When you think of a platform game, you probably think of jumping. Simple movement is a staple of the genre, whether we’re talking classic side-scrolling adventures or larger 3D worlds. But lucky moonthe latest release from Netflix’s fledgling gaming service, offers something a little different: it removes the jump altogether.
lucky moon takes place in a beautiful pixel art world of ancient ruins and asks players to navigate through a series of levels to discover their secrets. It has many of the staples of the genre, such as collectible orbs, hidden areas, moving platforms, deadly spikes, and enemies that move in specific patterns. The twist is the lack of a jump button. In fact, lucky moon it has no on-screen buttons at all. To move, just swipe left or right; a strong swipe will cause Luna to swipe across the screen, while lighter taps will result in smaller swipes. Moving safely involves using those limited options along with clever timing to avoid obstacles and make it to the end of each stage.
I have played the first levels and, although I can say that lucky moon definitely quite challenging, I was also surprised at how quickly I adapted to the lack of a jump button. After a few stages, I didn’t miss it at all; the vertical levels are cleverly designed around sliding mechanics, which feel intuitive once you learn how to drop the jump. It’s kind of like the opposite of Super Mario Runanother mobile version of the platform game, but where jumping is the main way of interacting with the world.
According to Andrew Schimmel, a producer at developer Snowman, best known for the Tall snowboard game series: The idea was “to evoke those classic experiences we grew up with but not be identical to them. We didn’t feel like an endless runner could really capture that feeling we wanted to pursue.” The decision to remove the jump button came later in development, but naturally had a huge impact on the experience. “It was difficult, but it really allowed us to lean on the level design and be more creative,” he explains. “That’s why we went for one tap and then tried to introduce something new in each level.”
Although Netflix started its mobile gaming efforts last year, the service hasn’t gained much traction since then. That said, the quality of games available has certainly improved, with notable titles like in the gap Y Warning arriving at the service. For Snowman, Netflix’s potential audience was something the studio couldn’t turn down. “We’ve reached a lot of people with some of our previous work, but this is like a potential new audience,” explains Snowman creative director Ryan Cash. “And I think it’s always exciting to be a part of something in the early days as well. That’s really attractive to us.”
On mobile, Netflix has joined Apple Arcade as part of a burgeoning subscription gaming scene. And Snowman has been very involved in that scene; the studio has released a number of arcade games, including an enhanced edition of the hit The High Odyssey. The rise of these services has opened up a new avenue for game developers, offering a way to launch quality premium experiences without worrying about how to monetize them. Cash foresees many more changes in the space over the next few years, and for now, Snowman has a front row seat. “We’re just seeing how it plays out in front of us.”
lucky moon is available on iOS and Android via Netflix starting today.