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Mortal Space Narwhal QWOP Combat: Just The Tip

I’ve had a tab for Just The Tip open all day, and I keep accidentally clicking over to it and getting punched in the ear with blaring techno music. So now I have to post about it, because it’s haunting my browser – as neon space narwhals apparently do – and I need to exorcise it. But that’s far from the only reason I’m bringing this floppy, QWOP-y fighter to your attention. Unbelievably, it’s actually quite good, if a bit barebones. See, in addition to being woefully inept at moving about their Tron grid gladiatorial prison, the starwhals can only inflict lasting damage if they pierce each others’ hearts. Near-misses abound, so matches actually become pretty tense! Let’s get to the heart of the matter after the break.

So yes, this is another Global Game Jam 2013 entry. And yeah, sure enough, it has hearts. Also, adorably rolly polly narwhal lightsaber duels. Have I mentioned how glad I am that game jam themes aren’t often particularly binding?

Now, it’s a local multiplayer to-do, so one player controls via arrow keys while the other gets WASD. Movement usually ends up taking the form of graceless rolling or feeble gyrations or something vaguely resembles “The Worm,” all of which are, of course, hilarious. The best bits, though, come when one player’s horn get within slicing distance of another’s heart. Then a crazy, psychedelic bullet time effect kicks in, and the awkward narwhal tangle suddenly looks, er, really cool.

So it becomes this wonderful dance of split-second risk/reward. Once I got the hang of it, I tended toward exposing my heart on purpose, waiting until right before slow-mo kicked in, and then making a sudden lurch upward at my opponent’s own exposed belly.

Truth be told, I actually sort of hope Marvin’s Mittens developer Breakfall keeps tinkering with this one post-jam. The core dynamics of it actually feel really good, and they’re inherently hilarious to boot. In short, it’s a whal of a time.

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Nathan Grayson

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