Do you hate your job? Is your boss a jerk? Are you an elephant on roller skates?!
Every year, the DePaul University Game Dev Program chooses a set of students to create an entry for the Independent Games Festival, and the results are usually impressive (see last year's entry Octodad). This year, the anthropomorphic-loving crew is back with Groovy Tuesday, in which you guide a roller-skating elephant on his quest to funkify his office--including furniture, lights, and coworkers--by tossing "plugmen" into heretofore unconnected music devices.
Still under development, the 0.9 version of Groovy Tuesday offers up one short level of rather psychedelic yet simplistic gameplay. Think: the prince from Katamari Damacy plunked into the world of Psychonauts where he must summon Parappa the Rapper into existence. Or something like that.
Basically you cruise around your office behind a roller-skating elephant in a third-person, over-the-shoulder (or rather, behind the red plaid pants) perspective, picking up the aforementioned plugmen (these are the guys who look sort of like the Katamari prince) and tossing them into any unplugged devices. Controls are standard FPS--W,A,S,D for moving and controlling the mouse for looking and firing. Clicking the left mouse button picks up and throws plugmen. There are two other "fire" buttons in the (totally customizable) key mappings, but I couldn't get those buttons to do anything.
The plugmen are legion in Groovy Tuesday, so finding them is child's play, as is locating the unplugged devices (hint: look for huge plugs waving in the air). Picking up the plugmen and tossing them into the devices turns that section of the office into a swinging lounge as plants turn into speakers, vending machines start thumping, and disco lights and music fill the air.
That's the real innovation here: the atmospheric use of music and lighting. As you enable the various sections of your office, you'll hear (and see) those areas pumping out the dance music, while the rest of the office remains dark and miserable. And as you move around the office, the direction of the music changes, letting you know which parts have been funked and which haven't.
After you turn on all the musical devices in the office, you'll meet the level boss -- who is your actual boss, a steaming-mad rhinoceros who most certainly needs to add some funk to the junk in his trunk. There's a unplugged device in his now-open office, but there's also a short connection of actions you'll need to take to enable the lone "potent plugmen" (suspended in a cage in a corner above a cubicle) who can beat your boss into submission with the power of music.
The only difficulty in the level comes after picking up the potent plugman. Apparently he's very potent, because you've just entered some sort of hallucinatory trip where you start to think that 3D glasses might help. (They don't.) It's an odd sort of visual-based difficulty, but it definitely seems intended. Combined with the very sensitive mouse perspective controls, the dizzying light and controls could make weaker stomachs lose their lunch. The overall size of the level is pretty small, however, so it's hard to get too lost.
Boss now defeated, you'll be presented with a credits room where you can throw a few more plugmen into devices and get the party started, but I didn't find any easter eggs or tricks worth sharing, but I didn't try too hard. Groovy Tuesday has a great idea and style, but it's not totally clear yet if the gameplay will deliver. The original music isn't half bad, the developers have the right idea in terms of atmosphere, and players are desperate for good adventure games. Let's hope Groovy Tuesday adds some much-needed gameplay complexity for version 1.0. You can follow its progress on the Groovy Tuesday blog.