Poi, fledgling explorers – First Sip Review
Poi is a classic 3D platformer inspired heavily by Super Mario 64. The game is both developed and published by PolyKid. And the game marks their sole Steam release so far. However, they do have an updated deluxe version of the game as well.
A fairly classic story, Poi is basically an excuse to run around worlds and collect things. However, unlike the typical someone evil has stolen things or created a situation in which you need to collect things. Poi opts for a more emotionally resonant story. The basics are that a young boy and girl who are orphans seek a life of adventure. In their travels, they meet an old explorer who requests their help in reclaiming one of his explorer medallions. The adventurer then proceeds to tell you about his younger days when he was an explorer as well. But he wasn’t alone in collecting his medallions. The adventurer traveled with his wife and they collected the medallions as a team.
But one night a terrible storm occurred and caused the loss of not only the explorer medallions but the explorer’s wife. So he recruits you to help look for the missing medallions, presumably in hopes of finding the mission women. Or if you want a darker but still emotionally powerful take. It is possible he wants to reclaim the medallions as memories of his missing wife.
Either way, that’s the basics of the story, and for a 3D platformer, it’s ok. It doesn’t really dwell on the emotional elements and is rather lighthearted.
As a 3D platformer, naturally the graphics are 3D. The character designs are fairly standard, the models aren’t particularly detailed. But they look nice. The game uses a lot of very bright colors in its palette. And overall it’s not too dissimilar from games like STONE and A Fold Apart. But mostly I would say that Nintendo 64 or early Gamecube titles would be the closest reference point for the game art. In particular Super Mario 64 with the level design, color scheme and the creature design. However, as the game is much more recent the game is far less blocky and polygonal than the 64 games.
You start off in a forest and move to a lush green area. Followed by a volcano. And there is even an ice level complete with penguins. Not to mention a space level where you run on a small moon. Pretty much all areas have equivalency in the Mario franchise. However, in the developer’s defense Mario as a franchise has been around so long that there are very few settings the Italian plumber hasn’t been.
Composed by Lyndon Holland the man also behind the soundtracks for Verde Station, Aviary Attorney, and Virginia (which I have played 2 out of 3). The music in the game is fully orchestrated with a real orchestra and it’s quite lovely. Each area has a theme and while they all sound different they feel cohesive and fit together quite well. The themes are generally quite bright and match the look of the game. A lot of them carry a real sense of adventure that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Studio Ghibli movie. But the fact that solidifies it as a successful soundtrack is that I can actually recall the tunes when I’m not playing the game.
Sound effects are less impressive but not bad by any means. Mostly somewhat generic sounds. But there are exertion noises and other small voice clips every so often, which again feels very Super Marion 64 like. The older explorer sometimes seems to say wa-hoo very much in the manner of another mustachioed adventurer.
Voice acting, as mentioned above other than exertion noises and the like is non-existent. Even the short story sequences which would have benefited from a narrator.
Have you played Super Mario 64? If so then you’ll know a lot of what to expect. Poi is not shy about showing love for the Mario games. For instance, if you jump three times with the correct timing your character will do increasingly high jumps with the last one being a high flip jump. You can also perform a long jump although the implementation here is slightly different (perform a jump at the correct point in the roll animation to launch forward). You can also wall jump, dive in the air, and other Mario staples. However, it’s not a one-for-one copy of the Mario format. There are moves that are missing and other ones added. Such as no crouching high jump (or crouch for that matter) and the ability to double-jump.
The levels are also set up in a very recognizable way, essentially each level will have multiple medallions in it. But you’ll be aiming for a certain one each time. However, there are some medallions you can get earlier such as one that costs 100 coins in the first level. But most of the medallions will change or open up new areas of the map specifically to obtain them.
Beyond the collection of the medallions, there are also coins you can use for purchases. Fossils that you can dig up with the shovel (one of the items you can purchase with the coins). And golden gears. Both the fossils and the gears can be turned into various NPCs for rewards, generally more explorer medallions.
There isn’t all that much going on in Poi, but what it does, it does well. There are plenty of things to collect, there are mini-challenges with their own leaderboards. An NPC who offers more medals for exceeding certain stats like purchasing items, steps walked, jumps made, etc. And it’s a fun little ride. Sometimes the camera is a bit difficult to manage, and you might accidentally do something unintentional and have to redo a part of the game. But really, those are problems that plague just about every game in the genre. If you’re looking for a fun little Super Mario 64 type game but available on Steam (it’s also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and XboxOne). Then you’d be best off grabbing A Hat In Time. But if you’ve already grabbed that one or you’re looking for a simpler title for a younger gamer. Well, Poi is a fun little game that’s worth a look.
In Coffee Terms
The game in coffee terms is a flat white. Nothing particularly special about it. You’ve had it before. But it’s well made and the barista obviously cared about the drink. They followed the recipe as close as they could and then added a little bit of their own personality. And it’s a pleasant enough blend to enjoy, maybe even to come back to as well.
Poi 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.