20/08/2017

☆ Review: MINT - "Hero Toothpaste Alien To The Rescue!?" ☆

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Mint.
The word is evocative of freshness.
Mint flavour is used as a palate-cleanser.
To be minted is to be loaded with cash money – rich, in other words.
A mint-in-box video game is brand new and most likely sealed, as if it just left the factory: minty-fresh.
Mint, the video game developed by DGHZ, is none of those things.


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"This is all the menu you get. Options? What options?"
It starts off well enough. The tutorial played out in a classic grid-floored VR simulation, is informative and gives you chance to pick up the controls without holding your hand.

Controlling the protagonist (presumably named Mint) feels fluid and tight – maybe a little floaty, but the character isn’t exactly aerodynamic so I can let it off in that regard.

The training room also introduces us to ‘The Operator’, a mysterious bug-like character who explains that we “will be learn the basics in this room”.
Think we should sign him up to Duolingo or something?
The creature offers a little exposition, telling us to find an escaped convict. That’s the only narrative hint you’ll get, by the way – at least, that’s all I saw during my gameplay. While it’d be nice to know exactly what’s going on, the game’s method of dialogue leaves a lot to be desired: it freezes you in place, and the text can’t be sped up or skipped. It’s little things like this that bring an experience to a standstill, which doesn’t add any points in Mint’s favour.
After speaking to this Operator bloke, we’re given the rest of the tutorial. And my goodness does the complexity ramp up. One minute you’re jumping around like any old platformer, the next…well…
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"for a nondescript white blob, Mint is awfully skilful."
Buh? Am I playing a 2D platformer or the next iteration of Street Fighter?
And this is basic combat?!

It’s overwhelming, to say the least, especially when you consider that the control method for keyboard players is rather cramped. It’s like trying to play a ZX Spectrum game, back when video game controls were about as intuitive as macOS is today. Internet reviewer hyperbole aside, if you’re going to play Mint, you need a controller.
Not that half these abilities are even necessary, but we’ll get onto that.
One of the first things that struck me about Mint was its graphics, and they’re nothing to moan at. It really is a good-looking game – it’s no Metal Slug, but it’s certainly better than many other pixel art games I’ve played. The developer has been tasteful in their palette selection, and it pays off. Not only that, but they’ve employed some pleasing parallax scrolling effects for the backgrounds, a simple technique that gives the world some depth, some life. My only complaint is that all the characters have this ridiculous bouncing animation – not personally my cup of tea, but that’s a minor thing that most of you probably don’t mind. Also, some of the scaling is a little inconsistent, but it seems that’s to be expected of any pixel-pushing efforts these days.
While it’s easy to praise the game’s art style, the same can’t be said for its level design. Sometimes it branches off, but for the most part, it’s bland. When playing, you just feel as if you’re going through the motions. The enemy AI doesn’t help: when they’re not firing measly little bullets in a vain attempt to stop you running and jumping over them, they don’t even react when you start shooting. No, no, they’re far too busy to pay any attention to you. Even when you score direct hits on them with your bombs, they act like it ain’t no thang.
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"Bob Ross would be proud."
Remember those abilities from earlier?
Remember which one corresponds to each button?
No, me neither. Mainly because I barely used them – most of the time, I spammed bubbles. Even against the mid-level bosses (or were they end-level? Hard to tell), the bubble combined with the Gemini power was enough to deal with their sorry arses.
Not that the bubbles are much fun to use since there’s no rapid-fire with them.
Compare this to Jazz Jackrabbit, which had rapid-fire powerups dotted about, making the shooting less tedious.
Come to think of it, there’s a general lack of pickups in Mint. That’s part of what makes a platformer a platformer!
Ninety percent of the time, Mint can just make a break for the next checkpoint – since they refill his (her?) health, it really is the best tactic. You end up losing more health trying to face off against the enemies than you’d lose by avoiding them. Couple this with the bland levels and slightly floaty controls, and you end up with a game that just isn’t all that.

Summary:
It’s not bad, per se. It just feels like the modern equivalent of generic platformers in the 90s – you know, stuff like Bubsy, Superfrog and Gex.

If that’s your jam, then go for it: you’ll probably find something to like here. If not, then I’m afraid to say the cupboard is bare.
One final point: did we ever get to the bottom of Mint as a character?
What’s actually going on? The only narrative we’re given is that there’s some perp that needs catching. To that end, who/what is the main character, who/what are we fighting, what’s the deal with being able to summon a ghost double and a Gatling gun at will, and what’s this mothership business all about? It’s like the developer wanted to cram everything into this one game.
Feature creep: the number one cause of vapourware in video games.
The store page gives us some hints. Apparently, Mint is…er...
He’s toothpaste. I’m not even kidding.
“The hero alien took the form of toothpaste to
balance his body in earth's atmosphere.”
Pause for effect.
Toothpaste.
Okay.
The store page also described the game as a generic platformer...well, hey, now I don’t feel so bad calling it mediocre.
Toothpaste, guys.

RATING: MELTING

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: DGHZ













Review By Tim Scott