Arr! What a horrible night to have a curse. Can Bluebones find the lost gold of Davy Jones to break the curse and return to his true form? He only has until midnight, and the clock is ticking!
Jesse and Mollie Chounard's platformer Bluebones' Curse is a nice but very short game in which the pirate Bluebones must traverse a dozen or so levels seeking Davy Jones' lost gold to undue to curse which turned him into a skeleton. The game pauses every few levels with Bluebones elaborating a bit on the story, and while the plot isn't wholly important to the gameplay or design, it's a bit more than window dressing. Since the game occurs on Halloween, not to mention features a running and jumping skeleton, the graphics are decidedly dark and creepy but lighthearted enough to avoid any real scares or horror.
The artwork by Mollie Chounard is excellent with beautifully drawn backgrounds, all nicely detailed and colored. Bluebones himself looks great and is animated well as he wanders about the levels looking for the exit. The Miss Spider looking spiders make up one of only two enemies Bluebones encounters along the way, and though there's little to speak of in terms of variety, the spiders have a wonderful creepy feel about them with their giant porcelain mask and the way they reach out at the ends of their pacing. Beyond some bottomless pits, the player will also come across walls of flame which serve as barriers to other routes or are treated as timing puzzles to test the player. The artwork on the flames is excellent, and the game looks and sounds great, the latter thanks to Xbox Indie favorite Kevin MacLeod whose eerie soundtrack contributes to the game's theme and enhances the overall presentation quality. Besides the lack of variety in enemies, the only somewhat lacking visual elements I can see are in the simple blocky style of the platforms and the level exits not looking the part at first glance until the player is shown that he or she can press the B-button to exit the level while standing over these rounded silhouettes.
Bluebones has infinite lives and dies within one hit, a style popular among platformers these days to allow for challenging levels without frustrating the player too much with numerous restarts. Bluebones' Curse isn't exactly all that challenging to warrant such a system, but it helps keep the game friendly and is welcomed for those who look to seek out the five secrets hidden throughout the game. While the game ends rather anticlimactically upon the discovery of the lost gold, the player can come across other hidden goodies throughout the journey, many requiring potentially dangerous choices, leaps of faith, and backtracking to locate them. With a dozen or so levels to play through, Bluebones' Curse is a very short game, beatable in about 20 minutes or so from start to finish. The game challenges players with some speed-based platforming and using switches to remove flaming barricades and activate moving platforms, but it's nothing that a platformer veteran will struggle much handling. Seeking out the secrets will add some length to the game, and those players who struggle with 2-D platformers may find the game taking longer to complete.
There's nothing particularly memorizing about Bluebones' Curse, but it's a solid effort which deserves a look. While I was disappointed by the short length myself, I found the product well made, enjoying the progression of difficulty and challenge enough to allow myself to become disappointed that it ended so soon. Halloween may have already come and gone, but that's little cause to ignore Bluebones' Curse, a good platformer that while not as delightful as the Chounard's first game, Being, still manages to entertain while it lasts.