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ADVENTURES of CAPTAIN Becky

The adventures of pirate captain Becky! Clear all stages and defeat the enemies! Play a total of 24 stages in EASY, NORMAL and HARD mode! Unlock the Extra stage! Collect 5 different costumes!

When I found out about the ADVENTURES of CAPTAIN Becky's edit mode earlier this month, I presumed that the game would likely be mediocre as it appeared that the bulk of the Developer's efforts went into designing the amazing and often creepy edit feature. Studio DLF's Becky, who looks more like some Punky Brewster reject and nothing remotely like the pirate captain she supposed to be in any traditional sense, can be molded in any number of shapes and colors, including some truly monstrous variations. All things counted for, Becky can be manipulated via 61 individual settings including Pupil Width, Shoulder Slope, and Buttocks. The game even allows for a couple of instant randomizing options, appropriately labeled "Random Regular" and "Random Extreme," the latter of which can produce some truly gruesome results. While Becky's constantly dropping jaw makes her look bizarre no matter which choices are selected, the Edit Mode is certainly Studio DLF's crown jewel in its first Xbox Indie release. It's rather stunning to see something this developed in any game let alone an otherwise simple dollar indie release. My sole nitpick is that Becky's bust size is at a minimum a C-cup, and while I know this is Japan and all and understanding the target audience for such a game, it still seems silly to offer players such a wealth of options but limit them between choosing to outfit Becky with either sizable apples or ridiculous watermelons.

Speaking of outfits, each group of levels hides a star which can unlock an additional outfit for our Captain Becky. Becky can also find a heart hidden in most levels to equip a second outfit which gives her a red demon looking ensemble which is reminiscent of her hard mode hidden costume. When in this demon getup, Becky can take a hit from an enemy or obstacle and survive; otherwise, a single strike will do Becky in. Becky begins the game with three lives and must complete each difficulty selection in one go. Extra lives are all too rare in The ADVENTURES of CAPTAIN Becky, and should the player exhaust the life stock at any point during the run, he or she must start over again. With only eight stages each difficulty mode (ten in the tutorial), this generally doesn't pose a problem until the very end of the game. Once the player has completed the tutorial and the Easy, Normal, and Hard modes, the Extra mode is unlocked which features some truly tough challenges which will force lots of restarts. It's nothing game breaking, and the challenge is welcomed, but a handful of issues makes the game more difficult than it needs to be.

The main problem is that Becky just doesn't control too well. Captain Becky has a good amount of moves at her disposal, but they all come out sluggish and awkward. Her basic mace strike comes out slow enough to require a bit of forethought before attacking to ensure it'll hit before the enemy touches her. She has a sweep kick which theoretically can be used to kick blocks into enemies, but that situation never materializes outside of the tutorial, and all of her enemies are spiky creatures which easily stab her through her foot. Players can double jump which is nice, and the second jump can be delayed somewhat which is awkward but useful, but Becky's collision detection is off enough to make precise landing trickier than it needs to be. She handles fine for the early stages which feature lengthy platforms to run on and a handful of well spaced enemies to dispatch, but the Extra stages require a precision Becky just fails to deliver. I eventually learned that I can use Becky's air strike to help her drop safely below onto a specific block, but players shouldn't be forced to find workarounds when a simple leap should suffice. Becky's jump also smashes bricks above her Mario style, a feature which feels odd until later on which it's required. Finally, Becky can strike out with her mace in the air (which freezes her descent momentarily) or whip out a stronger air-to-ground strike which I've not once used in the game. The stronger attack is likely intended for the boss encounters, mutant variations of Becky which cap off each group of levels, but I found striking in the air with the mace to be far more effective.

If the game itself is the last thing I'm touching upon, then surely its the worst element of the game? Unfortunately, yes. The ADVENTURES of CAPTAIN Becky is a mostly simple platformer in which this malleable woman must jump about a level and reach the exit without dying and under a time limit. These levels are rather short and take too long to develop into something more interesting, at which point the sloppy control impedes what should be a fun challenge. The level and enemy design is generic and ugly, and the Developer for whatever reason uses these terribly grainy images for the background which look a mess. Becky's world is lumpy and spiky, and at no point does the game feel inspired in its style or layout. The lack of variation over the game's three dozen plus levels is disappointing, and the boss encouters are so poorly implemented that the game would be better served if they were removed outright. Even though Studio DLF released a level trailer prior to its edit mode one, I just can't shake the feeling that the game was built around this frivolous edit feature given how mundane the gameplay feels in the game. When a game includes a "Gallery" mode which features its titular character gyrating to the soundtrack but cannot bother with an auto-save and -load feature, I have to wonder where the Developer's priorities were in creating its game.

While it's tough to complain given the low price, Captain Becky just isn't that enjoyable a game. I have little trouble recommending it to others, but that's largely on the merits of its edit mode, graphics, and pricing; not because it's a well made platformer in any sense or particularly fun in its own right. Running through levels, smashing spiked balls and blocks, and high tailing it to the door could be exciting if the game were faster paced and better planned, but, unfortunately, it's not. That said, it's certainly playable and offers a good amount of depth for a game at just 80 points, so despite my criticisms I still believe Becky is worth a look.

★★★★☆
August 25, 2010
August 21, 2010 | 80 points
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