It Finally Arrives

Sproggiwood snagged my brain with it’s grid-tactics. It put bigger smiles on my face than any other iPhone games this year. That’s thanks to this rich delicious dark roast blend of tactical-roguelike and happy-Nintendoness. It’s like Shigeru Miyamoto was born thirty years later and got caught up in joys of procedurally-generated permadeath and dropped me a present on the iPhone: it’s almost too perfect. Like I’ve been asking for this game for a while. But now that I have it, I feel like a spoiled brat. I feel like Veruca Salt. I just want “more.”

I want the world! I want the whole world! Give it to me! I want a deep and engrossing roguelike I can take on vacation with my phone; or click-through on my PC when I get back. I want permadeath, but I want persistent rewards even when I die. I want procedural level design, but with an overworld and selectable stages. I want six player classes, and a charming art style, and original settings, and subversive surprises, and boss fights galore! And I want it now!

I’m a greedy child and I want to hit things. Sproggiwood lets me hit whatever I want: walruses, charging goat-men, a dozen kinds of slime, even phallic mushrooms. I want to hit all of those things. The walrus is the most fun thing to hit. But of course, all of us walrus-punchers already know this.

SMACK THAT WALRUS DEMON! IT’S BOSS FIGHT TIME.

The walrus-smacking echoes the brilliance of the game’s combat systems. The depth and simplicity here is so accessible that a baby could kill things. Press your direction to move or attack. Wait a turn if you like. Use no more than four special abilities. That’s it. See? Babies can kill things too!

Six class types offer a unique diversity for outsmarting a battlefield full of enemies. Leveling-up is a race each run. It feels thrilling, exciting to get your skills as sorted out as possible. Loot drops into the shop for you to purchase for future loadouts like Rogue Legacy. This ensures that even if you keep dying on that one dungeon, you’re constantly getting more cash to improve that one class, or maybe how quickly you level-up overall?

Randomizing elements keep the game wild. The Identity Crisis Potion scrambles your current skills against all the other skills in the game. It’s still a gamble. And that’s what makes it fun, especially when you’re in the middle of a challenging run.

I really hope the term Sproggiwood isn’t referential to killing all the phallic mushrooms in the game. It made me wonder. Lead dev, Brian Bucklew says “I think it’s just the way mushrooms look. We didn’t go ‘let’s have some dick monsters,’ at least.” While fair, it makes me think that Nintendo must have had a very specific “make sure these mushrooms don’t look like penises” rule when making all those Mario games.

It’s nice that there’s some Finnish mythology that compliments the lead artist, Jaana Heiska’s Finnish background. But I think I get enough of that without the people telling me about it. I don’t want the text-heavy dialogue.

Base-building serves little purpose other than to attract casual players. Drop rocks and different kinds of grass wherever you want. Because reasons. I don’t see the point in it as it doesn’t seem to relate to the core mechanics of the game.

Save progress is nice, but it would be even better if you could save mid-run. The game was perfect for vacation. But if I want to play the game while waiting somewhere, it’s not always great for that. This may be the single-greatest hitch for casual players. Though the captivating nature of the rest of the game may still win-out.

Sproggiwood fires on all cylinders as a rich accessible tactics game. It’s the perfect starter roguelike that eases unfamiliar players into permadeath and procedurally generated dungeons.  Phallic mushrooms and the lack of mid-run saves might keep new players out. But the only major issue is that it’s this “perfect game” that does everything I want but it doesn’t magically fix my greedy desires to have everything my way. I still want more. I’m still unsatisfied. But that’s not Sproggiwood’s fault. If anything, it shows that I’m the monster – and that I need a satisfaction that doesn’t come from games.

Good show, Sproggi. Good show.

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