Bean's Quest [Review]

A Mexican jumping bean with a sombrero is apparently the perfect choice for a new gaming mascot for the iPad and Android gaming platforms. Expect ringtones, cuddly toys and crazy frog style ring tones in the merchandise section...  well not really, but Bean’s Quest is a nod to the era when every new platformer strived to make their investment backers swim in metaphorical pools of merchandisable money. The irony is, because Bean’s Quest is actually an interesting and fun game, it would probably be successful in the area it's jokingly imitating.

While the game design is a nod toward the 16 bit era of marketable mascots, the gameplay is unique for the modern era of on the go touchscreen gaming. With perhaps an imminent Steam Greenlight release, does Bean’s Quest still have the flavour of spicy Mexican seasoning about it, or has ol’ Beany accidentally jumped into a can of Heinz baked beans instead?

Bean’s Quest does not lose any of its visual vibrancy in jumping from the small hand held screen to a large desktop environment. I would say the visuals have become even more impressive from switching to a larger screen size, as now you can fully appreciate the varied colour palette and cutesy sprite animations without squinting. The characters in this game are excellent, as is the bonkers enemy designs, which are as full of nostalgic attention to detail as the game itself. The soundtrack is built around Spanish guitar twangs and carefully adapts to whichever world you are in. The Dusty Desert landscape exerts the full flavour of Mexico in catchy chip tunes, while the more futuristic Sky Ruins are captured with a more techy sound that gives Bean’s Quest a complete package feel to the design.  

Prepare for sombrero dry cleaning costs

Unsurprisingly the early worlds are easy to navigate and you’ll quickly bounce through stages and worlds in no time. The difficulty however increases dramatically, and each stage becomes an endurance test of puzzle solving and skilful platforming.

Bean’s Quest has been available for smartphones for quite a while now and playing the game, it becomes apparent that the design was intended with touchscreen in mind. Approaching Bean’s Quest with a keyboard and mouse is somewhat awkward. If you have ever tried to play a flash or browser based version of classic platformers with the arrow keys, then you are most likely aware of the limitations of tackling games like Bean’s Quest in this manner. Luckily console controllers work with Bean’s quest (well the three input keys left/right/menu), and playing this game is recommended with a controller in hand.

                                                              Spoof 16-bit box art  

There seems to be a slight price hike for Bean’s Quest on PC version. Both iOS and Android versions are slightly cheaper than their desktop counterparts, and with slightly hampered controls (unless you have a game controller) I fail to see what benefits this price hike gives to the desktop user. Kumobius have said this slight increase is due to receiving a universal application, with the desktop client being DRM free and working across all platforms, whereas the smartphone versions are locked down to their respective devices.

Bean’s Quest is currently on Steam Greenlight and the developers have proposed to include a level editor, leaderboard rankings, achievements and a world exclusive to the Steam release. If all this content would also make an appearance for users who have bought the desktop client direct from Kumobius, perhaps in the form of free DLC, then my concerns for the price difference between current smartphone and desktop versions of Bean’s quest would be alleviated.

Currently Bean’s quest for PC feels like a smartphone title released for PC, which is what it is. Once Kumobius have released extra content, such as their promised Steam Greenlight features then this would make an impressive smartphone/tablet app, an attractive PC title. Transitioning the interface from a touchscreen design into a desktop application with a functioning mouse interface and additional PC options, such as being able to configure settings would also be a nice bonus and justify the current price premium for desktop release.

Everything about this title oozes quality, and if you have an iOS/Android device you should definitely consider buying this. However if you do not have either of these then the desktop version is a solid title. The additional cost of the desktop version I feel harms its position, as currently it is the weaker client (unless the user has a game controller). Until the price difference can be justified, either with extra exclusive content or unique PC features, users should consider if they feel like they are getting value from this purchase.

The price point for all versions is very attractive at a low cost of between £1-3 for all versions nevertheless; I am hopeful for an improved and revised client if the Steam Greenlight is successful and PC users should definitely be on the lookout for when it appears (and up-vote it).

Bean’s quest is an excellent game for PC with a game controller, a fairly large screen and some good quality speakers to get the most out of the exciting and memorable soundtrack.

A copy of Bean's Quest for Windows was provided by Kumobius for review purposes.

Bean's Quest

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