Analysing the IGF: Mightier

Analysing the IGF: Mightier

This was the level I was most proud of. Got it right first time, so there.

This is the fifth in the series where I’m slowly going through the finalists for this year’s IGF awards. This time I’m going to take a look at Mightier, the level drawing platformer that pretty much lets you craft anything in the game, from the levels, to your player, to the jetpack on his (or her, if you can draw anything remotely attractive) shoulders. And it’s pretty damn nifty. Impressions through the jump.

First things first; Mightier isn’t really a platformer. It’s much, much more a puzzler. The puzzle is figuring out how to beat the level without actually doing it, which presents the very first challenge. Each level has a set of crystals that elevate the ground around them, and each crystal elevates it to different heights, at different inclines, and some don’t elevate at all, but serve as elevators (you know, elevating you). At first it seems incredibly simple; you just draw a few wonky circles around the crystals, and viola, you’re jumping your way to the level goals and moving onto the next.

I'm also particularly proud of this Jetpack, so no bad words!

However, it all gets a little more difficult when they introduce ever more complicated crystals, such as ones that only elevate when the ground around them is elevated first, and some that elevate onto a slope, and some that do both. This means you’re presented with some truly confusing levels that take a lot of trial and error to get right. The lack of a loading screen or any sort of obstacle to return to the edit screen makes this considerably less of a nuisance than it could have been, and for that I’m thankful.

There are some minor collectible thingies in the levels, that seem to be some type of butterfly, but before they get at all frustrating to collect you’re given some sort of robot flying thing that collects them for you, reducing the annoyance completely. Similarly, the enemies might as well not even be there, as you’re so much faster that even if you didn’t pay heed to them you’d rarely get close to one. Not that the addition of enemies is necessary, it’s just they seem slightly superfluous.

The antagonist of many sketchbook fantasies.

The difficulty ramps up quite quickly, but there was only one level where it took me a while to understand the concept it was throwing at me, and after that I rarely had to go back to the edit screen. It gave me some good use out of my drawing tablet, but at the same time you can print off the maps and draw them by hand. I find it hard to believe anyone would take that option though, as the mouse worked just fine for me.

Mightier actually surprised me; looking at the screenshots, and even the video that I’d seen of it, it seems rather gimmicky and not all that complex, but after playing it through I’d reverse that statement. It makes good use of it’s mechanic, and it makes sure it doesn’t get stale through constantly changing how you understand the game works. It’s also got a whopping great laser in it, which is brilliant.

It’s currently free to download here, and it’s nominated for the Innovation award at the 2009 IGF awards.

3 thoughts on “Analysing the IGF: Mightier

  1. What kind of constraints does the game place on drawing your character and jetpack?

    I’m hoping very few, so that we can get videos of the levels being completed by, say, a samurai being carried by a giant butterfly, or other bizzare creations.

  2. @Archetype: You merely have to make something within the outline they give you, so it can be as thick or thin as you like. As far as the level drawing, you don’t actually have any constraints, apart from where the crystals are.

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