Indie Review: Toxic Bunny HD
I was so excited to eventually review Toxic Bunny HD, having interviewed the developers Celestial Games this year at rAge. Sadly, the game disappointed me on a number of fronts, as I will explain in due course.
- Worth The Time?If you enjoy old school platformers. This may be your cup of coffee.
- Things LovedI liked the art direction and the music.
- Things HatedI didn't enjoy the cumbersome gameplay, glitchy level design and the lacking implementation of controller support.
- RecommendationIf you enjoyed games like Earthworm Jim and Sonic, this is for you.
- Name: Toxic Bunny HD
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Celestial Games
- Publisher: Celestial Games
- Price: $11.99 (R107)
- Reviewed On: PC
Toxic Bunny HD is a remake of an old school game that doesn’t quite hit the mark I had hoped it to. I just found it to be a disappointing experience since I really felt the passion of the developers. The end product I feel is stuck squarely in an old school mentality that may not necessarily cut it in the thriving indie market we currently have. This is a shame because the game has potential it’s just that it stuck in the past. Of course, many would argue, and as they the developers said in my intereview, that the game is an HD update of an old school retro platforming classic made here in South Africa. But I digress, and this is why.
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Although, Toxic Bunny may have its genesis in the DOS-era of games, and was one of the first indie titles developed in South Africa, the platforming formula it follows is a bit archaic and frustrating at times. This is more a sign of age, than the game actually being a bad game. However, this in itself is problematic because the game in a sense loses out on embracing some of the major developments in platforming seen in the likes of Super Meat Boy, which is a game that blends the difficulty of old school platformers with new school platforming mechanics, that differ from the days of old. The issue with the platforming in the game is that the developers, as they stated in their interview, tried to build a game reminiscent of Sonic and Earthworm Jim, and this combination means that speeding up and jumping from platform to platform can be awkward at times. As Toxic Bunny tries to speed up and take a jump he is often snagged to the ground, or you can miscalculate a jump and die easily. In truth, the flow of the gameplay is clumsy. A 2D platformer is not that demanding and when your central gameplay mechanic suffers this type of glitch it affects the overall experience.
Toxic Bunny HD visually re-coats an old game which gameplay wise remains untouched at its core. The visuals are stellar, and I love the quality cartoon feel of the game with bold outlines and wacky colour schemes. This is a really unique feature of the game. But it does not outweigh the game’s problems.
There may be new weapons for Toxic Bunny to use and a vast amount of enemies to battle. But the flow of the game is considerably effected as a result, and with the game playing better on a keyboard than a controller, it will have hard time making its way to consoles. Largely because the controller support is implemented without the player in mind, and you’d need to re-train your brain to use the jump button for extended periods of time. If you plug a controller into your PC and try to reassign controller buttons you can’t do so. So you’re basically stuck with broken controller implementation, and with Celestial Games hoping to take this game to Xbox Live this needs to be drastically sorted out before a release on the Xbox Live platform. With a keyboard this game works to an extent, but the weapons are difficult to handle such as grenades and a guns, and the difficulty spikes up even on normal.
This is definitely a game for people who can tolerate painful platforming, more so than Super Meat Boy which I feel has better gameplay flow and is not as old school difficult as Toxic Bunny HD. Dedicated fans of the previous original iteration will love this game and embrace it fully. If you like difficult platformers you will love this. But, from my own experience, the gameplay experience is disjointed and I am left somewhat disappointed. The story for the game is pretty simple and is described by the developers, with them saying:
Find out what happens when an almost normal rabbit gets into a really bad mood. Follow Toxic as he tries to find the person responsible for interrupting his coffee break, brainwashing all his friends and covering the planet with decaffeinated goo.
As you can see, the game has pretty simple story and a main character who is quite the energetic mascot and fits in with the likes of Sonic, and icons of old. I find that endearing and Toxic Bunny takes the best of the 90s, in that regard, and renews them with vigour. The music was also great and reminded me of old 90s platformers in a lot of ways.