Daily Independent: Tough 2-D Platformer Mechanic Infantry is a Frustrating Good Time

The Daily Independent is a recurring feature in which we shine a light into the darkened wilderness of indie gaming, illuminating both the good and the bad of what we find there.

Like one Jim Sterling, I kind of miss the heyday of the 2-D platformer.

Occasionally I can get a fix on my iPhone, as there are a lot of small-scale 2-D games there, but they generally lack the fidelity of controls necessary to really get into a platformer. So discovering Mechanic Infantry today for our inaugural run of The Daily Independent was a decent win — until I found myself screaming in my empty apartment in frustration.

Mechanic Infantry is an indie title from a four-man French studio called Slak Games. In it, you take control of a little TV set with legs, I guess, whose job it is to run through platforming levels, releasing his smaller TV set friends from cages. The game packs 50 levels and HD graphics, and excels at being short, simple and compelling.

Every level in Mechanic Infantry is essentially a speed run, because in this world of robotic tyranny, everything wants to kill you and each level starts with some floating robot actually chasing you. If the floating robot touches your TV set character, you’re dead.

In fact, you’re dead a lot. That’s where the frustration part comes in. Everything that’s not a floor or a wall in Mechanic Infantry is deadly. There are evil floating robots and electricity beams that get thrown up over floors and blocking passages, and it takes timing and precise jumping skill to get around them. The controls are actually a touch too imprecise to be perfect, but for the most part Mechanic Infantry handles really well and although it killed me a ton, it also kept me wanting to keep hammering away at each level and get better. So it’s the good kind of aneurysm-inducing frustration … right?

Beyond the more than 50 regular platforming levels, Mechanic Infantry also includes a fun and highly challenging Survival Mode. In it, you’re trapped in a close level with that damn floating robot, the one that chases you around endlessly. The goal is to bounce around in the level as long as possible, saving the little TVs while giving the pursuer the slip for as long as possible. It’s tough and intense, and like the rest of Mechanic Infantry, it’s perfectly designed to make you say, “I’ll just play for five minutes,” before you realize the last time you looked at the clock, it was Tuesday. Of last week.

Check out Mechanic Infantry’s site (where you can nab its soundtrack for free) for a free demo, or head over to GamersGate or Gamezebo and snag the full game for just $2.99. Totally worth it.

Slak’s Mechanic Infantry site.

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