With all the hype around the Super Mario Maker 2 release, can another level designer thrive? PlataGO! might not have the Mario hook with it, but does that mean it is not as good? The concept of this game is simple but not well carried out. It lets you build, share, and play custom levels. The level building is easy to do, along with sharing and loading other creators’ levels.
PlataGO’s controls for the level editing are simple; there are several menus on the left that let you select different layers, backgrounds, displays, scrolling, and regions. On the right, you have a system select option that converts the look of the levels to reflect different game systems, such as the NES, Game Boy, and even different themes, such as horror and fantasy. On the bottom you have the different items you can place in the level, such as the player, enemies, blocks, and platforms. The left stick is used to move the “mouse”, and the iPad buttons scroll the level. The right stick is used for zooming, the X and Y buttons are used to flip objects, the A button is used to place items and the B button opens up settings when the cursor is over an item. The ZL and ZR act as undo and redo controls, and the L button turns a grid on or off. The R button is used for rotation. While playing, the left stick is used to move the player, ZR is for weapons, the Y button is a scroll lock. The A button is for jumping, and the B button is used for interactions.
The actual level building is simple. I started off by selecting my background and foreground (though there are only nine of each).There are other variants of these, but the only way to change look of the game system is by changing the theme. I started the game with some basic blocks for a platform, and I added some gaps to make areas for the player to jump over. After that, I added some columns to the background and some fence to the foreground; this lets you create a 3D feel to the level. I decided to change the gaps to lava pits by adding lava to them. I also added some fireballs to them for more challenge. At this point, I added a top to the level and changed the player start position. When I tested the level and found that the player could double jump, I decided I did not want this to be possible. I highlighted the player and pressed the B button to access the options and unchecked the double jump box. I tried it again, but it was still allowing for double jumps. I found the only way to fix it was to choose my options and the replace the existing character.
After testing it again, I found that if I moved left, it would cause the level to restart, so I blocked the left side with a column. This process continued until I finished adding some floating enemies and platforms that fall away after touching them. I also added a vertical section to make it more like a Mega Man/Metroid level. After finishing the level, I added some enemies, weapons, and some spinning blades. I adjusted all of these until they were to my liking. I did find out that when you select an item from the menu to add to the level, you can press the B button and make your adjustments before actually placing them. This still is a little challenging for spinning blades and other similar objects, unless you mind letting them go through walls and ceilings. I had to correct that issue and keep them from doing that because it just seemed wrong.
Just like the graphics style, the music changes only with the theme. This is a letdown for me. It would be nice to have music tracks to pick for each level, even sections of levels. There are also no sound effects for anything. This really takes away from the level design and, in the end, the gameplay. Another key element missing from this game is the ability to craft a story. It would be great to be able to tell a story with a simple intro and cutscenes between levels, even if they were all scripted movements with text on the screen. Character selection is another area that needs improvement. There are only two characters to choose from, and they have very little animations. Along with this, the options for jumping and other movements did provide some variety but not enough for total satisfaction.
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 13th June 2019
Do you agree with our review of PlataGO!? Will you be picking it up? Let us know in the comments section below.