Poi, PolyKid’s new Kickstarter-funded indie game, is a loving tribute to ’90s platformer games. By cleverly combining elements found in Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda, Banjo-Kazooie and Pokemon, Poi has the potential to become an instant classic.
The game looks straightforward and simple, but once you pick up a controller (or mouse and keyboard) and start running around for an hour or two, you’ll find it difficult to go through the motions of saving and calling it a night. It opens with a kind old man (think Pokemon’s beloved Professor Oak) making a speech. Then pick a boy or girl Explorer to help the comical old Master Explorer track down his lost medallions. There are about 100 Explorer Medallions to find, so no worries that this adventure will seem too short.
The artwork used to tell stories in the game is gorgeous, as are the loading screens. The character back story is hand-drawn, simple and faintly resembles something from a Pixar film, but it’s the gameplay elements that make Poi shine. They walk a fine balance between being stripped-down and also remaining challenging and engaging.
There are platforms to climb, secrets to discover, and you can even rustle out some rupee-like currency from tufts of grass. The game also includes warm and fuzzy places to explore, like Cozy Canyon and Crystal Cavern.
In Cozy Canyon, you’ll find pink slime monsters and bucket-headed creatures. You defeat them by jumping on them, which feels and looks remarkably satisfying. As you double-jump around the rock ledges and scalable buildings scattered throughout the map, you’ll fall in love with the game’s classic platforming elements.
Poi is a charming and stunning achievement for an indie fashioned by two incredibly talented developers. With so much love put into Poi, it serves as a wonderful tribute to the titles that spurred your passion for gaming in the first place.