Awesome Pea 2 is very simple, but that’s perhaps its single biggest selling point. The story is practically non-existent, the soundtrack decent, and the gameplay thoroughly mediocre: just like a Gameboy game should be.
Awesome Pea 2 starts out rather unceremoniously with just two options available to you: Start and Settings. Naturally enough, you click start and then the first thing you notice is the graphical style. Awesome Pea 2 is heavily inspired by that sickly green glow of the original GameBoy. The main character is a small blob which is – like everything else in this world – green in complexion. A pea, one might say.
You are greeted with an overworld map much like that of Super Mario Bros., clicking through to stage 0 and off you go. Like Super Mario before it, Awesome Pea 2 is a 2D platformer where you are tasked with reaching a goal by moving left, right, up and down. Its gameplay is very simple by design. You have movement controls and jump controls, but that’s about it. It doesn’t tell you anything either, but then, it doesn’t really need to. You find a gap so assume you have a jump control, you find a longer gap so assume you can double jump. It’s not a perfect system but it works just fine.
This moves us onto the gameplay itself. The platforming, for the most part, is fine but a little limiting. It occasionally feels a little clunky and not as accurate as one might like it to be. This limitation seems obvious from the base design of levels. There’s a rewarding sense of difficulty to it but it never goes too far, as then its general lack of platforming polish would be even more obvious. The jumping and hitboxes also seem rather undefined, often causing similar jumps to end in different consequences. This doesn’t ruin the experience but does stop you from feeling really good at it by the end of the game.
This is tied to the idea that levels don’t have checkpoints. Awesome Pea 2 instead opts to offer short, repeatable levels that only take 30 seconds or so for a successful completion. The gimmick here is that you will probably die a decent amount and that one successful run will feel more rewarding as a result. This is certainly true, particularly in terms of the achievements; in order to get all those available to you, you must earn all coins while working through the levels, and this is a slight addition that gives a small bit of replayability.
Speaking of achievements, they are very easy to unlock and you should have a full 1000 Gamerscore added to your account by the end of your time with Awesome Pea 2. The entire game should only take you an hour or so to play through too; you simply need to beat each level and get each coin, of which there are multiple in each level. Whilst it is nice to feel like you’ve 100%’d a game within that time, it eliminates most of the need to return to it. There is a good chance that once you see the ending you won’t bother to boot it up again.
With regards to story, Awesome Pea 2 has very little of it. You must, as the pea, travel from A to B through 24 levels, and that’s about it. There is a small story that plays at the end but the narrative isn’t really very important here. What is important is the gameplay and level design. Unfortunately, the levels are wildly inconsistent, and as things start slowly it soon ramps up to harder levels involving tighter jumps and a multitude of obstacles. This progression more or less stops by Level 8 – one of the hardest levels in the entire game. Due to this, most other stages feel lacking in the difficulty department. It has to be said that some have interesting ways of looping back on themselves, planning certain platforms, but some are almost carbon copies of other levels with slight changes. This is something that works well as a bonus after completing a game but not as part of the central pack of stages.
Luckily the music is pretty solid – 8-bit inspired with a nice mix of catchiness and nostalgia. That nostalgia is perhaps too strong in the second level – a stage that is dangerously close, melodically, to Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic”. It will certainly help to numb some of the boredom that arrives when playing levels that feel too similar to each other, or when you are found replaying stages to get all the coins.
Although there are certainly some issues with Awesome Pea 2 on Xbox One and it doesn’t really do anything that isn’t offered elsewhere, it’s a reasonably fun way to kill an hour or so. And it has to be said, there are certainly worse ways to earn 1000 Gamerscore.