love letter

Love Letter is a simple platforming game that asks you to collect 50 hearts, all from a large heart shaped level. Here’s the interesting bit 1. In order to be successful you need to collect all 5o hearts in one life. 2. The first person to beat the game can rewrite the introduction letter, dedicating it to whoever they so please.

Game is here:

The first notable trait of Love Letter is it’s bare-bones but beautiful atmosphere. Everything plinks and plunks agreeably. The game is very pixelated, with a color palette of white, black and a just-right pink. All walkable surfaces are pink-colored, and the player turns that same fetching color of pink for several moments after picking up a heart (This is in fact part of the game’s mechanics, but it incorporates well with the aesthetic). Meanwhile an old-timey record croons in the background, scratches and all, completing the whole picture. (EDIT: Here’s the song. Now imagine listening to this while navigating screens full of hearts for several hours. \”I\’m Gonna Get Me a Man That\’s All\” as in Love letter)

The level design is also particularly good. The entire point, according to the developer Jonathan Whiting, was to make this “a game about commitment”. Only someone who really put themself into the game would be able to claim the reward at the end. The game is filled with over twenty screens of smooth platforming. There’s only one mechanic added to the purity of jumping from platform to platform avoiding mines. As I mentioned above, after collecting a heart, your character turns pink, and gains the ability to jump, once, almost twice his normal jumping height. This ability is introduced in a very Super Mario-esque way and then slowly given to the character in more and more complicated forms. The one of the first hearts you see is alsmost impossible to miss and is located next to a stretch of mines, you normally couldn’t cross. As you try to cross the gap, you soar far above what you expected to be possible, crossing the gap, making the heart-jump known to you.

The heart-jump’s potential is then used in almost every possible variation of level to generate puzzles to get hearts. One particular puzzle requires you to traverse multiple levels without jumping once just to get heart.

The final innovation to form is the ability of the first person to beat it to “dedicate” the game, in effect. Now hold your horses, champ. The game’s already been beaten, around 24 hours since first being released. But there are some severe implications that this model of enticing a player has. There were some concerns on the games thread at TIGSource ( that the game would get dedicated to profanity in some form. It is important to understand that the developer was taking a serious risk in releasing the game like this. However, I do believe he generated enough difficulty in the game that whoever beat it the first time deserved to dedicate it to whoever or whatever they wanted. (EDIT: Thought about this for a while, and decided that  it’s possible that whatever is posted would conform to the environment of the game. It would create a new environment and give a new meaning to the game, but it would said new meaning in a manner congruent with the aesthetics and mechanics of the game. Both would be redefined, and definitely not be horrible.) I honestly would love to see more games experiment with win-conditions like this. Perhaps making it less about who beats it first (Because most people haven’t had the chance to hear about the game yet, so now that it’s beaten there’s hardly any reason for them to even try it.) to dedicating individual copies of games (I would love the idea of renting or buying a used game and being told who it was dedicated to). Or releasing a ton of small games online that could be dedicated. It’s a new and wonderful idea.


~ by prolixpostoffice on July 16, 2010.

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