Offspring Fling is a fun little sidescroller that I discovered by chance on Steam. Although a fairly lightweight outing, I found the game a fine way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon.
A pastel slideshow sets the stage. You are an adorable rabbit creature rearing a clutch of even more adorable baby rabbit creatures. One day, a giant gecko accosts your home, scattering your offspring across the forest. It is up to you to find your children and escort them back to safety.
It’s not Shakespeare by any stretch, but neither is “save the Princess” or “collect all the Chaos Emeralds.”
The core mechanics are simple. You can jump, you can pick up things, and you can throw things. The “things” in question are generally your offspring, whom you are tasked with ferrying to the exit of the level.
Challenge is derived from how these three mechanics interact. When you are carrying one of your offspring, the height and breadth of your jump is hampered and you are unable to squeeze through narrow passageways. This means that, while you have free reign over the level unencumbered, you’ll rarely be able to reach the exit door with a baby on board.
The typical puzzle involves finding a safe way to fling your offspring to the exit while avoiding hazards such as puddles of acid, giant hornets, and carnivorous plants. Hence the name of the game.
The greatest strength of Offspring Fling is its pacing. Each level is incrementally harder than the last, and there is never a point where an impossible puzzle slaps you in the face out of the blue.
New set pieces are trickled in at a satisfying pace as well. Bumpers that ricochet your offspring in different directions, switches that make coloured blocks appear and disappear, and weight-sensitive platforms all help to keep the relatively simplistic mechanics feeling fresh over the game’s 100 levels.
The soundtrack, however, grows stale fairly quickly. The chunky chiptune music is competent but monotonous; although there are apparently a dozen different melodies on the soundtrack, I felt as if I was listening to the same song over and over again.
The graphics fare slightly better. There’s a nostalgic touch of Yoshi’s Island to the art direction, toting some appropriately cutesy character designs to help sell the oddball concept. However, the sprites aren’t as crisp as I would have liked and – asides from a few nice rain effects – the levels themselves aren’t all that visually interesting.
At the end of the day, Offspring Fling is neither long or intense enough for these small aesthetic caveats to hinder it too sorely. The game’s tight collection of levels shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to clear, barring any obsessive-compulsive plying of its time challenges.
With a price tag of only $7.99 on Steam, Offspring Fling is an easy recommendation. Pair it with a retro gamepad and a hot cup of coffee for the best experience.