developed by Breakfall
There are some people who believe that nostalgia can hinder the development of a video game because very few strides are being taken to move the medium forward, into a new and innovative direction. Then there are other people, gamers like me, who believe that nostalgia is an element that can only add or lend itself to a game in a positive way, if the game is well made of course. I believe that without nostalgia, games would be a truly bland and mediocre affair. The idea that the entertainment and enjoyment found in a good book, a movie, a piece of music, artwork, or another video game, could somehow inspire someone to develop a new game based on the feelings they had during a particular moment from their past is, in my opinion, a powerful and fascinating thing.
Marvin’s Mittens is one of those games that greatly reminds me of the excitement, curiosity, and fun, that I had growing up as a kid. It’s one of those games that captures the nostalgia and wonderment of a child’s imagination and can’t help but put a smile on your face every single time you play it. Developed by indie studio Breakfall, Marvin’s Mittens not only captures the great gameplay that made for the most amazing and memorable platformers back during the 80’s and 90’s, but it also reminds me of the real life memories I had growing up during those periods, armed with little more than your imagination and whatever props you could make out of your natural surroundings. I think it’s safe for me to say that Marvin’s Mittens is a beautiful game in so many ways, and it’s one that I can proudly show off to my children and allow them to play as well. Marvin’s Mittens is themed around winter time fun and being released during this holiday season makes it a compelling title for the prospective gamer, but it’s one of those games that you should definitely be playing no matter what time of year it is.
The story is a simple one. One day while playing outside in the forest not far from his home, Marvin is happily building himself a snowman. As he’s putting the finishing touches on his snowman, Marvin catches a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. No sooner does Marvin see something looking back at him but this mysterious looking creature leaps out of the woods and takes one of Marvin’s mittens. Not thinking much of the incident, Marvin decides to head back home. As he’s about to leave, Marvin finds being magically held in place by his remaining mitten. Now curious, Marvin decides that after a good night sleep he’ll head out the next morning, in search of his lost mitten and the creature that swiped it off his hand. And so Marvin’s adventure begins.
It sounds a lot like a kids story, and it is, but the gameplay and platforming in Marvin’s Mittens is very much the kind you would find in games like Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion, Rayman, or Kirby’s Dreamland. Your ultimate goal is to find Marvin’s Mitten, but along the way and throughout your adventure, you’ll be exploring a number of colorful locations, stumbling upon birds and mammals in and around the forest, and eventually you’ll even find your lost sled that will allow you to slide down hills very quickly and make incredible jumps which will also grant you access to areas you normally could not reach.
You’ll also encounter a family of magical elves who have lost their mittens as well. When you offer to find all of the missing mittens they grant you with a bit of magic. This new ability allows Marvin to jump and float short distances. In order to increase the power of this magic, Marvin must find magical snowflakes which are scattered around every level of the game. Your new friends can also be found throughout this winter wonderland where they’ll offer you hot cocoa which also acts as a neat little save game point. As you progress to new areas of the game the elves will also mine a few tunnels for you that act as shortcuts and allow Marvin to fast travel between great distances.
These are extremely helpful features because each day of your adventure is somewhat of a timed event. As the night approaches and the sky grows darker you’ll hear Marvin’s mother calling him to come home, and immediately Marvin is whisked back home where he falls asleep and dreams of the days events. This too acts as a save game point and when Marvin wakes up the next morning he wakes up, runs down the stairs, and immediately hops back on to his sled, bolting out the front door ready for another adventurous day. Marvin also has a map at his disposal which shows him how many magical snowflakes he’s missed in a particular area or location. The map is very useful because you won’t be able to collect all of the snowflakes on your first visit to most areas of the game.
Controlling Marvin is a simple affair. He can run, jump, and draw sketches of the animals he encounters, but as mentioned above, he’ll soon be sledding, floating, and exploring every nook and cranny of this fantastically imaginative world. The controls are tight and responsive meaning that the platforming is all about having fun and thankfully bereft of the trappings you’ll find in the more frustratingly difficult platformers out there.
The graphics are top notch. The entire game has hand drawn artwork that is brightly colored and nicely detailed. All of the animation also adds quite a bit of character to the unique charm and cuteness of Marvin’s Mittens as well. The audio is also great, with subtle music that adds atmosphere to the winter themed backdrop. Listening to Marvin’s enthusiasm as he finds and collects magical snowflakes will make you laugh, and when Marvin’s mother calls him home at night you might remember that feeling of playing outside at night on a cool winter evening where you probably asked your mom if you could play outside for just 5 more minutes.
As “kiddie” as the game looks, it will definitely put a smile on the faces of any father or mother who remembers what gaming is all about and what it was like to play the great platformers from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Marvin’s Mittens is entertainment for the whole family. It’s a fun platformer that was made with young and old gamers in mind.
The game is a decent length which is extended quite a bit when you take into consideration the exploration and collecting of magic snowflakes. Trying to find all of the animals so that Marvin can draw a sketch of them and completing every area of the game 100% will take some time, but all of that time spent will be enjoyable and entertaining. It’s good clean fun that both parents and their kids can pick up, play, and enjoy. It’s the type of game that you and your kids will remember for a long time, just like the classic Mario and Sonic games of yore.