Bean's Quest is a retro 16-bit puzzle-oriented physics based platformer. It is a fun romp which manages to steer away from the danger of feeling like a Super Mario Brothers clone, though it does have a few minor things in common with the franchise.
As the title implies, Bean's Quest involves navigating a jumping legume past enemies and through various traps, obstacles and puzzles. Your options as far as movement goes are as follows: left, or right. You cannot time when Emilio (the aforementioned bean) jumps, which is the main challenge in the game. Choosing when to refrain from jumping (through the use of physical features of the environment) is just as important, if not more, than deciding when to jump and where you should try to land. The puzzles are very enjoyable and challenging to solve, never crossing the thin line between fun and oh-my-god-I-hate-this-game-I'm-throwing-my-computer-out-of-the-window. The level design is very good and each stage of the game has a different terrain and atmosphere.
While the game's controls in Windows (and presumably on Mac and Linux) are precise and simple, there is really nothing exciting or innovative about them. I have not had the opportunity to try playing it on a mobile device, I have heard from a few different sources that Bean's Quest is one of the few platformers available for Android and Iphone, etc. that boasts a system of control that isn't awkward and frustrating. If time and money allow, I will try the game out on my phone to confirm these claims and update the review accordingly. For the time being, I just thought I'd mention it as something to consider and research further if you should choose to. Note: Bean's Quest is a candidate for Steam's Project Greenlight, so if you play and enjoy the game, support indie developers who know what the hell they are doing and give it a vote.
Emilio and his girlfriend are enjoying a lovely picnic when an evil wizard descends on them. He kidnaps the girl (along with what appear to be some small, pink dinosaurs???) and turns Emilio into a bean. Armed only with his ability to jump, our hero sets out to hunt the wizard down and save the princ...I mean his girlfriend. Homage to Mario duly paid, Kumobius.
I'm going to come right out and address the elephant in the room. I don't consider myself to be obsessed with political correctness, but a Hispanic jumping “bean” wearing a sombrero? If I'm not mistaken, Kumobius Games is based in Australia, so perhaps the fact that in the US, the term “beaner,” is a derogatory nickname that bigoted a-holes use to refer to Mexicans was unknown to them. I kind of doubt that the word is used as such (at least not commonly) in countries outside of the Americas. As a broader analogy, imagine a video game being released called Flamer's Quest in which an effeminate male bedecked in high fashion burning armor. Do you see where I'm going with this?
That said, I am 99% certain that the developers did not intend the plot to stereotype or insult Mexicans, so if it makes you uncomfortable, ignore it. As I've pointed out before, platformers are not known or sought after for their deep and poignant storylines.
Bean's Quest harkens back to the days of bright, colorful and charming art of 16-bit console games. If you enjoy a sense of nostalgia or don't mind older-style graphics, this game is very appealing to the eye. If you only play games with cutting edge 3D CGI, go away.
The soundtrack of Bean's Quest offers a variety of festive and well-composed music, replete with a great deal of Spanish guitar. Personally, I am not a fan of of brass instruments, which also feature largely in the music, and therefore found it a bit obnoxious after an hour or so of continuous gameplay. If you enjoy fiesta music, add a few points to the score.
Every level in Bean's Quest has 3 extra goals—finding all of the jewels, hunting down the elusive Axolotl (cute pink dinosaurs mentioned in story section), and completing the level without exceeding a certain number of jumps. These objectives, especially coming in under par on the jumps, can be very difficult and surprisingly addictive. It is impossible to achieve them all by playing each level once. I found myself returning to levels to complete these challenges after I had already beaten the game, and they easily offer an extra few hours of gameplay.
There are 5 stages and 12 levels within each stage, plus a “boss level.” How much time it takes to complete the game is dependent upon how much time is spent attempting to achieve every side-goal, but the main quest could take anywhere from 6-10 hours depending on your skill level. For $4.99, it's a great deal.
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