What started as a dumb joke on the Playstation BRAHcast turned into a genuine interest in Awesome Pea, a retro-inspired platformer starring… you guessed it, an awesome Pea. Is the game as awesome as it seemed, though? Well, in short; yes and no.
The aesthetic that PigeonDev, the developer and publisher of this short platformer, was going for is immediately apparent upon loading up the game. As soon as the washed out grey/green colors met my eyes I was transported back to my seat in the back of my parents’ station wagon, trying to play Super Mario Land by moonlight. That nostalgia is only heightened when you press “start” and the bass heavy, Game Boy inspired music and sound effects take over.
It’s not all fun and games, though. If story is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place. Awesome Pea starts with no introduction, and outside of a short tutorial level, no help or change in the gameplay whatsoever throughout the entirety of the 2 hour game. There is a short scene at the end of the game, which, I won’t spoil for you, but names you Greedy Pea?! Nowhere in the game was I led to believe that this pea had any sort of personality, let alone greed. I had joked in our podcast that it seemed like this game was made by accident. After finishing the game? I’m not so sure it’s a joke anymore. The primary enemies in the game are spikes and frogs. You know, peas’ mortal enemy. Frogs. Frogs that shoot bubbles out of their mouths to kill you. It really seems like these things may have been set up as placeholders and the developer reached the finishing point in development without realizing they forgot to come up with anything better.
There are also only 5 “styles” of level. There’s a typical, Mario-style land level, a train level, a tower level, a dungeon and a cave that you travel downward to finish. The cave was the source of more frustration than I’d like to admit, as your mortal enemy, the frogs, are shooting bubbles UP while you try to travel down. Unfortunately, as you are falling, you can’t really change direction to avoid the bubbles coming up. And the aesthetic that was so charming for the first ten minutes wears on your eyes. It quickly becomes difficult to discern the enemies from the background as your eyesight fades into a blur of grey.
All of that said, there are quite a few positives that make the game fun and worth a playthrough at $5.99. The two platformer essentials are more than present; gameplay and soundtrack. The gameplay is consistent and precise. There were very few moments that I felt like it was the game’s fault for my failure. I always knew exactly what I should have done when I died. That’s the biggest, most important bullet point in a platformer and they just about nailed it. At least, they did far better than I expected for a title you can get for less than a meal at McDonald’s. The music and sound effects are also phenomenal. The jumps sound like NES/Game Boy era jumps. The soundtrack is more emotional and memorable than it has any right to be as well. Here I am, even now, writing my review, nodding my head along with a song written for a game about a Greedy Pea.
All in all, if you’re even slightly into platformers, I’d recommend this game at the $5.99 price tag. It’s a fun, if flawed game, but absolutely worth the price of admission. Just don’t attempt to platinum it in one 2 hour and 14 minute-run like I did, because by the time I was finished, I was transported again. Transported back to hearing my mom tell me that staring at the Game Boy screen was going to ruin my eyesight. But as I heard the platinum pop, I uncrossed my eyes, and felt more than satisfied with my experience. Awesome Pea may be a 6 out of 10, but it’s a very fun 6 out of 10.