Awesome Pea 2, retro hard – First Sip Review
Awesome Pea 2 is unsurprisingly the sequel to Awesome Pea. Developed and published by PigeonDev (who also developed and published the first game). Awesome Pea 2 is a hardcore retro platformer.
Awesome Pea 2 is a retro game, very retro. So much so that it doesn’t contain any story, much like other classic games it’s just a simple platformer where you collect coins and jump through levels. However, this time you’re a pea. As far as I can tell the only reason for being a pea is the pea-green color scheme which I will talk about more soon. As a game that is trying to emulate the classics, I really wasn’t bothered by the lack of a story. They could have thrown in a few images at the start about how the Pea needs to collect coins and will travel through the islands to find them. But really it’s not required and the game doesn’t suffer from its absence.
In short, the game is a generic platformer/collection game, slightly elevated by the quirky character choice.
Retro is the key word here. Not only has the developer opted for a classic Gameboy inspired green color scheme. But you also have an option in the settings to apply or remove a CRT filter. Enabled by default, the CRT filter adds an interesting curvature to the display as if you had an old CRT monitor. It also adds static lines on the screen as a fun little touch. In most games this kind of filter would be merely cosmetic, but I found in Awesome Pea and now Awesome Pea 2 that it drastically changes the feel of the game. The way things move onto the screen in the CRT mode looks and feels far different to the standard view. As such I would recommend leaving the CRT on.
The Pea has a very simple design, he is a pea after all. But he’s fairly cute, with eyes and a mouth. He looks slightly more like a slime than a pea, especially with the way he sort of stretches and constricts when he jumps and lands. He also does a fun spin in the air when he double jumps.
The only real problem with the visual design is that sometimes you can’t tell what you can land on or go through. A number of times I found myself hitting the Pea’s head on a platform I didn’t see at first or falling through something I thought I would land on.
If you like retro Gameboy chiptunes, this is the game for you. The music in Awesome Pea 2 is an absolute highlight. Fun, energetic and fitting. The music really fits with the game and I would even put it up there with some of the NES and SNES classics. While the game is very frustrating at times I found the music to be a welcome source of relief. No matter how riled up I was getting, the music was still fun and exciting. The only sound-related issue I had wasn’t really an issue, it was just that I remained in a level so long that the song finished and started again, which made me feel like I had wasted far too long on the level.
There’s nothing much else to talk about soundwise, sound design is minimal, you have a bloopy noise for the double jump, and a clink for collecting coins or diamonds and a dull thud noise for when you die. It fits well, sounds retro and I couldn’t imagine it could be improved much if at all.
Awesome Pea 2 is what I would call a Precision Platformer. Think more like Super Meat Boy than Super Mario Bros, although it does at times have a very Mario Maker feel to it. The game is split up into levels, each level has a certain amount of optional coins to collect and an end. The ends of levels are generally a Mario styled pipe or a Witches cauldron. The essence of simplicity, the Pea can move, jump and double jump. The challenge comes from avoiding all manner of enemies, traps, and pitfalls. And challenging it is.
Level 0 is fairly straightforward, although it doesn’t really hold your hand. It took me a little while to work out I could double jump, but when I realized it I conquered the level with all collectibles. The difficulty beyond this level is somewhat crazy. Level one requires a lot of precision jumps and working out timing. Level two requires even more. But then level three I managed to complete with all collectibles in one run. And then the difficulty spiked again.
Levels are short but any death will result in starting the level again. Which also means collecting all coins again. And death is easy to come by, there are all sorts of things out to get you. There are a lot of sequences where you need to stop and work out the pattern to get the timing right. But there are also a lot of sections where it’s best to move as soon as possible. While I did find a lot of the levels quite frustrating, I also finished a lot of them. There is a certain sort of satisfaction you get from completing a level. And a greater one from collecting all the coins at the same time.
Awesome Pea 2 is very retro and with the fun character and lack of violence, it’s a fairly family-friendly title. However, it’s not for everyone. The sudden spike in difficulty and lack of difficulty mitigation make this game hard to recommend to casual gamers. The graphics and music are both designed for fans of the classics. And the punishing difficulty is in line with this too. Perhaps the developers could add options to enable checkpoints. Or maybe a 3-hit life system. Potentially even permanent coin collection so deaths don’t set you back entirely. While the game is definitely aimed at people who are looking for that classic difficult gameplay. These small options could open the game up to a larger audience.
As the game is currently it is well made. The controls are solid, which is the main thing for a platformer especially a precision one. And if you like those punishingly hard games of yesteryear then you could do a lot worse. While games like StretchBot try to emulate the past, Awesome Pea 2 feels authentically retro.
Also worth noting is that PigeonDev is a solo developer, which makes things a little more impressive.
In Coffee Terms
Awesome Pea 2 is a straight black coffee. No messing around. Nothing fancy, no modern advances. Just a pure black coffee the way you remember them. Might be too strong for someone who grew up on sweeter blends. But for those who fondly recall the simple strong taste, this will hit the spot.
Awesome Pea 2 Links
Awesome Pea 2 Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.