Super Rude Bear Resurrection [official site] seems like a game with one trick up its sleeve – when you die, your corpse can be used as a platform. That means you can brute-force your way through levels by jamming a corpse onto every spike, or making piles of dead bears to make a shortcut to higher platforms. You could even make bear stairs if you were so inclined. I’ve played a fairly large chunk of a very recent build and what’s clear is that what might have started as one idea has become many ideas. In fact, there are so many variations on corpse-usage that even a gathering of notable taxidermists would be astounded.
It’s out May 5th and even though Rude Bear himself feels like a nineties attempt to create a Sonic-like mascot for the Amiga, I crave it.
I’ve played SRBR a couple of times over the years, most recently at GDC this year, where I sat with developer Alex Rose in an interview room I’d booked right at the end of the show. There was half an hour before the staff had to clear the press area and start sweeping the place for journo-germs and coffee stains, but we ended up talking and playing for 45 minutes, at which point somebody found us and politely asked us to leave. It’s a very hard game for me to walk away from – like Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami, it uses instant restarts and miniscule lifespans to create a sense of very gradual progression, with occasional moments of euphoric breakthrough. Here are some official words:
Rude Bear is a hardcore platformer with a twist — every time you die, your corpse stays exactly where you left it, and with your next life you can use your dead body as a platform or meatshield to keep you alive. The game’s difficulty lowers with each death, meaning that anyone can beat it — but players looking for a real challenge can try to blitz the entire thing without dying at all.
There’s a lie in there, because the difficulty doesn’t necessarily lower with each death. Sometimes corpses block a route or, on later levels, turn into big blocks of ice that can be useful as shields and platforms, but can also shut off the way forward. The point is, SRBR takes the corpse gimmick to many different places and keeps throwing new ideas at the wall. The level design is smart as a whip.
The soundtrack isn’t half bad either. Two years ago, when I first played, I enjoyed what little I saw but wasn’t particularly excited about it five minutes later. A lot has changed since then, including a big visual overhaul, but it’s the addition of new worlds with their own unique mechanics that really stands out. Hard-as-nails platformers and (gulp) platform-likes are a favourite subgenre of mine, and while Gonner and Downwell have kept me happy in recent times, SRBR is a little more traditional in its design. Spikes and buzzsaws and pixel-perfect hops, skips and jumps. It’s a cracker though, with much more to it than meets the eye.