For those not familiar with the “demo scene,” there are many competitions where programmers (or programming groups) will get together and see what they can do with severe size, time, and system restraints. Sometimes they produce music, sometimes fantastic visual effects or even short CG films. In this case, developer “Hikey” has produced a ragdoll fighting game that won second place at the Breakpoint 2007 demo competition.
This is a fighting game without a punch or a kick button - your persona automatically adjusts to the classic stickman pose. If a hand or a foot touches an enemy, the joint springs forward and hits the opponent.
Movement is also handled very simply; the arrow keys on the keyboard apply force to your stickman’s head. There is no restriction to jumping height (you can fly perpetually), and your momentum is only countered by the walls at the edge of the screen.
What results is surreal–your character is sailing around on the screen in what appears to be a scene only possible in The Matrix–but it’s this freedom that makes it so much more fun.
Create Your Own Moves
One of my favorite side-effects of a physics-modelled game is you don’t need to teach people how to throw a hard punch. When you only have control over the motion of your head, you’ll soon find a few different ways to get your arms and legs whipping around you to deal smashing blows to your opponents. You’ll work out neat moves you can do by springing yourself off the ground or nearby walls. The faster you are moving, the more damage you deal.
TMNP also incorporates a few seconds of slow motion every time you score a hit. Apart from looking really cool, it also gives your stickman a bit of a speed boost. If you use your slow motion time wisely by winding up for another barrage of blows, you’ll do that much more damage.
I found myself playing through the first few levels with relative ease, but was happy to see that the difficulty does actually ramp up quite a bit, forcing you to try out and learn new moves and tactics. And when you get stuck (did anyone defeat Mr. Ninja?), there’s a sandbox mode where you can pit yourself against 50 enemies and arm yourself with a chain or nunchucks.
Being a competition-designed 96Kb game, it didn’t exactly go through a thorough quality assurance program. Yes, it has it’s share of bugs and sure it has potential to be so much more than what it is. Despite the drawbacks, it is still worth downloading… even if it’s just to try out the bull-whip.
I do have one complaint, though–why the horrible name?