Platformers are due for a resurgence. It's been years since games like Vexx and Blinx: the Time Sweeper dotted the landscape and oversaturated the market. Nowadays, gamers who don't own Nintendo consoles can count the number of decent modern platformers they get to play on one hand. So I was pleasantly surprised to see an enhanced version of Mike & Milkbox pop up on Steam Greenlight. This 2D adventure takes graphical inspiration not from Mario Bros but instead Paper Mario, thrusting its 2D sprites into a 3D environment to create a unique and visually pleasing aesthetic.
In Mike & Milkbox, you play as Mike, who is a former special agent who had his mind surgically altered to enhance his intelligence. He is also a small bird. He detects an oncoming alien threat and sets out to defend his village. He also enlists the help of Milkbox, his cow secretary who can't understand him due to a language barrier, and Mukiki, a monkey prince who is suffering from "a crop circle on his head." Everything described in the narrative for this game sounds like cartoon nonsense, and I want to know more.
As for the gameplay, bird agent Mike is armed with several varieties of laser cannons to help on his run and jump adventure. The shooting mechanics and the background elements interacting with the foreground level remind me of the more unique levels of the original Yoshi's Island. The trailer on the game's Greenlight page highlights an impressive number of environments for what was originally a mobile title, and one can hope that this variety would expand even further with the planned PC and PS4 release of the game.
What really makes this game stand out is its visual flair. There have been many attempts to pull off a 2D/3D mixture over the years, and the more amateurish ones could usually be picked out of a lineup with ease. However, you can't see any of the seams here. The polygonal hammers and venus fly traps fit right in with the beautiful sprites of the character models and enemies, creating a seamless cartoon world to explore and protect from an alien menace. There are so many little details in the gameplay that displays the amount of effort that was put in to achieve this balance, and I applaud the effort from a small developer.
Overall, Korean developer Summergrass, Inc. really seems to be putting in a solid effort to bring over their mobile title to PC. This is not a straight up port, it's an upgrade of the original 2012 iOS release, and I love to see titles with this kind of potential make the jump onto more capable platforms. Some might be able to, but platforming on a touchscreen is a skill that I will never quite master. In any case, if you're as enthralled with the story of Bird Agent Mike as I am, head over to the game's Greenlight page and give it a thumbs up. With any luck, the game will be given the go ahead for Steam inclusion well in advance of its late 2016 release date.
What do you think of Mike & Milkbox? What secret character traits do you think the alien enemies possess? Do you think one of them is a former chef who speak Latin? Perhaps a student who studied juggling in college? Answer these questions in the comments below!
If you know of a game on Steam Greenlight that could use a boost, feel free to email us at [email protected] , and we'll consider the title for inclusion in a future column.