Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ponyvania Demo

Ponyvania gameplay screenshot
Ponyvania

 Back in 2012 some Texans decided that the My Little Pony fandom needed a Castlevania-type game and began to create one themselves in Game Maker, with the splendidly original title "Ponyvania". The project seemed to progress smoothly, with the latest demo being released in July '13, but I remained entirely unaware of Ponyvania until some Anon posted about it on /mlp/ last Saturday, bemoaning the overall lack of attention that it has seen (aside from an Equestria Daily post about a pre-demo trailer). The Anon also mentioned Legacy of the Pony, which I shall hopefully cover later now that I have a working dual-boot setup, but in the meantime I shall focus on this sadly neglected fangame.

My thoughts on the project can be found below the break, as usual.


 Ponyvania managed to give off a good first-impression when I first started to play around with it. After beginning a new game I was nifty little pony creation utility with which I promptly attempted to recreate Taylor's OC, but unfortunately I failed and instead ended up with a Berry Punch recolor. Then the game began, and I was impressed by the quality of the backgrounds/scenery sprites until I got a taste of the weird jumping physics, which took some getting used to. Ah well, so far so good, but then I decided to head outside...

...And things promptly went downhill from there. It seems that the developer's idea of difficulty involves plopping down a bunch of enemies and spawning monsters directly underneath the player, killing them in short order even if escape or combat is attempted. This, compounded with a bizarre decision to reverse the standard actions of the Z and X keys made the game much harder than it should have been, and changing this in the pause menu was more difficult than it should have been due to some rather confusing default key bindings (even after reading the Readme).
Borrowing this screenshot from Anon.
 After much annoyance and little progression I discovered the skill system, helpfully buried in the menu and requiring manual keybindings. The ability to shoot laser beams and dark energy balls seemed pretty cool, but alas, enemies in standard mode still spawned too quickly for me to effectively use my fancy stuff. Perhaps things would have gone better on the Easy difficulty level, I dunno, but I still consider Ponyvania's difficulty to be more due to poor design and balancing rather than presenting a real challenge to the player.


Since Ponyvania is still a demo I'm not going to give it a score or anything, but it's going to need some pretty huge balance adjustments to be considered "fun" (unless you're playing on Easy or in the multiplayer mode, which I wasn't able to test). Maybe I'll revisit it once some work has been done, but until then I'll just sporadically get back to redesigning Equestria Gaming's theme.