Bean’s Quest is a brilliant platformer that harkens back to the classic days of the genre
The story and vibe of Bean’s Quest screams retro, but not in that tacky, trying to cash-in on nostalgia way. It harkens back to a time when every company was trying to make a weird mascot to build a game around, and it’s how we ended up with games like Aero the Acrobat, Bubsy the Bobcat and even the 7-Up Cool Spot. Some of these game were surprisingly good (Cool Spot), but most were just pretty terrible. Where does Bean’s Quest land?
Bean’s Quest stars a crazed Mexican Jumping Bean, so you can see why a character with that kind of backstory sort of reminds me of that era. In addition, the gameplay is platforming-based, where the point is to navigate some obstacles, grab some gems, hit enemies on the head and reach the goal.
I should say that I remember this era of games with fond reverence, while at the same time acknowledging that most of the titles that would fall into this category are total crap. Good news though – had Bean’s Quest been released back in the day, it would’ve stood out as one of the very best. It’s terrifically fun to play, albeit a bit short.
Bean’s Quest is laid out like a traditional platformer. The curious part about it, which you could probably surmise this from the character you control, is that he just bounces and jumps all the time. It makes sense – he’s a Mexican jumping bean after all. So while you’ll use the WASD or Arrow Keys to control left or right movement, you need to do so with the constant bouncing in mind.
At first it’s quite annoying and aggravating, since you’re sacrificing a fair amount of control by having the character constantly and ceaselessly bounce, bounce, bouncing. But after a while, you begin to see how you can use it to your advantage, and skill in the game slides in quite naturally. You have to skew your thinking a bit, since you could inadvertently jump up ledges you’re not ready to do yet, bounce into enemies, miss long jumps, etc… It sort of gives you the feeling of always moving forward, which lends a nice element of tension and fearlessness to the action. Sometimes you can’t just stand there and wait for a platform to get nice and safe and close to you.
There are 6 worlds (with names like Dusty Desert and Wizard’s Lair), and each one has between 8-10 levels in it. This may sound like a ton of gameplay, but I’m sad to report that most of the levels are rather short, especially in the beginning as they roll out the various mechanics and tricks you’ll be using in the later ones. We’re not talking 10 seconds or anything, but these aren’t Super Mario Bros. length by a long shot. Still, the levels are varied and employ all kinds of different obstacles and offer a good challenge.
It’s also easy for me to tell you that this game gets HARD, which certainly adds to the time it takes to get through Bean’s Quest. There are checkpoints spread around the levels (very well placed near especially difficult sections) which are honestly quite necessary, because one hit or mistake is going to kill you. You get unlimited shots at beating the level; just start at the last checkpoint you hit. It takes the edge off of dying a bunch to get past a troubling section. The challenge is welcome though, and never feels cheap or like the deck is stacked against you.
You’ve got to love a game that your only complaints of it are that it’s too short and too fair in its difficulty. There’s really there’s no downside here. The graphics are colorful and beautiful, Character design fits perfectly. The music is outstanding. The list of good parts goes on and on. Find a sombrero and jump on over to Bean’s Quest – you won’t regret it!