Review: ‘Peanut’ (Steam)

Game logo. Game logo. TEAM SPIKKEEE

When your premise, style, gameplay, and even sound effects have been done a million times over, you need something to separate yourself from the pack. Peanut doesn’t do that. In fact, it takes half a step forward and two steps back.

You are a corgi named Peanut. Your girlfriend (named... Bae) has been kidnapped, so you have to go rescue her in an elaborate series of 2D platformer levels. There’s a few twists and turns here, but it’s pretty much stealing from every other game ever that has ‘your girlfriend has been kidnapped’ as its premise. It’s just not that much of a catalyst. Also, at this point I’m waiting for a game where there’s an option to just pay a ransom or something to continue on with the game. That would be way more original than this premise.

I played on Steam, and just like any 2D platformer, you have the whole WASD control scheme going on. I should really start keeping a checklist on how many video game standards they’re using.

The graphics in Peanut are like if 8 different games were smashed together. Your little corgi is rendered as 8-bit pixel art. Background art is well rendered and seems to change to a new artist each level. A few levels look like direct ripoffs from Mario; other levels, you'd swear they’re just using clipart. It all seemed ungracefully lumped together and it was honestly really distracting. In one sense it works because of the changes in the story, but this doesn’t seem like it’s that subtle a game. On at least three occasions I messed up because of the graphics; twice, it was on a level with waterfalls that I swear were made in MS Paint.

And that’s not even bringing the sound into it. For no reason the music style is jungle/steel drum, and that's what they have playing on a loop, so… good luck there. But what really got me were the sound effects they chose. Half the time, such as when bouncing on a mushroom, there are no sounds to be had, and it’s just this weird silence with the strange music blaring. Then when you throw or hit something, it plays an Atari 2600-style standard bleep. And if you hit a ring? You get the Sonic ring sound effect. I mean, couldn’t there be at least a little bit of difference?

What you’re playing is a 2D platformer. So think Mario, but with a few more recent innovations like slidey bars. You have the same random creatures to stomp, the same level bars, and admittedly a few things to throw off timing. But man, if Mario was a dog, I swear half the time you couldn’t tell how the game was different.

I couldn’t tell if the game was glitching some of the time. Certain things you bounced on would sometimes kill you, and sometimes not. Some enemies wouldn’t move while they chased you, and sometimes they would. A gun on the side once had a projectile go right through me without injury. Frame rates kept up, but there was an obvious need for bug fixes in many parts.

Peanut is strange because it takes no risks, offers nothing new, and sounds and looks off-putting at best, and intentionally bad at worse. So many games have taken the premise and done a lot more. So many have taken the art style, music or other part and done it better. Peanut felt like it was made in a rush. It may not have, but it really felt like it, and that ultimately detracted from the experience.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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