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Let's Play, Newgrounds Edition: Gravity Duck (screenies)
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Let's Play, Newgrounds Edition: Gravity Duck (screenies):

 1 BlackWolfe, Wed, 27th Oct '10 4:28:51 AM from Lost in Austin
Gravity Duck is a Newgrounds Flash Game that's currently on the front page. I picked it because it's on the front page and the description says it has forty levels, which means I should be able to get some content out of this. It appears to be yet another platformer with a gravity-manipulating mechanic. This will be a blind Let's Play. The first entry will be the first 5-10 levels, depending on how long it takes to write up each one.

Edit: 10 levels. The first six or so are really simple, and I wanted some actual, I dunno, content.

...

The game starts with the usual "Let's change the Newgrounds logo to show the main character" deal, and I can deal with that. The retro music is catchy as hell, and I've still got the title screen up as I type this part. I'm half tempted to just do a Let's Play of the title screen because this song is a fucking Ear Worm and I can't bear to risk stopping it by starting a new game.

...

INTRO
We are greeted by a Moai. Who refers to us as "My Little Minion." I don't think I like that much.

BRING ME 40 GOLDEN EGGS AND I WILL MAKE YOU RICH!
YOU NOW HAVE THE POWER TO CONTROL GRAVITY.

Called it.

DO NOT FAIL ME... NOW GO!

What... a... DICK!

Attention Newgrounds. We know how arrow keys work. "Move from the left side of the screen to the right" is not worth an entire level.

This is more like it. A simple, easy-to-solve level that introduces the game's central mechanic. "How to move your character" belongs on an introductory screen, not the first level.

Note that I am currently upside-down. This is because some idiot forgot to screengrab the beginning of level 2.

SHOWN: An object (spinning clockwise) that rotates gravity (clockwise) when a collision occurs.
NOT SHOWN: Gravity Duck jumping.
NOT PRESENT: A jump button.

So we position ourselves under the spinning yellow balls, reverse gravity, and...

D'OH! SCREEN CAPTURE MISSING

Huzzah! An actual puzzle mechanic that can lead to some seriously fun screw-ups on later levels!

Maybe this game is front-page worthy after all.

Here we are presented with our first possibility of death. Stepping on the spikes kills you. Wow. I wonder if we have a trope for that.

As an experiment, I decided to try reversing gravity while falling, to see if just once, a game with gravity manipulation would allow me to levitate by rapidly swapping gravity.

It turns out, when you die, you just sort of blip out.

Presented with this challenge - OMG, THERE ARE SPIKES AT BOTH ENDS OF THE PIT WHAT DO I DO - I chose to take the above-marked path. Challenges in a 40-level game are likely to take a while to actually become, y'know, challenging.

On a side note, I then backtracked to the beginning of the level in order to get a screenshot of the starting position.

Wait. 40 levels. 40 eggs. Dammit, I was hoping for occasional interruptions while Gravity Duck reported back to his stony superior.

It occurs to me, I'm not going to get to reuse that awesome Moai image until the end of the game (if even then) unless I make up some dialogue for him.

YOU'RE TAKING YOUR SWEET TIME GETTING ME THOSE EGGS, DUCKY BOY.
Some quack-for-brains motherquacker keeps leaving me hanging at the beginning of each level.
WHAT FOR?
I don't know, but whatever it is, I bet it's stupid.

Screw you, Gravity Duck. I'm killing you, next level.

At first glance, this looks simple. Then, you take a closer look and you realize that, yeah, it's pretty damn simple. Reverse gravity, hit spinning vortex on the way "up", reverse gravity again, reverse it one more time, fall off the ledge on the "right", reverse it one more time... Wake me when I need to think, huh, Gravity Duck?

*SPLAT*

Right, right, controls don't shift when gravity does. Okay, let's try that again.

*SPLAT*

That was embarrassing. But I got through on the third first try.

Okay, now we're talking. This is more what I expected to see around level three or four, though. Two vortexes, and they're offset from each other. Remembering that to move up when gravity is to the right, you actually press up means when I hit that vortex, I have to rotate my brain 90 degrees as well. Figuratively speaking.

That was pretty easy, actu... al... ly...

Oh, Level 8, where were you three levels ago? This is what I came to this game to see. Look at the placement of that first vortex, how you have to move away from the Spikes Of Doom right after hitting the vortex, or you splat?

Then you have to switch gravity back and forth to cross the middle tunnel, then comes another vortex/Spikes Of Doom combo. If I screw up that last one, I might still be able to salvage this.

So far, so good. This is just like Level 5, only sideways.

Okay. At this point, I am second-guessing myself. I believe that if I just swap gravity at this point, gravity will switch to upside-down when I hit the vortex, causing me to have to avoid spikes reflexively. I don't want to test my reflexes while simultaneously trying to think of witty things to write. Therefore, I should not switch gravity from right here.

I'm gonna do it anyway.

FUUUUUUUU—

*DING*

Oh. Whew.

Hey, look. Moving, deadly obstacles. With tiny little Spikes Of Doom on them.

FUUUUUUUU—

Don't be a pussy, it's a simple timing puzzle.

Given the nature of our history together, I'm not at all confident in your ability to manage any kind of...

Yeah, While you were complaining, I went ahead and solved the level.

Oh.

Okay, ten levels and end of the update. This one's a piece of cake. Both of these vortexes spin clockwise - I wonder if later vortexes go counter-clockwise? - so it's a simple matter of reversing gravity under the first one, then reversing again once we land, to position ourselves on the left wall instead of the right. Then we reverse at the very edge of the pit on the left wall, and that vortex sends us down to the grassy, welcoming down.

I shall now attempt this.

I.
Am.
Awesome.

Well, go ahead, Gravity Duck, claim that last egg and end the update.

YOINK!

edited 27th Oct '10 4:49:44 AM by BlackWolfe

But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
Might have to check this one out. I love puzzle platformers, and Newgrounds is good for delivering on those.
 
 3 BlackWolfe, Wed, 27th Oct '10 7:45:05 AM from Lost in Austin
I stopped at exactly the wrong level.

On a whim, I decided to try just one or two more levels a half hour ago. I breezed through 15 increasingly complicated levels. More enemies, more ways to die... It gets good right around level fifteen or so.
But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 4 Willy Four Eyes, Wed, 27th Oct '10 8:24:12 AM from Darby, PA, USA Relationship Status: It's not my fault I'm not popular!
I've got a HUGE gun!
The Gravity Screw mechanic reminds me somewhat of VVVVVV. Have you tried that?
 5 BlackWolfe, Wed, 27th Oct '10 8:48:49 AM from Lost in Austin
I have. It's not the first gravity manipulating game I've played, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the first made.
But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 6 BlackWolfe, Wed, 27th Oct '10 7:04:01 PM from Lost in Austin
Gravity Duck
vs. A Garden
(apparently)

Okay, session 2... Levels 11-20.

As I said, after finishing the first ten levels and posting the pics, I sort of... already beat levels 11-20 without getting screenies.

You're a bad, bad man.

And you're a bad, bad duck. And the game is about to get good. So let's dive in!

Wheeeee! This is a sneaky level. The small blocks - I shall call them "thwomplings" - move back and forth or up and down and are generally only mildly annoying. The real nastiness is the large number of Spikes Of Doom.

So here's my projected path.

*SPLAT*

Okay, same path without falling onto a thwompling...

*DING*

Rawk. Level 12, here we come...

*SIGH* Only requires a little bit of finesse on the part in the middle. Level 13, here we come. Challenge, please? KTHXBAI.

Did someone say "challenge"?
Oh, you son of a quack.

Say hello to... the, um... caterpillar things. They're not insanely fast, but they love tiny litle platforms that make you have to switch gravity the moment you land. This one's a simple matter of timing it so you land just past the caterpillars and immediately swap gravity again to avoid them. The thwomplings are a piece of cake, so long as you're not still focused on getting past the caterpillars that you forget they're up there.

This marks the beginning of the actually challenging levels, and soon we'll see even worse enemies. No, really, enemies. And they're all invincible and you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder. Enjoy!

Note: At this point, I tried to cheat and just load the next level, because last night I'd played up to level 28. At this point I discovered it overwrites your saved game if you load an earlier level. At this point I swore at the designer, then cleared the level, then laughed smugly.

Hey, you remember back when vortexes Gravity Wells were introduced, the text at the top of the screen said that they switched gravity based on the direction they were spinning?

Remember on level 10 where I wondered if I was ever going to encounter a counter-clockwise spinning vortex? I would like to introduce you to Level 14. Otherwise known as one thwompling, to spikey caterpillars, and two vortexes, one of which is counter-clockwise.

Have fun, G-Duck!

Kiss my quack, you hack.
You'll need it to make the owies better after we kick it, ducky boy.

Oh, friggin' yawn. Why bother to introduce new challenges if you're going to avoid actually challenging me with them, Gravity Duck?

This is the only mildly challenging part of the level, if only because the tight confines make the timing tricky. Ish.

Okay, fun time. Told you the game gets good right about now. Tight spaces, new enemies - that vortex is counterclockwise, by the way - and some nice gravity-swapping holy-crap-it's-coming-it's-coming puzzle solving.

Actually, considering the number of times I have to immediately swap gravity because I land right in front of them, I think I'm going to name the caterpillars Zalgo.

Actually, the Moai is Zalgo.

That's nice to... wait, what?

H̸̛̤͇̭̦͐̑̄ͥe̟̼͓̪̳̥̹̦͆ͤ̌̆̍ ̩̲̀͡͝͞c͚̣̭̲͇ͨ̿͌̄͛õ̶̝̥̘͓̻̋̈́̇͆̈́͛̎m̨̲̝̰͍̝͕̰̃̇͋̒̋͠͝e̶̴̖̹̻̠͇̬̋̊̋ͧs̷͉̫̙̤̮̈́͘͠.̧̭̬̥̖̠͇͓̼̥̌͂͜͞

Okay, WHAT.

As I was saying, the vortex spins counter-clockwise - which is no big concern. The big concern on this level is the damn caterpillars.

Which isn't much of a concern. Here we go, a nice simple level. It's designed to make you go "OHGODTHESPIKES" when you first see it, but then you notice the vortexes and you think you've got a perfect plan to get through the level.

It turns out you're absolutely right, and we move on to level 18. Almost the end of our second update!

H̸̛̤͇̭̦͐̑̄ͥe̟̼͓̪̳̥̹̦͆ͤ̌̆̍ ̩̲̀͡͝͞c͚̣̭̲͇ͨ̿͌̄͛õ̶̝̥̘͓̻̋̈́̇͆̈́͛̎m̨̲̝̰͍̝͕̰̃̇͋̒̋͠͝e̶̴̖̹̻̠͇̬̋̊̋ͧs̷͉̫̙̤̮̈́͘͠.̧̭̬̥̖̠͇͓̼̥̌͂͜͞

S̲̦̲͑̇ͪͫͪ́H̪͚͙ͮ̃̿͒ͨU̬͒͐̿T̀͏͙̬̮̟̭̥ͅ ͉̥̼̠̲͓͡U̓̍͗̅P͈͙̭̺̮ͩͧ̐͂̅̓̊.͍̤̳̱̎ͦ̕

Say hello to our next new enemy: The pea-shooter. So-called (by me) because it shoots peas. Constantly. Note there are two of them. Not sure if you can see it - the image size is being reduced here - but they're alternating, meaning that in order to clear this level, I've got to swap gravity back and forth and watch out for the caterpillar annoying little troll up above.

Nice comeback.

Shut it, I have to embarrass your new friends by breezing past them.

Breeze past this, jerk.

Okay, don't mind if I do.

This one's only tricky part... if you can call it that... is getting out of that place in the upper left corner. If you fall in with those pea-shooters - they don't hurt you, only their projectiles - instead of swapping past them at the right time, you're likely to get shot. Once you're past them, it's just a single shooter, a thwompling, and a slightly curved path to another vortex.

Cake.

Here we find the newest enemy: absolutely nothing. I'd make a sprite out of it for snarky conversations, but... well... it's NOTHING.

That is to say, welcome to the first level where you can fall off the edge of the screen.

Note the position of the first vortex, up there on the top. The only real danger here is overshooting.

*SIGH*

I'll see you next update, where I ask the question "what the hell does Joss Whedon have to do with this game?"

The answer is nothing, really, but the question opens me up for a crappy pun next update.

H̸̛̤͇̭̦͐̑̄ͥe̟̼͓̪̳̥̹̦͆ͤ̌̆̍ ̩̲̀͡͝͞c͚̣̭̲͇ͨ̿͌̄͛õ̶̝̥̘͓̻̋̈́̇͆̈́͛̎m̨̲̝̰͍̝͕̰̃̇͋̒̋͠͝e̶̴̖̹̻̠͇̬̋̊̋ͧs̷͉̫̙̤̮̈́͘͠.̧̭̬̥̖̠͇͓̼̥̌͂͜͞

F͎͋̿ǘ̘̟̥͚̮̉̈́c̴̤̼̣̫̝̖̃ͅk̹̖̳̭͋́̾ ̲̻̖͔̞̤͊̉͑̂̏̐y̛̜̆̿o͗ͨ͑͟u̧ͪ̉̌̅.̫̬̲̝̜̭̆̍ͬ̒̉̑

See you in a day or so.

edited 27th Oct '10 7:07:45 PM by BlackWolfe

But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 7 Endark Culi, Wed, 27th Oct '10 9:38:55 PM from Ontario, Canada Relationship Status: In Spades with myself
Welcome to Purgatory!
Well, I've always been a fan of puzzle games, and it looks like this one has a nice design and a difficulty that one can comfortably ease into. I definitely like what you've already done, and hope that future challenges don't leave you a screaming pile of mulch that might once have been considered to be a human being.
I love how some of the levels seem hard at first, but then turn out to be easy enough to do in a few tries.
 
 9 BlackWolfe, Wed, 27th Oct '10 10:01:49 PM from Lost in Austin
Heh. Still to come: At least two more enemies. (Two that I know of, anyway.) Insane frustration begins about two-thirds of the way through the next update. Also, you get to find out the atrocious pun I hinted at earlier.
But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 10 BlackWolfe, Fri, 29th Oct '10 2:43:22 AM from Lost in Austin
Insane frustration got worse. GIMP crashed, and as I was using it specifically so I wouldn't have to save until I was done playing through 21-30, that means I lost all the screenshots for the next update. Not sure I want to go through level 28 again.
But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 11 BlackWolfe, Tue, 23rd Nov '10 8:51:51 PM from Lost in Austin
Bumping instead of editing because HOLY CRAP UPDATE!

Y'know what? Having ol G-Duck for my avatar has gotten me in the mood to overcome my frustration. Let's see how long that lasts.

I am an inspiration.

You are pixelated frustration. Let's do this.

Level 21

This one is all about timing your first gravity swap. After that, just keep moving. For your first two swaps, it's best to land to the right of the caterpillar. After that, just swap quickly so as not to die.

Level 22

Easier than it looks.

Wake me when it gets tough.

Level 23

G'morning, Ducky! Say hello to the firefly.

Oh, [TRUNCATED EXPLETI-]
This annoying little bastard fires homing missiles at Gravity Duck every few seconds. It flashes briefly before doing so. Now we're playing a cover-based platformer.

For this level, the trick is to wait until right after a barrage has gone by, move as quickly as possible to the crook of the L-shaped platform in the middle, wait again, and move as quickly as possible to the egg.

Level 24

More firefly blast dodging. Unfortunately, you have to proceed over the top of the evil smiley face that is this level, which means hiding on the bottom of the nose like some kind of bright yellow booger.

Way to make me sound disgusting.

Level 25

This one's less of a challenge than it looks like. It doesn't matter which way you go, left or right. All you have to do is time your start - drop off the bottom of the spiked platform right as the fireflies' blasts are blocked - so that you have as much time as possible to grab cover up by the minithwomps.

Level 26

This one can screw you if you're overconfident, but is, again, more a matter of timing than anything else. Using the vortex on the left and the platform at the center, we want to position ourselves on the right side of the starting point so that we can skirt the spike-covered floating island and hit the other vortex.

Then it's more hiding behind cover before moving as quickly as possible to the end of the level.

Level 27

Ah, a nice, simple level. You can use the two mini islands on the upper right for cover. The peashooters are nothing compared to those fireflies.

Level 28

This level is Platform Hell. This is where bad Gravity Ducks go when they die. These spiked pillars require precise timing, and it's really hard to time your fall from halfway across the damn screen.

My first playthrough - the one where I lost the screenshot - I went past the first pillar, discovered that you have to be upside down when to the right of it or the firefly can get you, and spent a good ten minutes or so trying to time the fall through the pillar on the right.

This time around, I spent about two minutes repeatedly dying on that pillar when my roommate asked a question: "Why don't you just go underneath that first island?"

I proceeded to accidentally clear the level on my first attempt at following this suggestion while attempting to prove that it wasn't possible to actually reach that first vortex. Sometimes, I hate my roommate.

Level 29

The trickiest part of this level is remembering that if you land on either of the two tiny islands on the top part of the screen, you can't safely fall off of them again. Otherwise, it's kind of a piece of cake compared to 28.

Level 30

We end the update with the most annoying caterpillars ever. Note the complete lack of fireflies. That does not make this an easy level.

In this case, you want to land in front of the caterpillars instead of behind them as usual. Then it's almost ridiculously easy to hit that vortex and swap-hop your way down the right side of the screen to the egg.

One more update (ten levels) to go!
But soft! What rock through yonder window breaks? It is a brick! And Juliet is out cold.
 12 Game Chainsaw, Sun, 5th Dec '10 12:46:26 PM from sunshine and rainbows!
The Shadows Devour You.
You're... very good at these sorts of games, I can tell.

Nice liveblog, hope to see you complete it.

edited 5th Dec '10 12:46:50 PM by GameChainsaw

The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
Total posts: 12
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