Tailspin! is an action platformer game with puzzle elements made by Team Bugulon for Ludum Dare 48 (“Deeper and Deeper”) in just 72 hours. You’re a canary in a mine with a giant drill, starting an expedition to the bottoms of the earth in search of legendary golden scarabs! But there are plenty of spikes, giant bugs, and other hazards on the way down.
Developer: Team Bugulon
Released: 27 April 2021
Available on: itch.io
Did you just say, ‘giant drill’?
The goal is to get to the end of each level, whilst collecting gems and searching for the golden scarabs scattered across the underground. You can’t do much on your own other than jump and stomp some enemies. That’s where the drill comes in. Not only can you dig straight through walls of dirt and knock out some monsters, but you can use it for acrobatics like wall jumps and bouncing off spikes!
While things start simple, the difficulty gradually escalates through clever placement of dirt, foes that respawn, or moving platforms. Later levels also include colored walls which can be removed by finding keys using the same color, though you might end up freeing some undesirables in the process!
Despite having short levels, the game is fun to play with a small degree of difficulty that is neither too easy nor too hard. Tailspin!’s four underground regions include many hazards, and enemies, which combine to form satisfying puzzles spread over 20 levels.
All of this in 72 hours?
The one thing that surprised me most about Tailspin! is its level of quality as a Ludum Dare entry. The clean, well-drawn pixel art with excellent animations and the atmospheric yet subtle soundtrack are not the only highlights here. The level design is quite impressive, and equally so how it adds and mixes elements in new ways the further you progress. The only lacking aspect is the achievements, which mostly boil down to “clear the game” and “get all gems and scarabs,” but they’re a non-issue when compared to the excellent gameplay and aesthetics.
For a project that was developed in 72 hours for a game jam, Tailspin! doesn’t feel like it was made under a short deadline at all, and you wouldn’t even know about its fast development if not for the itch.io page.
Not a lot of free games have felt as engaging as Tailspin! was, let alone ones developed for short game development jams like Ludum Dare. If you’re bored and have roughly one hour to kill, I highly recommend you give the game a try, as the puzzles are fun to play, and the cute-yet-dark visuals just add to the experience!