Tomato Jones – Review

Another game made in Blender is out! The name of this game is “Tomato Jones“, a game by Haidme, so click in the read more link to start reading!

Here is the game description in the Steam store:

About the game

It is just a red tomato with a stupid hat. He tries to look like a cool tomb rider, rolling and jumping all over the maps. 
Help him find all the treasures in the mystic castle or watch him die...in many painful ways.

THE GAME

Tomato Jones is a physics-based puzzle/adventure game. It combines the classical gameplay of an RPG platformers with the skill driven game style of the ball rolling games. 
Your goal is to collect all coins and the hidden golden artefact at the end of each level, while avoiding various dangerous traps, obstacles and enemies. 
The game is crafted in the atmosphere of "Indiana Jones" movies, while trying to be as funny and humorous as it can be. 

FEATURES

- 20 beautiful and challenging levels - Great looking "soft body" tomato physics 
- World map /actually I'm not sure why I've done that thing. :) / 
- New approach to camera movement and viewing angles 
- Fun soundtrack and SFX 
- Super cool gameplay 
- Tons of ketchup 

And hey...you can also drive mine carts ;)

So! here are mi first impressions about the game, wich mostly are from a 3D artist point of view, apart from a gamer, so here we go!


The Gameplay

I’m not an expert designing games or whatsoever, but as a gamer I can say either, if a game accomplish the main goal or not: entertainment! and as far as I can tell “Tomato Jones” despite some flaws, I enjoyed playing with it.

The only annoying thing was the fact that every time tomato jones fell off the world or dies, it has to restart the entire level (loading page, etc) and since you are getting used to play the game, Tomato Jones will die frecuently, and for example in “Yo Frankie(game prototype developed by the Blender Foundation) every time Frankie died, the camera goes back to the last position and you can start again very fast, as shown in the picture below:

Here in Tomato Jones, you cant 🙁 so, it would be great to have this kind of respawning instead of loading the entire level each time. Or maybe using only 3 attempts to complete the level, and if you fail then a level restart will happen.


3D Art

Since I’m a 3d artist and due to my experience working with some experienced art directors in the game industry, I can tell that not all the visuals are quite enjoyable, I mean, they look nice and toony and maybe in a lower resolution (maybe a mobile device) would look very good as in many games for mobile devices are common to happen.

So being said that, I would sugest to work with a bit more geometry, or use “set smooth” to avoid the flat areas in the cubes forming the world, just in case this wasn’t intended! 🙂 If this is what the developer wanted, then it’s OK!

By adding a bit more geometry I mean just a little. If using bevel for tue cubes I think they look better with one more division, just like the image below:

I think this wont affect the game performance since game levels are not so big, also a different geometry for collision is an option to optimize player collisions.

Another very important thing is to avoid stretching in UV’s, and I know that even AAA productions are not excluded of this, even in Gears of War I’ve seen some UV issues, minimal, but you can find it almost in any game.

Anyway, I think this kind of productions (indie development) deserve a bit more of work in this regard and every player will enjoy more while playing the game.


Texturing

Texturing is a very special part in game development, I know that this maybe was intended to be a fast development, or maybe reusing some old assets from other projects, but to improve I would recommend more work on textures, to be specific in stone textures. Maybe some engraved stone texture tiles would fit just fine (if hand painted even better) ! And it also might help to describe the path to follow for the player, because the actual textures looks a bit dull/simple in my opinion.

Original screen capture in game
Original screen capture in game

My advise for the developer is to take care of details that, at least for me are a bit annoying like stretching in UV’s and lack of texturing work (including specular maps). I think every game is a very little piece of art and it deserves to spend a bit more time to address every detail. I’m pretty sure that we as players found this kind of aspects  very specials and enjoyable! 🙂

Here is just some example how could be this improve.
Different colors migth be used to “guide”

With more work in textures
With more work in textures – not the original geometry, just a recreation!

Also I would recommend to use specular maps to avoid the plastic feeling of the stone surfaces in the map selector.

I know that graphics some times are overrated in games, and I totally agree! I could play Tomato Jones with no more than solid colors in geometry, and still have fun with it 🙂

Textures used in the textured example can be found here, owned by their respective authors

Environment

I think in this part of the review I only feel the lack of some skybox, just like “Temple Run 2” and similar games, this will add more atmosphere and the sense of depth. Black color for mist / background isn’t a good one. Maybe using a Skybox just like the game “Temple Run 2” will fix this.

Temple Run 2 Skybox
Temple Run 2 Skybox
Tomato Jones without Skybox
Tomato Jones example level with skybox

Controls

Regarding controls, I found that I could move the player without problem almost all the time while playing, but some times seems to accomulate more speed, even when you stopped the player and started to move again. It happended from time to time but perhaps it is more related to the engine physics in the game engine than programming so, not a big deal, you can easily get used to it.


Options / Effects

Some  options that are commonly used by shortcuts are shared by the game and Steam, for example “F12 key” This key is used to take screenshots during game, and also this F12 Key is used for “Tomato Jons” but for cycle toogle between options for enable/disable 2D Filters (bloom, outline, etc)

Bloom and outline enabled
Bloom and outline enabled by pressing F12
Bloom and outline disabled
Bloom and outline disabled by pressing F12

World Selector

I found that if I have a game saved in the level 5 (for instance) and then I load the first level or any other level, then when Tomato Jones dies, after the loading page I appear in the last saved game, which was “level 5” but I was expecting to start again in level 1.

I will add more once I play more levels!


Final thoughts

Score: 8/10
Score edited since I keep playing and I found very funny the other levels 🙂

Funny game with not so bad ( but with room to improve) graphics and a very challenging gameplay to get used to (playing with a tomato seem to be harder that I thougth 🙂 ) Definetly a good and interesting platformer despite the issues.

Pros:

  • The cluncy/funny controls, I found this funny
  • Good platforming
  • Nice level design

 

Cons / things to improve:

  • Camera some times makes you get out of control
  • Loading times, I would rather prefer a respawning.
  • Coins seem to be useles, need to play more to confirm.
  • Sometimes music seem not fit for the game, maybe just my personal perception.

Congratulatios for the game to all the development team! Nice work! 🙂

Go get your copy of “Tomato Jones” today! 😀

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