It has been a while since I’ve played a platform game. I tend to hang around the more complex depths of RPG’s, MMO’s and strategy games. So, when I was approached by BadLand games and asked if I would review their platformer / town building Sim, Ginger Beyond the Crystal, I said yes. I wondered if platform games could still grab and capture my attention like they did in the days of 8 and 16 bit Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. You’ll have to read the rest of the review to find out.
Ginger Beyond the Crystal is the story of Ginger a god-touched erm…. thing. Well, he’s a blue alien thing with a head protuberance. Anyway, after a crystal explodes and devastates the town, a lot of the inhabitants end up missing. It’s up to you to travel across the worlds, purifying crystals and rescuing the townsfolk. Learn special skills from those you save to help you get past the various traps and puzzles, and gather enough resources and you can rebuild the town to its former glory.
The storyline of Ginger Beyond the Crystal is enough to hold the game together. Don’t expect a complex tale to the level of War & Peace, but there is a mysterious and great evil to vanquish, innocent people to save and a hero who with your help, will rise to the challenge and save the world. There isn’t really much more you need in a story for a platform game, is there?
Ginger Beyond the Crystal is a platformer game at heart. Most of the games has you hopping from level to level collecting crystals, avoiding traps and jumping on or punching monsters. Fairly standard platformer stuff really. As you rescue the citizens of the town they gift you with outfits that give you special skills. For example, very early on in the game you are given a musician outfit that gives you the power to raise bridges to span gaps in your path. The little mini-games beforehand are also quite fun and that little bit different.
Aside from the platform element of the game the other main part of the Ginger Beyond the Crystal is rebuilding your town and managing its citizens. Rescuing your townsfolk from the big, giant crystal in the middle of town costs you crystals. These are generally in fairly common supply across the platform levels. Once you’ve rescued your citizens however, they’ll need somewhere to live.
The ruins of the town remain for you to rebuild, but they cost an amount of wood and stone. These building resources are rarer and are picked up either in levels or scattered around town. The more buildings you build, the happier your townsfolk are. Your people will also offer you quests in return for resources. Those friendly folk.
Graphics & Sound
There is a sort of Pikmin feel to the graphics, though that is largely due to the design of the hero. The game is smooth, and fairly well polished although some grammar and spelling errors in the subtitles take the sheen off the game a little. There’s not many, but my pedant eyes zero-in on them.
The sound and music is what you’d expect from a platformer and they add a mystical bounciness to the game. It’s not anything to call in sick for, but they’re ok.
Ginger Beyond the Crystal can be played either with keyboard and mouse or a joypad. Most of the controls are easy enough, but I did find that the manually controlled camera can be annoying at times, pointing in the wrong direction. If the camera was automated you could focus on the jumping, platformer-fun a little more and not just keeping your camera angle on track.
Most of the difficulty stems from the small health pool that you have at the start of the game. Until you get to grips with killing enemies (i.e. jumping on them is much more effective than trying to punch them) you may lose a bit of health swinging at nothing then getting attacked. You do have infinite lives and regular checkpoints so with a bit of perseverance you’ll complete any level.
I think the majority of the fun in Ginger Beyond the Crystal is in the first playthrough. As you get through each level, bouncing your way through it and gradually increasing the size and happiness of the town. Once you’ve done that, there really isn’t much need to go back and do it all again. Sure a lot of the levels are fun, and nicely brief but they won’t be any different the next time than the first.