Adam Mowery made his own stage of doom in “Curse of the Crescent Isle.”
Except in his version, if you stand on the single block too long, it breaks. And you die. “I grew up playing on NES. I thought, ‘No one’s ever done anything since, like, Mario 2.’ So I took I that and added puzzle elements to it,” Mowery said.
Yeah, those crumbling blocks are certainly a puzzle.
“Curse of the Crescent Isle,” available for download on Xbox Live, is his first completed video game. The game centers around a king making his way through his kingdom, accursed by evil at the onset of the game. It is like Mario games, but with elements of “Zelda” puzzles and “Metroid” gameplay thrown in.
But it wasn’t simply his love of platform games that set him about making “Curse” for Xbox.
“I had a couple other failed attempts that were larger style, so I scaled back and did a platformer. I thought that would be the simplest thing to do,” Mowery said.
But the levels are far from simple. “When I started brainstorming ideas, I thought of enemies that would have different powers. Once I had those enemy types, the levels just grew organically from that,” he said.
Some enemies are drills, while others can be used to inflate other enemies.
It is occasionally baffling when a new enemy and power is discovered, but figuring it out is half the fun of the game (winning, of course, is the other half). Those who have figured it out have had mixed reactions to the game.
“People in the same age group I am, that grew up playing the games, have responded really well,” Mowery said. The people who haven’t liked it as much reacted to the vintage mechanics of the game, in what Mowery called the “backlash” to “old, retro-looking games.”
Mowery, who in his day job is a programmer for a defense contractor, is working on several other games both by himself and in teams. He plans on keeping it a hobby for now.
“It would be nice to do it full-time, but I don’t think the money is there yet,” he said.
And although he spends a significant time making games, he still spends about as much time playing “everything but sports games.”
So he knows what it’s like to die in a hole when you miss the single block.