Featherpunk Prime Review

Everyone repeat after me, “Cyber-Flamingo”!  Featherpunk Prime is a twin-stick shooter-platformer from Super Hatch Games. While this is Super Hatch Games’ first title, both members of the team were formerly part of Sony, so they do bring plenty of experience to the table. Personally, I have always enjoyed platformers, especially the kind where I get to shoot at stuff. So, let’s take that Cyber-Flamingo out for a test drive, but only if that’s a thing you can do with a Cyber-Flamingo, I’m not really sure.
It’s story time folks. When it comes to platformers, a whole lot of story isn’t always needed. That’s a good thing, as it’s pretty straightforward and rather brief, some presumably bad guys come and zap your Cyber-Flamingo friends and proceed to haul them off in a Cyber err Featherpunk zeppelin. You chase after them and come to a tower where your friends are held inside. Either they’re in there, or someone else parked an identical zeppelin in front of this place. You start off at level 1 and away you go.
We already established that it’s a twin-stick shooter-platformer, but as you soon find out there are also some roguelike/lite elements in the game as well (we might have just set a record for hyphens and slashes, and it’s only the 3rd paragraph). Each time you play through the levels, they will change appearance somewhat randomly. However, it is not completely random as the levels are constructed in sections. This is something you might be familiar with if you have had the chance to play 20XX which has its levels constructed in a similar fashion. This way of “randomizing” is probably the easiest solution to implement in a platformer with random level generation, but it does come with its drawbacks. After a few runs of levels you’ll begin to recognize these segments, which defeats the purpose of randomizing as you will quickly memorize these bits. Level generation done this way should ensure a clear path every time, and so far I have not encountered an exit I could not get to, however, I have encountered a few inaccessible rooms.
Another roguelike/lite feature in the game is that you only have one life each playthrough. The tower has a lot of levels and gets harder the further you climb up it. In order to make it so you don’t have to try and climb through the entire thing each playthrough, there are checkpoints along the way that will unlock and allow you to start your next game at different points. The game also utilizes an upgrade system that carries over between lives. For frame of reference, think something similar to Rogue Legacy where upgrade unlocks are permanent. To unlock items as you go requires you to collect Tekcells found throughout the levels and from defeated enemies. Unfortunately, this makes the game feel a bit grindy. I found myself not using the checkpoints that were unlocked and starting at the bottom to collect the needed Tekcells to unlock these upgrades so I could advance further.
So, what do you get for weapons? I’ll tell you what you get: a pistol, mini-gun, shotgun, bouncy bullet gun, crossbow, mines, and/or heat seeking missiles.  You can only carry 2 at a time, and one is provided at the begin of each level. For me, I didn’t really bother swapping once I had the mini-gun. Each weapon seems to do nearly identical DPS, so selection seems to be more of a matter of preference than anything. Nothing too exciting here.
What’s in the tower, exactly? Well, there are several different enemy types scattered throughout, none of which are particularly troublesome or all that difficult. Because this is a twin-stick shooter as well, nearly all can be dispatched from the relative safety of cover from other platforms. The real question is, do you have the patience to just blast away from a safe distance or just say the heck with it and get in closer? There really is no need to get closer except to maybe speed things along. Bullets don’t disappear once off screen, so provided there are no walls or platforms in the way, you can kill enemies that you may not have even seen yet. What are we missing? Oh yes, boss battles. The boss battles are a good combo of twin-stick shooter bosses and platformer bosses with definite patterns you need to overcome. The only minor grievance here is that they seemed to go on for a bit too long. Though to be fair, that may not be the case as you continue to unlock more and more. I’m sure a fully upgraded bird will dispatch them more quickly.
Let’s move on to the controls. For any platformer they need to be pretty tight.  The controls are indeed pretty tight, I didn’t notice any real sloppiness in them.  There is one thing that I found peculiar though, and that’s the jump button being set to the LB button. Since we are talking about a twin-stick shooter, it does make sense that you can jump, aim, and shoot all at the same time, but it was hard to get used to at first, so I quickly remapped the controls and just dealt with the consequences. Overall though, the movement is indeed good and won’t cause you any unnecessary deaths or missed jumps on platforms. The aiming with the right stick isn’t bad, a tad on the touchy side, but not by much. Any angle other than your basic cardinal directions are tough to hold though.
How are the graphics and sounds? The game sounds and music are fine. Not a whole lot to say there. The art is interesting. While parts of it are well done in high resolution, there are seemingly low resolution bits on the same models, perhaps this is to create some depth to the models by making portions more out of focus. You’ll notice this on your way into the tower and on the zeppelin parked out front. The balloon portion is in focus and the fins on top are not. It looks a bit disjointed and is probably in need of a filter to tie it all together a bit better. For example, when you encounter different TV screens along the way, the images all seem very uniform and well done. The fuzzy portions aren’t apparent there the way they are in the regular game world.
Developer: Super Hatch Games
Publisher: Super Hatch Games
Platform: PC
Release Date: 1st September 2016

Score: 60%