It’s not so much that the Devil like granting wishes, but rather that he enjoys watching people put themselves through endless torments in the quest to get those wishes granted. Spooky Poo is a cartoon cat ripped straight from one of those creepy 1930s animated shorts, and he’s made a deal with the Devil to get an unspecified wish granted. All he needs to do is get through nine levels of Hell and the Devil gives him whatever he wants. It’s not like Hell is a giant 3D platforming wonderland filled with weird monsters, semi-logical challenges, and endless temptations, after all. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Wrong. Hell is not a place for the weak of heart or platforming skills, but the Devil is more than happy to take bits of your soul in exchange for powers to make the journey easier. The prototype level available through the Spooky Poo’s Happy Hell Kickstarter is a buggy, unpolished proof-of-concept area that gives a sense of how the powers and platforming fit together in this weird but very clever adventure, and it’s looking like the Devil is putting together a great little challenge to tempt the cartoon cat’s soul. Weird enemies, hidden areas, a variety of environments, and the full exploitation of Spooky Poo’s powers are needed to see the entire demo area, but in the final game you’ll be able to complete the quest with soul intact if you choose to go the hard route. That would leave you without the double-jump, enemy lock-on, a missile-firing nose, spin attack, and several more abilities, but the final game is being designed to reward those wanting to remain pure of soul as well as players happy to buy every advantage possible.
While the Kickstarter campaign has a lot of talk about the final game (as well it should) it was the prototype demo that impressed me. The level was compact but filled with a number of challenges, each requiring a different approach. Get the levitation power, use it to raise the lid off a coffin filled with worms, jump in to go to a bonus area, buy the spin attack, send bones flying everywhere as you take out the surrounding skeletons to activate the exit point, and then back to the main level. There were platforming staples like disappearing ledges and weirder bits like a cauldron you have to aggro an enemy towards so its attack supplies a missing ingredient. Other sections saw Spooky Poo use the lock-on ability to scan a hidden stone that opened up a dark maze, or go through a platforming challenge to earn the dash skill allowing him to defeat a goblin to exit the sub-level and earn the swoop ability. Most new skills comes with a visual upgrade as well, slowly transforming the already-weird cat into a uniquely freakish resident of Hell.
Spooky Poo’s Happy Hell is definitely a weird one, but it has not only the ambitions of the N64 3D platformers but also a demo proving it’s got the potential to live up to its inspirations. The demo admits it’s got problems up front (buggy, terrible camera) but the level design and challenges are looking good and the music is perfect. The game has a little under three days left to make its modest goal, so head on over and take a look, and maybe give the prototype a play. We could always use a bit more talented weirdness in the world.