Kickstarter Page: Bacon Man
Project By: Skymap Games
End Date: August 15, 2014
In a nutshell: “A toaster gun shooting, kung-food fighting, co-op action game starring Bacon Man, true heir to the Meat Throne..”
It’s hard to find a balance between “LOLSORANDOM” wacky humour and actual genuine comedy in games, especially considering the interactive and repetitive nature of the medium. Comic Jumper managed to get its zany comic book pastiche right without coming off as too mean spirited or lazily referential. Bacon Man: An Adventure is of a similar breed, it channels influences from goofy 90s mascot platformers like Rayman, Earthworm Jim and Oddworld, and adds a pinch of food themed humour. There’s a character called Pork King – that’s where we are with Bacon Man.
Skymap Games lead Neal Laurenza explains in their pretty hilarious Kickstarter video that Bacon Man began life as a 2-D project, but they decided to capitalise on UDK and the team’s individual strengths and bring the porky protagonist into the the third dimension. This makes Bacon Man essentially the nostalgia-trip game for kids of the 1990s/early 2000s (speaking of which, go watch Boyhood), an oft-ignored group who deserve their own misguided, rose tinted forays into the pasts just as much as Gen X-ers. For those of us who grew up with shameless 3-D/2-D action platformers that unapologetically pimped food products, Bacon Man hits an odd level of “Wow weren’t the 90s silly” nostalgia.
So how does Bacon Man‘s early alpha demo hold up? The thing is modelled and animated beautifully; environments are bursting with 3-D life and colour, as are the movements and designs of characters like Excaliboar and the aforementioned Pork King. Gameplay is diced up into sections of beat-em-up, shmup and platforming action, and these are handled with varying success. Combat sequences are spot on, as they combine ranged and melee techniques, as well as platforming/combat hybrid techniques like mid air juggling of enemies to cross gaps. Platforming is a much spottier affair, as Bacon Man regularly over and under-jumps gaps seemingly at random, either clearing them by several inches or failing to reach his intended platform entirely. There has to be variation in platforming, but not so much that jumping feels like a random dice roll. This, coupled with some fairly harsh checkpoints, made some of the sequences in Bacon Man a little frustrating, albeit after they were initially rather fun.
Arguably most importantly, Bacon Man is funny. It throws gags, meta-humour and tongue in cheek dialogue at you at breakneck speed. Not every joke lands perfectly but they land frequently enough and with enough success that Bacon Man and friends certainly left me smiling for the duration of the game, even whilst I was scowling at the dodgy platforming (yeah it was a pretty weird face). The game sounds pretty incredible too, since the game’s soundtrack has been co-composed by the guy who did Pokemon Reorchestrated. Bacon Man’s adventure is accompanied by the sort of catchy, plinky-plonky, string-laden, Elfman-sque score that used to be a dime a dozen back in the PS2 era.
As for your seal of reliability, Skymap is essentially a team of you contract workers with experience in finishing and building other people’s games, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare when creating their own project. I’ve seen/played enough of Bacon Man to be able to recommend it, despite its niggling flaws, and the polish of the game’s aesthetic should be enough to let you know that the game is in safe hands visually. If Skymap can nail the mechanical aspects of the game, Bacon Man could be the new Super Meat Boy of grotesque, meaty characters.