Sep 18, 2012
iSquared has brought us some very inventive games, such as Age of Hammer Wars and Kaleidoscope. Their latest title, Feisty Feet, is more of a traditional game with a slight twist. It’s a take on the side-scrolling running game popularized by Canabalt. You control a little guy who runs toward the right side of the screen, leaping over obstacles and from platform to platform, most of which are at different heights. Instead of it being an infinite runner, they’ve changed the gameplay so it’s a race with other runners. It’s not just a simple race, though; it reminds me more of a kart racer. You have special power-ups that give you a speed boost and make you jump. You can also pick up weapons, ranging from a simple snowball to a rocket launcher and some sort of tangle grenade that you drop behind you to stop an opposing runner briefly. Of course, the catch is that the other runners can also use these things against you. You can get a shield power-up to prevent this, but the best course of action is to simply not get hit in the first place. When you fall, you don’t need to restart, as you simply get put back on the track and lose a few places. The other thing that makes it much different from other running games is that you can double jump. That is, you can jump, and when you are in the air, jump once more. While it completely violates the laws of physics (just Newton’s, not any of that fancy Einstein stuff), it makes things much easier, as when you are headed for a fall, you can usually jump out of it. The game has two modes, Championship and Marathon. Championship is a series of races, in which to advance you must finish progressively better in each race. Seventh or better in the first, sixth in the second, and so on until the final race, which you must win. After finishing levels, you can use your winnings to upgrade various aspects of your race—basically just how powerful power-ups actually are. Once you win the final race in Championship, you unlock Marathon Mode. Marathon is very similar, the only difference being instead of having a fixed finish line, you race until you’ve passed 50 other runners. The goal in this mode is really to see how quickly you can do it and how high a score you can rack up. It only took me about 20 minutes to finish Championship Mode. Only had to redo races a few times. Feisty Feet is hard if you just play casually, but if you concentrate and keep an eye on your opponents’ actions and the terrain, it’s very forgiving, thanks to the double jump and not much of a death penalty. I have to confess, I was a little surprised at the shortness of the game. When I finished Championship Mode, I was expecting more terrains to be unlocked as well as Marathon Mode. But nope, just Marathon Mode. On the other hand, Canabalt simply has one level, over and over, so I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising. Still, there are a number of in-game achievements/awards to unlock, so you can spend time trying to get those. And the core gameplay is pretty fun, so I can see it being something you might want to play again now and then. But it lacks the addictiveness of Canabalt. Graphically, it resembles South Park very much. But a very tiny South Park. At first, this tininess puzzled me, but then I realized that due to how the gameplay worked, you really needed to see so much of the course. On the sound side of things, when I first watched the trailer to Feisty Feet, I was alarmed by the announcer’s voice. I was expecting it to quickly become an annoyance. While it’s true he only has a handful of phrases, he also only talks sparingly, so it adds to rather than detracts from the experience. While I usually do finish most Minis that I review, very rarely do I do so in one session, like I did with Feisty Feet. On the one hand, it shows it’s a fun game. On the other hand, it demonstrates it’s a short game. While you can go back and replay levels of the Championship Mode, they really don’t seem to be all that different, and in order to advance, you probably finished highly anyway, so there isn’t much to improve on. That just leaves Marathon to go back to, but that doesn’t have the same staying power as other runners.