Yogscast and the Mystical Dream Tower [Preview]

How does the beta stack up to someone who's never even heard of the Yogscast?

yogs1 I spent a couple of hours a few nights ago playing the beta 0.3 build for Yogscast and The Mystical Dream Tower, which is interesting because I’ve never heard of the Yogscast in my life until a few weeks ago. Given that I live under a rock this doesn’t surprise me, as the guys this game is built about are huge on Youtube; especially for their Minecraft videos. So, we got a game about celebrities I’ve never heard of who are famous for talking about a game I have no interest in, so how on earth did I manage to find myself spending a late weekend evening playing it when I could have been playing the new DmC? Well, it’s because it looks like it will be shaping up to be a fun little game. It needs work, as most beta’s do, but I think it’s showing promise.

It’s a good old platformer, just like Miyamoto used to make. I would say that it bears a lot of similarities to Super Mario Bros, except there is a bigger focus on building up and maintaining speed while you’re going through the levels; so it leans a bit toward Sonic the Hedgehog as well. It’s somewhere in between, thankfully, giving you ways to get through the levels in a hurry while still maintaining a great deal of control. It does this through what started feeling like an oddly floaty jump. It is very strange at first, but it’s something that shows its cleverness in time.

You have perfect control of your jump-arc in mid-jump, which is handy, but it’s the distance you can clear with these jumps that makes the game interesting. You can jump really far, especially if you’ve built up some momentum by running a few steps first. In the levels in the beta that jumping ability feels almost wasted as most of the platforms are close together, but that’s when I started to take shortcuts. Instead of hopping from one platform to the next, I’d build up some speed and try to skip over certain spots. It worked really well, and I found myself taking risks I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying in Super Mario Bros. It added a new level of exhilaration to the game that I wasn’t expecting.


That ability to make riskier jumps changed the way I played the game. It feels less like a game where you’re just trying to make it to the end of the level and more like something built purely for speed runs. The timer just under the player’s life bar tells me that the developers felt the same way, providing an easy way to see how good your time is. I ended up playing most of the levels as fast as I could, blazing toward the exits over a couple of different runs while I tried to beat my old times. The game doesn’t save those times in this current beta, but I’m hoping to see more of that and leaderboards in the future.

There is one hiccup in the jumping in this build, and that’s when you’re dealing with dropping platforms. If you play the build, they’re the ones with the arrows on them and you will get quite familiar with them as they kill you over and over again. Most of the time they aren’t much trouble, but when they start to drop you end up free falling just above them a second later rather than sticking onto the block as it falls. It seems like a small problem, but it means that if you’re a little too slow then you can’t ever jump off them. If you think I need to work on my reflexes, then try to run down a sporadic group of them without accidentally tumbling down a cliff. The way you drop on these platforms resulted in the timing feeling very strange, and I fell down a lot of cliffs while trying to get it right.

There’s clearly a level of exploration that is going to go into the game upon completion as well. I found some people that I couldn’t interact with in any way tucked in out-of-the-way corners of the game. They were typically at the end of a series of challenging jumps that I didn’t need to go through to beat the level, so I’m curious what will happen with these characters in the future. As of now, they can provide a nice diversion if you’re looking to try some harder jumps and challenge yourself, though. As for me, I have a hard time justifying making jumps like that for no reward, though, so I just moved on.


It’s a nice game to look at while you’re zipping down its passageways, though. The sprites for the characters and monsters move with a great fluidity that makes them look nice when in motion. The backgrounds showed a great deal of variety for a beta build as well, moving through a training area to a forest, castle, and then snowy area. Each of them had their own unique hazards and background items to keep them interesting, although I have to admit that most areas other than the forest were a little dull to look at. The forest tiles were lush and full, and the level had little things like mushrooms and other odds and ends to make it come alive. The later levels look all right, but I found the castle and ice area just lacked much detail. The ice area just seemed to be full of white and blues. I’m sure more work will be put into these places to bring them to the same level as the forest as the game comes along.

Even if it doesn’t, I can forgive them that since these levels are designed to be broken down into pieces to be used in a level editor that’s being worked on. There’s no sign of it in the 0.3 beta, but I can understand the need to keep these location tiles a bit more simple if they’re going to be used by players to make their own stages. We’ll have to wait and see on that aspect, though, just as we will for the multiplayer.

When I finished my first run at the game it asked me if I’d played as both characters. I was interested to see what sort of new things I could see and do during my second playthrough, so I hopped right back in with the second player. Unfortunately, both of the characters control in similar fashions except for the jumping animation. One character flips backward as he jumps and the other tucks into a small ball, and that’s really the only differences between the two right now. Given that the game’s a pretty straightforward platformer I can see why they’re similar, but I would really want to see some different abilities to separate the two characters. If I’m going to be given the option to choose one character or another then I’d like to see something that separates them. As of right now, it feels a bit like a wasted opportunity.


The other issue I’m having is that, other than the speed and characters, there’s nothing much about the game that distinguishes it from other platformers. There are tons of independent developers out there who are working on platformers, but almost all of them do something to make the game more interesting. Looking at games like Locomalito’s L’Abbaye des Morts or the critically acclaimed La Mulana shows that you need to really work to make your game interesting and fresh for the audience to make it stand out. Platforming can make for a solid game, but something about its presentation or gameplay has to really pop to make people want to play it.

That being said, using characters from the Yogscast could be enough to lend the game some flare for the legions of their fans. For me, that wasn’t even close to enough, and I think the game needs to take some important steps in its next build to make it really stand out. The developer, Charlie McShane, seems like he’s talented guy who is working on building a cool game that will have a fun level editor. As such, I expect that we’ll start to see some interesting things coming from him over the next few builds. As it stands, the 0.3 beta shows that they’ve got all the core concepts down but just need to find that one aspect that will make the game stand on its own. It’s awesome that it’s running this well in the beta, though, so I have no doubt that some really cool things will come from this game in the next build.

Joel Couture
Joel Couture
Joel Couture

MASH Veteran

A horror-obsessed gamer, Joel is still spending his days looking for something to scare himself as much as Fatal Frame. Even so, he has ridiculous action games and obscure gems to keep him happy in the meantime. A self-proclaimed aficionado of terrible retro games, he's always looking for a rotten game he hasn't played yet, and may be willing to exchange information for candy.

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