What happens when you take the crazy, brilliant mind of esteemed cartoonist James Kochalka and aim it at developing a game? What happens when you combine this with Space Invaders or Galaga? You get a cacophonous love child of art, sound and fun spiralling in your face while you grin inanely. That may just have been us, though.
Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork comes to us from Pixeljam, the retro indie game studio that is famous for such games as Dino Run and Potatoman Seeks the Troof. Glork, our hero, is a character created by Kochalka who first featured in the graphic novel, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza. With all that creative force in mind, let’s delve into their proverbial brain child.
The key word to this game is outright “charm”. Everything about Glorkian Warrior oozes a charming, fun and engaging quality to it. The art from James Kochalka features a lovely range of colors and an environment that succeeded in sucking us in. It lends itself to the feel of the game, which is fast-paced and had us grinning from the moment it started. The title really feels like it’s shooting straight out of a beloved childhood cartoon and has invited us to come and help it defend the planet. Or, asteroid, in this case.
Glork himself and his helpful Super Backpack sidekick won us over immediately. The dialogue between the two of them is entirely in speech bubbles with snippets of gibberish garbled underneath; a dynamic that was very reminiscent of classic RPGs. The occasional exchange between the pair is humorous and in just such a way that we’re confident both kids and adults will get a chuckle out of them.
The game’s character design manages to be simultaneously unique and familiar enough that we felt as though we were being welcomed right back into the shooters we loved as children. Even the interactions with some of the villains are endearing and hysterical – but that is for the player to see as they progress. Enemy design provides that same general atmosphere and the colors used on them alone are absolutely brilliant. We don’t use the phrase “eye candy” a lot without it usually referring to a game that looks nice, but fails on other levels. This game is eye candy that doesn’t make you regret eating it.
Controlling our titular hero is super satisfying as well. Glork moves with a nice momentum but never slides much when he comes to a halt. Even after playing for hours, we never found ourselves sliding into an enemy shuffling our way. However, don’t take that to mean the game doesn’t have its challenges. As time progresses, the enemies get more intense and harder to deal with; allowing the title become even more entertaining as it progresses.
The environments themselves also continue to change and meld the further you get; each of them colorful, vivid and adding some real character to Glork’s asteroid that he calls home. Speaking of said asteroid, your job as a Glorkian cadet is essentially to protect your home from the varying waves of invaders – something the stern Glorkian General will be happy to remind you of consistently.
The title also excels in its sound design. The background music is upbeat and incredibly suited to the quirkiness of the game itself. It’s an incredible likeness to the legendary songs that were largely limited to keyboards or synthesizers. Here, it is a modern twist done right; and, given Kochalka’s musical history, it’s not the least bit surprising. The sound effects are incredibly satisfying, so if you weren’t stuffed enough on eye candy then you can certainly indulge your ears in a few sloppy pig-outs. From the background music, the sound bits and even the gibberish dialogue, everything sounds phenomenal. It’s not the least bit surprising that a soundtrack has been developed and is planned for release as well.
In a time when games are developing higher and higher levels of complexity, it truly is refreshing to see something so genuinely simple, charming and fun being put out into the market without lacking in quality. GW: ToG has such an amazing feel of classic and new and fun and hilarious, all swept together in an experience that had us unable to stop playing for hours. We’re fairly certain the only reason we stopped was due to our hands falling off somewhere around three hours ago.
The title is beautiful simplicity when it is executed correctly. It is a great idea of how to put a new spin on an old concept and make it look great while you’re at it. The humor is fun, the gameplay is mildly addictive and every turn the story takes will always have you surprised, amused and delighted.
This game has been a long time coming for fans of both James Kochalka and Pixeljam, and we are thoroughly glad that it is just as impressive as we had hoped – if not more so. If you’re a fan of Kochalka, great art, great retro games or even just want to relive your glory days of shooting down pixelated aliens, this game is sure to please.
Ask yourself: do you have what it takes to be a Glorkian General? If not, you can always just stare at your feet and eat some crackers.