It’s frustrating to find out I don’t have a vast wellspring of new games in me, but there are a lot of great old tiny games that would fit well on the Playdate that I think I could do justice to, and the Playdate makes it really easy and fun to make small games.
Playing around with the Analogue Pocket I discovered the joys of the WonderSwan puzzler Gunpey. It’s another vertical well swap-em-up akin to Panel de Pon (which got a lovely treatment in the Catalogue) but trickier, but has a couple things holding it back:
It’s on the WonderSwan, which is a mightily obscure system.
The well is deep, tiles have no gravity, and the swap window is vertically oriented. So you do the frenzied alternating-thumb thing to run pieces up and down the well all the time (especially down, trying to avoid a game over), but that input is easy to fumble and leads to a not-at-all-fun sort of friction.
I think I could address both of these points — one, by bringing it to a modern system with nearly 2% as many units sold (hey, wait a minute…), and two, by putting a bit of input autocorrect in and maybe seeing if drag-style input wouldn’t ruin the vibes. I like using the portrait hold (I think it’s even more ergonomic for me than the standard) too, and Gunpey is a very vertically oriented game.
So - anyone familiar with Gunpey and think this is a good idea? I’m still a bit sore BALL, my adaptation of PONG, didn’t make it into the catalog. It’s fine: it wasn’t much work, and it managed to crack 100 downloads on Itch and is still ticking along which counts as a rousing success for me, but I was proud of what I managed to get in terms of polish and gameplay on BALL, and adapting Gunpey would be significantly more work; it’d break my heart if that got buried as a non-original work or just got flat-out ignored because only weirdos like Gunpey.
I have a half complete version in my projects folder. Named after the original LCD game version: heno heno.
My control scheme I think is more forgiving than the WonderSwan or PlayStation versions. I also added drag controls which I do think helps.
I bounced off it after struggling with some rotation bugs in the SDK. There's a workaround posted on here for the main one but I never went back to it.
Theme wise I was going for space and electricity. Scrolling parallax star background. Electricity pulsing through the lines. Not sure why!
I'm not convinced there's a good way to hold Playdate for portrait games.
You can play it landscape, if you come to terms with the sideways movement!
Ha, of course you would have done this already. Looks pretty. Well, if you'd like some idiot to bring it over the line so you can Alan Smithee your involvement out in disgust, I know a guy who could do that.
Now I'm wondering if it's just my big old sausage hands that prefer the tate. For me, all four corners are braced and the back is evenly supported without any of that claw-cramp. It is a very chiral thing, though; there's no equivalent lefty-flip posture that doesn't drag your thumb over the middle of the screen.
Let me take a look and summarise the remaining work.
Pretty sure I store everything as 2D matrices. I use two and wanted to add a third to show floating tiles during matching.
Definitely a proper line matching algorithm would need to be done. My initial naive attempt didn't match the same back and forth, wandering, lines that it should do.
I'll try the grip!
This GIF June 10th, just before the Ball und Panzer Golf whirlwind.
For what it's worth, there are versions/ports of Gunpey on Game Boy, Nintendo DS, and PSP as well. But, that doesn't mean it isn't worth a Playdate release.
If you would care for my two cents, I think ports or "clones" of even very well known games absolutely shine when they adapt unique features of the target platform-- if you can figure out a fun way to incorporate the crank without forcing it, I'm sure it would be a welcome addition to the library.
I think it'll be very difficult because the crank controls one axis and it's sort of the opposite axis to what makes sense for this game.
Plus you'll be using the dpad and buttons so it might be annoying to have to let go and crank every so often.
Yeah, but you've got the accelerometer and a microphone -- who needs buttons? Just loudly smack your lips to do the swap action!
I love elaborate inputs (god knows I've burned real money on them) but the excitement of something like a crank is that game design follows the limitations of your input modes in ways that you're often not even consciously aware of, so new inputs mean new languages of interaction that you might not have imagined. Gunpey is a game that lives on discrete inputs, short play sessions, and a sharp, portrait-friendly, monochrome display, and those are the aspects of the Playdate that serve it well (and I'd argue a good deal better than a GBA, DS, or especially a PSP).