Mark the Mechanic

This is a 2D Run-and-Jump Platformer. There are 8 levels in different locations ranging from the Antarctic to Volcanos. The player earns score for collecting nuts during the game and any time left over will be added to the score. The game has different enemies for each level. Touching the enemy will damage the player. There are some tricky jumps so try not to fall.

Mark the Mechanic is Mohammad Adam and Uzair Rehman's first game, and it shows. Same as with A Fading Melody, Mark the Mechanic only holds appeal for those 2-D platformer fans who can't enough and are forced to take whatever they can get. While the challenge will draw some into the game, the terrible graphics, poor level design, and bland and repetitive enemies will likely keep everyone else at arm's length as Mark the Mechanic's distinct lack of style and concept leaves the game feeling very much like the myriad other first project platformers to be had throughout the Internet.

Eight levels of leaping challenges are the primary reason to play the game, and the game plays well enough to be enjoyable. Mark's odd jump animation will make the platforming feel odd at first, but the game controls much better than it looks, allowing players to jump around with ease. Although Mark the Mechanic boasts eight levels, they're all essentially the same -- while the graphics may change from stage to stage, the layouts remain similar and the enemies all exhibit the same patterns. There is but one enemy, reskinned eight different ways in Mark the Mechanic, some kind of object which glides to and fro over platforms and the ground. While the number of enemies vary, they are almost always found in groups of two or more, guarding the platforms Mark needs to access to reach the stage exit. Despite the repetitive nature of the game's challenge, the tight controls make it playable and fairly enjoyable for those players who can dismiss the lackluster presentation and design.

The game's graphics are all over the map, and while the elements could look decent in the right light, they are assembled into an ugly whole here. Mark is a stick figure in a non-stick world, his animation composed of a good amount of frames but still looking off as he runs and jumps through each level. The lines which compose Mark get noticeably thicker during certain actions, and his design looks bad against the more fully realized backgrounds and objects in the game. The backgrounds are a mess of clipart objects floating in space, many while show terrible JPEG compression; the trees in the haunted themed second level look hideous with huge artifacts clinging to their edge and some invisible elements in the trunks which should not exist. Most background graphics exhibit this terrible look, and though the foreground platforms and whatnot are rendered better, the level graphics have this annoying way of popping onto the screen as the game scrolls, making the Xbox 360 look about 30 years behind the times. A good looking stick figure is certainly attainable as Brad Borne has shown with his Fancy Pants Adventures, but Mark the Mechanic fails at being an attractive game. No one would know the titular character is a mechanic were it not for the title, the only tip of the hat to that premise coming from the wrenches on the game's cover and the player collecting drab gray hexagons (nuts) to bolster one's score.

Next to the good control and challenge, Kevin MacLeod's music remains the last bright spot in the game. The soundtrack is very good, and it's no wonder that his free Creative Commons songs continually find themselves in a variety of XNA projects including Dark and Your Doodles Are Bugged! The music helps the player continue along where the graphics and presentation do not and are the sole professional feeling element present here. Mark the Mechanic has all the look of independently developed games some ten to twenty years ago, but times have changed and expectations along with it. While everyone has to start somewhere, these sorts of releases contribute nothing to community and offer little to the audience. For those who have explored the depths of the indie game well, Mark the Mechanic may be worth a look, but against some of the better platformers available such as Applejack (itself a first project), it feels terribly unfinished and of little merit.

★★☆☆☆
October 30, 2010
October 14, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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