GDC 2015: Mekazoo Hands-On Preview – Party Animal (PS4)

March 10, 2015 Written by Louis Edwards

Out of 50 exhibitors participating in GDC Play this year, only eight would be recognized as the Best in Play. One of these was developer The Good Mood Creators’ fun “mekanimal” 2D puzzle-platformer Mekazoo. And after playing through the demo, it was easy to see why it earned such high praise.

In Mekazoo you control a pair of animals that you’ll have to switch between in order to navigate through the vast linear levels of the game world. The demo introduced the frog, the armadillo and the wallaby, but there’s also a panda and a pelican later in the game that you’ll unlock by beating bosses. Each animal has their own movement and action type and learning who can do what is the key to the game and the only way to access all of the different areas of each level.

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The frog can swing using his tongue but can’t jump very high or move very fast, pair him up with the armadillo and his high speed roll that can launch him into the air using a slope, and you’ll be able to grab onto higher things and then swing using that tongue, if you can time the switch between the animals properly. It’s a cool game mechanic that is easy to use and easy to learn, but can require a little patience when it comes to timing. In order to reach some higher places, you’ll have to master the wallaby’s wall jump, and timing the pressing of the jump button just right will also give you an extra boost of jumping power with the wallaby.

Our mekanimals aren’t alone in this world, and will have to deal not only with deadly obstacles but with deadly insects as well. The speedy armadillo can fold into a ball and blast through snails, but it’ll take that fancy long tongue of the frog to take out some pesky flying insects. The wallaby has a lot of bouncing power and can be used to crush almost anything he lands on, but landing on sharp objects is never a good idea, regardless of who’s doing the landing.

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The game is set in a beautiful 3D environment with an incredibly high level of detail. Indie developers are setting the graphics bar higher and higher; it seems developer The Good Mood Creators is continuing this trend. The demo revealed a vibrant world, with lights and shadows that highlight the details of plants and animals alike, and gave the game an almost real world look and feel with environmental animations of plants that added to the overall feel of the game.

The graphics were smooth even when you’re zipping along as a round armadillo at speed and blasting your way through insects if they stayed in your path too long. The camera angle kept the game always in the side view, and when the path turned, the camera turned with it, keeping the action front and center and keeping the same look and feel to the controls. The game is played in a linear 3D world,; it just does it in a 2D fashion, so it feels more like a 2.5D game.

Developer The Good Mood Creators should be very proud of their best in Play Award, as Mekazoo is not only well deserving, but so much fun to play and look at. The release date isn’t set in stone yet but is anticipated to be in the 4th quarter of this year. In all honesty, I don’t want to wait that long. I want it now.