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I love when a game is so simple in concept that you can pick it up instantly with no tutorial. The platform genre leans this way with its easy-to-understand controls and straightforward mechanics. When I was offered Pinkman+ I happily accepted. Its retro look and basic story instantly appealed to me. I also suspected that it would be a quick causal title to add to my library.
Developed by Green Dinosaur Games and published by Ratalaika Games, this fast-paced adventure platform title asks you to move a pink-skinned male from point A to point B. In doing so he must avoid many traps, activate switches and stay alive. This is easier said than done as much of the action takes; a steady hand, patience, and a bit of luck.
Pinkman+ simple by name, simple by premise.
Pinkman+ asks you to traverse 100 handcrafted levels in a world know as “The Mind”. Each stage is brilliantly designed, thwart with danger, and deceptively difficult. The early levels contradict that last statement, as it starts off very easily. No additional mechanics are added, and you move from one ledge to another. Extra elements are chucked in the pot that you must remember and overcome. The pink male has a jetpack with limited fuel, this enables him to hover and clear large gaps. He also has the power to wall jump, this complements his flying ability, and the two are often combined to progress through the levels. There are no shocks, but you will need an essence of planning and precision to get through the more difficult later stages.
Once you understand how to move around each level, you are then introduced to many traps, 20 all told. These vary from; spikes, missiles, lasers, moving platforms, circular saws, electrical blocks, treadmills and more. These obstacles intertwine with one another and make your route arduous and complex. The difficulty really ramps up, and you’ll take deep breaths to stay calm.
No additional lives mean that death is a real problem in Pinkman+. Luckily, checkpoints are scattered around each stage. These allow you to start your attempt from that location when you die. To complicate things further, you cannot unlock the exit gate unless you activate the button. The path to this is usually lined with spikes and lies beyond a vast chasm. Running the gauntlet of traps was bad on the first occasion, but having to do it for a second time will push you over the edge when you brush against a spiked wall.
It’s enjoyable and contains some challenge, but it’s nothing new!
The well designed levels, interesting combination of threats, and simplicity of movement were interesting and worked well. But it failed to deliver anything new to the genre. It’s fast-paced nature added some pressure, as did the speedrun clock that always acknowledged how quickly you worked through the issues you faced. Yet there wasn’t anything in the gameplay that I couldn’t find in another platform title.
I enjoyed that there was a lack of “traditional” enemies. Odd aliens weren’t wandering around this bizarre landscape. The threats all came from technology and projectiles. These weapons followed a set route and were predictable, but that didn’t make them any easier to avoid. They’re deadly and will end your run in the blink of an eye. These were the only element that required you to use the world around you to avoid them. This forced you into planning your approach and added a much needed tactical element to this fast-paced title.
Pinkman+ is tough on the eyes.
I’ve played some games that are vivid, bright and scream look at me, but nothing like Pinkman+. This garish and horrifically bright game will burn your retinas with its intensity. Neon colours fill your room as each level is awash with an 80s style colour scheme. 16 different combinations have been created, and upon death the world will flash to a new selection. It’s shocking, unexpected, but it works fantastically well. If you then look at the basic and uncomplicated art style, this is a game that doesn’t overdo its presentation. The developers were happy to allow the gameplay to take the lead role. Every other element sat back and acted as the supporting cast.
To continue on with the 80s vibe, Green Dinosaur Games utilised a Synthwave soundtrack. This added a computerised futuristic feel to the story. This unnatural and upbeat audio worked well with the otherwise silent gameplay. It added an element of excitement and demanded that you approached each level in a more aggressive and faster way. It was a really clever use of dated music that matched the theme perfectly.
Simplicity makes this work.
The platform genre ticks so many boxes for gamers because of its colourful worlds, but also its accessibility. No matter your skill level, you will pick up a controller and make it through the game with some practise. That is how this is set up, there is no complex controller layout and there is no tutorial, yet you get into the action very quickly. The only thing that will hold you back is your own timing, and ability to remain calm on the harder stages.
With 100 levels to explore, and new gameplay mechanics being added regularly, the game reinvents itself constantly. If you then add in the variety in stage design, and the speedrun counter, there is a fair bit of replay value to be found. If you are an achievement hunter, this one won’t take long to hit the 100% mark, maybe an hour tops. But if you wish to see all the levels, you will need around 4 to 5 hours, at £4 this proves great value for money.
Being a pink dude is a retro-futuristic dream.
I knew that I’d enjoy Pinkman+, I just didn’t realise how much. The ease of the opening stages builds up your confidence until you power through the levels. Once you get into the flow, you won’t want to put it down! You take each new trap in your stride, and restart the game upon death, knowing that victory is just around the corner. If you want a casual and unusual platform game, buy it here! Can you journey deep into “The Mind”, overcoming each trap, and making it to safety? If anyone can do it, the pink man can do it!