Awesome Pea is described as a classic run-and-jump platformer, in which you take on the role of the titular pea, and must work through a collection of bite-sized levels as you nab coins and jewels along the way. Don’t let this simplistic concept fool you, because if anything, Awesome Pea is quite freaking tough. That’s not to say that it’s particularly good, in fact in truth, it’s one of the worst games that I’ve played this year so far, and yes, I’ve played Crackdown 3. Nevertheless, let’s take a few steps back and go at this from the top.
Booting up the game takes you to a clean and concise menu. Here, you can either dive right into the adventure at hand, or alter some of the game’s settings. You’re fully able to adjust the screen’s border and filter, meaning that you’re free to select whether you want that classic Game Boy-esque presentation, or not. I personally removed it for a cleaner look. That being said, Awesome Pea is still an eye burner at the best of times, regardless as to which visual layout you choose. With little else to do here, it’s time to start greedy pea’s journey.
The game’s world map showcases several levels that are spread over a total of four islands. In order to progress to the next level, you’ll need to complete the level that you’re sat on. There’s not much to keep on top of as far as the game’s handling is concerned. Left and right movement, jumping, and double jumping, is the sum total of your traversal. Using these commands, you’ll bob and weave through the game’s fairly taxing stages, clearing large drops, avoiding many deadly hazards, and outmaneuvering enemy projectiles at every turn.
Mercifully, the game’s responsiveness is on point, but that’s likely the only positive thing that I can say about it. Awesome Pea’s depth is puddle deep, even for a game of this type. The game’s levels tend to center around a small band of designs; such as climbing a tower, descending through a cave, running atop a train, and traversing through a poor imitation of Bowser’s castle. Despite the fact that these levels vary as far as their core layouts are concerned, they recycle the aforementioned designs over, and over, and over again.
It doesn’t help matters that the game is designed in such a way that literally makes you want to stop playing. You see, whenever you get hit or take the slightest bit of damage, you’re sent straight back to the start of the level. That alone isn’t so bad, but throw in the fact that it’s too damn hard to see what’s hazardous and what isn’t, and it only leads to prolonged and frequent moments of frustration. Furthermore, to truly complete each level (if you’re here for achievements) you’ll need to collect every piece of treasure in sight.
You’re free to simply make it to the end of each level without picking up a piece of treasure, to proceed onto the next level, but the bulk of the game’s achievements rest on full acquisition. The problem, however, is that the game is as ugly as sin. There’s no distinction between foreground and background, making it practically impossible to see many of the game’s hazards. Several times did I die due to not seeing what was coming at me, or where I was landing, due to nothing other than the game’s complete and utter lack of visual clarity.
There’s a reason classic Game Boy games didn’t come with cluttered backgrounds, and Awesome Pea would have done well to consider that. Instead, what you have here is a game that attempts to relay visual definition and variety, but fails miserably to do so. On the topic of variety, Awesome Pea is about as diverse as a plain piece of paper. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll witness the same boring copy-and-paste hazards from its start to its finish; spinning guillotine, ball spitting frogs, small floating skulls, and that’s about it.
Outside of that, spikes and death drops make up the bulk of the game’s environmental hazards. There’s no combat present, meaning that your only form of survival sits with good reflexes and a lot of patience. Due to how poorly designed the levels are, grouped with how hard is to see said hazards, you’ll soon form a firm dislike to it. Don’t get me wrong, some levels are better presented than others, such as the cave-based levels. The pitch-black background here removes issues with its lack of distinction, but even then, there’s faults.
During the cave-based levels, you’re tasked with making it from the top of the cave to the bottom. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! All the while you’re descending, large balls of fire will shoot from the bottom of the screen upwards. The problem here is that by the time they appear, there’s almost no reaction time to dodge them. Granted, levels in Awesome Pea take no more than a minute or two to beat, but it’s still annoying. It’s a poor design choice to say the least, which is a criticism that I can apply to any other level that’s in the game.
Those train-based levels mentioned above? Try dodging projectile balls that blend that well with the background, you’ll rarely know where they appear until they kill you. Those tower-based levels? Well, they can be cleared in a matter of seconds due to only needing to jump, jump, and jump. Now, as for the levels that reflect a poor Bowser’s castle imitation, these just plain suck; cheap deaths, agonizingly awkward platform placement, and more. When all is said and done, Awesome Pea simply isn’t a game that I can recommend whatsoever.
Further to that, when the game’s poor visual presentation isn’t getting you down, it’s overly annoying soundtrack and audio cues will get the job done nicely. Seriously, how someone thought that this was anywhere near enjoyable is beyond me. If we’re looking at a best case outlook, I would summarize this game as a cheap, rushed, uninspired adventure that holds next to no value. Not once did I have fun. The game’s overall shoddy execution, together with its sloppy design choices, made sure of that. Avoid this as though it were the plague.
The biggest challenge you’ll face here is trying to overcome its horrendous presentation. There’s a complete lack of distinction between the game’s foreground and its background, leading to heaps of cheap deaths as a result. What’s worse, there’s almost no depth and variation within. Instead, the game makes a nasty habit of constantly recycling its few dull ideas, over and over, throughout the entirety of play. Heed my advice, avoid.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.