Every so often I come across a game that’s fantastic in some way (or many ways), but is ruined by one or more glaring issues. A recent one I’ve tried is Vitamini. Bouncing the blocks around with the 2D physics to make chains, shapes, etc. is enormous fun. It has a nice feel to it, and it’s satisfying to successfully make chains. That’s the most critical part of making any game work; having the core moment-to-moment gameplay feel good. And Vitamini definitely nails that. I want to really like this game. But it has so many issues with the presentation that I can’t.
First of all, it comes with three executables, each of which has different rules for the game (Chains, Cubes, and Shapes). There’s no reason these three modes of play can’t just be selected from a menu in the game. They all use the same display mode, etc. It’s just awkward to start from three different icons.
Speaking of display mode, the game runs in a tiny window. I can switch to full screen, but then I just get the same tiny display in the center of my screen against a black backdrop. It really needs to scale to a larger display area.
The controls for the game are awkward, and cannot be remapped. Arrow keys to move, space to drop a new piece, and ctrl and alt to rotate. Why do so many games use ctrl and alt, with that annoying Windows key in between? What’s wrong with z, x, and c? Japanese shmups FTW!
There’s also a bug where finishing a game and starting the next starts with the energy bar way too low (so you die almost immediately).
Then, to top it off, if you quit by closing the window (which is my natural inclination), it leaves a process running (with no window) with either Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell or Hendrix’s I Don’t Live Today. Now, I certainly don’t have anything against Black Sabbath or Jimi Hendrix. I just don’t want to have to pull up the task manager to stop their music.
To be fair, I’m guessing the game is still a work in progress, since he has a “Donate for development” link on the site. He might want to make it a little more clear that the game is in alpha, though. I don’t mean to be so harsh on this particular game. The problems with it only bother me so much because I love the core gameplay so much. It’s just an example of one of those games that’s frustrating because it has something so beautiful wrapped in something so annoying, and I want so much to see that beautiful thing be freed. And it just happens to be the most recent such example that I’ve played, so it’s what I’m writing about.
If you’d like a polished, complete game with similar gameplay, check out Chronic Logic’s Triptych. I just think the game modes in Vitamini have more potential than Triptych. Hopefully someday they’ll be dug out so we can play it properly.