I’m a simple man. You make an indie platformer with a retro aesthetic, and I’ll probably want to play it. This was exactly the case when I first lay my eyes upon Awesome Pea, a retro platformer that harkens back to the days of the original Gameboy, monochromatic screen and all. Although Awesome Pea manages to entertain, it is ultimately held back in part due to its lack of content, difficulty and level diversity.
In terms of a narrative, there is absolutely nothing here. You boot up the game and after navigating past the title screen, you’re immediately flung into the overworld of Awesome Islands, with no reason as to why you’re a cute little pea travelling the world collecting gold coins. Obviously it would be silly to assume that you’d be getting any sort of substantial plot, but it’s unfortunate that the little legume doesn’t get given any character. I would’ve loved to play as a cocky, arrogant little pea for instance, but I guess you’re just expected to use your imagination.
The lack of plot and characterization in Awesome Pea is upsetting
Despite the story being nonexistent, the gameplay is a fun time. You progress through over 30 levels, platforming your way through stages and collecting optional items such as gold coins and gems, which serve to confirm on the overworld map whether or not you have fully completed a level. Pretty much all of the goodies strewn throughout each level are on the beaten path, meaning you don’t particularly have to do too much to collect them. Stages such as the vertical platforming cave levels do require you to jump in a specific pattern down the cave in order to collect all coins, but other than that, almost all the levels in the game are relatively straightforward. This is made even more apparent upon the realisation that you don’t need any of these items, as all you need to do in order to progress is to reach the end goal. This wouldn’t be too bad if levels were sizable, but most levels can be beaten in less a minute, making the game beatable in less than an hour with basically no hassle.
Levels are simple and won’t take you too long
Although the game can be completed in a sitting, it doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. The platforming is relatively solid, and the fact that enemies kill you in one hit leads to having to replay levels again and again so that you can collect all the coins, gems, or set a new time record. The reality though, is that the game is far too short, simple and lacking in variety in its levels. Running and leaping is all the protagonist pea can muster, and there’s no way to combat enemies, or perform other platform genre techniques such as a dash or a hover. There’s also only six level types in the 30 levels, leading plenty of levels to feel almost exactly the same as prior ones. Awesome Pea is simply barebones.
What also sucks alongside the mere hour’s worth of content and the lack of difficulty, is that none of the collectables seem to matter. I fully completed the game expecting some sort of payoff, only to be met with nothing. Hell, the timer in each level can’t even be trusted, as you can’t see what your best time is anywhere in game.
30 levels isn’t enough
The art style and music is indicative of the era the game is inspired by, and it deserves some praise, but even then, the music doesn’t hold a candle to Gameboy games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. The monochromatic art style is cool and I’d like to see more of it in future, better indie titles. Unfortunately, the CRT and Tube TV effects start to hurt your eyes after a while (mine did at least), but thankfully they can be toggled on and off from the main menu.
Turning off the CRT and Tube effects makes the game easier on the eyes
Contrary to its name, Awesome Pea ends up being simply mediocre. You can find minor enjoyment in its simplistic platforming gameplay, but it doesn’t offer anything that a platformer hasn’t before, other than a playable anthropomorphic pea. It’s short, simple, and ultimately lacking anything that would make me recommend it. Unless you’re dying for a no-frills platformer, you might want to give this game a miss.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code supplied by publisher