Let’s be real, people are obsessed with bacon. Not only do people love eating it, but they love adding it to everyday items too. There’s bacon-flavored lip gloss, mayonnaise, soda and even personal lube. So it was only a matter of time before a game developer hopped on the bacon train and made a game about the beloved breakfast meat. This is exactly what Skymap Games did with its new side-scrolling action platformer, Bacon Man: An Adventure. But with all things bacon-related these days, the question is, does it stand on its own or is it just relying on a gimmick to boost sales?
The titular Bacon Man is the rightful heir to the Meat Throne. However, after being accused of his grandfather, Old King Roast Beef’s death, Bacon Man is banished to the freezer, and Pork King is granted the throne. But of course, there would be no game if he remained in the freezer, so Bacon Man manages to escape, and the rest of the game follows his adventures to try and regain the throne.
The story of Bacon Man and the comedic way in which it is told are definitely highlights. Neal Laurenza, Managing Director at Skymap Games, describes the game as “Hamlet with more ham,” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s a classic story that has been told many times before, but Skymap has added more “ham” to it in both the comical and literal sense.
There are four playable characters in Bacon Man, each with their own unique abilities. In the PAX East demo, XBLA Fans was able to play as two of the characters: Bacon Man and his lovely female companion, Lard Lass. One look at Bacon Man and there is no denying that he looks an awful lot like Earthworm Jim, and the developers are not even attempting to deny that inspiration. In fact, there is even an Earthworm Jim costume he can wear, which really seals the deal. Lard Lass appears more Mega Man-inspired and also has a range of costumes available for her to wear, including a Wonder Woman outfit.
Set on Nomround, a planet made up entirely of food, Bacon Man has seven different worlds that are all loosely based on food groups. These worlds include The Freezer, Meat Zone, Dairy Zone, Fruit Zone, Wheat Zone, Vegan Valley, and Mount Broc, which is the final boss – a giant piece of broccoli. Even the vegans and vegetarians get a little love in this otherwise meat-centric game.
The humor is definitely there in Bacon Man, but what about the gameplay? Well, that’s where it seems to come up a little short.
Just like almost every classically inspired platformer out there, Bacon Man features high difficulty spikes as it progresses. In the demo, we play a little bit in The Freezer and Meat Zone, two of the game’s earlier levels. Even early on, the difficulty is pretty intense, or maybe it’s just that the controls need adjusting. I say this because it just felt like every time I should have made a successful jump, I ended up in a lava pit. The characters feel a little heavy and like you need to have the timing 100 percent correct to make the jump. I am not sure if this is what the developers are intentionally going for or if maybe they still need to “trim some fat” before release.
Bacon Man has single-player or in couch co-op modes. I always like to play games in co-op when available, so I played the demo at PAX East with another member of the XBLA Fans staff. The main benefit to playing Bacon Man in co-op is that each character has his or her own unique skill set, so you have the advantage of being able to pick the best character for the job when up against an obstacle or boss. The downfall to playing in co-op is that the characters, level details, on-screen prompts and other text becomes super small to the point that you probably need a huge TV to be able to read them all clearly.
So Bacon Man may not be the best thing in the world of meat since bacon itself, but just like all those bacon-flavored products out there, it has a certain allure to it that does make me curious to try it again. Skymap Games is hoping to release in either the summer or fall of this year.