Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Indie Innovation Spotlight: AaaAaaaAaaaaaAAaaaaa!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 8, 2012

Today’s game is another (fairly) recent one, from Dejobaan Games. When I published the spotlight a few weeks ago on Corncob 3D, Ichiro Lambe – head of Dejobaan and a very cool-yet-crazy indie – sent me a message telling me how much he loved that game. Considering the kinds of off-the-wall stuff Dejobaan regularly comes up with, I found this to be unsurprising.

The first version subtitled, “A Reckless Disregard for Gravity,” AaaAaaaaaAaaaa (I never know how many A’s to put in there,  but then, neither does the developer) is one of my favorite indie games, which makes it easy to write a spotlight about it. There are some others that I don’t share quite as much love for in spite of their innovation. But this one’s easy. It’s off-the-wall crazy, but in a good way.

AaAAaaAaAaAAaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity by Dejobaan Games

What Is It?
A game that can never be spelled twice the same way, AaaAaaAAAaaaAa! is ostensibly a game about freefalling down impossibly high buildings and mountains, performing tricky maneuvers on the way down, and then coming to a safe landing in a designated spot without splattering yourself. The stylistic graphics are deliberately “gamey,” as is the rationale for cities arranged vertically in impossible configurations with gravity-resistant materials.

On your high-speed descent, you get points for skillful stupidity. You are awarded points for getting very close to obstacles (“Kisses”), staying close to walls on the way down (“hugs”), hitting targets (and birds), landing in your target zone, spray-painting graffiti on your way down, and interacting with audiences that stand on platforms along your descent path. For interacions, this means giving a “thumbs-up” sign to supporters or flipping off protestors (handled with the mouse buttons). Threading impossibly tight corridors of gaps between structures wins you the most points. But your route through your terminal-velocity course is completely up to you. Playing it safe may earn fewer points, but going after the really nasty spirals with moving and spinning obstacles may end up with an amusing message as your descent comes to an unexpected, messy stop.

You earn “teeth” based on your score for any given course, which can be spent to unlock new courses, tools, or bonuses (some of which are quite silly, like a “meditation” screen).

It’s all new-agey, silly, over-the-top, rebellious, and lots of fun.

What Makes It Cool?
I can’t imagine a “realistic” BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) Jumping game that would be much fun. The thrill and skill involved would be pretty much lost in a simulation on a flat screen with the player safely sitting in a chair or couch with a controller in their hand. I don’t know if BASE jumping was the inspiration for AaaAaAaaAAA, or a context they added to the game later after coming up with the gameplay idea, but I really don’t care.

What the game really boils down to is a first-person obstacle course at high-speed. Anybody could have done it. Many have, actually. But what Dejobaan did was really give otherwise straightforward gameplay some twists and polish to make it a fun challenge, and then gave it style an attitude to make every session feel like a wild ride.

First, the gameplay. The game levels constantly encourage you to play with as much risk as you can handle. The higher the risk, the higher the score, which brings you closer to maximizing your “teeth” award for a level. While the obstacles are mostly fixed (though some do move or spin as you play), your choice of your route is completely up to you as you play. Little mistakes or miscalculations may cause you to constantly revise your plan as you twist and turn through the environment. You will be constantly asking yourself, “Can I make it? Can I make it?” and trying to devise escape plans and alternatives as you make your way down at high-speed. The more challenging courses do a great job of keeping you constantly on edge, both reacting and planning as you make delicate course corrections. The constant scoring based not only on hitting targets but on reaching and maintaining proximity to deadly obstacles makes a higher score always barely within reach.

The attitude and style – well, that’s just something that has to experienced. Dejobaan has a reputation for never taking themselves or their games seriously, and AaaAaaaaAa consequently always seems a little off-kilter almost to the point of absurdity. The whole thing about flipping off protestors on the way down, or being able to unlock a picture of a kitten to gaze on for relaxation, or the amusing random messages about how badly hurt you are when you smack a building – it all reinforces a message of just plain fun. It also suggests that the developers had as much fun making it as they hope you have playing it. It’s kinda like how dancers are supposed to smile as they perform, suggesting they are having a wonderful time, and infecting the audience with that same feeling. It works.

Other Notes
There’s a sequel (or revision, or “semi-sequel”) out now called AaaAaaaAAAA! For the Awesome!

There’s also a version for mobile devices, which I have not tried. Would help if I actually owned an Android or iSomething…

Filed Under: Indie Innovation Spotlight - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is definitely one of the most fun games I’ve ever played.

    And it isn’t just a meditation screen you can unlock – it is a whole meditation session which is actually quite relaxing! All games could benefit from stopping in the middle and walking you through peaceful mind and body exercises! ;P

    It brings to mind Monty Python’s Flying Circus – “And now for something completely different!”

  • IndieMario said,

    Wow, this is really innovative gameplay – has all the adrenaline punch of a racer like Extreme G, but it’s not. I’m not even sure what genre this is… but it was fun just watching the trailer!

    Lesson to all Indie Game developers – just because a genre has been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved and innovated.