Flash Classixx: Features versus Elegance // Hedgehog Launch 2 versus Winterbells

Two games, Winterbells and Hedgehog Launch 2 are a study in contrasts. Both rely on the same mechanic, a gravity-bound animal marching its way up to the heavens by bouncing on bells, or bars. Winterbells, while lighter on features, retains the elegance of a classic flash game, and is the superior title.

In Hedgehog Launch 2, you play a hedgehog shot through the center of the earth on a quest up to Mars. In Winterbells, the goal is simple: as a bunny, you bounce on bells, ascending into the oblivion of a winter night.

Aside from the concept of the game being a total joke, the upgrades confuse the user. Did they really need to split up boosting your right and left jetpacks? Once power runs out, you have an awful feeling of helpless and chance takes over. The money you gain from landing on the inexplicable platforms hanging in midair cheapens the experience. No longer are you soaring into the heavens for the unalloyed glory in Winterbells. Now, you’re forced to gain lucre and contemplate whether to increase the height or width of your launching slingshot. Which is more useful? Why should I care?

Winterbells glories in its simplicity. You bounce on the bells, and occasionally double your score by jumping on a moving bird. The music is calming, and each time you land on a bell, you are rewarded with the satisfying sound of a woodblock hit.

There was a time when features were considered the bee’s knees of flash games. Flash coders sought to raise the bar of their craft, creating games more and more like higher end computer and platform titles. However, doing this dilutes the purity of a well-executed conceit, which the limits of flash code force on the medium.

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