The Ramsey by IKINAGAMES
The Ramsey, a squirrel-themed platformer from Korean studio IKINAGAMES, aims for accessible enjoyment rather than the demanding difficulty of “hardcore platformers” like the venerable Super Meat Boy.
Refreshingly, its cute and comedic style is for once not a fiendish misdirection hiding unforgiving difficulty spikes a la The Legend of Gwen. Instead, it’s just lighthearted and straightforward fun based around a simple mechanic that’s nonetheless put to good use via environmental puzzles.
As the eponymous Ramsey, a brash squirrel, you’ll be pursuing Dr. Caster, a mad scientist who has destroyed the climate on Chipmars, an alien planet seemingly run by talking rodents. There are definite nods to Sonic the Hedgehog both thematically and aesthetically (especially in Caster’s lab), but it never quite hits the Sega mascot’s legendary velocity.
Instead, much of The Ramsey involves exploring the islands of Chipmars using the “Cotton Gun,” a projectile weapon that shoots popcorn platforms.
Later, new ammunition seeds will allow for additional puzzles: fire flower seeds can propel blocks explosively, for example, destroying otherwise impassible walls, while water flower seeds create a gel that can temporarily flip switches or activate pressure plates.
Level design in later areas puts these to good use, requiring thoughtful combinations of jumps, Cotton Gun ammunition, and environmental puzzles to make progress, but the emphasis is on exploration, not perfect reflexes.
Even on the “Hard” difficulty setting, and even in bonus areas, jumps are forgiving enough to keep even the most casual player from quitting in frustration.
High Flying Squirrel
The Ramsey’s presentation is as friendly and accessible as its mechanics. Fans of classic platformers and side-scrollers will find a lot to enjoy here, from the colorful backgrounds and sprites to the upbeat chiptune score, not to mention the beeps and squelches accompanying Ramsey’s jumps and the Cotton Gun’s various effects.
The various stories and side quests, ranging from fetch-quests for a hungry carnivorous plant to playing match-maker to a pair of shy hamsters, are charming and lighthearted, as is the story’s framing device: Ramsey, now on Earth, recounting his adventures to a terrestrial rodent in a pet store.
The character design is especially appealing. The squirrels, hamsters, and other residents of Chipmars recall beloved Japanese children’s cartoon Hamtaro, and all are fully voiced in Korean.
I don’t speak the language, but I can’t overstate how wonderful a job the voice actors do conveying the various personalities, especially the good-natured cockiness of Ramsey himself, through tone alone.
Jump for Joy
The Ramsey’s relentlessly friendly approach, from the cuteness of its characters to its forgiving mechanics, makes for an accessible all-ages platformer, but if you’re looking for hardcore challenge or brain-twisting mechanical innovation, you might be disappointed.
That said, I recently played a demo for Telmari, an equally cute upcoming platformer with a similar core mechanic of projectiles-as-platforms, with a stronger focus on timing and precision, and while I was very impressed by the technical accomplishments of its level design and the skill it demands of players, I think I prefer The Ramsey’s more easygoing approach.
The IKINAGAMES slogan is “Creating games for (y)our happier life,” and The Ramsey delivers on that promise. Sometimes being a lot of fun is more than enough.
The Ramsey is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for The Ramsey below: