Awesome Pea is a tricky retro-themed platformer and it’s rather enjoyable despite some of its problems. The game was made by PigeonDev (or Dev/Pigeon), an indie developer that you should definitely keep your eye on.
I don’t need to really go into much detail about the game’s story as there barely is one, but to be fair, nobody played Super Mario Bros. for the story.
The visuals are the most impressive part of this game and it seems that the game’s fully committed to 90s nostalgia. The art style and colour palette are reminiscent of the Game Boy but the grainy CRT and VHS-style filters would make you think you’re playing a console game.
Despite the brilliant visual touches, the gameplay isn’t forgiving enough for the filters to be left on and I found that I either had to play with them off or risk repeatedly dying because I couldn’t see what was happening.
At the end of the day, this is your typical platforming game; move this way, jump over that thing, etc. It handles well enough but it could definitely do with a bit of polish as there were points where I was punished and wasn’t really sure why and the artificial lo-fidelity didn’t help.
The level design is a bit repetitive and there’s also a lot going on, making things even trickier with all the filters on. Put simply, it just seems that the game can’t find a good compromise between how it looks and how it plays. Similarly, there are only a handful of different level types and rather than being grouped together in worlds like most other platforms, you seem to see similar-looking levels over and over.
As you may expect, the audio also follows the 1990s theme. You get typical retro chiptune music and sound effects and they work great with the visuals.
If you like old-school platformers, this could worth picking up as it’s very cheap. The filters and visuals are good for nostalgia but if you want to enjoy playing the game, you may want to turn them off.
Awesome Pea doesn’t have the narrative depth of games like Celeste but it has enough to keep you occupied on your commute or a trip. It’d definitely be best to get it on the Switch if you can.
While I played Awesome Pea on the Switch as part of #IndieSelect, it’s also available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and PS Vita.