Awesome Pea is described as "a classic run-and-jump platformer," which is about as plain and simple as the game itself. Here indeed is a platformer that looks like an old Game Boy game, and that features a whole lot of running and jumping – and precious little else. At this point, we suspect the developer would like nothing more than for us to spin off into a paean to the lost art of simplicity in game design. But this isn't the review in which to do so, because we came away from Awesome Pea wanting more. More pace, more variety, more colour, and more fun.
Perhaps we've played a few too many iOS-to-Switch conversions over the past year, but we were somewhat surprised to find out that Awesome Pea hadn't originally been a mobile game. That's not intended as a sniffy comment by any means. It's just that the game has a familiar bite-sized, super-focused cadence to it. The levels here are brief affairs in which you, as a smiley-faced pea, must make it to the exit, collecting as many coins and gems as you dare en route. You have a time factor to consider too, at least if you're playing for a high score.
There's a definite speed-run vibe to Awesome Pea, which makes it all the more strange that it feels so wallowy and sluggish. Our lead character moves with all the pace and purpose of, well, a legless pea, while its jumping capacity is only just on the right side of useful. And only then thanks to the presence of a double-jump. This isn't one of those platformers where you get an intoxicating sense of weight and momentum from your protagonist. When you release the directional control in mid-air, you'll simply stop and drop to the ground. On the plus side, that makes for a certain cold precision to the action. Conversely, it robs the game of a certain amount of life and charm.
We could cite side-scrolling platformers like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe as instructive counter examples here, but perhaps Super Meat Boy and N++ would be more appropriate, given their indie status. Both of those latter games nail that thrilling sensation of movement just as well as their triple-A counterparts. It's a tactile appeal that's sorely missed in a game as stripped back as Awesome Pea.
In terms of Awesome Pea's old school aesthetic, we dig the old school Game Boy vibe as much as the next Nintendo enthusiast website. But it doesn't really bring anything to the wider package, other than a sense of sameness that quickly kicks in. It can also get in the way of viewability, particularly in handheld mode, while an over-eager screen distortion effect hardly helps matters.
We've been fairly negative about Awesome Pea to date, but we should note that there is a fair portion of enjoyment to be had here for those of the right mindset. If you're a fan of borderline masochistic challenges, where pinpoint precision and repeated retries are the natural order of things, this could be for you. Its cute and fluffy looks might be only a few small hops away from Kirby's Dream Land on the original Game Boy, but the difficulty level is at the total opposite end of the scale from HAL's classic.
Indeed, there's almost a punitive feel to the game, as can be seen with some particularly punishing collision detection. Some people are really going to dig that uncompromising approach, but for our money, there's not enough of a payoff for such perseverance. While Awesome Pea riffs on the aesthetic and the simplicity of the Game Boy classics, it fails to replicate their sense of ingenuity and warmth. It does what it does with a certain amount of cold-hearted precision, but it never revels in the bouncy joy of the old school platformers it pays lip service to.
A precise, challenging, laser-focused platformer that lacks the joyful sense of movement, ingenuity and sheer generosity of its inspiration. Awesome Pea might emulate the look and feel of the Game Boy classics, but it lacks their soul.
I had this game in my wish list right when I heard about it as I loved the look. This is the 4th review I have read all saying the same things... this has been removed from my wishlist
To this day, I don't know why there is a CRT filter for a game aping the Game Boy look.
So, I guess you could say that this game should be enjoyed in pea-sized bites?
Loved this one to bits.
I’d pretty much agree with the review, here. I tried the demo because I liked the idea of the graphical overlay effects. I think I played it for about 2 minutes, though. It kind of feels like a microgame you’d play from the gameboy camera. It’s just not for me, but others may like the tiny gameplay sessions.
I know right? It's seems to be a design choice for a lot of retro style games nowadays and one that at times you can't disable.
Played the demo, it's ok but not spend money ok. There's too much choice for great retro platformers on the Switch for anyone to care about this game.
If anyone wants a great GB style game that actually feels like a GB game but one that actually tries to do its own thing then try Save me Mr Tako if you havent already. That game seems to be totally forgotten now and wrongly so
@Dpullam I beat this game in 29 minutes, so I guess you could say the whole thing's a pea-sized bite.
@hadrian I don't have much an issue with games that have the filter per se, but some games just feel like they're being retro for the sake of being retro without really being 100% faithful to that style they're going for. This game is one of those.
@RyanSilberman Haha perfect comparison!
I love the look so these may be a wait for a big sale type of game.
Tried the demo for 5 minutes. Pretty awful.
@StarmanSSP Yes, because this is the kind of palette everybody uses on their Super Game Boy...
Demo was very short... and I was happy about that.
The gimmick of the visual design here is something that should have been used for one level or one world in a more conventional game.
...At least the PS4 version has a useless two-three hour platinum trophy.
As an aspiring indie dev I would love all this feedback if I where in the dev's shoes.
Sad to hear it's not all that it could pea.
It's weird that it has only a Game Boy mode when it doesn't really do much to replicate a Game Boy experience (unlike Save Me Mr Tako).
Saboteur has Game Boy mode, NES mode, ZX Spectrum mode, C64 mode, Atari 2600 mode, Amstrad mode, and more.
I love Rock Boshers DX for having a ZX Spectrum and a NES mode as well.
Ouch! ...I appreciate an honest review.
This review makes me sad. This game looked really cool to me.
Not as Awesome as Alex thought.
Not sure I'll bother with this one then.
@Dayton311 You could have just played the demo and came to the same conclusion. It's like something that 5 years ago would have been released for free on PC. In fact a lot more ambitious platformers have been released for free in the past several years, like the original Cave Story or Spelunky, Pekka Kana 2 and many more.
Awesome Pea is more like "my first game" that could be followed by a better one.
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