Gumboy: Crazy Adventures

Bizarre World and Strange Situations

Demo Download
System Requirements:
Win 2000/XP SP 2+/later/1GHz CPU/256MB RAM/32MB VRAM/DirectX 8+
Cinmax, s.r.o.

It's hard to evaluate Gumboy Crazy Adventures without comparison to games such as LocoRoco, Gish, Wik, and even Eets, as the similarities are apparent. Nonetheless, it stands on its own as a unique title, a refreshingly challenging yet quirky sidescroller set in a fanciful, fairy-tale world. Crazy Adventures indeed!

DWARFED PERCEPTION: The world of Gumboy offers a fairy-tale style experience.DWARFED PERCEPTION: The world of Gumboy offers a fairy-tale style experience.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Gumboy lacks a story element. It has no quests to perform, no worlds to save, and no overarching goals except to move from one level to the next. In fact, it's pretty much an old-school side-scroller in modern-day garb. And, there's nothing wrong with that. Its straightforward gameplay is an invigorating change of pace from the elaborate, overly-complex titles that too many developers are churning out these days. Gumboy is simple--and, to this reviewer, that's good.

So, what's Gumboy Crazy Adventures all about? Well, physics mostly. Gumboy is a rubber ball that rolls, bounces, and ricochets around his environment performing relatively simple tasks. Not necessarily simple to perform, but clear-cut in their goal. For example, one task might be successfully moving an object from Point A to Point B intact. But, there's more to it than that. Gumboy must deal with forces like gravity, inertia, traction, adhesion and more.

The Shape of Things to Come

Fortunately, the game's globular protagonist can change shapes and properties. Power-ups placed strategically throughout each level alter Gumboy's appearance and abilities. Morphs allow him to change shape and composition into a sphere, cube, or star filled with rubber, air, or water. Each, in turn, affects Gumboy's ability to reach certain locations of the landscape he's on, and the manner in which he traverses it. Rubber is great for rolling, but won't allow Gumboy to float through the air or dive under water. Air allows him to reach extreme heights, but is easily punctured by sharp objects and won't submerse. Water, on the other hand, is great for floating or diving, but, like air, bursts easily.

In addition to Morphs, other power-ups include Magnetizers, providing a sort of "repulsion field" for pushing things; Hiccup Seeds, enabling Gumboy to jump; Glue Bags, to provide stickiness for rolling up walls and traversing overhead landscape features without falling; and Stoppers, which immediately halt Gumboy in his tracks. Checkpoints, Teleports and Regenerators are self explanatory in their purpose, while items like Diamonds, Luciferoids, and Crystals simply increase the overall point score. Yes, points, which brings up the matter of objectives.

BEST SCORE OR BEST TIME: Gumboy keeps track of the best score and best time for each level.BEST SCORE OR BEST TIME: Gumboy keeps track of the best score and best time for each level.

A Means of Conveyance

Basically, two objectives come into play in completing a level and opening the portal to the next: tasks and points. Some stages require attaining a set minimum score before advancing. Meanwhile, task-based levels are of the "fetch" variety. They include things like propelling star dust, escorting dew drops and conveying beans to their appointed destinations. All this fetching is accomplished by nabbing the Magnetizer (more appropriately, it's a reverse-polarity magnetizer). Once magnetized, "repelling waves" emanate from Gumboy so that he can push objects across the landscape, propelling them from one point to another and, occasionally, forcing them through some very tight spaces or gently nudging them into hard to reach spots. It's all part of the puzzle-solving equation.

What specific kind of puzzles will you find in the game? Well, here's an example. In one level, Gumboy has to collect some special Forest Energy and use it to activate a series of Teleports, one at a time. To trigger the final one, he must locate a Glue Bag so that he can fall onto it from above. Then, he needs to find a Magnetizer so he can push several beans from one part of the level to another, via the Teleports, to their final destination. Of course, the kind of puzzle varies depending on the theme specific to the game world Gumboy is currently inhabiting.

Worlds of Possibilities

Gumboy's worlds include: the Magic Forest, Bean World, Summer Meadow, the Underground and the Caves. The Magic Forest requires Gumboy to assist dwarves in locating the star dust needed to open Magic Gates. In Bean World, Mr. Bean (no, not that Mr. Bean--Rowan Atkinson makes no guest appearance) has lost, well--his beans. Naturally, Gumboy must find and return them. Roska, the fairy, requires assistance in collecting dew drops when Gumboy visits Summer Meadow. Meanwhile, the dark Underground calls for light to illuminate the way and the Caves charge Gumboy with bringing magic crystals to the dwarves that live within. Each has unique puzzle solutions and an intriguing thematic appearance.

These worlds are, simply put, a graphical feast. Surreal in appearance, the landscapes are beautifully rendered, with foreground and background elements that add depth and perspective. Dynamic lights and shadows play across their features and special particle effects abound. From the Magic Forest to the Caves, each is gorgeously crafted with award-winning visuals.

While not quite as impressive as its graphics, the game's audio accompaniment is still extremely good. Music makes a sporadic appearance, but most levels are augmented by highly-effective and ethereal ambient sounds rather than a fully-scored soundtrack. There's the occasional verbal communication, too. Though a lot of the game's auditory cues are not so much intelligible as guttural, frequent "Ooohs and Ahhs" and "Ohhhs and Wheees" and a few "Uh uhs" are made by Gumboy and the creatures that inhabit his world. It all adds a great touch of humor.

THE NAME’S "BEAN": One of the game’s many tasks is helping Mr. Bean reclaim his missing beans.THE NAME’S "BEAN": One of the game’s many tasks is helping Mr. Bean reclaim his missing beans.

Controlling Factors

As for controls, Gumboy is designed for keyboard use, employing just the up, left, and right arrow keys, and the control key (though, they can be reconfigured). Though this simplistic arrangement is manageable in most instances, it occasionally becomes entirely too complex to try to control Gumboy effectively from the keyboard. Fortunately, gamepads are also supported, providing a much better alternative.

Yet, even with a gamepad, some levels are extremely frustrating. In such cases, knowing what to do is not the problem. Unfortunately, accomplishing the obvious task can be nerve-wrenchingly difficult. For instance, coaxing beans where they need to go becomes arduous to the point of tedium as they bounce around like their Mexican counterparts under a hot lamp--usually in the wrong direction. The same holds true with dew drops. While simple to direct, they burst all too easily.

THAT THING YOU DEW: Roska wants dew drops, but getting them to her intact is often an arduous task.THAT THING YOU DEW: Roska wants dew drops, but getting them to her intact is often an arduous task.

It's a Ball!

Nonetheless, Gumboy has a lot to offer. Its 40 whimsical levels provide ample entertainment and are worth replaying at least once. According to the developer's rather choppy and ambiguous English, "New adventures and other levels and completely new worlds are awaiting Gumboy." This is not an indication, as some assume, that downloadable levels are available or will be forthcoming. That's a misconception. According to Cinemax, it means that they're preparing a sequel. So, what you get--is what you get.

In the end, Gumboy Crazy Adventures is a highly-creative and eminently-enjoyable game, though often as frustrating as it is fun. It's also a gender- and age-neutral title that will appeal to the entire family. Though, the youngest gamers may need a hand with some of the logic necessary to solve its more difficult puzzles. Regardless, Gumboy is a ball from start to finish.

Reviewer's Snapshot: 9 (exceeded most expectations)

Graphics/Animation: 10 (flawless, standout graphics and great animation)
Music/Sound Effects: 9 (simplistic audio ambiance and amusing sound effects)
Game Play 7: (addictive play, some levels are overly frustrating, gamepad recommended)
Replayability: 7 (good replay value)
Price/Performance: 9 (one of the best indie games of 2006 and a deal at $20)

Reviewer's Bias: 8 (high expectations based on first impression)