You’ll often hear critics talk about mediocre games and use the word “potential” as if the game just didn’t quite have all the pieces of something great. “There’s something, but it needed a little more to hit the transformation.” For a while, I considered this as a great descriptor of Pixel Pinecone’s CONTINUE, but I came to find out that the game actually suffers from the exact opposite problem.
In more ways than one (or even two or three for that matter), a rich experience thrives from within the game’s core and makes for a challenging and enjoyable adventure, but, in the same way that you need more than just a couple of three-point shots to win in basketball, a video game can’t look and feel sharp in just a few areas to justify inattention in others. However, briefly sticking with the sports metaphor, we know that sometimes a losing team has all the right players but not the proper management of them. If the team isn’t conducted in a fitting manner to best utilize its recourses, then the quality of its players has little bearing on the team’s success. Similarly, CONTINUE has tons of great components that are mismanaged, making for an unbalanced playthrough.
In this game, every Batman has its Joker, and we can find this most clearly in the design of the enemies. One of the game’s strongest points is the large variety of enemies that all behave differently and come with their own challenges. At the same time, arguably the game’s steepest drop comes when you realize that the enemies come in large groups that require an unjustifiable amount of luck. Most fights with waves of enemies come down to whether or not you happen to be standing in a specific spot where enemies aren’t attacking. After a couple hours of playing, you find that you’re really not getting any better at the game. Often, the only determining factors to your survival are the algorithms used to develop the AI. Again, this is a shame considering how unique each enemy is. The developer got so caught up in making the game challenging that it’s difficult to appreciate the work that they put into it.
CONTINUE suffers from this problem across the board. As another example, you receive a diverse skillset throughout the game that you can experiment with over and over again until you find the right ways to defeat certain enemies. However, very few of your abilities help you in ranged combat. In other words, the game requires you to almost exclusively engage in close-range combat. I would see very little wrong with this if the game didn’t punish you for doing just that. If you stay in one spot too long, you’ll get shot by one of the ranged enemies. If you try to charge an attack, then you’ll get speared or slashed by one of the medium-range melee enemies. The game tries to counteract this with a crucial ability that allows you to dash around the map. The idea is that you’re able to dash away from enemies to avoid attacks and then quickly dash back in to land a couple of hits on them. At the end …