Bleat This: XBLIA Hit Escape Goat Heading PCwards

By John Walker on May 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

A photograph of hell.

It’s scientific fact that sheep go to heaven, while goats go to hell (see below), so it seems quite some predicament that there are a number of sheep trapped within a hellish underworld of pixelated puzzles. Thank goodness you are a goat, accompanied by an occasionally hat-wearing mouse, who can save them. Through the masterful art of jumping and pushing buttons. Escape Goat (winner of the Best Game I’ve Seen In A While Award) has been a bit of a hit on the Xbox’s obscured Indie Live Arcade, and is coming to PC next month.

I’ve had a quick go of a preview build, and I can see why it’s liked. Levels are made up of what at first look like ordinary stone (and the like) blocks, until you press buttons and hidden mechanisms begin rearranging things. It’s through this, and the help of your mouse friend who can fit through narrower gaps, that you gather keys and exit rooms. And there’s a magic hat. That lets you teleport to swap places with the mouse, should he be in possession of the fine headwear at that point. And, I think most importantly, there’s double-jump, which automatically qualifies any game for my attention. Want your game featured on RPS? Add in double jump. That’s going to count for every game as soon as my coup is complete, and the rest of the Hivemind are locked in my prisons, forced to produce me endless games featuring double-jump, jetpacks and grappling hooks. For they are the three Magic Ingredients that make all games great. Admittedly Escape Goat only features one of them.

It’s cute, if a little too simple at the start. And I’m maybe getting a little jaded with the super-retro pixel graphics. It doesn’t actually add anything useful to the game, and it would be nice to see such a thing rendered pretty for once. But of course makes no serious impact on the game you’re playing. And it’s a pleasant change to have the game mix things up – this isn’t all button pressing, or block pushing, or careful jumping, or enemy dodging, but a variety of the lot, mixing it up as you go. So, just a month to wait.

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9 Comments »

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  1. Hoaxfish says:

    actual trailer (for the original XBLA release) might be a little bit helpful too

  2. Swabbleflange says:

    It’s a really great little game. I never finished it due to selling my 360 in a fit of pique over Gold accounts, but I’ll surely be dipping again on PC.

  3. trjp says:

    I’ve been a (less than useful, I suspect – too busy atm) Beta tester on this and it’s as much fun on PC as it was on XBOX – but it will have ‘extras’ when it arrives (I’ll let MagicalTimeBean do all the revealing later).

    MTB’s Soulcaster ports were spot-on (if anything I think they work BETTER with a keyboard than a controller) – and he’s keeping-up the attention to detail as much as possible.

    I should probably head-off the issue that it’s a fixed-res game tho – it can be scaled to fit your screen but it won’t be awfully pretty when you do that!!

  4. ChainsawCharlie says:

    MagicalTimeBean are awesome. Nice to see a PC version of this.

  5. Keith Nemitz says:

    More good stuff from MagicalTimeBean! I hear it’ll have twice as many levels as the XBLIG release.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Complaining about pixel-art seems to be the new thing, so I’ll just throw out this thought experiment:

    Draw an 8-bit style character sprite. Maybe 16 x 16 pixels, 8 colors. Not too hard, right?
    Try a 16-bit style character sprite. 32 x 32 pixels, 16-32 colors. Significantly harder. Much more skill needed. You probably can’t get away with a 3-frame run animation either. Maybe six.
    Perhaps a Saturn/PSX era character sprite? 64 x 64, needs smoother animations, so many more frames required, much deeper palette needed.

    The art costs increase exponentially with each technology generation imitated. And you could do 3D art, but that requires a whole different skill-set.

    • Leandro says:

      Also, low-res pixel art has a fantastic iconic feel to it, not even mentioning the nostalgia. Much less boring than a photorealistic goat or something like that.

      I honestly love this style of graphics, just take a look at beautiful games like Spelunky, Cave Story, Wizrob, Vlambeer’s games, just to cite retro looking games on the modern PC. Low-res 2D is done to this day because it can be less demanding (even this is arguable, they certainly require ingenuity and skill from the artist), but most importantly, because can look freaking amazing.

  7. Dreforian says:

    Darnit. Escape Goat was going to be the name of my garage band too!

  8. MagicalTimeBean says:

    Thanks everyone for your kind words. It’s great to get a feature like this and then get extra support in the comments section. I can’t wait to release this game next month, it’s something I’m really proud of.

    @Dominic White, you hit the nail on the head… art takes me a long time to do, so I went for a very low res look so I could focus on the more vital parts of the game.