Game: Bacon Man: An Adventure
Developer: Skymap Games
Publisher: Skymap Games
A ridiculously brilliant concept brought to life on kickstarter, Bacon Man: An Adventure has that classic, heroic appeal that’s unique to the 1990s mascot platformers it’s inspired by. I’m talking Earthworm Jim and Mega Man, 2D sidescrollers that came with a side dish of eccentricity you just couldn’t resist. Bacon Man is unabashedly zany. Picture a world where immortal foes like ‘Excaliboar’ rule the roost, and turducken isn’t a fowl monstrosity but a fine cuisine. Are you shivering? So am I.
Bacon Man takes a staple of American breakfast, slaps ‘man’ onto the end, and invents a superhero. Boom. Bacon Man doesn’t fly, shoot cobwebs or possess superhuman strength, yet he still delivers some meaty magic. As a long time admirer of the platform genre, I had to jump in and see if Bacon Man‘s recipe was as delicious as advertised.
The ode to fried fat begins when Bacon Man gets double-crossed and winds up in a frozen dungeon. SkyMap hoists its quirky flag high by letting you choose between a number of characters including Lard Lass and Feta, each one with differing HP and power distributions, but I went with our resident hero. Cold, alone, and enshrouded in a veil of beautiful azure, you quickly learn the essentials: punching, wall climbing, and shooting. There are also opportunities to buy and sell items and infuse weapons with elemental energy, but gameplay doesn’t push the complexity meter to the limit. It’s simple done right.
More importantly, the platforming sections are varied, mentally engaging, and look utterly splendid in Unreal Engine 4. They’re populated with conveyor belts, spikes, water and spinning wheels, plus a well-designed selection of enemies that’s there to slaughter you. Bacon Man‘s combat is fresh, satisfying, and feels absolutely natural with a controller in your hand.
What doesn’t translate so smashingly is responsiveness issues, slippery jumping mechanics, and progression inconsistencies. There were several times where pressing buttons (especially when leaping between platforms) didn’t register, even when I dialled down graphics to lower resolutions. It wasn’t all bad, except in Bacon Man‘s case, a mascot adventure that prides itself on its “tough as nails” insignia, there needs to be a higher level of accuracy in this department. One-hit deaths can feel cheap when the reasons don’t boil down to player error.
The second most pressing matter was particular levels not loading properly. This is with specific reference to a stage in Polar Prison which splits into two routes. While the non-linear trick excited me initially, dying once triggered a massive deluge that prevented me from exploring that path again (I had made substantial progress before a Steam update blocked it). Unlike Bacon Man‘s occasional glitches and minor crashes, this felt much more conspicuous. Lastly — and this is probably more of a preference — jumping feels a bit too buoyant.
It takes time to get jiggy with Bacon Man‘s bouncing mechanics, which propel our prince of pancetta forward by a considerable margin and can lead to many missed landings. It’s a tiny bit frustrating after several attempts, a realisation that hit me hardest when traversing ‘squishy spring’ sections. These suspended trampolines constitute quite a large percentage of many levels, and the window of landing accuracy feels unfairly small. If tightened, the difficulty would be perfect. I unconsciously kept falling back to the design of Aladdin for Sega Genesis, and how well genie heads were implemented in Inside the Lamp; jumping felt tight and contained. I would have loved a less greasy approach in Bacon Man too. Make no mistake however, Bacon Man still delivers a piping hot platter of enjoyment, especially so in its humorous script and a stunningly majestic OST.
Bacon Man‘s story is an absolute riot. Be prepared for satire, salt, and non-vegetarian mischief of the highest degree. The soundtrack excels in an equally impressive manner, doling out organic orchestral melodies that don’t feel generically Hollywoodesque in the slightest. I found myself humming along enthusiastically, a surefire sign these tunes are instantly iconic, and arguably, Bacon Man‘s biggest strength.
Bacon Man is a good throwback to 2D classics. The plot isn’t hammy, its visuals shine with unique glaze, and the guts of the game hint at compelling platforming action. Technical issues turn the heat down, but the final product is still pretty delicious, and much meatier than Super Meat Boy.
Prevent Bacon Man from becoming someone’s breakfast by puchasing a copy of Bacon Man: An Adventure on Steam. At $19.99 USD, I think it’s reasonably priced, but expect a few hiccups.
Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.