Innovative, ingenious, frustrating and addictive are some words that come to mind when trying to sum up Professor Fizzwizzle, a downloadable Indie PC game by Grubby Games. Itâ€™s fair to say that Iâ€™ve never played a game like this before – it really is unique. Iâ€™d describe it as a 2D platform/puzzle game with interesting physics, but read on to find out what the hell I meanâ€¦
The plot is simple enough; you are Professor Fizzwizzle and, when working late one night, you accidentally make your robot helpers go mad with your robot controller device. The robots steal the device and boot you out of your lab, and you have to make your way through numerous wacky levels to get the device back.
Each level is a single screen containing various platforms, ladders and objects and is viewed from the side. You are teleported in at the start point and must reach the end point, which teleports you to the next level â€“ there is no time limit. Sounds easy, right? Well it is – at first â€¦ The first few levels are basically tutorial levels that introduce you to the game mechanics and various objects that can be found and used. Then it rapidly becomes harder until you really have to think hard about how to solve each level (at least I had to think hard; in fact, the game made me feel pretty dumb!)
To get to the end of each level youâ€™ll have to do stuff like push crates and roll barrels out of your path, or use them to cross gaps (your character cannot jump because he is an old man). Youâ€™ll also have to operate switches to open gates, balance platforms on pulley systems with the correct weights, use magnets to repel and attract, and avoid mad robots of course. Along the way you sometimes pick up inflatable crates, barrels and magnets that you can place strategically to help solve the level. There are also devices like freeze guns and magnet disruptors. The platforms themselves vary and include grass, which you can push stuff around on; sand, which you cannot push stuff on due to friction; and ice, which has no friction – so stuff slides on it. Oh yeah, and there are little sort of sideways trampolines that catapult moving objects back the way that they came.
All of this crazy stuff needs to be carefully positioned and used to complete each level and it can get really hard to figure out. Luckily, thereâ€™s an option on the menu that shows a live walkthrough of how to complete the level. I desperately tried not to use the walkthrough, but my willpower broke on a few levels. When you do finally complete a level, you’ll get a great feeling of achievement. Naturally, itâ€™s got that, â€œjust one more levelâ€ type of feeling.
The graphics are cartoony and very professional, with great animations. The sound effects and music fit in well too, and the menu system and options are well made/comprehensive, which is what you expect these days from a professional Indie game.
There are 230 levels split into four categories: alphabet (for little kids); kids; regular (I played these); and advanced (I darenâ€™t even try these yet!). Thereâ€™s even a level editor and lots of user-created levels on the Internet for you to download and try. Also, whilst playing, you unlock photos of the professor in various poses with his robots (that sounds bad doesnâ€™t it?) Iâ€™m not really a fan of unlockable extras, they do nothing for me, but my 5-year-old son, who played the game with me, liked the photos. He loved the game by the way.
So to conclude, Iâ€™ve spend quite a few very enjoyable hours playing this game, and I will be playing it some more. Itâ€™s great fun and good value for money but also quite hard later on. If you get easily frustrated or donâ€™t enjoy thinking (i.e. you prefer action games to puzzle) then this game may not be suitable for you. Professor Fizzwizzle deserves to do really well but I guess its success will depend on how many people are willing to give it a go and strain their brain a little bit.
I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.