And I realise that I’m pretty way behind in all of this considering the game made an appearance as far back as October last year. Be that as it may, this post alerted me to Ballpoint Universe and I figured the indie title was worth sticking into a TILA²GC piece. If you know all about the game already then move along; nothing to see here! If, like me, you’re not right on the indie game pulse seven days a week, then allow me to introduce you to Ballpoint Universe.
It’s a side-scrolling platform adventure, but it’s also a shmup (shoot ‘em up) game! That on its own is great considering shmups are rather rare these days, but what makes this extra cool is that the entire game’s aesthetic has been done on paper with a ballpoint pen. Each character and piece of the landscape has then been scanned in and animated. It looks unbelievably beautiful.
Developer Arachnid Games clearly has a preoccupation with doodling little artworks on scrap paper. I like to imagine that their office (assuming they even have an office considering they’re an indie dev) only has one telephone in it that everyone (again, assuming that there’s enough people to constitute an “everyone”) has to share. Next to that telephone is a mountain of scrap paper littered with innumerable doodles. Because obviously that’s what people do when they’re talking on a phone: they doodle aimlessly. Then one night the doodles came alive and demanded to be animated into a video game.
The premise behind the game is rather lovely despite it being somewhat similar to that which sets up LittleBigPlanet. Whenever anyone creates something, that creativity has to go somewhere. However, in a world made up of notebook paper, that creativity is hunted down and eradicated by the controlling forces of logic. Those forces include Grammar, Algebra, Geometry, Physics and Anatomy. Those powers “wage war on the creative spurts that have settled on their pages, and they are winning.”
You play as a little doodled character called Doodle. When you’re not flying your customisable ship around and blasting the minions of logic, you’re scampering around a hand-drawn 2D platform world and interacting with bizarre characters. The platforming bits between the flying and shooty bits are there to allow you to find custom parts for your ship.
The game has made an appearance on Steam Greenlight so head over there to give it a heartfelt thumbs-up if this appeals to your pixely desires. There’s also an online demo that you can play right over here. It requires the Unity player to be installed.
Ballpoint Universe is coming to PC and Mac at some point; no final release date as yet.