difficulty is nothing new. Some games thrive on this. No doubt, that’s what MoneySeize tries to do. It tries to cater to the veteran gamer by throwing absurd challenges in their face and perhaps making them want to smash their keyboards. But a key difference, I feel, between what makes difficultly either genuine or artificial is where the seasoned gamer places the majority of the blame (for their broken keyboard) for their frustration: on their own mistakes as a gamer or on the game’s design.

After spending a great deal of time with this game, I’m personally going with game design for the culprit.


SUMMARY: So let’s talk about what the game does right first, because it clearly does do a lot right. At its heart, its a hardcore platformer. You, in one form or another, run and jump. Along with this you also have other cool options, like the double jump, slide jump, and wall jump. For the most part, these work pretty well, and the game does a good job of gently nudging you when it feels you need a hint/refresher.

As for the levels themselves, things are pretty straightforward. One-hit kills are the order of the day, and navigating hazards to collect coins is your top priority right from the get-go. Your goal is very clear. From strange monsters to spinning blades… don’t get hit! There are a couple of not-so-obvious elements the designer purposely has for you to figure out, but pay attention long enough and its not too bad at all. The only minor complaint I have about one particular secret isn’t enough to merit lowering the score here.

SUMMARY: Understanding how to control the player is not a problem; the actual controlling of the player is where things get a little dicey. The physics for our main character are quite loose, and a quirk or two add to the dilemna here. For instance, you have to be falling (not still rising from your last jump, for instance) before you can wall jump. That may not seem like much, but in the heat of the moment this conundrum often caused me to burn up my double jump instead of wall jumping, which can often cause problems. In and of itself, the floaty physics aren’t particularly bad, but a couple of little details can cause you grief.

This is where the game truly has its shining point. The designer has taken simple game elements and forged them into dozens of boggling scenarios for you to handle. Things get switched up very nicely from stage to stage, be it firing precariously from cannon to cannon or trying to reach special birds before they take flight. Collected coins are also removed permanently from a level once it is finished. You can pick up a few coins, exit the level, and then come back and focus on only the coins you haven’t collected yet (often this is a necessity rathen than a choice). Its exceptionally creative, and I have to tip my figurative hat to them on this one.

And here is where things start to fall apart… royally (no pun intended). The controls and physics are all right. The level design is fantastic. But what do you get when you merge floaty physics with precise, single-tile jumps? Frustration. Lots and lots of frustration. Some levels require pretty precise manuevers on your part, but executing moves with precision when your nobleman is slipping and sliding around is an exercise in sheer irritation for me. I got sick of it. I want to be able to get from point A to point B without feeling like micromanaging my player’s position is a nightmare. It wouldn’t be so bad if the level design didn’t have you “threading the needle” so often. Have you tried threading the needle with a slippery character?

Pretty strong contender here. Its retro, but it does retro right. The soundtrack is pretty slick as well. I can’t complain much here.

The game exudes this humorous, quirky sense of regality. Often in-game hints are spoken by the main character using his uppercrust verbiage. It doesn’t feel like “just another platformer”. It establishes its own personality and sticks with it.

So does it work? Well, the game has its moments. But when its not having its moments, you may be vehemently kicking it in the teeth with football cleats. This game is good in my opinion… just not great. The level design and overall experience the game creates is well orchestrated. But even though the loose physics may have been intentional, it was a total killjoy for me at times. The game is definitely not boring, yet it still managed to grind at my patience with relative ease. For me, it can have some of my playing time, but getting to a 100% clear rating is probably not happening.

A strong platforming entry that is unfortunately hurt by a clash between its controls and level design.

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